Adventurer and entrepreneur Dick Smith AC is Australia’s favourite living explorer, as voted by visitors to the Australian Museum.

(Monday 23 May 2016): Renowned adventurer, businessman and philanthropist, Dick Smith AC, has taken out the title of Australia’s favourite living explorer in a competition run by the Australian Museum as part of its Trailblazers: Australia’s 50 greatest explorers exhibition.

Smith’s achievements as the first person to fly solo around the world by helicopter and across Australia by balloon are celebrated in the AM’s exhibition which examines Australia’s historic and modern day explorers.

Since it opened in November, more than 70,000 people have visited the exhibition, with many registering to vote for their favourite explorer.

Dick Smith has won the modern day adventurer’s mantle while Captain Cook leads the historic group.

“Dick Smith has set a new benchmark in Australian exploration and adventure – he has never shied away from taking a risk and facing new challenges,” Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO of the Australian Museum, said.

“It’s unsurprising then that such a well-known advocate of responsible risk-taking and inspiring achievements has been voted as Australia’s favourite living explorer.”

In addition to being recognised for his own exploits, Dick shares a connection – and a lucky charm – with some of his fellow explorers in the Trailblazers exhibition.

A fragment of the fabric of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s aircraft, Southern Cross, was carried by Smith on his record breaking helicopter and balloon flights.

The same cloth was then loaned by Smith to fellow aviators Gabby Kennard OAM (first Australian woman to circumnavigate the world by airplane) and Ryan Campbell (who in 2013 became the youngest person to fly solo around the world) for their respective journeys.

This treasured lucky charm was also loaned by Smith to Jessica Watson OAM, the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

“There is a real camaraderie among our modern explorers, one that reflects a sense of adventure that defines the Australian spirit,” Ms McKay said.

Smith, who also founded the Australian Geographic Society in 1986, is known for his philanthropic work funding other expeditions and scientific research.

Jessica Watson and Tim Cope (trekked 10,000 kilometres following the journey of Genghis Khan from Mongolia to Hungary) placed second and third in the living explorer category.

Heading up the voting for historic figures Captain Cook – who mapped the east coast of Australia in 1770 and explored much of the Pacific during subsequent voyages – has won ahead of fellow sailor and navigator Matthew Flinders, and pioneering female pilot Nancy Bird Walton.

Trailblazers celebrates Australia’s greatest explorers, from historical pioneers through to modern day legends. The exhibition closes on 18 July 2016.

Visitors who vote for their favourite explorers go into the draw to win their own adventure to anywhere in the world valued at $20,000, provided by Adventure World, presenting partner of Trailblazers.

About Trailblazers: Australia’s 50 greatest explorers

Created by the Australian Museum and curated by Antarctic adventurer and author Howard Whelan,
Trailblazers: Australia’s 50 greatest explorers brings together 29 historic and 21 modern adventurers and explorers, including nine women. Presented by Adventure World, strategic partner Destination NSW, supported by Australian Geographic, Daily Telegraph, National Geographic Channel, JC Decaux, 303MullenLowe and Pullman Hyde Park Sydney. Australian Geographic is presenting a series of 21 talks at the Australian Museum, featuring many of the modern explorers.

About the Australian Museum (AM)

The AM, founded in 1827 is the nation’s first museum, and is an internationally recognised natural science and culture institution focused on Australia and the Pacific. As custodian of more than 18 million objects, the AM is uniquely positioned to provide a greater understanding of the region through its scientific research, exhibitions and public and education programs. Through the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), the AM also has a leading role in conserving Australia’s biodiversity through understanding the environmental impacts of climate change, potential biosecurity threats and invasive species.