Going Walkabout

Host: Kadaitcha Pastoral Company
Written by Sam Chisholm

I was born a rambling man, there’s no two ways about it. I’ve been living out of a bag since I went to boarding school at 10 years old. After school, becoming a mustering pilot was a natural progression, not that it came to me naturally; I was pretty useless at 18 when I started mustering and wrecked my fair share of helicopter parts much to the chagrin of my employer. Thankfully my job was kept intact and I survived long enough to see some of the most beautiful parts of Australia from the air. It’s the nomadic lifestyle I enjoyed the most, everyday there were new faces, new challenges, ever-changing country, secret fishing spots and then a big holiday over the wet season (if you didn’t get conned into flood fencing).

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I’d always try and go somewhere different in my time off. One year I went dog sledding in Sweden and another I chased a giraffe on horseback across the Masai Mara in Kenya. Last year alongside 2 mates, I flew to London, bought a $500 rice-bubble car and drove to Russia. Well in actual fact we only drove as far as Mongolia because we blew the car up and had to hitchhike to Russia, but close enough right? Along the way we managed to raise $18,000 for the Royal Flying Doctors, an essential service that’s close to the hearts of everyone living in the bush.

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On that trip I met a guy cruising around the world on a motorbike and though “Hey, that looks pretty bloody awesome” and the fire was lit. 6 months later I found myself on a flight to Argentina to pick up the bike I had purchased to ride the Americas. Thanks to my Cousin James who stepped up and took the reigns of our small but growing Cattle Empire, Kadaitcha Pastoral Company, I could drop everything in pursuit of this ridiculous plan to ride from Argentina to Alaska.

Somehow my 2 mates Mick and Eustie were game enough (or naïve enough) to come as well and both bought themselves a motorbike. Eustie only knew how to ride a horse and had to borrow the next-door neighbors motorbike to get his license 2 weeks before the trip.

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We started on the 4th of January in Chile riding down through Patagonia to Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of the world. From there, over the next 10 months I went through 15 different countries to make it up to Canada to wait out the winter. Both Mick and Eustie had to return home to work much to their disappointment but not before having a hell of a time and creating memories that will last a lifetime. For all the stories visit www.wayofftrack.com.au or @wayofftrack on Facebook

The journey wasn’t without its difficulties, having no Spanish, an out of date map and second hand motorbikes got us into plenty of trouble. Our first blog was titled ‘All the gear and no idea’. I even managed to hit a cow in the jungles of Ecuador at 90km an hour. It smashed the bike to pieces but luckily the cow and I were ok. With plenty of duck tape and cob n co’s I got her back on the road and made it to Colombia for better repairs. Its been a learning curve that’s for sure and I’ve picked up a few things along the way which will stay with me for life including; surfing, Spanish, police negotiations (in Spanish), contraband smuggling, dodgy bike mechanics, lessons on Latin women and lightning fast reactions used to dodgy street dogs, chickens and stray cows.

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Throughout the trip we have been supporting Tie Up the Black Dog committee who are helping to increase awareness about depression and mental illness in rural Australia. TUBD: Depression and mental illness are issues which affect many Australians, regardless of age, status, gender, occupation or geographic location. In our rural and remote communities, depression and mental illness is a serious issue taking an alarming toll on sufferers as well as their family and friends. Please take the time to visit their website and any loose change you can spare will go a long way to help in providing avenues of support for sufferers of depression and other mental health issues across rural and remote Australia. www.tieuptheblackdog.wordpress.com

For me going on adventures is a way to find balance and perspective in my life and a way of keeping sane. Ironic isn’t it, doing something insane keeps one sane. Seeing how the rest of the world lives makes me realize how lucky we are at home. Whoever said, “Australia is the lucky country” wasn’t wrong.

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Not everyone gets the chance to drop everything and vanish into the Americas so I am thankful to have the opportunity to do so although, you don’t have to disappear on back of a motorcycle for 12 months to have an adventure. That’s for crazy people, but you do need to try something different once in a while. It’s surprisingly liberating to throw away your schedule for even a few weeks and follow your curiosity, learn something new. It really not as hard as you might think, the toughest part is taking that first step.

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My goal is to reach the top of Alaska next year after the snow melts. Its 10,000 km from where I am now in Banff, Canada to Deadhorse, Alaska and the way is full of bears which scare the shit out of me but I have no doubt I’ll make it there. Until then I am going to do a ski instructors course in Canada and hopefully get a job teaching people to ski.

Can I ski? I grew up in the desert, what do you think…

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