Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2000.
Big Jack O'Day - 6 foot tall and strong as a Territory bull - that's how one journalist described Jack in 1973. Jack started as an owner driver in 1955 with the purchase of a 6LX 150hp Gardiner and bogie trailer.
He sub-contracted to Kennelly's Transport in Adelaide hauling assorted loads, mainly rig shifts, all over Australia from Blackwater in QLD to the Pilbara in WA. In 1959, he did his first trip to the Territory hauling general goods north and scrap metal south. Jack reported he lost a lot of sleep trying to get past the Port Augusta weighbridge.
Jack recalled the road was a nightmare in itself. The bitumen was left behind at Port Augusta (SA) and only re-appeared again at Alice Springs. The condition of the road between varied from being a corrugated dusty track to a sloppy quagmire. The only places you could get a feed were at Kingoonyah and then again at Coober Pedy - and that was only if the cook felt so inclined! Otherwise it was a can of bully beef or a feed cooked on the roadside. From Alice to Darwin the road was at least sealed but in places no less rough. In the wet it could be closed off for months.
In the Northern Territory Jack had to contend with sandy creek crossings, huge sand dunes and nasty jump ups. In 1970, with the Territory growing rapidly, Jack saw the opportunity to start a freezer run. Jack ran three prime-movers in those days and had two subcontractors (Rod Sopeer and Pat O'Connor) working with him. The run they did was the very first regular freezer freight delivery between Adelaide and Alice Springs causing much concern for the Commonwealth Railways.
Jack did this run for over 20 years. So isolated was the road in those days, and so appreciated was the service Big Jack O'Day provided, that people referred to the Stuart Highway as 'Jack's Road'.