For more than four decades, Andy Barra has owned and run his popular roadhouse just south of Ingham in north Queensland.
Barra celebrated his 80th birthday on September 2 last year and still works daily at Andy’s Roadhouse, along with driving his 1979 Mack around the district.
“It was a big party and went on for two days. I just loved it,” Barra told me.
Two of the guests at the party were MP’s Bob Katter and Nick Dametto.
“Happy 80th birthday to the man, the myth, and the legend. You have achieved so much in this lifetime with much more to come I’m sure, but the true measure of success is the family and friends that surround you,” Dametto said.
One of the questions I ask every truckie I interview at random weekly is about their favourite roadhouse.
Numerous mention Andy’s and they have been based as far away as WA, SA, Victoria, NSW and the NT and had been travelling through the north.
When I was down in Tasmania recently a couple who had previously worked in the tropics asked me if Andy was still around.
The truckies I have spoken to about Barra have been glowing in their praise for this gentleman who is one of the best known identities at Ingham, which is 110km north of Townsville.
He is friendly, always up for a chat and serves up good food including what many describe as amongst the best burgers in the country.
“I do get plenty of good comment about our burgers,” Barra said.
A community minded citizen, Barra also sponsors events and runs a well attended country and western entertainment event at the roadhouse; as well as a boxing tournament.
Now that Barra has entered his eighties, I had to ask him what were amongst the biggest changes he has seen over the decades in the industry. “A lot of the older drivers used to stop here but not so anymore. Sadly many have passed away,” he said in conclusion.