Small fleet owner Dave Barnes, who travels around Australia making deliveries, is often accompanied by his pet dog Willa, which goes by the nickname ‘Battery’.
It was an unusual place to meet a truckie at an airport and to glean a story from him, but that’s exactly how I met the 48-year-old truckie.
He was standing near an eatery waiting for a flight at Brisbane airport. I saw a company logo on his shirt for a trucking company and asked if he was a driver.
And indeed, he was. His business is called Queensland Truckers – and Barnes and his dog are well known at roadhouses and rest areas around the country.
Why the mutt would be named Battery really sparked my curiosity so I asked Barnes the reason.
“Willa travels everywhere with me and is called Battery because I say the truck won’t start without her,” he said.
Born at Lithgow in NSW and now based at Newcastle, Barnes started the company four years ago and now runs three trucks – a cabover Kenworth, a Freightliner Argosy and a Mack.
Barnes travels around Australia, getting to remote regions like the Pilbara in WA and around the Northern Territory. He has an extensive knowledge of the industry.
I spoke to him by phone a few weeks after our chance meeting and he was travelling along the Flinders Ranges in SA, heading for Moomba in the Argosy.
“I am carrying some drilling material. It’s around 32 degrees and hot,” he said.
Barnes loves stopping at the Daly Waters Roadhouse in the NT, at Roebuck Plains in WA and the day before had called into the Puma at Port Augusta in SA.
“They serve up a very good feed there and I do enjoy a big breakfast,” he said.
Barnes grew up on a farm at Wingham in NSW and one of the first trucks he drove was an old International.
A trademark of Barnes is his black Akubra hat.
He also barracks for the Brisbane Broncos during the NRL season – and was still disappointed that the Broncos had squandered an 18-point lead in the recent NRL grand final going down to the Penrith Panthers by just two points.
“I really thought the Broncos had it won,” he said.
However his all time favourite NRL player is retired Cowboys superstar Johnathon Thurston who is known as JT. He led the NQ side to their only NRL premiership in 2015, defeating the Broncos narrowly in the decider.