Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2010.
Rod Johnson has worked in the transport industry since 1963 in everything from trucks to planes and rental cars.
When he started driving in Melbourne in 1963, he was 18 and truck drivers were “the Knights of the Road”. Unfortunately the camaraderie and mateship among drivers has all but disappeared under the pressure of scheduling and time slotting, but many times Rod has returned to driving when things were difficult and says that there is nothing else like it for getting your head straight and feeling clearer mentally.
Those first jobs in Melbourne for HA Charmers, Dennis Quigley and Arnold’s Car Transport set the scene for a lifetime of work in the transport industry. In 1967 Rod was making the journey for Davidson Transport (Wally Davidson) between Melbourne and Sydney in an AB184 International, before moving on to work for Marsden’s Transport, Lindsay Brothers and later Cec Thompson.
By 1972 he had graduated to a Kenworth driving refrigerated rigs for Alan Howard between Melbourne and Sydney with stints with Cec Thompson Wettenhalls MkI. In the seventies Rod joined Toranto Freezer vans for the chance to travel the unsealed road across the Nullarbor between Melbourne and Perth. The shifting scenes of day and night, the flowers and the fires made the trips memorable, even though the best trips were when nothing unexpected happened.
In 1978 Rod took his family to Meekatharra in mid-north Western Australia. Conditions were harsh and he was driving eight-wheeled rigid Kenworths with three five-axle dog trailers to mines up to 1000kms away hauling loads of Ammonium Nitrate for Trans West. At Meekatharra Rod became the local JP and launched RJ Aviation serving everyone from the Royal Flying Doctor Service to air charter customers.
Since then he has run several car rental businesses and had other enterprises, but at the end of the day, he maintains that the transport industry is in his blood. In fact he is working on a new website that he hopes will allow drivers and the industry access to legal, financial and other services from a single location.