A stone’s throw from Kunama Namadgi (otherwise known as Mount Kosciuszko), in the Biggara valley, sits the McKimmie family farm. It’s a majestic setting, situated just below the alpine area that includes the upper reaches of the Murray River, rich pastures and stunning natural bush.
This quintessential Aussie high-country setting has a mixture of beef and dairy stock farming, an abundance of native wildlife, and is home to farming families like that of Belinda and Mal McKimmie.
For all creatures in this region, great and small, it’s been an incredibly tough year: a summer of tragic bushfires, loss of stock, fencing and other infrastructure, and then came the Covid-19 pandemic to add to an already devastating situation.
It is in the face of such challenges that the Biggara community rallies, and in the thick of it are Mal and Belinda, their sons, and their Isuzu FXY 1500 6×4 (FXY 240-350 6×4) truck, all of whom played a role in preserving livestock during the bushfires. Belinda said:
“It has been hard for us here after the summer bushfires and the community is really finding it challenging still. We were first on the scene at many properties following the fires, helping farmers with their injured cattle. The truck also played a huge part in helping our community throughout—salvaging and helping to transport burnt cattle, and moving stock to safer areas.”
As owners of M&B McKimmie Livestock Transport, Mal and Belinda are no strangers to moving local stock safely and quickly, providing an essential transport service to dairy and stock farms in this harsh but beautiful pocket of Victoria.
And as the fire recovery effort (and the Covid-19 pandemic) slowly progress in tandem, they look forward to returning to normality and getting back down to business.
The McKimmie’s started the transport arm of their business in 2015, realizing the time was ripe to diversify their Black Angus cattle farm with an alternate revenue stream.
Belinda shoulders the lion’s share of driving, servicing the local and broader region. A typical run will see her transporting stock down to the Northern Victoria Livestock Exchange in Barnawartha, on the border of New South Wales and Victoria. Belinda said:
“I tend to do a lot of long-distance traveling. Mal tends to stay on the farm with the boys, doing all those things like sowing and spraying, and learning to cook.”
Often visiting farms situated in some of the state’s toughest terrain, the McKimmies needed a rugged, ultra-reliable truck that could handle whatever task was thrown at it—and they found the FXY 1500 fits the bill well, especially out on the bush tracks.
“This truck never misses a beat. We can be picking up livestock in the Snowy Mountains farming district, driving long distances on country back roads and then travelling to the livestock selling yards in regional centres, all in the same day.”
Encompassing winding mountain ascents and tight corners, it’s not the easiest or quickest drive from the Biggara valley down to the livestock exchange in Barnawartha. Carting heavy loads up and down these steep highways, fully utilizing the payload capacity of the truck, Belinda gets maximum return on her purchase.
While a capable truck was a must-have for the McKimmies, they also needed something reliable that could handle the rapidly changing high country weather. They found just what they needed in the manual transmission FXY, which has a 257 kW @ 2,000 rpm power rating and 1,422 Nm of torque @ 1,400 rpm. Its simple, no-nonsense design performs well in the toughest of conditions and placed them in a good position to assist others during the bushfire season. Belinda said:
“In summer I haven’t had any overheating issues heading up and down some of the steep climbs here. I just feel so comfortable knowing it’s not going to let me down. One of the reasons we got the Isuzu was for the power and stability going up steep hills and windy corners; the bogie axles really help with balancing the cattle and the movement on top of the tray.”
The McKimmie’s also undertook the extra expense and upkeep of installing premium rubber agri-matting into the tray of their Isuzu FXY for the traveling comfort of their clients’ stock. Belinda noted the agri-matting was worth every cent when it came to reducing the animal’s stress whilst in transit, an addition that generated repeat business throughout the region.
“People love what they do and want to look after their stock. They’re really looking for that extra care, which is not always a priority in stock transport. I think farmers are seeing the difference in how their cattle are arriving at the market, without soreness from a truck with metal mesh at the bottom.”
The McKimmies also use the truck for carting hay on the farm and taking their horses to compete in camp drafting competitions.
“We can load the horses in from the side of our truck and put the caravan on the back,” said Belinda. I remember when we first got the truck – the camp drafting events were full of gooseneck trailers. Now, everyone’s using trucks and caravans and a lot of people have gone for Isuzu because of the reliability and the fact that they don’t overheat in the summer.”
Since buying their Isuzu FXY 1500 6×4 from Blacklocks Isuzu in Wodonga, the McKimmies depend on the dealership for all their servicing and aftersales care needs. Belinda said the dealership makes a genuine effort to service the truck efficiently, given that the farm is quite far away. Belinda commended the dealership and said:
“They were very good at realizing this and gave me a loan car. And they serviced my truck as quickly as they could to accommodate me.”
Having seen four years of rough and dirty work, the truck has performed well, with no downtime or repairs necessary apart from essential servicing. Belinda said:
“We did a lot of research, but that’s exactly why we chose Isuzu; it’s a hard workhorse and it’s held up really well.”
Apart from her trust in its reliability, Belinda’s favorite part of the FXY 1500 is the large mirror coverage, the visibility and the benefits of the cab over design—all making for a safer, more stress-free driving experience on some of the toughest roads in the country.
With many of her trips involving dodging wildlife, fallen trees as well as reversing down narrow access tracks, the visibility advantage of the Isuzu cabin is worth its weight in gold.
“Given the terrain, I’m hugely reliant on those mirrors to see what’s around me. Once you’re up in the Isuzu, it’s fantastic. You’ve got that total visibility on the road and the mirrors all around you… it’s a feeling of safety and one of the features I enjoy most about the truck.”
If they were to look for another truck to help expand their business, Belinda was confident that Isuzu Trucks would be their first choice. She said:
“I would always go back and get an Isuzu. They’re built for the work we do, and I couldn’t imagine looking anywhere else.”