Truckie John Kelly caught up with Big Rigs just as he was about to leave the Townsville Port bound for Mount Isa, some 900km away.
Aged 51, Kelly drives a 2013 model Kenworth 909 for Aurizon Port Services and was carrying sulphur boxes.
He was expecting a backload from the western mining town. “Looks like I will be picking up concentrate to bring back to Townsville,” he says.
Born in Ipswich, Kelly has been nicknamed ‘Ned’ thanks to his impressive beard and the fact that he shares the same surname as Australia’s best known bushranger.
“I picked up that nickname whilst serving in the Army for 30 years at places like Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin and Townsville and drove trucks such as Unimogs,” he says.
The first truck Kelly dove was a B61 Mack, which he speaks highly about.
I asked John if he has a favourite roadhouse and he answered quickly. “I carry most of my own food and cook along the way.” Although when pressed, he did praise the remote Burke n Wills deep in the outback.
Outside work, this North Queensland Cowboys supporter likes to go shooting when time permits.
“There are lots of feral pigs around the Greenvale area and also deer,” he says.
A big fan of Big Rigs, Kelly was over the moon when told by me that the paper would be returning under new ownership after a two-month break. “I was sad to hear it was closing and have a copy of what was to be the final edition in my cabin,” he says.