After speaking to owner-operator Jason Tuttle for less than a minute at a hook-up pad beside Townsville’s Port Access Road I could tell he was raised in the country.
Tuttle was friendly and courteous and had the persona of somebody who was a country lad.
“Yes, I grew up on Devoncourt Station out at Cloncurry,” said Tuttle, who drives a Western Star 4900.
The 51-year-old has just the one truck and has been an owner-operator for more than a year.
His business name is Tutt’s Transport and he gets to travel far and wide from his base in Townsville these days.
“I am carrying steel for a cattle property out west and should have a back load of containers from Cloncurry,” he said.
As for the subject of Covid-19, which seems to affect every truckie in some form, I asked Tuttle for his opinion.
“Covid has affected us all financially. The price of diesel and tyres have gone through the roof because of it. Of course, that increases our running costs which we have to pass on to customers who jump up and down about it. But if we don’t then we go broke.
“I have had both my injections and follow the rules,” he added.
Tuttle stands at 164cm and I asked him did he have a nickname, pondering something like “Shorty.”
“Everybody just calls me Tutts and I have a good life,” he said.
Sharing his knowledge of the industry, Tuttle said there were not enough truckie-friendly rest areas.
But he also said they were not the only thing which could do with an increase in numbers.
“I reckon we need more roadhouses which are open 24 hours a day where we can pull anytime and have a meal and a shower,” he said.
However, Tuttle was glowing in his praise for one – the Winton Roadhouse which he reckons ticks the boxes.
“They serve up the best meals and big ones as well. The facilities are clean and tidy. Also, the Gold City Roadhouse at Charters Towers provides excellent meals but the building could do with an upgrade,” he said.
As for bad roads, Tuttle echoed the comments of many other truckies.
“Most roads in Queensland could do with work,” he said.
Outside the job, Tuttle enjoys rugby league football and used to be a tough hooker in games at Cloncurry and later on in Townsville.
“These days I barrack for the North Queensland in the NRL and watch my boys play in the juniors,” he said.
About 10 minutes later as I drove along the highway, I pulled over to answer a call.
It was Tuttle who passed on a few extra snippets of info he had forgot to tell me.
We yarned for several minutes and agreed to talk regularly as Tuttle could advise me on any happenings he spotted on the highways and byways.
Ironically, or perhaps coincidentally, just afterwards, the popular song Country Bumpkin was played on the radio station I was listening to.