Jason Beachcroft finishes his epic voyage of endurance

Sea kayaker Jason Beachcroft at Stanwell Park with the end in sight.

Sea kayaker Jason Beachcroft at Stanwell Park with the end in sight.

Jason Beachcroft at sea during his 18,000-kilometre trip around Australia.

Jason Beachcroft at sea during his 18,000-kilometre trip around Australia.

It took him 17 months, involved encounters with sharks, crocodiles and whales, and many days of battling the weather, but Katoomba canyoning guide Jason Beachcroft last week finally finished his epic circumnavigation of Australia.

Mr Beachcroft, who became only the fourth individual to have successfully completed the trip, was inspired by a book written by one of them, New Zealand Paul Caffyn.

He set off in his 20-kilogram, five-metre carbon fibre sea kayak in January 2013 and returned to the same spot - at Rose Bay in Sydney's east - on Saturday to be greeted by a crowd of his family, friends and media.

He said he had never really doubted his ability to finish the 18,000-kilometre trip.

"I knew I stood a reasonable chance," he said. His mother Judy described her 45-year-old son as a man with "dogged determination".

Mr Beachcroft counted among many highlights paddling along the Kimberley coast and his trip around Tasmania. He is the first kayaker to travel across the treacherous Bass Strait and around the island state in a circumnavigation of the country.

Maria and Hunter Islands in Tasmania were particularly beautiful, he said.

He couldn't name any low points, although there had been times when it was too dangerous to take to the water.

"There were days I just didn't move. You couldn't because it was too wild," he said.

"Sometimes you had your hard days but you just have to bear with it, I guess."

He didn't mention the encounter with a two-metre saltwater crocodile on Gregory Island off the West Australian coast in July last year. On that occasion, he woke up to hear the sound of the croc trying to drag his kayak into the water and the two of them ended up in a "tug of war".

Mr Beachcroft was left with no option but to hit the salty with a spear.

In a first-hand account he posted on Facebook he wrote: "With one hand I untie the hand spear, two whacks with the blunt end no change, two whacks with the sharp end it lets go, two more whacks it heads back to the water. Ten minutes it's back again. A few harder whacks and I claim both the boat and beach as mine. I'm nearly meant to be out of croc territory. HA."

He also had dozens of battles with sharks, which tried to bite the kayak's rudder but once they had a "mouthful of metal" they let go, he said.

Some of his regular companions included dolphins, sea lions, little penguins, turtles, sea eagles, boobies and albatross.

And, memorably, humpback whales, whose song he described as "hauntingly beautiful".

Mr Beachcroft organised five food drops to various remote locations along the way, but mostly picked up food along the route. Many, many strangers gave him meals, the chance for a shower and a bed for the night.

He said they started off saying to him "you're crazy" but ended up saying "good on you".

Mr Beachcroft has some ideas for his next adventure, but "nothing on that scale [of the round-Australia adventure]. And probably something a little more terrestrial."

The day after he arrived home, rather than resting on his laurels with his feet up, he drove down to Jindabyne and the ski fields, giving his lower body something to do after all those months.

"At least it isn't paddling," he said. "It's a bit more leg work than arms."


Discuss "Jason Beachcroft finishes his epic voyage of endurance"

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.