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Central West Queensland since 1923
Central West Queensland

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22 May, 2021

The Travelling Jackaroo

A nomadic gap year, a unique soul, this travelling jackaroo brightened the days of many in the central west.

By Kate Kiernan

Sam is parked at The Wellshot Hotel in Ilfracombe and shows off the ultimate adventure set-up. PHOTO: Kate Kiernan

OVER on the western roads! Look, is it a plane, is it a tractor, no it is the Travelling Jackaroo! 

The Travelling Jackaroo, also known as Sam Hughes, has been raising money for charities as he journeys across Australia. 

The eighteen-year-old from Maleny, near the Sunshine Coast, graduated from a Brisbane school last year and will be travelling the country on his gap year. 

“I figured I would do this trip before I invested in purchasing a home, and doing a charity run is something I have always wanted to do, so I have just done it in a different way,” said Sam. 

“I find Brisbane too busy, and I like smaller towns and this trip seemed like the perfect thing to do before I figure out what’s next.”  

Traveling in his 1957 Chamberlain 9G tractor that reaches a top speed of 35km an hour, Sam said he has been planning the trip since he was in Year 10.  

“Western Queensland is one stop along the way, I am doing this as I like helping people and I’ve always wanted to do a charity run, and I thought I would do one that is a little bit different.” 

“From Longreach, I will go to Winton, then Charters Tower, Hughenden Mout Isa, then down to Alice Springs, up to Darwin, Broome, Perth, across the Nullarbor, then through to Port Augusta. 

“I have everyone down south wanting me to come there than people in rural NSW wanting me to come through there too.  

“However, I think after I have done the Nullabor, I might just sleep for a few weeks,” joked Sam.  

The Nullabor Plain stretches for over 1256km and takes around five days to drive, located on the Great Australian Bight.  

Sam plans to be on the road for a year or two as he wants to enjoy his time travelling while finding work on stations. 

“I plan to stop and work as I go, maybe working at pubs, on stations, anywhere that he can park up for a bit and relax,” he said. 

Sam is raising money for three major charities, The Royal Flying Doctors (RFDS), Dolly’s Dream, and Drought Angels.  

“I always like helping people, the RFDS, they help everyone, and I figured I might as well give something back to them.  

“Dolly’s Dream is especially important, as no one deserves to be bullied, especially kids, I will do anything that I can do to help prevent and stop that. 

“Drought Angels – while I have been travelling and when I'm parked up at a pub, you are meeting people and hearing all sorts of stories, most of them are about the drought, and I wanted to do anything in a way to help with that.” 

Sam said he has estimated that he has raised $12,000 between the charities so far.  

“My family are really supportive of me doing this, but initially they had concerns, but they are immensely proud of me now,” he said. 

Sam purchased the plane that sits on top of his trailer himself for $400 from an airfield, it came with no wings or engine. 

“We slapped her together, painted her up as an RFDS plane and put her on the roof,” he said. 

“It is also a handy storage space and I do have a spare bed in the tail just in case.” 

The Travelling Jackaroo is very humbled for all the support. 

“I would have to say that meeting people has been one of the best parts of travelling, it is a really interesting lifestyle to be able to meet new people every single day.  

“Seeing all these people and hearing all their stories is an incredible thing to be doing and I feel very privileged.” 

“I have to say a huge thanks to my sponsors for everything they have done, as a lot of them 

 donated fuel.” 

“Savage Wreck are a big one and they have donated a significant amount of fuel, same with All Coast Tyre Solutions, I will need new tractor tyres when I get to Darwin, and they aren't exactly cheap. 

“Trade Mutt workwear have also been fantastic, and they have made me some shirts and they just last for ages, as long as you don’t get the tangled in a barbed-wire fence,” joked Sam. 

Sam also has some company on his journey, he picked up his eight-month-old puppy Bitsa from a pound in Charleville.  

Sam talked of some of the highlights of his trip so far and said tuning into Channel 40 provides some noteworthy and hilarious conversations between travellers.  

“One of the best parts about the trip is when you hear grey nomads or truckies talking on the radio when they pass you on the roads.  

"You hear them explain to each other what they have just passed or are about to pass and it is just hilarious.” 

There is not anything that Sam forgot to pack for his adventure, his set-up includes a portable movie screen, a motorbike, a Suzuki Sierra, a boat, and even a fairy floss machine. 

"This is my home away from home and I quite enjoy travelling, it’s a bit of a holiday for me and I love it,” said Sam. 

You can follow Sam’s adventure around the country on his Facebook ‘The Travelling Jackaroo.’ 

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