London lawyer Chris Hesford’s trusty GoPro camera had met with a watery end after its six-month dip in the briny – but the real bonus for the 22-year-old was that hundreds of priceless photographs from his once-in-a-lifetime world trip had survived intact on the memory card.

The waterlogged camera was found by Gold Coast local Steve Carmody in a riverbed at Fingal Head, around 60km from where Chris saw it plunge into Byron Bay in September. Steve posted a message on Facebook saying: “If we can track down this bloke I have 32GB of precious memories to be returned.”

After two weeks, 8000 Facebook shares and Australian TV coverage, Chris’s picture was spotted by friends, meaning the precious images could be returned to their delighted owner 12,000 miles away.

“I’m still in shock,” Chris told ABC Gold Coast. “It took me about a few hours to really comprehend that that was my face up there on the other side of the world.”

Describing the loss of the camera, he said: “We were just trying to ride this surf into the shoreline and the waves were obviously too big for my skills in a kayak and I just completely bailed. The force of the water just ripped the camera off my head. I thought it was gone forever, that it was just washed away into the sea.”

Camera rescuer Steve said: “It’s very cool. It just goes to show the power of social media.”

Chris has promised to buy Steve a pint should he ever happen to be down London way. Meanwhile that memory card will soon be winging its way back to Blighty. Pray God it doesn’t get lost in the post…