New record set for circumnavigating Australia by kayak

It had to happen someday. Bonnie Hancock did it differently from how Freya did, it appears. She stayed at sea without going ashore for several weeks of the trip, with a sailboat nearby to carry food etc (I assume—no details on that in the article).

1 Like

On a ski!

Many years ago I had a chance to go to Australia and was invited on a surfing side trip to the North Coast. Some wave skiing friends told me it was absolutely nuts to paddle a kayak where “Salties” would be around, I ended up not going, I can see why she stayed way out of sea away from the saltwater Crocs. I didn’t follow Freya’s trip closely but realized it was quite the trip. Paddling a surfski in confused huge seas in the “Roaring Fourties” was probably quite a price to pay to go faster when calm.

I can understand how she became hypothermic.

An incredible feat - no doubt.

That being said - this should be a different type of record for an unloaded 25lb surfski supported by a sailboat vs a 60+lb kayak that is unsupported at sea. Freya slept in her kayak at sea several nights (on the north coast) in a show of bravery that this woman never attempted. Nonetheless - what both of these paddlers did was amazing.

1 Like

No talk of “record breaking” by these two with a circumnavigation of New Zealand’s North Island. But darn if I weren’t simultaneously adrenalized and terrified just watching the video recording of their trip. :astonished:



I agree that the accomplishments are apples and oranges. I followed Freya’s Oz expedition daily (was stuck that year in an office cube doing mind numbing database compilation and input and needing a vicarious adventure to keep myself sane, even posted a huge map of Australia on the wall and tracked her progress with pins.).

Not only did Freya circumnavigate the continent, she collected, cached and carried all her own camping gear, food and water. Most nights she would land, drag her loaded kayak above the high tide line, set up a tent, cook dinner, make repairs (including when a shark bit a hole in the boat), take photos nd upload a diary report of the day’s progress and scenery via sat phone.

She sometimes was able to locate people along the coast who provided housing for a night or two and/or assistance including fresh water when she was unable to find an estuary to replenish her water bags. She saved time by paddling straight across the huge bay at the northeast coast, being on open water without sight of land for 7 days and nights (she slept by rigging outriggers from her gear and laying back on the deck.

Her report on her continuous paddling along the 70 mile southern length of the west coast where towering cliffs and violent clapotis prevent any sort of landing, was truly harrowing.

Besides her trip being a an adventure story I looked forward to daily for months, I learned a great deal about Australia’s coastal geography and its people from her thorough narrative and documentation of the trip.

these were two distinctly different exploits. Some might say the recent one was more “noble” since it fund raised for charity. But I often wonder about such promotional adventure expeditions. If someone spends $100,000 planning, outfitting and executing an exploit to gain themselves fame and renown, isn’t it sort of “virtue signalling” to fund raise another $100,000 from donors for some cause? If you really believe in that cause, give them your $100;000 in the first place and just do your dream route without fame or fanfare.

1 Like

Agree not impressed compared to Freya.

I think it was a bad comparison to begin with:
‘New record set for circumnavigating Australia by kayak’

A surf ski is a different craft, the article should have been written as ‘First recorded circumnavigation by a surfski’ or somesuch.
A surfski is built for speed, not for carrying gear.
Maybe, in the article, mention could be made other craft to make the same trip.
The comparison (at the time) of Freya to Paul Caffyn wasn’t even completely fair. When Paul did it - no gps, limited kayak styles (he paddled a Nordkapp HM - and he ended up chopping off the ‘fixed skeg’), and - take a look at the paddle - not exactly a wing paddle, or even a modern day carbon blade.


A grand total of three paddlers have circumnaviated Australia. All three times are major achievements. From 1982 (Caffyn) to 2009 (Hoffmeister) to 2022 (Hancock), each interval between constitutes a long period during which technological advances in boats, paddles, electronic devices, and weather forecasting continued.

All three of these are very different from each other. The headlined article was about the total time for the trip, which is an objective, fixed measure even if all other factors were varied or subjective.

To me, Caffyn’s trip will always remain the biggest prize—being the FIRST in a dangerous, long, dynamic endeavor makes it the ultimate, in my mind. Nobody else can ever erase “the first.” It is unique.


I was into mountaineering in my younger days and read obsessively the narratives of the first ascents of the most famous routes in the alpine regions of the world. The accomplishments of the early climbers, making it to or near the summits of the highest peaks using wood-shafted ice axes, leather hobnailed boots, canvas tents and wool clothing, not to mention no oxygen tanks, no satellite weather reports or even maps of the geography they were entering, make the exploits of most modern climbers, with their electronic support, high-tech ultralight materials and commercial infrastructure seem almost silly.

There are some contemporary climbers, like Rheinhold Messner (who soloed Everest and many other of the highest peaks) and Nimsdal Purja (who climbed all 14 of the tallest peaks in the Himalayas with a tiny unsupported team within a 7 month period) who put to shame the bloated commercially sponsored and what I call “vanity” expeditions. I have a real problem with those, but the governments that control the permits and the industries that sponsor those fiascoes make too much profit on them for them to go away soon.

Real adventurers climb (or paddle) for love of the landscape and for personal challenge.

At least supported paddling exploits don’t risk the lives of the support teams the way so many questionably motivated Himalayan mountaineering attempts do.

1 Like

Thanks for sharing that Sing! That was fun to watch.