Ashley James (AJ) Johnson was born in 1945 in Bourke New South Wales. He grew up on the family property 'Woolbuna' in Quilpie. Ashley's father, James Albert Johnson used horse teams to move cattle and freight? He then purchased one of the first trucks around Bourke, predominately internationals. The principle of the first truck, for Ashley and his brothers, Vaughn, Brendan and Adrian was to cart livestock between the family properties 'Woolbuna' and 'Ercildourne' in Tambo. This was a dodge prime mover with a single axle trailer and a 2x1 sheep and cattle crate on it. In 1968 the Johnson family were approached by Pat Ord from HF & PF Ord Transport Company to cart for hire as there was a need for carrying at that time. In early 1969 Johnson Brothers purchased the Shell Depot and Service Station in Tamba and a V8 petrol Dodge body truck to cart freight between Blackall and Tambo. Some of the first trucks Ashley drove didn't have air conditioning, heating or sleeper cabs so he spent many nights under the stars in his swag beside the truck. Ashley carted anything from wool and hay to bull dozers, blade ploughs, general freight and livestock. The dirt roads in the early days were always testing. In the wet season the trucks would get bogged and Ashley would have to unload the cattle to get out. Ashley was among the first to hook up 2 x 40ft 12m double deck trailers and take two double deckers into 'Strathmore Station' Croyden. It was a wild road getting in.
Ashley semi retired seven years ago but still carts the odd load of cattle for his sons who now run the business. Ashley guides his sons in the way of working through mechanical issues, maintenance on their trucks, ordering parts and just talking to people in the industry. Ashley had a lot of good times on the road saying "there was a lot of camaraderie between the drivers, we would put the billy on, on the side of the road and if someone had a busted tyre we would pull over to give them a hand".
Together with his brothers, Ashley spent 40 years trading Johnson Bros Transport who were renowned for their reliability and capable drivers. This April will mark 50 years in the road transport industry.