Starting his career on the road as a motorcycle courier, Johnno, 51, now travels the country in his road train, documenting his travels on his YouTube channel, where his videos have amassed over 2.7 million views.
He’s away for weeks at a time, carrying all manner of freight to wherever it needs to go. Last year alone, he clocked up over 233,000 kilometres and spent 311 nights in the truck.
“I started in transport in 1990, but not in trucks. I was a motorcycle courier around Perth, back before emails, when every document had to be hand delivered,” Johnno said.
“I didn’t get into big trucks until 2011. I had always been interested but had never driven them. I got my HR licence, but couldn’t find any work, so thought why not upgrade my licence.”
For the past three and a half years, Johnno has worked for Deniliquin-based Lumbar’s Transport.
“We don’t have a regular run, we go anywhere. When I get to Perth I don’t ever know where I’m going on the return. It’s like a Kinder Surprise, I never know where I’m going to go. That’s the great thing about this job and why I’m able to make these videos. I get to travel all over the place. I’m usually away for three to four weeks at a time,” Johnno explained.
Through his Road Train Adventures YouTube channel, Johnno takes viewers along for the ride, travelling across the country in a Kenworth T909.
He’s gained quite the loyal following, and has had numerous truckies recognise him on his travels, whether it be at truck stops or by his voice over the radio.
Johnno moved from Perth to Melbourne five years ago – and when he chatted with Big Rigs, he was Perth-bound, with his wife and kids along for the trip – for the first time since the family moved to the east coast.
Along with the runs being quite diverse, so too are the loads. “It’s whatever people give me. Right now I have a prime over, a million dollar box trailer used for mining and then other mining equipment. The loads can be anything and that’s what’s so great about it, the variety,” explained Johnno.
Some of the footage he captures is simply stunning, including the incredible drone shots of the Bunda Cliffs that featured in a recent video called, “15 Days in a Road Train – Perth to Brisbane to Melbourne then back to Perth – Gear Changes”.
Published only three weeks ago, the video has already had over 122,000 views.
Johnno says he started incorporating drone footage into his videos early on, here’s why. “I started the drone footage soon after I started making the videos because I had some trouble getting the drive-by shots. I would run up the road and set up the tripod and camera, then run back to the truck, drive by and then run back to the camera. I thought, this is crazy, so I got the drone.”
A 42-minute video, ‘15 Days in a Road Train’ shows some of the impressive landscapes Johnno encounters along the way, while also doing some road train spotting and stopping to help a couple of fellow truckies who had broken down.
At a time when comradery and mateship out on the road isn’t quite like it used to be, Johnno is all too happy to stop and lend a hand whenever he can.
“I don’t know why, but people just don’t seem to stop and help anymore. People will see someone on the edge of the road and they keep on driving. Whenever I have time I always want to stop. That could be me one day, and I’d hope someone would do that for me too,” said Johnno.
As was the case recently when he was travelling the Ootann Road in Queensland. “I had a cracked radiator hose and had run out of water and couldn’t drive because it would just spray out. I tried to manufacture something using a Coke can, but then luckily a farmer came along and took me down to a creek with lots of buckets for water. I knew another driver would eventually come through, but luckily the farmer came along first. I had already been there for about four hours and when I did get going, I found out that the other company drivers were delayed and wouldn’t have been there for another 12 hours!”
In his videos, Johnno aims to show things how they are. “I like to break the videos up into different segments. I want to make it like a TV show and include different camera angles. I’m trying to put a variety of things into each episode. I want to make it interesting,” explained Johnno.
“If you read the comments, people enjoy that I show realistic stuff that really happens on the road, I don’t dramatise it.”
In his ‘15 Days in a Road Train’ video, Johnno pulls up in front of the broken down truck drivers.
After looking at their trailer, he notices the swing arm on the suspension has snapped, so he heads on over with his tools to see how he can help, getting under the truck to get it fixed.
He then travelled with them to the next parking bay to check that the wheels were turning properly, and that the brakes and wheels weren’t dragging.
The experienced and knowledgeable truckie says he’s learnt all he knows because he was never afraid to ask questions, adding that it’s important to help new truck drivers understand why this is so vital.
“I encourage people to ask questions because it’s much better to ask and look foolish than to not ask and look even more foolish!” Johnno said.
“When anything goes wrong with my truck, I would already know the symptoms, so I’d ask the mechanic what it was that went wrong in case it happens again.”