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Front Runner On The Move​: Nick Jaffe

Front Runner On The Move​: Nick Jaffe

- October 07, 2022

Nick Jaffe is an Australian freelance photographer and filmmaker who has tackled some epic adventures both on land and off over the past two decades. Aside from various overland missions, including crossing the Simpson Desert, he’s sailed over 35 000 nautical miles, mostly alone or shorthanded. From 2006 to 2009 he sailed a 26ft boat solo across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Then, in 2019/2020 he attempted to complete the circumnavigation he started in 2006, by driving a 30-year-old ex-military Land Rover from Australia back to Europe, by way of Africa. He made it as far as South Africa before being thwarted by the pandemic and was forced to ship his Land Rover back to Tasmania in early 2021. We caught up with Nick to find out what he’s been up to over the past year or so, talk about his love for wild camping and get a taste of what the future holds for the old Landy.​


© Nick Jaffe

In terms of travel, the past year was slightly different for you, correct?

Correct, in 2021 I did zero overlanding kilometers! Instead, I went back to sea with my family, aboard our pilothouse cutter (sailing boat). We had a dream to sail from Tasmania to the Great Barrier Reef, escaping the southern winter and also getting out of the state after a year or more of Covid-related lockdowns. Unfortunately, the lockdowns would follow us along the eastern seaboard, and we spent several months going as fast as we could to avoid them. Sadly, in the end, we became stuck in yet another lockdown near the border with Queensland. Due to seasons, this ruined our expedition to the Reef and forced us to return to Tasmania.​


© Nick Jaffe

Talk us through your philosophy when it comes to planning your big expeditions.

Most of my adventures on land and sea are big expeditions requiring a lot of planning and commitment. My last big overland trip was an attempt to drive an ex-military Land Rover 110 from the most southern road in Australia (southern Tasmania), to the most northern road in Europe (Norway). This expedition included driving anti-clockwise around Australia to Perth via the Simpson Desert, from where my Land Rover was shipped to South Africa. Disappointingly, after just two short months in South Africa, Covid changed the world, and I had to make a very quick decision about what I was going to do. I ended up driving back to Cape Town as fast as I could, storing my vehicle with friends and eventually catching the second last commercial flight home to Australia. I was relieved to be home but bitterly disappointed to have had to abandon my adventure. Initially, I was hoping I could continue the trip - however as time went by, it became clear that the dream was over. With an expiring carnet (a temporary import-export document for the vehicle), dwindling finances and virtually no way to return to my Land Rover with restricted travel, I had her shipped home at the beginning of 2021. ​

© Nick Jaffe

You’ve managed to camp in some extraordinary places on your adventures. Out of all the spots you’ve ever camped in, can you tell us a bit about your favorites?

Because managed campsites are often overrun, I rarely camp in designated areas. I travel generally using topographic maps, looking for small roads, tracks and unusual-looking places, where I can camp on my own. Therefore it's hard for me to name specific places, however, my time in the Simpson Desert was incredible. The desert very much reminded me of the ocean — the sense of freedom and remoteness, coupled with a certain harshness which was ever-changing.​

Another part of my overlanding philosophy is to avoid over-researching places. I like to talk to people and hear about unusual spots, or simply follow intuition, without laboring over finding out every minute detail before visiting. One such discovery was in South Africa, where I spoke to some people at a campsite (camping in South Africa is very different from the rest of the world, with campsites often guarded and fenced, it can be unwise to camp wild without local knowledge) who recommended I visit the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve, which I knew nothing of. Without any prior knowledge, I entered the Reserve and had the most incredible experience. I met only two other people and was surrounded by extraordinary weather –– from dense fog to sun and rain –– wildlife, plants and some amazing off-roading.​

What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever had to deal with on an overland trip? 

My Land Rover is very well prepared and has only left me stranded once, with a failed clutch slave cylinder. I was able to nurse the clutch by holding pressure and pumping every 30 seconds while driving for 1.5hrs until I found some assistance. The next day a new slave was installed and we were off! During the Simpson Desert crossing, I was very nervous about a breakdown, because recovery can cost around $10 000. Thankfully everything went well!​

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© Nick Jaffe

Can you give us a brief rundown of your Front Runner products on your Land Rover Defender 110?

My Land Rover has all the Front Runner bells and whistles! Slimline II Roof Rack, lots of storage boxes, roof top tent, axe holder, shovel holder, LPG holder, easy-out awning - the works! As my Land Rover is a military variant, the rear section is all canvas. This means protecting equipment from dust and weather which can be tricky. During the Simpson Desert crossing the Wolf Pack boxes were stowed everywhere in the rear tray and on the roof, and are one of my favourite products. ​

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© Nick Jaffe

Where to next with the Landy?

After my Land Rover had developed a clutch issue while in storage and we decided to go sailing, the Landy took a break and I've only just had her fully repaired in the last two months, with a whole new clutch. I'm hoping to get some trips around Tasmania this summer!​

© Nick Jaffe

If you could give an amateur videographer one adventure videography tip, what would that be?

I think it's really easy to get hung up on perfectionism. There is so much great videography out there, sometimes it feels too hard to even try. I think my tip would be to just film and forget about quality, concentrating on your personal story instead. I also think talking to the camera and ‘vlog’ style doesn't suit everyone. If it's not for you, try different kinds of voiceover techniques, or alternative methods of storytelling through text, suggestion, or simply just quiet observational storytelling.

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