by Bob Riley
WALLY and Robyn Hailey's 1979 Kenworth SAR is their home away from home. A work in progress, the SAR has been nicknamed "Peggy Joy" in honour of Wally and Robin's respective mothers.
When Big Rigs caught up with the pair they were piloting the SAR on its maiden voyage, heading south from their home in far north Queensland to Melbourne.
At the time they'd been on the road for just three weeks and were in no rush. The Allora Heritage Weekend was coming up and Wally, a regular visitor to the event, was thinking of heading across to it for the Australia Day long weekend.
Their broad plan seemed to be that it might be two years before they had travelled across into southwest Western Australia and maybe even five years before they completed their first lap.
The 1979 SAR is an ex-TNT truck that Wally ran for many years as an owner driver.
It came off the road towards the end of the 1990s. Wally said it stayed parked in the shed until late into the first decade of the new century when he started work on getting it going again and on converting it into what it is today.
Sitting behind the cab is a 27-foot former furniture van. It has been fitted out by Wally who is, by trade, a custom body builder.
There's a walk-through from the cab into the van that takes you directly into a comfortable lounge area.
Immediately above the two lounge chairs and almost unnoticeable as it forms a high false ceiling, is a large electric bed.
It's not that space is at a premium but the electric bed has proven to be a good solution Wally said.
There's a working kitchen complete with a 240-volt household fridge and a stove, lots of custom converted cupboard space and at the rear a raised floor area accommodates a fully fitted-out bathroom and toilet.
The space under the raised floor houses the grey and black water tanks.
There are 12-volt LED lights and recently fitted, and very effective, roof mounted 12-volt fans throughout the van. They draw current from a bank of house batteries that are kept charged by an array of roof mounted solar panels.
Wally said the outfit was designed to allow he and Robin to be able to free camp for up to three weeks.
There is an onboard diesel generator that runs off its own fuel tank and that will run everything on board including a washing machine and an air conditioner.
Despite Wally commenting that the truck and van are an on-going project, it's hard to see anything that has been forgotten or overlooked by way of creature comforts.
Coupled behind the truck is a two-axle machinery trailer that Wally has modified to suit their needs.
A second-hand sleeper box has been fitted at the front of the trailer to not only provide some aerodynamics but to also store lubricants and spares for the truck and trailer and a few tools to allow Wally to undertake any necessary running repairs.
A fold-out clothesline has been fitted to the rear wall of the sleeper, so really, not much has been missed.
The trailer also carries the couple's 4x4 ute as well as some spare tyres.
The Kenworth Dreamin' signwriting is a recent addition, only added at one of their stops as they travelled south through Queensland's central coast.
At their next stop, Robyn said there were new mudflaps to be fitted to complement the new black mudguards over the drive while Wally said he had a replacement fuel tank to fit to the truck.
He said he lost a fuel cap during the rebuilding process but found it was cheaper to buy a secondhand tank than it was to buy a new fuel cap.
And there is also a new set of chrome headlight surrounds to be found and fitted.
Powered by an 8V-92 Detroit through a 15-speed double overdrive Road Ranger, the SAR can comfortably keep up with traffic as it travels, as a true work in progress, around the country.