Craig Challen

Challen (left) with Richard Harris
Born1965 or 1966 (age 57–58)[1]
EducationMurdoch University
Known forTham Luang cave rescue
Medical career
FieldVeterinary medicine

Craig Challen, SC OAM (Gen) is an Australian technical diver and cave explorer who played a substantial role in the Tham Luang cave rescue. He was the recipient of the Oztek 2009 Diver of the Year award for his services to caving,[2][3] and was joint winner of the 2019 Australian of the Year.[4]

He grew up in the Perth suburb of Thornlie and later on a 200 ha (500 acres) farming property in Gidgegannup; he attended Eastern Hills Senior High School in Mount Helena, near Gidgegannup.[5][6] A veterinary surgeon by profession, Challen has made notable dives in Cocklebiddy Cave and Pearse Resurgence.[7] In 2010 he made a record-setting 194 m (636 ft) dive while caving in New Zealand.[8] In 2020 he made a second record-setting return visit to the Pearse Resurgence (New Zealand) and extended the Australasian depth record to 245 m (804 ft) with his dive partner Richard Harris.[9]


In 2018 Challen, along with his dive partner Richard Harris, was involved in a cave rescue operation in Thailand to evacuate 12 children and an adult from the flooded Tham Luang Cave system.[10] On 24 July 2018, Challen was awarded the Star of Courage (SC) and Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) by the Governor-General of Australia for his role in the rescue.[11] On 7 September 2018 the King of Thailand appointed Challen as a Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn.[12][13]


He is the joint-winner of the 2019 Australian of the Year award with fellow diver Richard Harris,[14] and 2019 Western Australian of the Year.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Service worthy of particular recognition.


  1. ^ Byram, Vickii (18 October 2023). "Cave hero put to the test on SAS Australia". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 23 October 2023.
  2. ^ "November 2010 – Page 2".
  3. ^ "West Australian Divers • View topic - OZTEK 2009 & Congrats Craig Challen!". Archived from the original on 15 March 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Thai cave hero wins top WA honour". The West Australian. 30 October 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  5. ^ Fleming, Katherine (25 January 2019). "Humble hero". The West Australian. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  6. ^ "Australian of the Year". Helena College. 3 May 2019. Archived from the original on 12 March 2021. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  7. ^ "Craig Challen | Cave Diving Down Under".
  8. ^ "Aussie Divers Map Cave Depths | Rec N Tech Asia". Archived from the original on 25 August 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  9. ^ "Pearse Resurgence 2020". 3 April 2020. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  10. ^ "Hero doctor's father dies". The Australian. (subscription required)
  11. ^ "Australian Honours" (PDF). Government Notices Gazette. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. 24 July 2018. ISSN 0819-7105. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  12. ^ "His Majesty honours 188 for role in cave rescue operation". The Nation. Thailand. 7 September 2018. Archived from the original on 2 June 2019. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Cave boys claim life remains the same. His Majesty to confer about 200 decorations". Bangkok Post (in Thai). Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  14. ^ Zhou, Naaman (25 January 2019). "Australian of the year 2019: Thai cave rescue divers win rare joint award". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2019.