Learn about Esperance tourism operator Jaimen’s remarkable story

Jaimen Hudson Esperance
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“For a career, you get to do what other people pay to do, you know what I mean? People book us to take them out on the water and to drive them along the whitest beach in Australia. Like that’s the dream right there, isn’t it?”

You might not personally know Jaimen Hudson, but there’s a very good chance you’ve seen his incredible drone photography documenting the Esperance (Kepa Kurl) coastline, taken from his wheelchair after becoming quadriplegic at the age of just 17.

Jaimen’s one of many young West Aussies who has chosen a career in our state’s tourism and hospitality industry one that sees him managing Esperance Island Cruises alongside his photography work, living the dream with his wife Jess and their two children.

Jaimen Hudson Esperance

And while taking people on scenic tours of Esperance is a dream to some, it’s reality for Jaimen, as he tells us deep on Western Australia’s Great Southern coastline: “No, this is actually real, like I live here… You’re out on the water, you’re out on the beach.

“And while out driving one of our 4WD bus tours, Jess would often be like, ‘I can’t believe today I get to go to Lucky Bay again’. And I’m doing it as my job, you know?”

Learn more about Jaimen’s story below, and head to our Dream Careers Hub to explore opportunities for your own rewarding career, one filled with adventure, meaning and connection.

Table of contents:

How’d you get into this career?

Jaimen’s pathway into Western Australia’s tourism industry is by no means an average tale, after a motorbike accident at 17 left him paralysed from the armpits down. As he puts it, “to say it was life changing is probably an understatement.”

“My parents started Esperance Diving Academy before I was born, so my earliest memories are of days out on the water,” he recalls. “I got my dive license when I was just 10 years old and I loved surfing, skateboarding, motorbike riding, anything outdoors…

“In 2008, I went out motorbike riding with friends and broke my neck. Learning how to live with my disability was the biggest hurdle.”

After his injury, Jaimen naturally underwent a period of significant readjustment. He adapted by learning new mobility, typing and phone skills so he could start work back in the shop. Here, he interacted with customers, fielded enquiries and took tour bookings.

Jaimen Hudson Esperance

He then took on the accounting and eventually became the business manager (his main role today) of the family’s busy boat and 4WD bus tours, and their accommodation business. 

It was his family’s work ethic and support network, plus his sense of humour and positive outlook, that helped him to focus-forward and attract great things in life, including plenty of professional development opportunities, his beautiful family and a life of fun, nature and adventure. 

Completing a certificate in tourism while he was still in school gave Jaimen the base knowledge required to continue down the tourism path even after the accident. He then teamed this with plenty of on-the-job training which “is the great part about the tourism industry – you’re out there doing it every day.”

CAREER STEPPING STONES
1.

Fell in love with nature and the ocean

2.

Completed tourism cert. in school

3.

Started full-time work in tourism business

4.

Life changing accident – gained new skills

5.

Runs business and pro drone photographer

What’s a typical day look like for you?

As someone managing multiple tourism businesses, getting an early jump on things is crucial for Jaimen. He’ll fire off a few emails off in bed using Siri, then his carers arrive for his exercises and morning routine, before finally helping him into his chair… “And then from here, I’m independent for the day.”

Once he’s on the go, most mornings are spent cruising the coastline with his trusty drone: “I’ll drive around the 42-kilometre tourist loop and see if I can spot some dolphins –  then still make it to the office by 9am to start my work day… So when other people are spending time in traffic, I’m driving along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in Australia.”

Jaimen Hudson Esperance

For Jaimen, no day really looks the same: “I might be hosting 4WD tours, running around to buy 100 coffee cups for the boat, picking up guests and dropping them down at the jetty or ringing a team member because they didn’t get out of bed,” he laughs. 

Jaimen’s role changes according to what’s happening on the day, which keeps things fresh: “I think that’s what I like most about it, that it’s not a dull, mundane routine, 9 to 5, you know? Your mind is constantly darting all over the place and it keeps you interested in the role.”

Jaimen Hudson Esperance

Best parts of his career?

For Jaimen, the joys of “living vicariously through customers” really drives him to come to work every day: “The biggest perk is dealing with happy customers who are in high spirits on holiday. They’re here to have a good time and explore Esperance,” he explains. “We get to showcase that to them every day – we’re so lucky to call this place home.”

“I just love having people come into our shop, interacting with them, booking them on a tour, and then when they come back in afterwards and say that they loved our island cruise, that’s probably one of the most exciting things.”

Jaimen took up drone photography as a new hobby after his accident, inspired by his love of the ocean and nature. The flexibility of his work day has enabled him to develop his skills and pursue his other role as a world-renowned drone photographer, one that’s seen him the star of a feature film documentary, along with shooting footage for Netflix and National Geographic.

It’s safe to say he is now ‘expert level’: “When drones came out, I decided to buy one and was lucky enough to film some pretty unique wildlife scenes that went viral online and grew my name in this photography space.”

Jaimen Hudson Esperance

Given Jaimen’s unique situation, working in tourism means he has the opportunity to  develop new, more inclusive ways to make adventures in Esperance more accessible to everyone, not just able-bodied folk.

“I’m always trying to think of new ways to operate. And of course for me, it’s always about what opportunities we can create for someone that’s in a wheelchair, so they don’t have to miss out. We’ve just started the new accessible 4WD tours, and we’re creating two wheelchair accessible holiday apartments too.”

What advice does he have for someone wanting to get into Western Australia’s tourism and hospitality industry?

Choosing a career in tourism and hospitality is – most importantly – about simply letting companies know you’re available and keen: “If you want to work on a boat, show up at your local boat tour agency or ring them up and say, this is what I want to do.”

“You could even start off in a work experience role,” he continues, “Most of it is on-the-job training, especially with boats or anything like that, you don’t need a qualification straight away. You just need to go out there with someone else that‘s qualified, and from there it’s repetition. You learn about the ropes and then eventually that becomes your job, and you just work your way up, learning more skills each day.”

Jaimen Hudson Esperance

Finally it might sound simple, but actually expressing your eagerness goes a long way, too: “We literally get hundreds of job applications, but some people give them to you like they’re just not keen… Whereas it’s the people that come in and they’re super eager and I’m like, that’s the sort of person you want that’s going to have enthusiasm out on the water.”

The Western Australian tourism industry is all about people power and Jaimen’s journey shows just how true that is – a career like his can lead to extraordinary adventures, personal growth and unforgettable experiences.

Keen to start your adventure? Head to westernaustralia.jobs/dreamcareer to explore job opportunities, career inspiration, benefits, pathways, perks, possibilities and much more.