• VOLVO Challenge 2009

    the epic journey from Switzerland to Australia

How the plan started

Lukas had quit his job and was going to move to Australia as soon as possible and he was going to relinquish his apartment by the end of March. One Sunday night in December 2008, Lukas was having a conversation with Shaun, he said to him that all he had left was his VOLVO Polar, which he would like to drive to the Melbourne Cup with a Swiss number plate; it was then that the idea of ​​​​driving to Australia started as a JOKE.

In the middle of February 2009 Lukas and Shaun were talking again after Shaun had just arrived back in Adelaide from another month in PNG. Shaun had just survived a recent helicopter incident which could easily have ended in a fatality and had already decided that the VOLVO overland trip was now a plan. Lukas had also experienced 6 funerals and accidents in his family and was also keen to get on the road. The VOLVO challenge was now a reality.

At first Shaun thought Lukas didn't think he was serious but Lukas said that he was 100% committed to the task.

Shaun asked for more proof because Lukas has been known to daydream out loud! In reality he probably got 120%.

Lukas and Shaun both knew they had been given some sort of encouragement to live life to the fullest from what was going on around them, if you can survive a helicopter crash, surviving the trip through all the countries on the way to Australia shouldn't
be a big problem! Everything around them was telling them to "Carpe Diem"! 'Seize the day!'

The next day Shaun he asked his boss for a 5 month leave of absence starting on 11th of March 2009 and got it.

Shaun and Lukas made a pact to leave at the end of March. But first Shaun's friends needed to see the VOLVO, and they reckoned it was the best VOLVO they had ever seen.

Planning and preparation & product endorsements

Lukas started sending an e-mail to VOLVO's Customer Care Center in Switzerland with the headline 'VOLVO challenge - driving from Switzerland to Australia' and asked VOLVO Contact if they could please supply them with a list of service stations for all the listed countries that they were going to pass through.

The VOLVO Customer Care Manager contacted Lukas immediately telling him she would provide them with all the distribution centers for VOLVO and that 'she had passed his amazing trip on to the Marketing Department'!

Lukas then put together a trip presentation for the planned trip, driving to Australia with the route plan, benefits VOLVO could gain from the trip, and the type of VOLVO vehicle which incidentally is a 14 year old '940 Polar' Station wagon (Estate) model with nearly 300,000 km on the clock.

At the same time, Lukas sent an e-mail to NOKIA, inquiring if the GPS mobile phone would work in all the countries they were passing through.
Seven minutes later, the Marketing Manager called back to tell him that she was very sorry, but this year they were not providing any more sponsorship.

Lukas explained he was not seeking for sponsorship: he just simply wanted to know if NOKIA GPS mobile phones would work in all the countries. She said they should do, but added "why don't you do a product test and then we will know! So, how many mobile phones do you need?" Great, isn't it?

Lukas suggested to them that it made sense to have two of the latest mobile phones N85 with GPS. The NOKIA Marketing Managers answered him: "OK, it's done, call you back in ten days in order to fix the supplies". Getting linked with the world was then sorted out.

In the meantime Lukas was dealing with SCOBALIT AG, in Winterthur regarding to their outstanding product called 'Scobamat', a product which can be used for emergency situations if bogged in wet, snow or soft sand, or any territory which is no good to drive . SCOBALIT have provided Lukas and Shaun with useful 'Scobamat's' for their trip.

From this point, a lot of companies became interested in joining with their own products. One partner contact after another jumped on board as they were very interested in the PR of the whole journey!


All necessary personal health preparations had to be done. As Shaun and Lukas had recently traveled to various locations, tests were done to see which vaccinations were current, then extra injections, tablets and liquids, as well as prophylaxis for altitude, malaria etc. had to be done. Lukas and Shaun think they look like junkies now!

First aid kit has been supplied by Lukas's Tropical Illnesses Doctor.

Syringe pen supplied by TMVC


The different time zones between the two of them meant Lukas and Shaun had to be awake almost around the clock when sorting out all consular, visa and other planning and preparation work during Swiss day-time.

Launch date

The Launch date is scheduled for Sunday 29th March 2009. There will be a farewell drink (you have to register for it) offered by FOCUSWATER GmbH, Rapperswill, and by WEINBAU MUEHLE, Stäfa - Stefan & Maya Reichling.

will be in charge of taking photos on the day of departing.

is not missing out the departure either, and will publish interviews and the ongoing story of the journey to Australia.

After the send off they will drive to Germany to say good-bye to Kwaya, Lukas horse. Then it will be the real task, starting with an easy drive to Austria.


Their aim is to make this trip with the VOLVO Polar, although they know it's not an off-road car: -GPS / maps / compass have all been included.

Accommodation is a roof top tent by XP-EDITON Rorschach. This affords enough sleeping space for both of them

It will be held to the roof securely by a roof rack from the specialist SURBER Autogepäckträger, Wettingen

To recharge all the electronic devices: The special travel adapters are provided by SKROSS - WorldConnect AG, Steinhausen such as a car safe

The Volvo check is than by Pfenninger Garagen AG, Küsnacht, official VOLVO distributer

The VOLVO will be shod with the best tires from CONTINENTAL Suisse SA

The NIKON COOLPIX P6000 with integrated GPS (Global Positioning System) allows us to upload an ongoing photo map story of the VOLVO challenge

-Water will be filtered using a high tech portable filter.

-Fuel: 100 liters of extra fuel will be required to be carried inside the car.

-Food will be local food and what they cook for themselves.

-Toilet stops: Lukas says they are planning not to need these!


Lukas and Shaun intend to visit all their friends along the way, also to meet up with business clients, partners and contacts.


The route will be adjusted in accordance with political situations however emergencies have been adequately insured:
Rega: For air or helicopter rescue
Health coverage - globally insured through ETI TCS (Automobile Club)
A satellite phone has been supplied to Shaun by Landwide Satellite Solutions in Australia
Lukas is also personally covered by a private insurance

Download The VOLVO Challenge Blog as PDF


Lukas Baumann * Whole Jurney

Shaun Rolevink

From Switzerland to Bangladesh

Sebastian Wernli

From Bangkok to Singapore

Sabine Baumann

From Perth to Broome

Coralie Chanel

From Broome to Melbourne Cup