Dick Smith - Hot Air Balloon.
Dick Smith Dick Smith and John Wallington enjoying the view, as John sit in the $2 beach chair. Image: Dick Smith
© Australian Geographic

Visitors to Trailblazers: Australia's 50 greatest explorers have voted Dick Smith as their all-time number one.

Renowned adventurer, businessman and philanthropist Dick Smith AC has taken out the title of Australia's favourite living explorer in a competition run during the Trailblazers: Australia's 50 greatest explorers exhibition.

Celebrated in the exhibition is Smith’s achievements as the first person to fly solo around the world by helicopter and across Australia by balloon. Visitors were able to admire the real balloon gondola that Smith used on his journey, along with other artefacts, and around 4000 votes were cast in favour of this iconic Australian.

“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 Trailblazers. 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 Gaby Kennard OAM (the first Australian woman to circumnavigate the world by airplane), Ryan Campbell (the youngest person to fly solo around the world), and Jessica Watson (youngest person to sail solo and unassisted around the world) for their respective journeys.