Craig Challen

Craig Challen and Richard Harris.jpg
Challen (left) with Richard Harris
EducationMurdoch University
Known forTham Luang cave rescue
Medical career
FieldVeterinary medicine

Craig Challen, 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,[1][2] and was joint winner of the 2019 Australian of the Year.[3]

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.[4][5] A veterinary surgeon by profession, Challen has made notable dives in Cocklebiddy Cave and Pearse Resurgence.[6] In 2010 he made a record-setting 194 m (636 ft) dive while caving in New Zealand.[7] 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.[8]


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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11][12]


He is the joint-winner of the 2019 Australian of the Year award with fellow diver Richard Harris,[13] and 2019 Western Australian of the Year.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Service worthy of particular recognition.


  1. ^ "November 2010 – Page 2".
  2. ^ "West Australian Divers • View topic - OZTEK 2009 & Congrats Craig Challen!". Archived from the original on 15 March 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Thai cave hero wins top WA honour". The West Australian. 30 October 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  4. ^ Fleming, Katherine (25 January 2019). "Humble hero". The West Australian. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  5. ^ "Australian of the Year". Helena College. 3 May 2019. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  6. ^ "Craig Challen | Cave Diving Down Under".
  7. ^ "Aussie Divers Map Cave Depths | Rec N Tech Asia". Archived from the original on 25 August 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  8. ^ "Pearse Resurgence 2020". 3 April 2020. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  9. ^ "Hero doctor's father dies". The Australian. (subscription required)
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ "Cave boys claim life remains the same. His Majesty to confer about 200 decorations". Bangkok Post (in Thai). Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  13. ^ Zhou, Naaman (25 January 2019). "Australian of the year 2019: Thai cave rescue divers win rare joint award". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2019.