When young outback driver John Woodall told me his nickname was Splinter, my curiosity buds were tantalised.
From Winton in Queensland, 25-year-old Woodall drives a Kenworth 909 for Woodham Petroleum Services which is based at Walgett in NSW, but has depots at other places around NSW and Queensland.
A chip off the old family block, Woodall told me that his father John, who is his genuine role model, was also a truckie.
“Dad’s nickname is Woody so they started calling me Splinter which is a small piece of wood. That is how the nickname came about,” he said.
It was raining lightly the day I saw Woodall along the Townsville Port Access Road.
Woodall was carrying fuel in his triple between Townsville and Boulia which is 1000km away.
“I live in Winton but travel around and love the job and life in the outback,” he said.
A truckie for the past four years Woodall likes stopping at the Morven Roadhouse near Roma when in the area.
“It is very good there for truckies and the staff are very friendly,” he said.
He was wearing a cap with a screen printed pic of the Julia Creek Roadhouse on the front.
Julia Creek is 650km west of Townsville and its roadhouse is also well patronised by drivers.
I asked Woodall if he found it boring and a challenge to travel the 360km highway between Winton and Boulia.
Along that stretch there is only one building, the Middleton Hotel, which more than 100 years ago had been a Cobb and Co coach station.
“I actually like driving along that highway as there is usually not much traffic,” he said.
Like many drivers who work and live in the tropics Woodall is a passionate supporter of the North Queensland Cowboys in the NRL.
The Cowboys may not be travelling so well in season 2021 but Woodall is confident they will improve over coming months.
Outside work, Woodall enjoys shooting feral pigs and other activities such as camping and four-wheel driving.
When he does manage to snare a few days off, Woodall said he enjoyed a Great Northern beer or a Jack Daniel’s to quench a thirst.
“The people where I live are generally very friendly,” he said.
Near Woodall was veteran truckie Steve Deal who described him as a “genuine bushie”.
“Splinter is the sort of bloke we need in the road transport industry and is a young fellow as well,” Deal said.
After such glowing praise I had to feel that Woodall was indeed the “real deal”.