Kayaking 440 km in a fortnight is not an adventure for the faint hearted, but five mates from Melbourne are taking on the challenge for a good cause.

The team of middle-aged fathers will kayak for around two weeks from Port Fairy to Port Melbourne to raise money for heart research at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, with support from Big W.

Expedition leaders Jason Wilson and Mick Thomas said the decision to paddle for charity was prompted by a wish to give something back to the community and inspire people along the way.

We knew Big W already supported heart research at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and thought this would be a great opportunity to raise further funds” Jason says.

As fathers of young children, we value the importance of research because we all want our kids to get the best medical care possible when they get sick."

“We also wanted this challenging journey to show our kids what can be achieved when you put your mind to something and to inspire people around us.”

The challenge, believed to be the first of its kind from Port Fairy to Melbourne by kayak, will start on January 8 in Port Fairy. It will take a port-to-port route down the bay, before crossing to Portsea, and arriving back to Southbank, Melbourne on January 22.

The paddle is expected to attract a big crowd of supporters including families and media at each of the 11 leg stopovers.

Kayak enthusiasts will be invited to join the Kayak 4 Kids team on the final leg up the Yarra river from Brighton to South Bank.

Big W is getting behind the challenge by sponsoring the team and raising funds in store, and encourages other companies and individuals to also get involved. 
Donations can be made at www.everdayhero.com.au/kayak4kids.

Key Event Dates

Leg Date of arrival Journey Kms travelled
Leg 1 8-Jan-11 Port Fairy - Warrnambool 26 km
Leg 2 9-Jan-11 Warrnambool - Port Campbell 62 km
Leg 3 10-Jan-11 Port Campbell – Cape Otway 71 km
2 days of programmed reserve (eg., poor weather)
Leg 4 13-Jan-11 Cape Otway - Apollo Bay 19 km
Leg 5 14-Jan-11 Apollo Bay - Lorne 46 km
Leg 6 15-Jan-11 Lorne - Anglesea 28 km
Leg 7 16-Jan-11 Anglesea - Torquay 19 km
Leg 8 17-Jan-11 Torquay – Point Lonsdale 23 km
Leg 9 18-Jan-11 Point Lonsdale – Sorrento 10 km
Leg 10 19-Jan-11 Sorrento - Mount Martha 33 km
Leg 11 20-Jan-11 Mount Martha - Brighton 37 km
1 day of programmed reserve (eg., poor weather)
Leg 12 22-Jan-11 Brighton - South Bank 20 km
Total 12 days paddling 403 km


Jason Wilson

Jason Wilson is the ‘old man’ of the K4K team. At 41, however, he should not be underestimated – he recently completed paddling 204km along the Murray River. Jason is a statue maker and supplies Big W garden centres. He is married to Tara and they have three young children who will be madly cheering their dad all along the shipwreck coast!

Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas is a Major in the Australian Army. He has previously paddled with the Army from Cape York to PNG but sees this as a far more challenging paddle. Michael will be supported all the way by his wife Jodie and 6 month old baby son Paddy.

Michael Ward

Mike is the newest father of the group with his wife Susie recently bringing baby Ivy into the world. He is an avid outdoors man and a keen adventure racer who worked for several years in Outdoor Education delivering programs to students throughout Victoria. Mike is currently working for a community agency providing assistance to people in hardship.


Murdoch Childrens Research Institute is Australia’s largest child health research organisation. Its team of 1200 passionate researchers are committed to discovering ways to helping kids live happier, healthier lives. Research priorities include conditions such as allergies, diabetes, premature birth and mental health problems that are increasingly affecting Australian kids, and conditions such as cancer, genetic disorders and heart disease that remain unsolved.

Kayak 4 Kids aims to raise $200,000 to support the Institute’s heart disease research.


Heart disease is a leading killer of Australian children, accounting for more than one third of all childhood deaths. It is also the number one cause of admission of our kids to intensive care. Some heart conditions can be avoided with early diagnosis and others can be corrected with surgery. But for many forms of heart disease, there is no known cure.

Prevention, detection and early interventions need to be developed so that we can beat every form of childhood heart disease. Murdoch Childrens brings together a team of world-class experts to improve the diagnosis, treatment and care of children with heart disease.


“Big W has been a proud supporter of heart research for the past seven years. It is wonderful to see a team of dads get behind and raising funds for this important cause.

Big W is pleased to support Kayak 4 Kids and we hope it will inspire many more people along the way to make a contribution to heart research.

We wish the team the best of luck for their challenge.”

Shane Thornton
Big W 
Regional Manager Victoria & Tasmania