Mates paddle for veterans.

Reproduced courtesy of the Corryong Courier

Three veterans who have firsthand experience with conflict have united with a noble cause: to kayak the entirety of the Murray River, raising awareness for Soldier On and MatesHeroHelp, two charitable organizations dedicated to supporting both current and former Defence personnel.

Known as ‘Old Vets Stomping’, the team consists of Ross Boyd and Ian Errington, veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, accompanied by their dedicated support member, Tony Turner. Commencing their 2,400-kilometre journey from Bringenbrong on February 14th, their ultimate destination lies at the Southern Ocean in South Australia.

With over a century of combined army service, ‘Old Vets Stomping’ has embarked on numerous challenging endeavours post-retirement. These include traversing iconic trails like Kokoda (96 kilometers), the Larapinta Trail in the Northern Territory, Spain’s Camino de Santiago, South Australia’s Heysen Trail, the path to Mount Everest Base Camp, and Tasmania’s Overland Track. Their collective efforts have raised upwards of $25,000 for charitable causes.

Despite limited kayaking experience, the team underwent rigorous training in Brisbane and the Gold Coast last year to ensure they could safely undertake this ambitious journey. Along the way, they plan to halt at various towns and settlements along the Murray River, engaging with locals to spread awareness and garner support.

Stuart Spratt, owner of a café in Corryong, has been instrumental in facilitating fundraising connections in the North East. Additionally, he has organized walks from Lake Hume to Corryong for Soldier On, further amplifying their cause.

Beyond raising funds, ‘Old Vets Stomping’ aims to inspire younger war veterans to engage with organizations like the RSL (Returned and Services League) or other service clubs, thereby alleviating the burden on aging memberships. They intend to converse with RSL branches during their journey, highlighting the potential of this underutilized resource.

All endeavors undertaken by ‘Old Vets Stomping’ have been self-funded, with donations from supportive family and friends enabling the purchase of two expedition kayaks. Following the completion of their journey, these kayaks will be donated to MatesHeroHelp, perpetuating their commitment to supporting fellow veterans.


Visit the Supporting ADF Veterans GoFundMe page to support the cause.


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