Graham Harsant with John
Graham Harsant with John "The Ferret" Moran.

This could be Ferret’s last days

THIS is a column I don’t want to write.

I got a phone call the other day.

It was from my mate and yours, John “The Ferret” Moran.

I picked up the phone and said, “Hey old mate. How are you?”

“G’day Kermie, mate. I’m in hospital and I’m buggered, mate.”

With The Ferret’s blessing, it is my sad duty to inform the transport industry that he is in hospital on the Sunshine Coast with a return of the non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that he had about two years ago.

At that time he underwent six months of chemotherapy and survived it.

It’s come back, as Johnny himself said, “To bite me on the arse. The doctors have given me four months to live – maybe.”

It appears that the non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is in 61 spots in his body.

He knows he is not going to come out the other side.

Typically, he is more upset for his adored wife, Margot, then he is himself.

As he said to me he has had a long, colourful, varied and very gratifying life.

The Ferret changed this industry’s perception of itself and to the wider world.

Johnny is 88 and if this industry has its icons, he is way, way up the totem pole.

He kept truckies entertained for decades, via Big Rigs and Truckin’ Life, with both his wit and his wisdom.

His knowledge of the trucking industry and the people in it are second to none.

Commencing his writing career with Truckin’Life, Ferret walked out the door when an upstart deputy editor told him that his words “weren’t proper English”.

John Moran is the founder of the Brisbane Convoy for Kids.
John Moran is the founder of the Brisbane Convoy for Kids.

He was welcomed with open arms by Big Rigs and wrote in these pages for a time until, one day the editor told him that regretfully he would have to let him go as he was not a qualified journalist and the other “qualified” journalists weren’t happy.

As Ferret puts it, “I write – therefore I am a writer.”

His style resounded with the readers who made his columns the most popular of any in the publications in which he was published.

He went beyond the pages of those publications, writing both songs and poetry which were released in book and CD form.

Along with his writing, Ferret is the patron of many Convoys for Kids around the country, co-founding the original event based in Brisbane in 1989.

For his charitable work he received recognition in the form of an Order of Australia Medal in 2014.

He was also inducted into The Hall of Fame in 2002.

For many years he loved packing up the caravan and heading for truck related events around the country with Margo.

From carting pineapples out of Yeppoon, to stock carting, through general haulage to tankers, Ferret pretty well did it all, and his writings drew on those experiences.

To this day he continues to be bemused and humbled by the obvious esteem in which he is held.

convoy – Brett Boys with Founder and Patron of Convoy for Kids, John
convoy – Brett Boys with Founder and Patron of Convoy for Kids, John "The Ferret" Moran.

He related a story of attending a function of which he was patron.

A couple came up to him and sheepishly asked if he was The Ferret.

They then, even more sheepishly, asked if it would be OK if they could have a photo taken with him.

They heard he would be at the do and had flown over from New Zealand just to meet him. “Couldn’t bloody believe it!”

He and I have met just the once face-to-face, at the Brisbane Convoy for Kids many years ago.

Like the NZ couple I asked if we could be photographed together as I am a great admirer of his writings.

To my surprise and pleasure he returned the compliment.

That photo sits on my desk to this day and we’ve kept in touch since.

Although in hospital, facing the biggest battle of his life, he took the time to call me and have a chat.

Ours is a more recent friendship than many but John Moran does not count friendship by years.

Ever the one to thank others he said; “The nurses and doctors pop in to see me to make sure I’m comfortable but there’s not a lot else they can do. The way they treat me is just wonderful.”

As though he doesn’t deserve such care. That’s our Ferret.

The entire industry will be thinking about you, John, and collectively praying for peace to you and yours in the coming months.

We love you mate.

Big Rigs

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