JOHNSTONE, Graeme (Bluey)

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2010.

Bluey came to Australia in April 1964 as a wide-eyed 18 year old New Zealander. He started  as a dockhand with Ansett Freight, mainly loading Wes Searle and Jack O’Connell’s overnighters, modified petrol V8 Dodge body trucks or “Rockets” as they were called. After many trips as a passenger Bluey was hooked on fast trucks.

His next job was with Kwikasair on the dock, then as a relay driver on AEC Mustangs doing Yass Change-overs. Breaks were in a caravan parked in a Shell servo. After 18 months Bluey joined Bruce Panucci Transport driving an old petrol R190 International between Sydney and Melbourne towing a 36ft Freighter trailer with a 9’6” spread bogie 711 “Flintstone” quad box Mack. It had  just been released in Australia and as Bluey kept the trucks clean and was the only one to drive a truck without rolling it he was allowed to drive it..

After his mother fell ill, he returned to his old country and drove transport buses in Auckland until her passing in September 1968. He returned to Sydney and Kwikasair in November 1968. He had what was considered the best highway job in Australia. The rigid Bogie Slimline Kenworths were absolute missiles. Their times and speeds were then legendary especially considering the speed limit was 40mph which drivers occasionally exceeded hence the name “Grey Ghost.”

Marriage and the loss of his brief decided him to transfer to Altrans and their long-nose Peterbilt Tippers supplying Pioneer Concrete batch plants around Sydney. He went from Altrans to Caltex around Sydney in petrol tankers. Divorced now, he moved to Queensland and back on the road with VIP Express coaches.

From 1985 until 1999 he operated everything from bulldozers, Cat 785 dump trucks, Kenworth 850, 250 tonne road trains, graders, twin-powered scrapers and excavators at Groote Eylandt NT with BHP Minerals. Being an airplane owner, he was employed to manage Groote Eylandt airport and tank farm. This lasted until he moved back to the Gold Coast in 1999 and went on the road for Greyhound until the end of 2003.

After that, it was back to the mines in the Bowen Basin, then to Toll Express where he is today, happy to have covered many miles in nearly 50 accident free years. Bluey well deserves his place in the Wall of Fame.