Perth bloggers Jolie and Mark were on the trip of a lifetime. They're now in Iranian prison.

— With AAP.

About 11 weeks ago, popular travel blog The Way Overland fell silent. No new posts. No updates to YouTube. No photos or comments on social media. The Perth couple behind the blog, Jolie King and Mark Firkin, were part way through an overland journey from Australia to the UK at the time.

Their most recent video told of their travels in Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan, and promised an update in the coming days. That was on June 26.

“Guys, where are you?” one Instagram follower commented on their last post. “Are you OK?”

“Anyone else worried about what happened when they went to China?” another commented. “It’s been over a month and [Jolie] said they would update us as soon as they got in.”

“I’m worried too, have been for a couple weeks!” a follower replied. “I thought they were in Iran?”

This week, updates came. But through the media.

A statement issued by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that Jolie and Mark have been detained by authorities in Iran.

The pair are being held in the notorious Evin prison in the capital, Tehran, reportedly after being arrested 10 weeks ago for flying a drone without a licence.

“A threat in every corner.”

Jolie and Mark have used drone footage and photography throughout their trip in order to capture the spectacular landscapes through which they’ve travelled.

However, according to Shahram Akbarzadeh, professor of Middle East politics at Deakin University, the practice is considered highly suspicious in Iran and they would likely be suspected of acting against the regime.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by T.W.O – The Way Overland (@thewayoverland) on

“Iran authorities see a threat in every corner,” Professor Akbarzadeh said.

“What might seem like a very benign and very ordinary thing to do — using a drone for photography because you can get really nice shots — can turn into something very sinister in Iran.”

Prof Akbarzadeh said Iranian authorities would examine the footage, and may hopefully conclude that it’s harmless. But he said there is a risk of the couple being detained indefinitely, given Australia is viewed by some as an enemy due to our Government’s participation in a US-led international coalition to stop Iran exporting oil.


“Dealing with Iran is so arbitrary and unpredictable,” Prof Akbarzadeh said.

“It is a helpless scenario, unfortunately.

“Let’s hope there’s nothing suspicious on those videos.”

Jolie and Mark's latest updates came from Pakistan. Image: Instagram.

Jolie and Mark resigned from their jobs in 2017 in order to embark on a two-year trip in their Toyota Landcruiser camper. They left in June that year, and planned to spend two years travelling through more than 30 countries.

"We hope to inspire others to pursue their dreams and perhaps wander down the road less travelled," the couple wrote via an appeal on crowdfunding platform, Patreon.

The prison in which they are now detained has been known to mistreat and even torture some inmates.

Another Australian women is currently detained there. The Cambridge-educated academic has reportedly been sentenced to 10 years behind bars, though it's unclear what of what charges she was convicted.

British woman, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, is also being held at the prison, and her husband Richard Ratcliffe told ABC Radio's AM that she's had contact with Jolie behind bars.

"I know that the girl is now in with Nazanin, [she] came through scared and disoriented and obviously had been quite intimidated by being interrogated for all that time in solitary [confinement]," he said.

He described the horrific conditions inside the prison, where his wife had spent more than eight months in solitary confinement.

"Nazanin was kept in a room without any windows — so no natural light — it was a lightbulb kept on the whole time," he said.

"[She was] taken out for interrogations blindfolded."

Jolie and Mark's families are being consular assistance from the Australian Government. They gave comment via the DFAT statement that they "hope to see Mark and Jolie safely home as soon as possible".