The 3750km paddle with purpose down The Condamine
IF YOU thought a 40km marathon was a challenge, imagine Tom Dunn's goal - a 3750km paddle-boarding journey down Australia's longest continuous waterway for three months.
As of 2pm Monday, Tom was sitting on the banks of the Condamine River near Bony Mountain, catching a brief breather during the beginning leg of his epic journey that will take him through four states on paddle board.
"So far I've seen two fisherman, and some fairly confused cows," he said.
"Physically I'm pretty sore and stiff, but no more than I expected
"I thought I'd be getting sore shoulders, but it's actually my calves that are hurting because I've had to walk more than I thought."
Tom took to the river on his paddle board last Friday, with his efforts dedicated to raising funds and awareness for children who are deaf or hard of hearing in rural and remote areas of Australia.
Tom and his family are from the Victorian town of Horsham, about the same size as Warwick.
"My sister Cate was born profoundly deaf, and I didn't really know what that meant; she was just my sister," Tom said.
"I learnt a bit of sign language, but slowly as I grew up I realised Mum and Dad were making four-hour trips to Melbourne and back once a week for her.
"As you grow, you start to learn about money and appreciate the efforts of parents; there was fuel, a speech pathologist, and an early intervention centre to pay for."
Tom hopes funds raised from his journey will allow deaf children in rural and regional communities access to Deaf Children Australia's Video Outreach Program which provides speech pathologists through Skype.
"Even for families in Warwick, you can't expect them to give up four hours once a week to drive to Brisbane," Tom said.
"The option is either sell up or the kids have to be behind the eight ball."
Tom's journey will take him along the Condamine, Balonne, Culgoa, Darling and Murray rivers and will finish at the Murray mouth (Goolwa) in South Australia.
In 2014, Tom kayaked 2200km down the Murray River to raise money for the Aurora Early Intervention Centre.
"When I told friends what I was doing this trip, they had pretty similar reactions," Tom said.
"They said, 'okay, good on you for trying,' but there's been a bit of an assumption that I wasn't going to make it at all.
"I think some of them have already started their funeral speeches."