Graphic: A young man stands in front of an orange tractor. He is a wearing bright orange work shirt and old hat and is smiling at the camera.
The bridge between school and stepping foot into the real world is often a rocky one - we never know exactly what we can expect. But for the Travelling Jackeroo, the journey was crystal clear.
At just 18 years old, Sam Hughes, or as he is affectionately known, ‘The Travelling Jackeroo’, set out to travel Australia - decking out an unmissable bright orange 1957 Chamberlain 9G tractor to raise vital funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section).
The Travelling Jackeroo was originally a gap-year project, with the intention of travelling Australia and raising some money throughout the journey - but Sam never would have anticipated such national support - raising over $80,000.
His parents worried he was being too ambitious in his objectives at first, but still gave their full support to help him get on the road.
“Mum and dad think I’m nuts, but they have always been very proud and supportive,” Sam said.
“Once I got the idea, I just knew I had to fulfil it. I needed to make a difference somehow and they gave me their full support.”
Sam experienced mechanical issues at Roma, but this interruption inspired him to recharge and propel forward - being the first person to ever drive a tractor on the Roma drag strip.
“At Roma I was faced with some technical challenges, but I knew this was simply a bump in the road to fulfilling my goal,” Sam said.
“I have had overwhelming support and seeing the donations grow pushed me to overcome these challenges - I knew I had to keep going.”
This admirable approach to supporting the RFDS saw people across the country get behind their newest hero, the Travelling Jackeroo.
Sam spent any spare time he had on his journey recharging and connecting with the community, developing meaningful relationships, and embracing the Australian spirit.
Since embarking on the journey, Sam’s social media followers have grown to upward of 45,000 people - a community of individuals keeping their eye out for the bright orange tractor and stopping for a chat if there’s time.
“The landscape is always changing, and I am continually meeting new people from places I once thought I would never see.”
“It’s a long trip, full of ups and downs, but knowing that there are people supporting me and waiting for me has been hugely rewarding,” Sam said.Sam’s incredible efforts have not gone unnoticed, and last year he was even nominated for the RFDS Local Hero Awards.
“It’s a tough task, and there’s a long road ahead, but it’s all well worth it,” Sam said.
The RFDS (Queensland Section) operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide exceptional emergency care to people no matter where they live, work, or travel throughout Queensland. The comprehensive healthcare service relies on the generosity of individuals like Sam to keep the Flying Doctor in the sky.
We are extremely grateful for Sam’s efforts and are so proud to have the support of such an invested and engaged community raising vital funds for the RFDS.