He is only 17 years old, recently passed his driving test and is about to embark on a gap year adventure like no other.
Maleny’s Sam Hughes, otherwise known as the Travelling Jackaroo, is planning the outback trip of a lifetime as he prepares to travel 13,500 kilometres on a bright orange tractor.
Many locals may recognise the young man, who regularly drives into the main street of Maleny on the weekends.
“Most kids have a gap year,” he says. “I love tractors and I thought, why not do something different.”
Sam will drive a fully restored Chamberlain 9G tractor on a yet-to-be finalised route across the Australian outback fundraising for three charities along the way.
“I will be stopping in all the major country town to fundraise,” he says.“The tractor only goes 45 to 50 kilometres per hour, so it should be interesting.”
He is also having a trailer custom built to tow a car and store essential items, and as if he wasn’t a conversation starter enough, the trailer will be fitted with the fuselage of an old plane on top.
“I actually bought a plane wreckage from Caboolture Airfield a while ago and I was thinking I would do it up and put it on top of a shed or something,” Sam says.
“Then when I started planning this I thought, hey, what if put the plane on the roof of the trailer?”
With one of his chosen charities being the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Sam has been in touch with the charity to have the plane, which will double as a sleeping space for his long journey, painted to look like a working aircraft.
“I chose the Royal Flying Doctors Service because if you speak to anyone in the bush, everyone knows someone who has been saved by them.”
Sam is also supporting Dolly’s Dream, to raise awareness for bullying, and Lights on the Hill Trucking Memorial, in recognition of the sacrifices truck drivers make to do their job.
“I think it’s important to give back and I have grown up being taught if you have money to spend you have money to give.”
Sam says he is grateful so far with the support form local business and other major companies who have come on board to sponsor or donate to the journey.
Currently busy with final year 12 exams and with plans to set off some time in February 2021, Sam says he is excited and nervous for the journey ahead and hopes his journey will leave a legacy for years to come.
To support Sam, visit gofundme.com and search ‘The Travelling Jackaroo’.