45-year-old adventurer, Jason Beachcroft, paddled his kayak almost 20,000km to circumnavigate Australia on a 17-month journey – reaching all of Australia’s states and territories in the process. In doing so, he conquered a treacherous trek across Bass Strait, eventually earning him the title of Australian Geographic Adventurer of the Year at this week’s Australian Geographic adventure awards.
Of the occasion, Beachcroft is still stunned, “It’s certainly an honour,” he told the Gazette.
“I look at the list of who’s won before and they’re quite a prestigious bunch of people.”
“Despite being told I’ve won it, it hasn’t sunk in…”
Unlike other mainland kayak circumnavigations in the past (New Zealander Paul Caffyn in 1982, German Freya Hoffmeister in 2009 and Faulconbridge’s Stuart Trueman in 2011), Beachcroft is first to include Tasmania on his destination list. He was largely inspired by Caffyn’s book, The Dreamtime Voyage, and set out on his own journey nearly 2 years ago on January 2013.
To train for the occasion, he spent some time in Wentworth Falls Lake, but no amount of preparation could’ve prepared him for what he would soon encounter.
Throughout his entire voyage, for example, he battled rough weather conditions while attempting to navigate two crossings of Bass Strait – an achievement in its own right. Aside from the occasional food drop, the mission was also largely unsupported.
With no big sponsors, Beachcroft had to fend for himself when dealing with the crocodiles and sharks along his route – even resorting to hitting them with his paddle in order to continue.
“Sharks are attracted to the rudder, but once they realize they can’t eat it, they usually swim away,” he said.
On one particular occasion, however, Beachcroft tussled with a two-meter saltwater crocodile in order to rescue his boat from its grasp while off the Kimberley coast of Western Australia.
“Looking back I think it’s funny. I didn’t think it was funny at the time, ” he said laughing.
Prior to this, his biggest endurance test was the 53-day, 750km traverse of the the alpine trail from Victoria to the ACT.
Now, after returning from his mission this year in June, he’s already begun to contemplate another journey. Luckily, his achievement could potentially bring in more support.