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Outback Truckers’ Sludge turns corner on road to recovery

The past year has been incredibly tough for Outback Truckers star Paul Andrews, better known as ‘Sludge’ – but it seems like things are finally looking up.

The popular truckie, 56, sustained serious head injuries in a motorbike accident in March 2023, and has faced an uphill battle to recovery.

However, fans will be pleased to hear he’s making a comeback to the small screen very soon, and will be appearing on Season 10 of the show that made him a household name in the world of trucking.

Sadly, he won’t be behind the wheel of his famous 2008 Peterbilt 379, The Phantom – but his wife Wendy will be.

“I have mixed emotions about being back on Outback Truckers,” Sludge told Big Rigs.

“I’m glad to be back, but I’d like to be driving the truck.

“I know I’m not ready to drive because it would wear me out and I would probably hurt myself, but it’s tough.”

Sludge and his beloved truck, The Phantom. Image: Sludge/Wendy Andrews

Wendy, 56, who has a truck licence but hasn’t driven a truck in over 30 years, admitted she was nervous to take on The Phantom.

“We looked into it and I could drive an MC on L plates, so they filmed me driving The Phantom for the very first time,” she said.

“Then they did a follow up and shot me doing a load of hay.

“I did get a bit scared because it’s going to be on Outback Truckers and I have no idea what I’m doing!
“But I think it’s quite entertaining to watch.”

Sludge spent his 55th birthday in hospital after a horrific motorcycle accident last year. Image: Sludge/Wendy Andrews

So far, the couple have filmed two episodes of Outback Truckers for Season 10, and Sludge hopes he will be able to shoot a third if his health allows.

“The way I’m going, I’d like to start driving a little bit again in the next month or two.

“I just had a discussion with my physio, and she’s going to talk with my occupational therapist and we’ll come up with a way for me to do that.

“I would love to do a third episode of the show with me driving, but if I can’t drive, I’ll be paired up with a mate.”

He said fans of the show can look forward to a great series, which will be the first one to be released since 2021.

“Everyone is very motivated this year because we’ve all had a couple of years off,” he said.

“Steve [Graham] has filmed some cool stuff, and the other guys too.

“I think it’s going to be pretty good.”

Sludge and Wendy tied the knot in September 2023, and the team behind Outback Truckers – Prospero Productions – filmed it not just for the show, but as a gift to the couple.

“We don’t get anything out of doing the show, really, but it was huge for them to do that for us,” he said.

“That’s something we couldn’t have paid for, and it was very special to us.”

Sludge and Wendy tied the knot in September last year. Image: Sludge/Wendy Andrews

Wendy, who is a former police officer but has worked as a personal trainer for the past 15 years, wanted to postpone the wedding because of her partner’s accident.

“She wanted to put it off but I said ‘No way!’” Sludge continued.

“I’m lucky to be alive, I almost shouldn’t be here, and she has been with me through this whole journey.

“I’ve never had anyone who has stood beside me the way Wendy has, and getting married has made us even closer.”

He said Wendy’s devoted care, combined with lots of rest, has helped him to make good progress in his recovery – but he still has a long road ahead of him.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs,” he said.

“I was doing really well and then I fell off the perch again.

“I’m off most of the painkillers now, but still suffering from vertigo and fatigue.

“The fatigue is killing me – I can only be active for a couple of hours and then I will have to rest for a couple of hours before I can do anything again.”

Sludge said Wendy has been a huge support to him since his accident. Image: Sludge/Wendy Andrews

Sludge, who suffered a fractured skull and a bleed to the brain in the accident, is also struggling with memory loss.

“It feels like I’ve lost the last year of my life,” he said.

“There is so much I don’t remember. Even parts of my wedding day.

“It’s slowly getting better, but Wendy still has to come to everything with me.

“I went to the doctor’s office the other day and she had to write me a letter to bring with me, so I wouldn’t forget what she said.”

Despite his challenges, Sludge been getting out and about a bit more recently.

“It’s hard because people want to come up and talk to me, and I love talking to people but it tires me out now.

“Thankfully people have been really good. We went to Kulin Bush Races and they just said hello, that it was nice to see me looking well, got a photo with me and that was it.

“I just can’t handle when they want to ask a lot of questions.”

He added: “When I’m out with my friends, we don’t talk about what’s happened to me.

“I can take my mind off it, or if I’m worn out I can sit out of the conversation a bit and recover.”

Sludge and Wendy filming for Outback Truckers. Image: Sludge/Wendy Andrews

Although Sludge misses being in the driver’s seat of The Phantom, his brush with death has given him a new perspective on trucking and life in general.

“The accident, and losing a mate of mine in New Zealand, have made me realise that life is short,” he said.

“I never thought I would say I didn’t want to drive full-time anymore, but I really don’t.

“I will do it to earn a few dollars and to keep me sane.

“But I think the days of me being on the road five days a week are over.”
After spending decades on the road while his children were growing up, he wants to prioritise spending time with his grandkids.

“I love being around kids, so I want to spend a lot of time with my grandkids while still doing a bit of work,” he said.

“It’s all about balance.”

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