Seventeen-year-old Oliver O’Halloran is expecting land in Ceduna on Sunday as part of his solo voyage around Australia.
The Tasmanian is only on his L-plates and cannot drive a car alone but he has clocked up 55 hours of solo flying time since May 14 circumnavigating Australia.
Inspired by 19-year-old Ryan Campbell, who became the youngest person to fly solo around the world in 2013, Oliver started from his home state earlier this month and then moved up the east coast, with his most recent leg making his way from Geraldton to Perth on Friday.
He was due to fly out on Saturday morning for Esperance and set off toward Ceduna on Sunday.
Oliver started flying in 2014 and only months later saw vision of Mr Campbell’s trip.
“I saw that and had an idea to do something, I just didn’t know what to do,” he said.
“I met him about a year and a half ago in Hobart and that was the final straw for me, I jumped into this idea.
“I was going to go around the world but thought I’d do something more manageable for now.”
While on the ground, Oliver has been speaking at schools and meeting community members, which he said was the best part of the journey.
“I thought the flights with the scenery would be the most astounding thing about the trip but the people you meet is the best part,” he said.
“Some have the most amazing stories, some good and others not so good.”
He said the reactions had been “really good” at schools, even if mixed with a tinge of disbelief.
“There’s initial confusion and they ask how old I am but it has been great to meet people.”
There have been some difficulties for Oliver to overcome during his voyage.
He was grounded in Gold Coast for two days because of bad weather and had to fly lower than usual near Sunshine Coast.
“When doing this sort of flight there’s always something new everyday to encounter,” he said.
“The weather up the east coast was difficult.
“It has also been difficult to balance conducting the flights and doing school visits, then getting sleep and doing updates for social media.”
Oliver will be staying with Melinda Vaughan while in Ceduna before departing for Adelaide on Monday.
“It happened because my son went to Rostrevor College and another son will go there, and the principal there used to teach Oliver in Tasmania,” she said.
“So they got in touch that way and asked if we could look after him while he was in Ceduna.”
She hoped to show him around Ceduna, which Oliver said he did not have much knowledge of.
“I don’t know how much time we will have but we’ll show him around a bit,” she said.
“I haven’t had a chance to speak to him yet.”
Oliver said Ceduna was a good resting place between Esperance and Adelaide and was also attractive because of cheap fuel prices.
He said he was expecting more bad weather as he moved toward Adelaide and then back to Tasmania and that he hoped to reach Adelaide and Devonport before the low front set in.
Having flown what he estimated to be between 25 and 30 legs, Oliver said he was looking forward to touching down in Hobart.
“It will be good to get home and see the family.”