John was at least 70 years of age, a cattleman from the harshest parts of western New South Wales. To me he was every bit the real man that my father was. John and I had become good friends on this trip across the Simpson desert.
"You know" he said to me, "You are a true bushwoman." "But more than that, what impresses me is that the whole of outback Australia is your backyard, yet you know it as intimately as I know my paddocks. What is more, I can see your pride and joy in showing it to others."
A Life Lived Backwards- Kimberly Olsen's Autobiography
Kimberly Olsen grew up in the bush. From a young age she would imagine where she would end up if she travelled in a straight line from any point on the Australian continent. She would spend hours pouring over maps gathering knowledge of this vast continent long before she learned to drive at the age of 10. From the time she could drive she accompanied her father whenever she could, operating machinery, driving trucks and four wheel drives as well as mustering and fencing on cattle properties. She gathered as many of the 100 plus year old skills as she could from her grandfather, uncles and father. Her father was a man of many skills, stockman, fencer, mechanic, spray painter, movie projectionist, machinery operator and truck driver. He was one of the team that built many of the roads in outback Queensland. Kimberly's passion for travel and adventure, saw her working in Central America, Nicaragua, Honduras and and Mexico as a freelance photojournalist. She has been a leader in the bush and the corporate world.
Kimberly has safely crossed the Simpson a total of 22 times, and traversed the Canning Stock Route 9 times. She has rescued no less than 4 stranded vehicles that were not part of her tour, repaired a broken chassis on the Canning Stock Route that allowed the vehicle to not only complete the trip but to drive 3800 kilometres home. In her travels she has seen a convoy of eight inexperienced drivers reduced to a convoy of three after five of them suffered catastrophic damage due to inexperience. She has been first on the scene at four vehicle roll-overs offering first aid until the medivac helo arrived. Unfortunately those roll-overs were totally avoidable and resulted in three fatalities. She has dealt with major electrical failures of vehicles, transmission failures, cracked fuel tanks, broken wheel studs, smashed freewheeling hubs, collapsed wheel bearings. She successfully navigated her tour across the flooded desert, two years in a row. One year being the only convoy in the desert as it closed in front of her at Birdsville and behind her at Spring Creek Delta. In a year when the crew from a famous Australian 4WD magazine were getting bogged on the Hay River Track, she guided her tour without a single vehicle getting bogged, despite 125 mm of rain.
Kimberly grew this business from nothing, beginning in 2004, at one point employing 9 people. She was forced to shut the business down in 2014 due to personal and family reasons. After doing a stint in the corporate world in Sydney, winning several awards for her work, she realised that she missed her passion and sought to restart this business so that more people can experience the places she loves.
Brought up in a smoky, port, city suburb just outside of east London, the daughter of a market trader and dock worker, Misty has always had the adventurous urge and curiosity to travel. As a teenager, the lack of funds did not stop her. Instead it enhanced the journey, ensuring that each trip involved mixing with locals and experiencing the culture of many places instead of hiding in ‘tourist’ destinations. Her travel started by hitch-hiking around England and France, completing voluntary work in India, taking underprivileged children on overland trips from England to Turkey and back, teaching on a summer camp in America then spending time travelling alone around the states for a few weeks and volunteering as engineer’s assistant on a Band Aid Ship, the Sea Shepherd II.
She completed her B.Ed and became the first female to be fully qualified as a C.D.T. (Manual Arts /Australian equivalent) teacher in England at secondary school level and she then moved on to teach basic building skills to young adults. Her own career, supporting her partner as he built successful companies and becoming a mother of three did not suppress her longing for adventure and travel bug. In 1994 she purchased her first 4WD and was able to get a taste for off road driving. Since then she has never looked back owning a 4wd ever since. She completing many 4WD courses and becoming a 4WD trainer in 2012.
She supported her partner in the corporate world accompanying him to meetings, visiting Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and had many family holidays in the UK across Europe. A favourite holiday destination was ‘The Gambia’ in Africa which she visited 13 times in 10 years with her family and became involved in local projects and sponsored a child through school. The love of ‘The Gambia’ its relaxed back to basic lifestyle, little reliance on material items and remoteness was really the start of her passion for remote travel which was finally bought to reality when she emigrated to Australia and took her first trip with Olsen’s Tours along the Hay River Track in the Simpson desert in 2010. Truly inspired by this trip and the knowledge and dedication of the tour leader, Misty knew her world travels had just been a taster for the real journey of discovery in Australia she was now going to undertake
She went on to travelling with Olsen's Tours as either a customer or employee, up to Cape York, twice more across the Simpson and twice more up the Hay River Track, two of these trips as a solo tag-a-long tour guide. In 2014 she once again traversed the Hay River Track guiding a single car containing a retired couple along the Hay Track on their trip of a lifetime.
Ten years later and she has continued her adventures spending 3 to 5 months every year travelling around remote Australia and exploring a huge variety of destinations and tracks, always taking the time to ensure the journey is as much part of the experience as the destination. 4wd skills have been acquired through practice, experience and formal training to ensure that she is competent to complete each trip whether she is travelling solo or in a group. Recoveries from sand, mud and rivers being well practiced over the past 10 years with frequent short, local trips to National Parks, beaches and Sand Islands to ensure proficient 4wd driving skills are reinforced and recovery techniques are practiced safely and competently when required.
Even a ‘Care Flight’ after getting crushed by her 4Wd whilst on a remote trip in 2016 has not discouraged her from the passion she now has for the Australian outback, but it has reinforced the fact we are all mortal, and safety must not be compromised for travel and adventure.
Desert knowledge is essential and you don't get it overnight. It doesn't matter what gender you are, what matters is local knowledge, experience gained over years of different conditions and leadership. Come join us, and experience the country we love.