Trowbridge paddler sets canoe record on Australian adventure

Wiltshire Times: Dave Cornthwaite during his journey along The Murray River Dave Cornthwaite during his journey along The Murray River

A thrill-seeker from Hilperton, near Trowbridge, who once skateboarded across Australia, has become the first Briton to paddle the length of Australia’s largest river.

Dave Cornthwaite, 29, who lives on a narrowboat on the Kennet and Avon Canal at Hilperton, started the 2,476km journey along The Murray River, which is referred to as the Mighty Murray, on October 6 and finished on December 19.

The travel writer, who gained a Guinness World Record for crossing Australia on a skateboard in 2006, had been investigating Australia’s most important waterway to understand why it is endangered.

He said: “A ten year drought in south-eastern Australia has led to serious water shortages, which threaten the health of the river and its wetlands, as well as the security of millions of people who depend on the Murray for survival.

“I wanted to travel the length of the river to learn about it at first hand.

“The beginning of the journey was unforgettable. I was caught in heavy snow whilst trekking alone in the Australian Alps, let me just say that trudging through two feet of snow for 100km, bearing a 30kg pack took some doing.”

The expedition, which is subject to a book and film to be released later this year, was a warm up to Mr Cornthwaite’s next two challenges, through which he aims to raise £50,000 for the AV Foundation, a Devizes-based charity that develops the infrastructure of sub Saharan schools through solar and water projects.

Next year he’s planning a stand up paddle board ride between London and Africa and, in 2011, he aims to kayak the 4,000-mile length of the Amazon.

For more details about these trips and to sponsor Mr Cornthwaite visit www.thegreatbigpaddle.com

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