The Incredible Australian Road Trains

May 13, 2024

australian truck

Watch yourself if you see these trucks coming down the road. The Australian road trains are the world’s longest truck and trailer configurations. These massive machines haul freight in the Australia Outback and are relied upon to supply the remote Outback towns.

There are many configurations and regulations of a road train (shown below), and as the weight and cargo of the train get larger, the number of wheels increases. In configuration (A) below, the number of wheels of the road train is 34, up to the (H) configuration, which is an astounding 74 wheels and the highest configuration legal for the road. The (K) configuration is a special case and is limited to the Granites Gold Mine in Northern Territory, Australia. They are known as “Power Trains” and have a 600 hp diesel engine in the truck with another 400 hp diesel engine in the rear trailer. These only operate on private land and have a whopping 130 wheels. That’s a lot of tires to change.

australian road train
The configurations allowed for Australian road trains Sted904/Wikimedia

The huge bars seen on the front of these road train trucks are called bullbars. Since these huge machines can’t stop very quickly, the bars are there to save the truck from damage. In addition to dealing with animals that are in the wrong place at the wrong time, the road trains must contend with scorching heat, getting stuck in the mud during the rainy season, brush fires, and extremely long distances, just to name a few of the problems. Despite all this, they haul any type of cargo imaginable, from livestock and fuel to ore, supplies, and machinery.

There has been one time when a road train dwarfed all others. The world record for the longest road train was set in 2006 in Clifton, Queensland, Australia. It measured 4,836 feet, 11 inches, and was made up of 112 trailers. It was driven 100 meters (109 yards), a little over the length of a football field.

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites. I hope you learn many new things here that add to your knowledge.

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