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'Freedom is priceless': Why Gagan is taking a four-month solo trip through the Australian outback

Perth based Punjabi migrant Gagan Sarwara. Source: Supplied by Gagan Sarwara

With a love of Australian history and a hunger for adventure, Gagan Sarwara will set off on a four-month solo voyage around the outback in his 4WD. The Perth-based vlogger says he hopes to inspire the migrant community to get off the beaten track when it comes to travelling.

Having just installed an air-fryer and a microwave in his Land Cruiser Prado, Gagan Sarwara is all but ready for his Australian outback odyssey.


Highlights

  • Perth-based Gagan Sarwara is ready to set off on a four-month solo trip around the Australian outback in January
  • He has been offroading for the last ten years and recently started posting videos of his travels
  • Through his vlogs, he wants to spread awareness in the community about the importance of travelling

From January 2022, the 33-year-old is taking a break from his solar panel business and hitting the road.

Setting off from Perth, he plans to head east along the Canning Stock Route. He will pass through the Kimberley and stop off in Darwin before continuing through Central Queensland. Other stops on his trip include Fraser Island, Alice Springs, Coober Pedy and Kalgoorlie before he returns to Perth.

The total distance: approximately 15,000 km.

punjabi australian outback
A map showing the route Mr Sarwara plans to take around Australia on his four-month solo trip.
Supplied by Mr Sarwara

Mr Sarwara tells SBS Punjabi he's not fazed by the distance.

"I came to Brisbane as a student in 2010, but after my permanent residency in 2016, I moved to Perth out of my sheer love of the outback and Indigenous culture.

"I packed my stuff and set off for Western Australia from Queensland in my car. The trip took around 25 days as I stayed 2-3 days in various towns to experience the Australian heritage," says the travel freak.

Asked to pick a highlight of his previous trips, Mr Sarwara is glowing in his praise for Mount Augustus, the world's largest single rock, where he was amazed by the Indigenous art.

"Burringurrah is what the local Wadjari Aboriginal people call Mount Augustus. I stayed alongside a waterfall formed by water cascading over the rocks and it is beautiful.

"Indigenous people have been generous in my experience," he shares excitedly.

aboriginal rock art
Indigenous rock art, Mount Augustus.
Supplied by Mr Sarwara
Previously, he has driven the Wool Wagon Pathway and Kingsford Smith Mail Run in his quest to experience the Australian outback.

He traces his sense of adventure back to his upbringing in Sri Ganganagar, India, a desert land converted to green.

"When I was a kid, my dad had a Jeep. I still remember the special feeling when my dad drove me through the sandy desert farms back home.

A 4WD gives you the freedom of driving on any terrain, and the feeling of being free is priceless

Not all smooth sailing

While Mr Sarwara encourages others to explore the outback, he cautions against being over-confident.

"In one of my initial trips, I got stuck at Fraser Island due to naivety. As the tides were low, I drove through a beach area, but my jeep got stuck there and sunk in water.

"There was no phone signal, we were stranded there for the whole day, and after walking for 12-13 km, we reached our accommodation and got rescued."

"It went wrong because of my inexperience," he recalls.

offroading
A picture from Mr Sarwara's initial travels to Fraser Island.
Supplied by Mr Sarwara
On the topic of survival, Mr Sarwara chuckles and says he considers himself lucky to have so many amenities at his disposal.

He recalls his experience in a remote area called Mount Gould.

"There are people, for example, those on cattle stations, who do not even have electricity and are still surviving. They have to travel around 500 km just to get groceries," he says.

desi offroading
(L-R) Mr Sarwara's travel vehicle, (Top right) Big Bell Ghost town, (bottom right) Mr Sarwara camping on Kingford Smith Mail Run.
Supplied by Mr Sarwara
Be prepared

Now after offroading for almost ten years, Mr Sarwara says that you learn new things every day when you travel.

But preparing beforehand is the key. 

"Preparing your vehicle should be the first step. Before leaving home, recovery gear should be packed, such as a snatch strap, air pressure and tracks to get your car through the mud.

"You need to tightly secure the stuff in your car as it will scatter around when the car jumps on corrugated roads," he warns.

"Having the car packed in this way allows us to go on any 4WD track we like, and one is not restricted to any particular route," says Mr Sarwara, adding that he mostly camps on his travels.

You don't need a special vehicle, a normal car with good clearance is what you need

"Also, you have to take a satphone, as well as a full supply of food and water because it is so remote," he says.

In search of a travel mate

Mr Sarwara says he didn't originally intend to become a solo traveller.

"I started solo because I never got a companion for travelling. I kept posting on Perth's Indian community social media pages if someone wants to accompany me but never got a response," he says.

"Once mastered, travelling and driving in the outback is easy and extremely fun."

gagan sarwara
Mr Sarwara with Andrew St Pierre White, a renowned 4×4 writer and adventure-travel film maker.
Supplied by Mr Sarwara.

Last year Mr Sarwara started a YouTube channel named 'Desi of Roader' where he vlogs about his travels and shares tips and tricks about 4WD offroading.

He anticipates writing a book about his travel experiences after this four-month trip.

In addition to achieving his own travel dreams, he hopes to inspire Punjabi and Indian community members to push boundaries, visit the outback and challenge cultural norms.

Click on the player above to listen to this detailed interview with Gagan Sarwara in Punjabi.

Listen to SBS Punjabi Monday to Friday at 9 pm. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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