At 16, she captured the nation’s attention during her 210-day odyssey to become the youngest person to sail non-stop and unassisted around the world.
At the awards ceremony in Canberra on Tuesday, she said belief and hard work were the secrets to achievement.
“You don’t have to be anyone or anything to achieve something. You’ve just got to believe in it and work hard,” she said.
“It doesn’t have to be sailing around the world. It might be building an orphanage in Cambodia, campaigning for climate change or something as simple as getting a driver’s licence.
“So, to all you Aussies out there, particularly us young guys, let’s dream big. But more importantly, let’s make it happen.”
Watson sailed into Sydney Harbour to a hero’s welcome on May 15 last year, having finally completed a 23,000 nautical mile journey seven months after setting off.
But it was never easy: dangerous weather and a run-in with a 60,000-tonne coal carrier threatened to derail the journey, while critics said she was too young and was putting herself in harm’s way.
The National Australia Day Council paid tribute to the teenager’s maturity and dignity after naming her Young Australia of the Year at a ceremony in Canberra on Tuesday.
“From the age of 12, Jessica Watson dreamt of sailing solo, unassisted, non-stop around the world, and at the age of 16, she made it happen, the council said.
“Her voyage has inspired thousands of people of all ages, and has shown that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve what may at first seem impossible.”
Source: Nine News