LOCAL LEGENDS: George Johnston

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Back to the Bush – Australian Legends and Larrikins

Local Legend: George Johnston

Sawmiller, Labourer, Machinery Operator, Truck Driver, School Bus Driver, Fuel Distributor, Volunteer, Footy player, Part time Grey Nomad, Bush Poet, Husband, Father, Grandfather and an all-round bloody good bloke is how George Johnston lived his life in the Miles District.

George loved Betty, he loved a beer and smoke, and he loved writing and presenting his poetry. 


Not only was George a Legend around these parts, but he was a bit of Larrikin as well. Often George would love to have a yarn to his many mates over a Cold Fosters “Blue Heeler” Stubby or a Bundy Rum while puffing on a Log Cabin rollie – fitting the theme perfectly.

George’s Steel Cap Thongs!

The photo of the Steel capped thongs is of a pair of thongs that George’s brother Francis and I made for him when he was coming into the fuel depot to collect fuel for farm deliveries (we wouldn’t get away with it these days). 

George was born in Miles in 1941 and raised in Miles. He spent his early childhood attending school, until he decided he had had enough of School and went out to join the workforce. This set the precedent for the rest of his life, where George worked hard and played hard as well. George worked at various locations in the NT & WA, as well as a stint in NZ. Returning home to Miles where in 1965 George married his sweetheart Betty. 

George and Betty started their 54 years together living in Drillham and raising their family. They ran the Fuel Depot in Drillham and had two school bus runs transporting the many children around the Drillham farms to the Drillham State School. George once said that driving the kids on the Bus were some of the best days of his life. GW & BD Johnston Fuel Agents ceased trading in 2001, and in 2009 George and Betty sold their remaining bus run.

George’s Bush Poetry

They purchased a motorhome and travelled all over Australia. George took up writing poetry on his many exploits during his life and published two books as well as a CD. 

George was a very community minded man and helped at many working bees, donated his time, money and equipment to get things built around the region. George won a Rugby League premiership with his beloved Miles Devils in 1966, playing alongside his best mate of many years Sandy Hinz. George was made a Life Member of the Miles Race Club in 2011. 

‘He loved a beer and smoke’

George passed away in August 2019 after a long battle with illness. George William Bloody Johnston you truly were one of our District’s Legends and at times a Bloody Larrikin.

This Tribute Written by Ken Brown