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John Cantor Travels from Sydney, NSW


  • Adventure Sport
  • Goal Setting
  • Inspirational
  • Mental Health
  • Motivational
  • Resilience

Not many people experience failure on as grand a scale as John has and time and again return for more – armed with invaluable lessons and knowledge from previous experiences.

In 2012 not only did adventurer John Cantor achieved a six-year dream of traversing the Brooks Range solo, a 1,600 km expedition across Arctic Alaska and considered one of the toughest solo expeditions on earth – he smashed the speed record by 10 days, completing the trip in 31 days. Almost completely devoid of human presence, this environment is full of grizzly bears, wolves and countless other animals.

With no previous experience and only blind self-belief, this young surfer from Noosa Heads, Queensland, set himself a near-impossible goal. There were only four documented solo traverses of the range prior to this, all of whom were Americans.

After failing on three successive attempts in three consecutive years, John realised he was banging his head against a brick wall, so took 2011 off and adopted a completely different approach to the expedition. He broke it down into little battles and worked on perfecting each element. John finally completed the expedition in 31-and-a-half days, setting a speed record for the traverse.

During this time John also battled with chronic knee and back injuries, severe anxiety, and huge financial costs working up to three jobs at a time.

John's expedition was featured on the ABC's Australian Story and was the most downloaded episode for 2012.

The next goal John set himself was a Winter Traverse of the Brooks Range. This expedition has never been done and is seemingly impossible, but John felt he had to try. In January 2014 with fellow adventurer Evan Howard, they began the trip but had to pull the plug on the 10th day due to some frostbite that John had developed. They were unfortunate to have been smashed by severe weather on the first three days, not allowing them any time to acclimatize. John battled on through agonizing pain in his fingers for another week before making the hard decision to end the trip and saved his fingers from permanent damage.

Although not the result John had hoped for, he took solace from knowing this time his preparation and execution had been near flawless. He was just attempting something remarkable that would require a certain amount of luck. John’s initial goal had been to find his limit, and as hard as the summer traverse was, he knew he had more in him. With the winter traverse, the continuous darkness, winds so strong John was knocked off his feet, temperatures past minus 45, the constant threat of falling through ice on the rivers – he found his limit.

These experiences have only made him stronger and his next trip is already in the making. In June 2014 John will return to Alaska to climb Denali, North Americas highest mountain.

John Cantor has inspired companies, sports teams, organisations and schools with his adventures and the lessons he has learned from them. His presentations focus on determination, resilience, turning failure into a positive, goal setting, overcoming adversity, positive self-belief, earning the desire to achieve something remarkable and understanding fear and anxiety. He is also a Beyondblue ambassador and speaks about his own bouts of anxiety and depression. Having a Master in Media Arts & Production, John’s presentations are rich with professional quality videos and photos. 


We enjoyed your humour and motivational words. We suffered in your agony and felt your disappointments. You spoke to the audience with passion and kept us engaged throughout your autobiography of accomplishing your dream. You have inspired others to keep on trying but most importantly to plan and prepare.


The personal challenges that he overcame through determination, perseverance and resilience was a truly inspiring experience for all involved. John tells his story in an honest, open and engaging manner and even in some of his most trying moments of the expedition, he seems to find a way to find the funny side of what are seemingly incredibly daunting situations. Our players and staff are still talking about the presentation and what they got out of it individually and collectively. As an elite sporting team with a strong focus on developing mental resilience and personal resolve, John's story has been a terrific example of what can be achieved when you truly set your heart and mind on something.

North Melbourne Kangaroos



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