Johnny Rankine (JR) was born in Mt Isa, Qld, while his parents were living on 'Alexandria Station' on the Barkly Tableland. Apart from four years at school in Camooweal, JR has never lived anywhere else. As of 2016, JR has been a feature of the 1.61 million hectare property for over 66 years, having been employed there for over half a century. He has never worked on any other property or for any other company. JR started working as a ringer in the stock camps before doing a spell on the station grader and bore trucks. He had done just about every other job on a cattle station before learning to drive a truck in 1970. He knew he had found his vocation and became a full time road train operator in 1974.
JR has spent countless hours driving many of yesterday's workhorses including Leyland Beavers, Hippo, Volvo's, Ford Louisville and Macks. A favourite was the 'Indian Pacific' an easily recognisable Mack Superliner originally custom built for S&K Ballard. JR specialises in transport of beef cattle. He is not a one trick pony however. If the work involves trucks, he has most likely done it. From bringing stores and supplies in, spending days on the bore truck keeping water up to stock, carting machinery, lick blocks, hay and equipment to Alexandria from everywhere there have been few who could match JR in terms of knowledge of four million acre property.
Johnny Rankine is an icon of Alexandria Station and indeed of the whole the bush trucking industry in the Northern Territory. Ross Peatling managed Alexandria for 23 years until his retirement in April 2014. He has known JR since meeting him at the Mount Isa Rodeo in 1972. Ross reckons he's never heard a bad word said about JR.
He's had a good influence on everyone that's ever gone through Alex. They could sit him on a four-gallon drum in the truck shed for the rest of his life and it'd be of huge value to the company. He's a true gentleman of the bush and one of the most loyal employees I ever had. He's a very humble sort of fella, and just a great bloke. I've never seen him rattled or wild.
JR's enthusiasm for his job and for life is appreciated by all who know him. His late wife Carol was also born and raised on Alexandria. His children, Debbie, Marcella, Rowan, Waylon and Damian all still live in the Territory.