A few weeks ago, Patrick Jones, Meg Ulman, and their 11-year-old son, Woody, were waking to icy cold winter mornings at their home in Daylesford, in central Victoria.

Ten days, seven lifts, two trains and three buses later, they were in humid Darwin, on what they described as a “magical” trip.

“The pleasure of hitchhiking is just meeting other people, and just the story sharing,” Mr Jones said.

The family-of-three was surprised by how quickly they reached Darwin.(Supplied: Artist As Family)

In an age where giving lifts to strangers is mostly advised against, this family sees it as their preferred option to get to India, for environmental and social reasons.

Mr Jones and Ms Ulman do not own a car, have not been overseas in 20 years, and wanted to show their son the world, in the least polluting way possible.

“We’ve done a lot of travel before on bicycles and hitching and public transport in Australia,” Mr Jones said.

“This is the first time we’re trying out our low-carbon form of travel overseas.” 

The family spent a week in Darwin, looking for the next step in their journey.(Supplied: Artist As Family)

Mr Jones said he was surprised by how quickly they were offered lifts from Daylesford to Darwin.

“The longest wait was four hours, just outside Port Augusta, but mostly the average wait [was] around one to two hours,” he said.

“We’ve just come across lovely people.”

Their longest lift in Australia was with an Adelaide man who was moving to Darwin to work as a truck driver for Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

He took them from Coober Pedy, in South Australia, all the way up the Stuart Highway to Darwin in four days.

“He had his caravan, and his beautiful dog, Rocky,” Mr Jones said.

The family says there have been magical moments along the way.(Supplied: Artist As Family)

“We became like a family, very quickly, on the road. We camped together for three nights.

“Just connecting deeply with him is a beautiful, beautiful thing.”

Another of the highlights of their journey through Australia was travelling with an Aboriginal artist and culture holder from Whyalla.

“That period of time was really magical,” Mr Jones said.

“People who pick up hitchhikers are generally people who want to share stories.

“They want to hear your story and tell their story.”

The family hit the road in pursuit of their passions for cricket and permaculture.(Supplied: Artist As Family)

In Daylesford, Mr Jones and Ms Ulman teach permaculture, and live as self-sufficiently as possible by hunting, farming and gardening.

“We’re always time-rich while cash-poor,” Mr Jones said.

“When you’re time-rich, what we’ve found is you have a lot more creativity in your life and maybe a bit more flexibility to do things.”

Mr Jones and his partner used to work full-time, but decided to change their lifestyles about 20 years ago, after finding they were “pretty much unhappy”.

“We were often sick, often quite despairing, because we weren’t living according to our values,” he said.

“We have been on this path of reclaiming our health and sense of wellbeing.”

The family says their lifestyle has enabled them to embark on their trip.(Supplied: Artist As Family)

Their son, Woody, is homeschooled, and the couple say their hitchhiking adventure is an extension of his education.

“All his schooling is the kind of school of the world,” Mr Jones said.

“We also want to give him the skills of being able to adapt to fast-changing situations.

“So, it’s really a big home school educational trip.”

The family spent time fishing while in Darwin.(Supplied: Artist As Family)

After reaching Darwin, the family stayed on a boat that was docked for works ahead of a round-the-world trip next year.

They had hoped to hitch a ride from Darwin across the seas by helping to crew a ship to Bali or another destination, where they could continue hitching overland to India.

The family has made friends as they have travelled north from Victoria.(Supplied: Artist As Family)

“After many conversations with locals, it was becoming increasingly apparent that crewing a boat for a family-of-three with no sailing experience was a bit of a pipe dream,” the family wrote on their blog.

“With a fair amount of reluctance, we booked a short flight to Dili, in Timor-Leste, 720 kilometres away.

“We were really hoping we could do it without flying.

The family had been hoping to be able to help crew a boat from Darwin.(Supplied: Artist As Family)

“From Dili, we intend to continue northward, island-hopping towards India.”

Mr Jones said he and his family had been applying the same principles they practice at home to their travels.

“We volunteer when we arrive in a town and someone says, ‘Hey, do you want to stay the night?'” he said.

Woody is being raised to be a “jack of all trades” by his parents.(Supplied: Artist As Family)

“We always like to be sharing skills. Meg’s an incredible fermenter, Woody and I have fishing and hunting skills, and gardening and farming skills, but also building skills.

“The way he’s being raised is like a jack of all trades, and that’s what Meg and I have been focusing on.”

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