Thank-you From The McAuley Family [68]

Vicki and Finlay Send Our Sincerest Thanks!

On Tuesday 7 August this year, my heart would have broken if it were not already shattered beyond repair. Finlay and I woke up to Andrew’s 40th birthday, without him. Andrew McAuley, of all people, deserved to be celebrating a wonderful 40 years of life. Ant has always been the one person I know who truly had the gift of reaching out and grabbing life, and living it to the fullest, and squeezing every ounce of excitement out of it. Perhaps that was the problem … perhaps he squeezed too hard … yet who can deny that he gave the rest of us hope and strength and encouragement and inspiration. He taught the rest of us the meaning of life. The really tricky bit for me now is to work out how to live the lessons he taught me without him.

Andrew was always a bit too modest and shy to talk about himself much. But I think it’s important for everyone to know that in this world, there are a small handful of truly great people, who have the ability to move mountains, and I believe Andrew was one of them.

It takes incredible courage to pursue your dreams, especially when they are as audacious as Andrew’s. One thing that was very important to Andrew though, was the hope that his efforts could provide inspiration to others. From the thousands of emails that I’ve received over the past months, it is obvious that he succeeded in that.

Andrew first started climbing at university, and quickly developed a passion for mountaineering. Here are just a few of his many achievements …

  • 1990–92 Ascents of numerous multi-pitch rockclimbs in the Italian Dolomites, Switzerland, France, Germany, Argentina
  • 1994 Ascents of numerous peaks in the New Zealand Alps, including record speed ascent of both Mt Cook and Mt Tasman in a day
  • 1994 Ascent of Ama Dablam, Nepal Himalaya by the SE ridge.
  • 1995/96 First Australian ascent of Torre Centrale in the Torres del Paine, Patagonia.
  • 1998 First ascent of Cerro La Paz — a combined climbing/kayaking expedition in the Chilean fiords of Patagonia.
  • 1999 First ascent of Jo Tower in Pakistan, attempts on Amin Brakk and Marpo Brakk – awarded Australian Geographic’s Spirit of Adventure medal for this expedition.
  • 1999 Paddling from Fortescue Bay up the East coast of Tasmania on our honeymoon.
  • 2001 Bass Strait – Eastern route; paddled the length of Cape York, and across Torres Strait
  • 2003 Bass Strait – Western route via King Island; First ever direct crossing of Bass Strait, from Wilson’s Prom, Vic, to Boat Harbour, Tas. 220km in 35 hours.
  • 2004 First solo kayak crossing of the Gulf of Carpentaria — 530km in 6.5days. Slept in kayak at sea for 6 nights.
  • 2005 Named the Australian Geographic Adventurer of the Year
  • 2006 Led three-man kayaking expedition along the Antarctic Peninsula — over 800km to the Antarctic Circle.
  • 2007 Departed Fortescue Bay in Tasmania on January 11 to become the first person to kayak across the Tasman!!!

Words seem so inadequate for expressing my sincerest gratitude to everyone in the NSWSKC for the overwhelming support you have given Finlay and I since that tragic day back in February this year. Actually, not only since that dreaded day, but throughout the duration of the Tasman Solo expedition, I was flooded with emails and phone calls of support from the wider kayaking and adventuring community, both here in Australia, and abroad. The interest Andrew’s trip generated was, I feel, quite phenomenal. I had people telling me that they couldn’t wait to get to work each day, so they could check the dot and the latest blog on Andrew’s voyage proved to be an incredible journey of inspiration right across the globe.

So, in failing to find any other way of offering my most eternal appreciation, all I can manage is “Thankyou!!!”

Thankyou to each and every person who emailed words of encouragement to both Andrew and I throughout the trip. It gave me strength, and I know all those positive vibes you were sending Andrew did reach him, and kept him going through what we mere mortals couldn’t even imagine, out there, alone for 30 days in a tiny kayak on that unforgiving sea.

Thankyou for the flood of support after the tragedy, to all the wonderful people who phoned, wrote, sent flowers, sent cards, cooked food and visited.

Thankyou to Laurie Geoghegan for arranging the fund for Finlay and I, and a huge thanks to everyone who contributed to the fund. I take it as the greatest honour that my Andrew was held in such high esteem, that people felt they should give Finlay and I a helping hand.

Thanks to Mark Sundin for his incredible effort in organising the fundraising dinner, which was a humungous success. And a huge thanks to all who attended that evening.

Thanks to Stu and Sharon Trueman for their incredible support and friendship, and for helping out so much with Finlay.

Thanks to Tony Hystek for doing such an excellent job with the audio for Andrew’s memorial service.

Thankyou to Elisabeth Thompson for arranging flowers and for speaking on behalf of NSWSKC, and for reading messages from other clubs.

Any solo venture is never just that. It’s a huge collaboration of efforts by many. And in Andrew’s absence, I’d like to take the opportunity of thanking the many that made the Tasman Solo Expedition possible.

A huge thankyou to Paul Hewitson of Mirage Sea Kayaks, not only for his belief in Andrew and for building a most seaworthy kayak, but also for his incredible support for me throughout and after the trip.

And thankyou to Jonathan Bogais, who worked tirelessly to update Andrew with accurate weather forecasts to help him prepare for each day on the water. Jonathan was, essentially, the communication lifeline.

Thanks to the team doctors, Richard Stiles and Sharnie Wu, and for their attention to detail and for ongoing support and friendship.

Thankyou to Peter Keppalmann for all his behind the scenes work in uploading my daily blog and photos on the website each day throughout the expedition.

Thanks to Ben Deacon for bringing the documenatry to life and for being such a good friend.

Thanks to Jen Peedom, who became my lifesaver.

And of course, without sponsors, it’s pretty hard to get a project off the ground.

Thankyou most especially to all the team at Australian Geographic. Thanks for all your support for Andrew over the years, and a huge thanks to Deb Light and Ian Connellan and Kathy Riley, who have been a great support to me over the last few months.

Thanks to Bill Alexiou-Hucker at GPSM, to Paddy Pallin, to Roger & Julie at Blue Earth, to Dick Smith, to Goretex, Garmin, Fastwave Communications, Aquapac, Back Country Cuisine, Fenton Pharmaceuticals, H2OAudio, Highgear, Icom, Lendl, Merrell, Mountain Hardware, Sea to Summit, SkyEye, Silverstorm, Solution, Walker and Associates.

And, in case I missed anyone, thankyou!

Members of the NSW Sea Kayak Club,
Thank you all so much for the beautiful red wild flowers you provided for Andrew’s Memorial Service. Many of us still have them. The next day Peter and I went back to the place they were thrown into the ocean. Because of the wind hundreds blew back and were affixed in the fence. It was a very moving sight and Andrew would have been so proud of you all.

Fond regards, Peter and Jill.

Peter, Jilly, Michael and Juliet wish to express their thanks and sincere appreciation for all your loving thoughts, warmth and concern you have shown during this sad time for our tragic loss of Andrew. Your support has helped bring our family much comfort and is deeply appreciated.