Lachie Carracher about to paddle down the Fitzroy River in the Kimberley, WA.
Kayak white-water paddler Lachie Carracher is awarded the Australian Geographic Society's Young Adventurer of the Year medallion.
Although he's only 23, Victorian-born whitewater kayaker Lachie Carracher has dipped his paddle in some of Australia's mightiest rivers, as well as those snaking through Canada, China, Laos, Nepal, Uganda, Switzerland, Sumatra, USA, the UK and Mexico.
After leading a team of 10 paddlers in 2010 on an unsuccessful 24-day kayaking expedition down the Fitzroy River in the Kimberley, Western Australia, Lachie returned in February 2011 to challenge this iconic river on his own. His successful, six-day solo paddle of the Fitzroy was an Australia first and caught the attention of the adventure community.
This success only served to fuel Lachie's obsession with whitewater and astonishingly high cascades. In October 2011 he arrived in Veracruz, Mexico, to explore the churning rivers permeating the jungle and mountain range on the east coast, near a small town called Tlapacoyan. It was here that the young adventurer almost saw the end of his kayaking career. At the base of a 30m drop, Lachie landed headfirst on a rock and split his helmet in two.
The force of the impact compressed vertebrae in his spine, resulting in several months spent recovering and some serious soul searching. Lachie admits this injury, which was by far the most severe he'd experienced, forced him to slow down and re-evaluate his choices.
But the call of the river was louder than the voice of fear in Lachie's head, and after some time out he found he had a renewed hunger for the sport that had almost ended it all. Today, Lachie is riding rivers and recording his adventures on USA's West Coast.
It's Lachie's achievements, and also his tenacious spirit and unbridled passion for whitewater kayaking, which has earned him Australian Geographic's Young Adventurer of the Year award. "My life is an adventure," Lachie says. "I'm not in it for glory or money but for the love of it. I spend a lot of time being broke and disgruntled in between missions but I'd like to think I'm going to step back and look at my life and think I've done some pretty cool things. That's what motivates me."
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