Over the last four weeks, a food van called Nan & Pop’s Tucker Box has found a home at Yaamba Rest Area on the Bruce Highway.
Set up by husband and wife duo Peter and Joanne Dehaas – aka Nan and Pop – it’s a licenced food van offering delicious homemade fare, from coffees, breaky wraps and burgers, to steaks, fish and chips, baked goods and more.
Both aged 60, the couple has 15 grandkids between the ages of three to 21, so the name seemed like a perfect fit.
The couple have lived in the area for the past 15 years and in Yaamba itself for almost five. The small town is home to less than 100 people and is located about 40 kilometres north of Rockhampton.
Peter, who is also a diesel fitter by trade, began driving trucks in the late 1980s. He spent many years as an interstate driver, including driving road trains to Darwin and Perth.
He’s also owned his own trucks, most recently working as an owner driver, doing the run between Brisbane and Cairns in his 2003 Kenworth K104 Aerodyne.
“I had a go on my own again, then fuel got to $2.20 a litre so I decided to give it up about 18 months ago. I only just sold the K104,” explained Peter.
“I’ve worked away most of my life as an interstate driver, worked in the mines. We’ve just clicked over to 60 so I thought, let’s spend some more time together. I had a yarn to Jo and said how about we give this a go.”
And that’s exactly what they did. “When I was a driver, I’d always seen that parking bay just out of Yaamba and thought there was a need for something like this there. Truckies who park up there wake up in the morning and then they can’t get a cup of coffee until they get to Marlborough – and if you miss that, it’s not until you’re up near Sarina.
“I would say a good 90 per cent of our customers are truck drivers – and we’ve targeted that market as well.”
Already, it’s been a welcome addition to the rest area, particularly for the truckies who regularly use the route.
“We’re the right distance from Brisbane too for drivers to arrange their trip, so they can stop here for their break and then wake up and have their breakfast,” said Joanne.
“We do a good breaky wrap and that’s become a favourite for breakfast. Our egg and bacon burgers are also popular. We had one driver tell us one of our burgers was the best burger he’d had in 100 years – he only looked 40, so he’s kept his age really well!”
The secret to their delicious food options is that everything is cooked fresh. They make their own rissoles, sausages, pickles, sauces and biscuits. Even the chicken breasts are bought fresh and then sliced and crumbed by Joanne.
“We try and make everything we can ourselves, so it’s fresh and we know what’s in it,” added Peter. “The only thing I can’t organise is the fish because Jo won’t buy me a big boat!” he joked.
“I pride myself on my food. I don’t know how many times as a driver myself I’d pull up and there’s nothing but hot boxes. We got rid of the hot box, so if you want something, we cook it there in front of you.”
With a shaded seating area close by, meals such as steak and salad, or fish and chips, are served on a plate, for drivers to sit down and enjoy.
“I’ve always believed that if you walk away from my food still hungry, then I’m not doing it right. I’m no chef, but I believe in good wholesome food. Sometimes it’s not the best looking thing on the plate, but I guarantee you’ll enjoy it and it’ll fill you up,” Peter said.
“We have a loyalty card too so if truckies are short on time and rushed on the hours, they can give us a ring and we’ll have their meal ready for them to pick up on their way through.”
Both Peter and Joanne have been overwhelmed with the support they’ve received, particularly from the trucking community. “Their support has been absolutely amazing,” Peter said. “But as I tell everybody, we are not thin-skinned. If we’ve put something out on the plate that isn’t satisfactory, come back and tell us, because if we don’t get that feedback we won’t know and will keep putting that bad thing out!”
Nan & Pop’s Tucker Box has also set up a Facebook page with a ‘Rig of the week’ photo competition they’ve started for a bit of fun. Peter posts a photo of a truck on his Facebook page each week – and if that’s your truck, you win a free coffee and a breakfast wrap or burger.
Nan & Pop’s Tucker Box is currently open from 5am-4pm from Sunday to Tuesday, and Thursday to Friday. It is closed on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
*UPDATE: This business has now closed.