Originally from the UK, I moved to Australia in 1990 and, in 1995, to the beautiful town of Bundanoon in the electorate of Hume. All these years later, I still live in Bundanoon with my wonderful wife Wendy, often visited by my two stepdaughters and five gorgeous grandkids.
For the past 28 years I’ve operated my own small businesses. These have included running complex, mass participation sports events, mostly in regional NSW. I have organised some of the largest sporting events in the Hume region - such as The Highland Fling with up to 2500 mountain bikers - which have contributed many millions of dollars to regional economies, been key fundraising platforms within the host communities, and helped keep people active and engaged in community life.
I have owned a café and bike shop in Bundanoon, as well as organised and led mountain biking, trekking and skiing holidays in Australia and overseas for some 30 years. In recent years I have focussed on travel writing, and been a long-time contributor to a range of publications.
My business activities have given me plenty of experience regarding the challenges small businesses face, including the need to reduce unnecessary bureaucratic regulation, and give greater recognition of the important economic role played by small businesses. Too often the debate - and access to senior politicians – focusses on big business and our vital small business sector gets overlooked.
I have never shied away from a challenge and indeed have sought them out in my passion for long, difficult, human-powered journeys around the world – from the deserts of Australia to the snowy peaks of the Himalaya.
As a means of getting to know Australia, I linked all of Australia’s capital cities by the wildest terrain between them – desert, mountain, river and ocean – travelling by foot, bike, kayak and ski. This series of seven journeys between 1997 and 2004, totalling some 25,000 kilometres, took me to all corners of this spectacular and diverse country of ours, and allowed me to meet many incredible people.
In 2015 I completed a year-long circumnavigation of the Mediterranean Sea. Beginning from and returning to Gallipoli between Anzac Day 2014 and Anzac Day 2015, my journey was a commemoration of the Anzac Centenary. By sea kayak, foot, ocean rowboat and bike I travelled 13,000 kilometres through 17 countries. At a time of immense and tragic upheaval in the Mediterranean, this journey was touched by human kindness throughout. My book, Mediterranean – A year around a charmed and troubled sea, tells the story of that journey.
This journey also sought to highlight the heart-wrenching conditions faced by innocent kids caught up in war and conflict. I partnered with Save the Children Australia, along the way becoming their biggest-ever individual fundraiser. I continue to work closely with the charity as an Ambassador.
As a result of my Mediterranean journey and other endeavours, I was presented with the 2015 Australian Geographic Society’s Spirit of Adventure award.
Being lucky enough to see incredible parts of this extraordinary planet has also thrown up a mirror to some of its biggest threats. I’ve long been concerned about the prevalence of single-use plastics, now very much an issue for our times. I’m proud to have been a driving force behind my hometown of Bundanoon becoming the world’s first town to stop selling ‘still’ bottled water in 2009. This initiative reverberated around the world. I have continued to work worldwide on the issue of plastic waste. You can view Message in a Bottle, my TEDx talk last year in Athens, here.
As a result of this work, Time Magazine named me one of its 25 Worldwide Responsibility Pioneers in 2009 and I was awarded the 2010 Sharing Citizen prize, under the auspice of The Council of Europe. In 2011 the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) made me the recipient of its prestigious Peter Rawlinson Award for outstanding voluntary contribution to protecting the environment in Australia.
If you’d like more information on who I am and what drives me visit www.huwkingston.com