John ‘Roothy’ Rooth is the best known bush mechanic in Australia. His cheeky style of driving, ability to keep an old truck running and comical bush cooking segments for over fifteen years of 4WD Action presentations have earnt him a place in the hearts and minds of Australia’ bush loving demographic.
It’s been a long track to the top though. His early years were spent on a sheep station in the Flinders Ranges in the days when all roads north of Adelaide were still dirt. His boyhood mates were the local Adjamanta kids and his passion was machinery. After leaving school he worked as a bridge carpenter in country NSW before a broken arm – motorcycling! – and Gough Whitlam’s government saw him go to university to study Australian History. He supported himself maintaining mining machinery on weekends and fixing bikes during the week. A year’s high school teaching followed and then back to the bush, this time prospecting for opal and gold. John and his brother Nick kicked off a company called RBM, Rooth Brothers Mining, possibly Australia’s worst run business but a whole lot of travel and fun!
Those bush years saw plenty of job experience including driving and maintaining harvesters, running a shearing team (and filling in for the cook), shooting feral pigs for the German market and filling in for the primary school librarian. He also began writing for magazines as a freelancer.
After selling up in Lighting Ridge Roothy took off overseas thumbing rides overland from Indonesia through Asia, India and Europe. Along the way he did a lap of Burma on an old BSA, drove six wheel drive buses in Nepal, got thrown out of Tibet by the Chinese army and ran out of money courting an Irish girl in Cork. A trip to an Aussie bank in Dublin, a new account and John bankcarded his way back to Australia just in time to take up a job testing motorcycles for Two Wheels magazine.
The next six years saw a lighting fast progression through the publishing company ranks as lifestyle magazines took off – if anyone knew about lifestyle is was John Rooth! However the country kid couldn’t handle Sydney and after six years on the city treadmill that saw him rise to managing editor Roothy left to go bush again.
After finally getting nailed down by Karen – his long suffering Handbrake – Roothy gave up the tour bike business to raise a family and get back into magazines, building a career with 4WD’s, caravans and motorhomes just as this market kicked into top gear. His practical knowledge as a bush mechanic and love of travelling this country soon saw John back on the tracks, this time hosting DVD’s for Express Media.
This time around Roothy kept coming up against new gates and restrictions traveling the land he loved. It prompted him to start the ‘Don’t Lock Up Australia’ protests which eventually morphed into the bush recreation lobby group ‘Unlock Australia’. His passion for the cause, prompted by three teenage children who all love their time spent camping, saw John leave full time work in 2013 to devote his time to getting the Unlock ball rolling.
Then along came Dustem Up and the chance to saddle up Milo and hit the tracks again with his old mates Hasbeen and Kenno. Did he think about it for long?