Thai cave heroes honoured for saving lives

"Ordinary blokes" Craig Challen (L) and Richard Harris (C) have been honoured with bravery medals. (AAP)

Nine Australian heroes involved in the Thai cave rescue have been publicly honoured for their life-saving roles in the daring mission.

Out of the caves and into the spotlight, a group of Australian heroes have been publicly honoured for their central roles in saving the lives of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach.

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove presented the nine with Australia's highest civilian honour during a ceremony in Canberra on Tuesday.

Cave diving mates Richard Harris and Craig Challen also received the Star of Courage for their unique roles in the daring Tham Luang rescue mission.

The pair were crucial to the international operation, with Dr Harris' experience as an anaesthetist critical.

He assessed the boys before giving them the medical all clear to undertake the perilous mission out of the cave, advising authorities on the best way to bring them to safety.

Despite their life-saving efforts, the veteran cave divers admit they are embarrassed by the global attention and accolades.

"We're two ordinary blokes with an unusual hobby," retired vet Dr Challen told reporters at Government House.

Dr Challen said he was overjoyed the mission ended well, with monsoon rains threatening to trap the boys underground for several months.

"I can't tell you how bleak the outlook was for those kids in there," he said.

The humble cave diving mates plan to hit the waters again next weekend, insisting it's time to blow off the cobwebs.

Bravery medals were awarded to navy Chief Petty Officer Troy Eather, and Australian Federal Police officers Acting Station Sergeant Robert James, Leading Senior Constable Kelly Boers, Detective Leading Senior Constable Benjamin Cox, First Constable Matthew Fitzgerald, Senior Constable Justin Bateman and Detective Leading Senior Constable Chris Markcrow.

The men were deployed to Chiang Rai at short notice, spending long days diving kilometres through the caves to move hundreds of air tanks, pumps, pipes and cables as part of the extraordinary rescue effort.

They knowingly put themselves in life-threatening danger, refusing to give up until each trapped boy was gently shepherded to safety.

Sir Peter lauded their courage and selflessness.

"We think you were remarkable, skilful, tireless, compassionate and courageous," he said.

"Your nation is so proud of you."

Source AAP

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