A German adventurer who spent seven years canoeing from Europe to Australia in the 1930s only to be interned as an enemy alien on the eve of World War II, is receiving belated recognition for his extraordinary journey in a new exhibition. Oskar Speck paddled up and down rivers, across oceans and through perilous straits, capsizing frequently. He encountered sharks, monsoons, hostile locals and officials. He was robbed, shot at, hailed as a god and suspected of being a Nazi spy. 'From reading his letters you get the sense that he was a loner and a difficult character,' said Penny Cuthbert, the curator of the exhibition at the National Maritime Museum of Australia in Sydney. With a swastika fluttering from his kayak, Speck paddled more than 48,000km in an epic journey documented in the exhibition. He was a jobless 25-year-old when he set out from the town of Ulm in May 1932, intending to kayak to Cyprus to find work. Once he reached the open sea he hoisted a small sail and island-hopped through the Aegean, along the coast of Turkey and on to Cyprus, hugging the coastline wherever he could. By then uninterested in finding work, he paddled for two days to Syria. After being stopped from entering the Suez Canal, he simply packed his kayak and took a bus from the Syrian coast to the River Euphrates, where he was shot at by tribesmen. Speck continued along the west coast of India, around Sri Lanka and up the east coast to Burma (now Myanmar), which he reached in 1936. His journey excited the interest of local newspapers as he travelled down the west coast of Thailand, before island- hopping through the Indonesian archipelago to Timor. Black and white footage shows Timorese villagers performing a dance with swords, Balinese children using a bow and arrow to spear fish and New Guinean tribesman killing and eating a large turtle. In 1939 Speck, suffering from bouts of malaria, arrived in then Dutch New Guinea, having paddled almost 210km non-stop from the Kai Islands, in the Banda Sea. In New Britain, off the east coast of New Guinea, he was hailed by locals as a god. On September 20, 1939, three weeks after war was declared in Europe and seven years, four months after he had set out from Germany, he reached a remote Australian island in the Torres Strait, off the tip of northern Queensland. There he was promptly arrested as an enemy alien by two local policemen. In 1943 he escaped from an internment camp in Victoria, but was caught by police trying to cycle to Sydney. He then spent 28 days in solitary confinement. Speck later set up a successful opal-dealing business in Sydney. He died in 1995, aged 88.