MOST twenty-somethings, when taking a year off from study, would book themselves a flight to Europe and a spot on a Contiki tour.
However, Sam Alexander decided he'd prefer to see his own backyard first - on horseback.
Sam has been traversing the Bicentennial National Trail since February, with only the company of his three pack horses. He began in Healesville, Victoria and is finishing up on Saturday in Koumala, just outside Mackay.
He has plenty of stories from along the way - he's been chased by wild horses and wild dogs, been nearly washed away in two-metre high rivers and travelled through areas inaccessible by any other means.
Almost every town I get to, I hear a special story about how the Royal Flying Doctors have saved this person from a heart attack or a car accident.
All the way Sam has been raising money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, a cause that, as a medical student, is important him.
"I've a big passion for rural medicine purely because it's one of the areas that's really under-resourced in Australia and they're really struggling to fill the gap, because most people who do medical training come from city areas, go to city-based high schools and want to work in the city," he said.
"So I just had a big passion about working in the bush... it really sort of epitomises what the RFDS means, because nine times out of 10, if I was to fall off my horse and get hurt I would end up on a RFDS plane one way or another.
"Almost every town I get to, I hear a special story about how the Royal Flying Doctors have saved this person from a heart attack or a car accident. So it's been a really good charity to support especially going through these small towns because a lot of people can really empathise with the importance of what they do."
Sam has been horse riding for only four years since he moved to the city from country Victoria for university, but he and his horses have managed to make it through the trip in good stead.
"I decided to buy my first horse at the start of last year... (then) bought two boys three weeks before my trip, trained them up and got on the road on the fourth week.
"Miles make the horse and these guys have had plenty of miles."
And there's no doubt that Sam has loved every minute of it.
"There's no better way to see Australia than on the back of a horse because there's some areas where you can't even walk let alone get a car through," he said.
"I've seen some amazing country. And I've had such a great time doing it.
"I've met a lot of locals and that's been the biggest enjoyment for me - the people I've met along the way."
Sam will be finishing up at the Koumala Christmas Fair tomorrow and is inviting riders to join him in the morning for the final leg of his trip. Riders need to arrive between 8-9am at Patroni Rd, Koumala. For more information or to donate, visit headingnorth2012.com.
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