Dom Shanahan reckons he’s got the road in his blood.
His father drove a truck part time when Dom was young, and from the age of four he and his brother would sit up front with their Dad on his frequent trips to Melbourne. The boys would have big smiles on their faces as they chewed up the long k’s, and that was just how they liked it. Even at this early age, Dom knew that driving trucks and travelling was what he wanted to do.
Today Dom has 25 trucks and 4 D-MAX utes of his own, as part of his family business, Shanahan’s Transport. The business is headquartered at the family property in Barnawartha, near Wodonga Victoria, and there’s also a depot in Toowoomba, Queensland.
Dom and his wife Caroline started Shanahan’s with just one truck, and they’ve worked hard, building the business from the ground up. At the start that meant plenty of time away for Dom - he’d often spend most of the week out on the road, travelling up and down the eastern seaboard, moving cattle to and from properties, coming home on a Saturday and then often leaving again on the Sunday.
With an ever-expanding business to manage, these days you’ll most likely find Dom behind the desk making things happen, out in the depot working with his team to make sure the trucks are in peak condition, or driving a D-MAX around the property just getting things done.
‘We’ve got the four D-MAXs here, and I love them,” said Dom. “My truck mechanic drives one, my daughter has one, we keep one up in Toowoomba and I drive one here. I gave my daughter hers when she turned 19 and she uses it for towing her horse around the Victorian High Country.”
Apart from the business, Dom’s also got a pretty big family to keep running smoothly. He and Caroline have six kids, all between the ages of 5 and 21.
“Family is the most important thing to me now,” said Dom.
“Just being around and watching them grow up and helping out where I can, that’s pretty special.”
The Shanahans are a practical, down-to-earth kind of family: the kids are given a lot of responsibility around the farm, and it’s reflected in their level of maturity. One minute they’re firing up the tractor to fetch hay bales to feed to the livestock; the next they are galloping out to a far paddock to bring in some errant cows; and the next they are getting dinner organised before Mum gets home.
It’s not all hard work at home though. Several years ago Dom got interested in the sport of Campdrafting, and now the whole family are right into it. They all ride and compete, and now that Dom’s built a specially designed arena on the property and bought several horses, there’s plenty of opportunity to hone their skills.
“Most weekends in the competition season we’ll hook up a trailer to the D-MAX and head off for the weekend,” said Dom. “The kids win some comps and pick up medals, but for me the most important thing is spending time together. We often get three or four generations of family on our trips, and the kids have heaps of friends they have made through the sport. They ride from sunup to sundown, and nothing beats sitting around a campfire at the end of a good days’ competition and having a laugh with everyone.”
Dom says the D-MAX is perfect for the job of getting the horses to the competitions.
“The D-MAX is exceptional for towing. They make the job easy, we’ve never had any dramas, and they’ve got heaps of horsepower.”
In the future, Dom hopes his business will continue to motor along, and that he’ll keep getting to spend plenty more time with the family. Dom says his family of utes will also be around for a while, and there’s more to come too.
“Sooner or later I’ll be upgrading the D-MAXs to new ones for the business,” said Dom. “With another 5 kids coming through getting their licences, they’ll eventually take over the current utes. They’ll have to buy them though, because I don’t believe in hand outs and I want them to learn a good work ethic.”
“If I can teach the kids that hard work and persistence can get you anywhere, then that’s half the job done. If they find a job and work hard at it, it’ll reward them in life.”
There’s a long road ahead for the Shanahan family, but with the farm, the horses, the competitions and the big family network to enjoy, our guess is they’re going to have a lot of fun going their own way.