getting my heavy vehicle licence

Today I passed my driving test and got my HR (Heavy Rigid) licence!

This allows me to drive any rigid bus or truck, as long as it doesn’t have a Roadranger / crash box type transmission.
I only needed an MR (medium rigid) licence to drive my bus, but I decided to go for the HR because it was the same cost and exactly the same test, so why not?
I have to admit that the past few weeks have been quite stressful! Having driven mostly automatic cars for the last 20-odd years, I not only had to get used to handling a big truck, but also just using the gears again. And it is a little different driving a manual heavy vehicle compared to driving a manual car too, so it took a bit of getting used to. I ended up paying for extra lessons to build up my confidence.
The first time I sat the practical driving test, I failed! I actually drove really well for almost the whole test, but then my back wheels hit the kerb as I was turning a tight corner at a busy intersection (because I was so focussed on gear changing correctly and not hitting oncoming traffic and forgot to check my mirrors to see where the end of the truck was) and that is an immediate fail.
I was devastated. Not just because I was frustrated that one mistake cost me the test, but also because I then had to pay another $350 to try again! And I had already spent over $1000 getting to that point!
I decided after that to switch to an automatic truck, so that I would have one less thing to think about in the test and could really focus on just handling the truck. Because I hold an open car licence, it didn’t matter what sort of truck I did my test in. I would still get the same HR-B licence.
I could have just started out in an automatic truck to begin with, which is what a lot of people do, but of course, my bus is a manual transmission so I wanted to make sure I knew how to drive it safely. Switching to the auto truck felt like a bit of a cop out, but I knew that I could now handle the gears and that I would be fine doing this in my bus, when I could practice on quieter roads without the stress of an examiner sitting beside me. And I just could not afford to fail again!
And it really helped because the second time I passed with flying colours.
So now I have my licence I can take my time practicing in my bus (away from busy cities) to get used to the feel of the transmission and get used to driving something 11m long!
The first challenge will be reversing it out of our long narrow driveway! But I will wait a while before I attempt that. I have had enough driving for one month!