Graphic: The Travelling Jackaroo
At 18 years old, Sam Hughes is on the adventure of a lifetime, travelling around Australia in a 1957 Chamberlain 9G tractor, to raise funds for the RFDS (Queensland Section).
Sam has decked out a bright orange, 1957 Chamberlain 9G tractor called ‘Slim’, hitched up a similarly eye-catching trailer with the body of a small RFDS aircraft replica on top, and is making his way around Australia at a top speed of 40 kph.
Along the way, he’ll be raising money for the Flying Doctor, as he was always taught that if he can help others out, he should.
“The world’s not in a good place is it, so if I can make it a bit better, then I will,” Sam said.
Since he was 14, Sam has been working hard, buying and selling machinery that’s allowed him to buy the tractor and fit it out — and he’s always dreamed of seeing Australia.
“Mum and Dad think I’m nuts, but they’re also very proud now that I’ve started,” Sam said.
Sam originally planned a year off, but he now thinks it might extend to 18 months or more.
“The longer I travel, the more I raise for charity,” is how Sam looks at it.
His journey was interrupted by some mechanical issues at Roma but he managed to get these fixed and make history, being the first person to drive a tractor on the Roma drag strip.
“Slim cracked about 45 kph on the strip, much to the amusement of the dragsters doing 150 mph,” Sam told his Facebook followers.
“So yep that’s another thing to check off the bucket list, drag race a tractor.”
Sam says travel and road safety is his first priority, his second is to fill the many hours out on the road rocking out with a USB stick full of 1,500 Slim Dusty songs, along with a few other country music favourites.
When he’s not behind the wheel, he’s parked up for the night, sharing a meal with a nearby grey nomad group and his dog, Bitsa.
“I’m just one of the few 18-year-olds who likes to appreciate the landscape,” he said. “It’s always changing, and I enjoy meeting new people along the way.”
He knows it will be a long trip, full of ups and downs, but he’s grateful for the support he’s received from locals and his 45,000 social media followers.
“People are waiting along the way for me — I announce on my Facebook page that I’m leaving a town and they calculate when I’ll be going past their turnoff, to come out and give me a wave.”
“This support will help greatly in keeping this trip on the road, getting the word out and fundraising for RFDS.”
Sam is also prepared for any mechanical issues he might encounter throughout his long journey.
“At its core, this is a 50-year-old tractor taking up to a 13,500 km trip on rough dirt roads.”
It’s a tough ask, and there’s a long road ahead, but it’s all worth it if you ask Sam.