Thai cave diving doc returns to Adelaide

By AAP Newswire

The Australian doctor who played a pivotal role in the Thai cave rescue has spoken of his desire to return to normal life as quickly as possible.

Cave diver and retrieval expert Richard "Harry" Harris, speaking publicly on Saturday for the first time since returning to his Adelaide home, said his father's death coming shortly after the successful rescue had been a bittersweet moment.

"I'm hoping to get back to work, go through the funeral and celebrate Dad's life and get everything back to normal as absolutely quickly as possible," he told reporters on Saturday.

Dr Harris and his dive partner - retired Perth vet Craig Challen - were among an international team of cave-diving experts who freed 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave.

The anaesthetist's medical training and 30 years of experience diving some of the world's deepest and most challenging caves meant he played a critical role in the rescue operation.

"(It was) a pretty amazing experience for us all last week being involved with this rescue," he said.

"Some moments of significant fear I have to say, a great result and some really joyous moments to finish.

"(I made) some true friends and colleagues, new colleagues and acquaintances over there."

Dr Harris commended the diving team and wider community response, in a Facebook post written as he flew back to Australia on an RAAF plane.

He said the British and local divers' skills and efforts to blaze the trail to the boys "cannot be underestimated" and he also praised the large teams of workers who pumped water out of the cave to keep water levels inside low.

"I have never seen anything like it with man battling to control the natural forces of the monsoon waters," Dr Harris posted.

The post has received more than 50,000 comments and likes with one Thai person telling Dr Harris his father "was the proudest father in the world on his last day".

Thousands of people are calling on Dr Harris and Dr Challen to be presented with Australia's highest civilian bravery award, the Cross of Valour, with a petition approaching 40,000 signatures.