Rocky operator gets tick of approval for tribute truck

John Duggan, 54, is a huge fan of Jimmy Barnes, so when he ordered his new Kenworth Legend SAR, he decided to do something a little different and go all out. 

He and his wife Karen operate Duggan Bulk Haulage out of Rockhampton, with their trucks running across the country. 

Duggan has been in the driver’s seat for over 30 years. “I started driving trucks in 1985 and went on to road trains in 1988. Jimmy Barnes kept us awake at night when we were young fellas. He’s a good singer hey,” he said.

His foray into trucking started from a very young age. “My father owned garbage trucks. I was only six or seven when I started to learn how to drive a truck – I learned in a Bedford, then moved onto an old Acco. I spent a lot of time with my dad in the truck. At school, I would always look out the window and watch the trucks as they were going past.”

For a long time, Duggan had wanted to call a truck Freight Train Heart, which is the name of Barnes’ third studio album, released in November 1987. And now, Duggan has done exactly that. He was also lucky enough to meet his music idol in the process too. 

The new Legend SAR was purchased through Brown and Hurley Rockhampton and picked up in early July. 

Cyclone Airbrush and Graphics completed all of the artwork, before Duggan picked up his new ride at the Boondall Entertainment Centre, where Barnes was on hand to personally sign it.

John Duggan (left) with Jimmy Barnes, and airbrush artist Jeff Barrie.

Duggan started his business in 1993, with a single truck and a pair of grain tippers. But as he explained, it hasn’t always been an easy ride for him. “Things progressed from there and we got it to three trucks, working the pig business – then things turned bad. I went into bankruptcy and had to start all over again 18 months later, leasing a truck from a mate,” he recalled. 

Thankfully, things soon began to look up. These days, the transport operations are centred around grain, bulk and agricultural product, as well as ammonium nitrate. The company had tried its hand at cattle transport too at one stage, but Duggan decided to move away from that. 

A large portion of the grain and bulk work is for Coleman Stock Feeds, a major supplier of general and custom mix stock feeds, located in Queensland. It’s a contract the company has held for almost 20 years. 

This is the second Kenworth Legend to join Duggan’s fleet – the first being a 2015 Legend 950, which he named Speechless; dedicated to his daughter Maddy.

John Duggan’s 2015 Kenworth Legend 950 was named Speechless and is dedicated to his daughter, who has autism and is non-verbal. L-R: Jack, John, Maddy and Karen.

“Maddy is 14. She has autism, is non-verbal and has an intellectual impairment, so she communicates through her iPad,” said Duggan.

“There’s a fair bit involved when you have a child that can’t talk, so I wanted to help raise awareness for autism,” Duggan explained, adding that the truck also promotes Little Souls Taking Big Steps, an early intervention program for children with autism spectrum disorder, which has greatly assisted in getting Maddy to where she is today.

The artwork for this truck was also designed by Cyclone Airbrush and Graphics. As Maddy is affectionately known as Mouse, a cartoon mouse was incorporated into the artwork, along with the autism awareness puzzle ribbon. A special message on the passenger side reads, “For Mouse, lots O luv, Dad and Mum + Jack.”

Duggan Bulk Haulage owns five trucks all up. Joining the two Legends are a Kenworth T650 and T950, along with a vintage 1976 International ACCO 3070, which is currently in the paint shop getting restored. 

The new Legend SAR will be driven by Duggan, predominantly to transport ammonium nitrate across Australia, pulling double and triple road trains. 

The new Legend is named Freight Train Heart, after Barnes’ third studio album, released in November 1987.

Duggan wanted to make this truck extra special so he spoke with Jeff Barrie (aka ‘Cyclone’) at Cyclone Airbrush and Graphics to come up with a plan. 

“People often paint stripes and we looked at doing that sort of stuff but that’s not me, I like murals, something that tells a story,” said Duggan.

“I told Jeff that this will probably be the last truck I do up and that I wanted to do something with Jimmy Barnes. His plan was to have three different themes on the truck.”

On the passenger side, Jimmy Barnes stands in front of the Birdsville Hotel and a McIver’s Livestock Transport road train – as that’s where Duggan started his trucking career, employed as an offsider before working his way up to being a driver. 

Jeff Barrie (aka ‘Cyclone’) at Cyclone Airbrush and Graphics completed the new truck’s impressive artwork.

The artwork on the driver’s side is an ode to Barnes’ 1988 hit ‘Driving Wheels’, featuring the rock singer with two trucks that were inspired by those that were in the song’s video clip. For the song, the trucks were filmed travelling through various parts of the Hume Highway, however Duggan wanted to change the background artwork to a local theme: the Castlemaine Perkins brewery in Milton and Brisbane’s Story Bridge.  

At the back of the cabin, there’s the McArthur River mine, with an explosion behind it. “That’s where we deliver the ammonium nitrate,” said Duggan. It features the words ‘Australian Legends’ atop of the Kenworth logo. While the other two images of Barnes show him in his younger years, this artwork shows him today and also includes some lyrics from the ‘Driving Wheels’ track along with the autism awareness puzzle ribbon.

Once the truck was complete, Cyclone Airbrush and Graphics contacted Barnes’ production manager to see if the singer would like to come and have a look – and he jumped at the opportunity. 

During the meet, Barnes signed his autograph on all three artworks. “I had never met Jimmy Barnes before, so it was great to meet him. You don’t get too many opportunities like that in life. And he loved the truck and how it had the old Jimmy and the young Jimmy – but he reckons the younger shots are better!”

A special thanks to Mark Beutel Photography for sharing his awesome pics of the new Legend SAR.

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