A group of South Coast surf life savers have become the first people to cross the Torres Strait in a surf boat.
The group known as the MusselRowers, made up of eight rowers, three sweeps, and two support crew from the Eurobodalla and North Cronulla.
The MusselRowers left Seisia, Cape York, Queensland (the top of mainland Australia) earlier this week and rowed up to 85km a day while stopping at various islands overnight.
They crew arrived a small village of Sigabadaru in Papua New Guinea on Wednesday (November 22) with sore bodies and blistered hands.
They did not just punish themselves in the sometimes shark infested waters because they enjoy a challenge, the MusselRowers are a charity rowers group, and once again, after MusselRower men’s and women’s crews successfully crossed the Bass Strait, they rowed for a good cause – raising funds for the Black Dog Institute.
Rob Pollock from the MusselRowers and Moruya/Broulee Surfers SLSC said everyone was happy to arrive in PNG.
“To be the first people to row across Torres Strait is massive, and getting to Sigabadaru was such a great feeling,” Pollock said.
“When we made it across the Torres Strait, the crew was greeted there by a local elder, Kebei Salee as well as about 100 villagers.”
Three Eurobodalla father and son combinations from the South Coast were a part of this historic attempt with Rod and Sam Patmore, Brendan and Jorge Constable and Rob and Ewen Pollock all taking part.
Haydan Connor was the other South Coast local who rowed while four crew members were from North Cronulla SLSC; Braden Fleming, Matt Barrington, Mark Lea and Mick Crutcher.
Mr Pollock told East Coast Radio after generating close to $130,000 for charitable causes, the Clown Doctors and Red Nose during the Men’s and Women’s Bass Strait crossing, this time the MusselRowers are raising money for mental health charity, The Black Dog Institute.
“We’re trying to raise awareness and funds for mental health and the Black Dog Institute has an arm to their group that supports Torres Strait Islanders,” Pollock said.
“Through the recent referendum there has been some additional anguish in that community, so Black Dog are playing their part to support those Torres Strait Islanders.”
The team encountered sharks, big waves and swells and battled heat and humidity as well as fatigue but they’re hoping the public can reward their efforts by donating money or spreading the word about the Black Dog Institute.
“Every 20 minutes the conditions change,” Pollock said.
After a short break the team will row back to Australian waters to board their support vessel the Tropical Paradise for the trip back to Thursday Island to be cleared by Boarder Force Australia and Bio Security before making the trip home.
MusselRowers genuinely believe this endeavour has the potential to not only raise significant funds for charity but also strengthen the bond between the two nations.
To donate and support MusselRowers click HERE.
Images: Rob Pollock / MusselRowers