Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following may contain images and voices of deceased persons.
The following people achieved high levels of recognition and are in some way linked to Australia. Some were not born in Australia; some never lived here. Others were born here. Some lived here permanently.
All have contributed significantly to Australia’s development in some way, whether through discoveries, leadership, cultural achievement, sporting prowess, science, technology, innovation, … .
A separate listing is provided for Indigenous Australians. It includes people from all areas of achievement.
The final section includes biographical information resources related to all Australian achievers.
Each listing is given in alphabetical order, using the following format - Surname, Title [if applicable], First Name[s]. A brief indication of area[s] and achievement[s] is provided.
This link gives access to similar information about Famous World Figures.
|Banks, Sir Joseph||Naturalist, explorer|
|Barton, Sir Edmund||First Prime Minister of Australia|
|Bates, Daisy May||Memoirist, Indigenous culture recorder, Indigenous rights activist|
|Bird Walton, Nancy||Aviator|
|Blackburn, Elizabeth H.||Nobel Laureate [Physiology or Medicine]|
|Blamey, Sir Thomas Albert||Soldier, Policeman, Public Servant|
|Bradfield, John Job Crew||Designer of Sydney Harbour Bridge, civil engineer, rail engineer|
|Bragg, Sir William Henry||Nobel Laureate [X-ray Crystallography]|
|Bragg, Sir William Laurence||Nobel Laureate [X-ray Crystallography]|
|Bradman, Sir Donald||Cricketer|
|Bullwinkel, Sister Vivian||Army nursing sister, prisoner of war|
|Burnet, Sir Frank Macfarlane||Nobel Laureate [Medicine]|
|Bussau, David||Pioneer of microfinancing, Senior Australian of the Year|
|Carey, Peter||Novelist, dual Booker Award winner|
|Chang, Dr Victor||Heart surgeon|
|Chifley, Joseph Benedict||Prime Minister|
|Chisholm, Caroline||Social work with women in early New South Wales|
|Clark, Graeme||Cochlear implant developer|
|Cook, Captain James||Navigator, explorer|
|Coombs, Herbert Cole [Nugget]||Economist, Reserve Bank Governor, the Arts, Aboriginal advocate|
|Cornforth, John Warcup||Nobel Laureate [Chemistry]|
|Cowan, Edith||Magistrate, First Female Australian Parliamentarian, Welfare worker|
|Curtin, John||WW II Prime Minister|
|Cuthbert, Betty||Olympic Athlete|
|Dart, Raymond Arthur||Archaeologist [Australopithecus africanus], academic|
|Dixon, Sir Owen||Jurist, Diplomat|
|Doherty, Peter Charles||Nobel Laureate [Medicine]|
|Dorrington, Annie||Australian flag designer [shared]|
|Dunlop, Sir Edward ‘Weary’||Surgeon, POW [WW II]|
|Eccles, John Carew||Nobel Laureate [Medicine]|
|Evatt, Dr Herbert Vere||Politician, First President of the United Nations|
|Everage, Dame Edna||Show business personality [See entry for Barry Humphries below]|
|Farrer, William||Agriculture [wheat development]|
|Flinders, Matthew||Circumnavigated and named Australia.|
|Florey, Lord Howard||Nobel Laureate, Science/Medicine, [penicillin]|
|Flynn, The Rev. Doctor John||Founded The Flying Doctor Service|
|Fraser, Dawn||Olympic swimmer|
|Frazer, Ian||Immunologist, Florey Medal winner, Australian of the Year|
|Fysh, Sir Wilmot Hudson||Pilot, co-founder of QANTAS, soldier|
|Gordon, Adam Lindsay||Poet, MP|
|Grainger, George Percy||Musician & Composer|
|Hargrave, Lawrence||Flight, box kites|
|Helpmann, Sir Robert||Ballet dancer and director|
|Higgins, Henry Bournes||Barrister, High Court Judge [Harvester Decision], politician, university administrator|
|Hinkler, Bert||Aviator; first to fly solo England/Australia|
|Hollows, Fred||Humanitarian, eye surgeon in the Third World as well as Australia|
|Hughes, William Morris||WW I Prime Minister|
|Humphries, Barry [Dame Edna Everage]||Comedian and satirist|
|Hurley, Frank||Photographer [Antarctic/WW I]|
|Katz, Sir Bernard||Nobel Laureate [Medicine]|
|Kelly, Edward [Ned]||Bushranger|
|Kenny, Elizabeth||Nurse [polio]|
|Kidman, Sir Sidney||Grazier, squatter, benefactor|
|Kingsford-Smith, Sir Charles||Aviator; first to fly US/Australia|
|Kirkby, Sydney L||Australian surveyor, Antarctic explorer|
|Lalor, Peter||Rebel [Eureka Stockade], politician|
|Lawson, Henry||Writer and poet|
|Lindrum, Walter||‘Often considered to be the greatest player ever seen in the sport of billiards’|
|Lindsay, Norman Alfred William||Artist & writer|
|Lyons, Dame Enid||First female Federal politician|
|Macarthur, Elizabeth||Mother of the Australian sheep industry|
|Macarthur, John||Early agriculturalist|
|McKay, Hugh Victor||Inventor, farm machinery manufacturer|
|Macquarie, Lachlan||New South Wales Governor, early 1800s|
|Marshall, Barry||Nobel Laureate [Medicine]|
|Mawson, Sir Douglas||Antarctic explorer|
|Melba, Dame Nellie||Opera singer, soprano|
|Menzies, Sir Robert||Longest serving Prime Minister|
|Monash, Sir John||Army officer, engineer, University Vice-Chancellor|
|Mort, Thomas Sutcliffe||Refrigerated transport|
|Murdoch, Rupert||Media owner|
|Nolan, Sidney||Artist [Ned Kelly series]|
|O’Connor, Charles Yelverton||Engineer, Public Servant, Railways Commissioner [WA]|
|Oliphant, Sir Mark||Physicist|
|Parkes, Sir Henry||Father of Federation|
|Paterson, Andrew Barton||Writer and poet [Waltzing Matilda]|
|Phillip, Captain Arthur||First Governor of New South Wales colony|
|Prokhorov, Aleksandr Mikhailovich||Nobel Laureate [Physics]|
|Ruse, James||Convict, farmer|
|Schmidt, Brian P.||Nobel Laureate [Physics]|
|Singer, Peter||Moral philosopher, ethicist|
|Strickland [de la Hunty], Shirley||Olympic athlete, conservationist|
|Sturt, Charles||Inland Explorer|
|Stuart, John McDouall||Explorer; North/South crossing of Australia|
|Sutherland, Dame Joan||Opera singer, soprano|
|Tao, Terrence||Fields Medal [Mathematics]|
|Thorpe, Ian||Olympic swimmer|
|Wentworth, William Charles||Explorer, politician|
|White, Patrick||Nobel Laureate [Literature]|
|Wilkins, Sir Hubert||Polar explorer, War Photographer, explorer|
|Archer, Caroline Lillian||Aboriginal activist|
|Bandler, Dr Faith||Campaigner for Indigenous rights, writer|
|Blair, Harold||Singer and Aboriginal activist|
|Bonner, Neville||First Indigenous Senator|
|Burnum Burnum [Harry Penrith]||Advocate, activist|
|Casey, Dr Dawn||National Museum Director, administrator|
|Cooper, William||Leader, advocate, activist|
|Dodson, Mick||Advocate, activist, representative, Australian of the Year|
|Dodson, Patrick||Activist, consultant, representative|
|Foley, Gary||Activist, academic, actor|
|Freeman, Cathy||Olympic athlete|
|Goodes, Adam||AFL player, community leader, Australian of the Year|
|Gulpilil, David||Actor, dancer|
|Kngwarreye, Emily Kame||Aboriginal artist|
|Lingiari, Vincent||Aboriginal leader, Land Rights campaigner|
|Mabo, Eddie||Land Rights campaigner|
|McDermott, Lloyd||First Indigenous Barrister, Rugby Union Wallaby|
|Miller, Olga Eunice, “Aunty Olga”||Aboriginal writer, Community worker, Environmentalist, Illustrator, Storyteller|
|Monks, Rosie Kunoth||Film star, nun, social worker|
|Nicholls, Sir Doug||First Indigenous State Governor, Footballer|
|Noonuccal, Oodgeroo||[Kath Walker] Poet, artist, educator, activist|
|O’Donoghue, Dr Lowitja [Lois]||Nurse, Public Servant, Chairperson of ATSIC|
|O’Shane, Pat||Magistrate, University Chancellor|
|Page, Stephen||Dancer, choreographer|
|Pearson, Noel||Lawyer, activist|
|Pemulwuy||Indigenous resistance fighter|
|Peris, Nova||Athlete, Olympic athlete, Senator|
|Perkins, Charles||Activist, sportsman|
|Ridgeway, Aden||Senator, television presenter|
|Roach, Archie||Singer and songwriter|
|Saunders, Captain Reginald||First Indigenous commissioned army officer|
|Smith, Shirley||Activist, helper [“Mum Shirl”]|
|Sykes, Roberta [Bobbi]||Aboriginal Administrator and health worker, Journalist, Academic, Writer|
|Thomas, Harold||Designer of the Aboriginal flag|
|Thornton, Warwick||Film director, screenwriter, cinematographer|
|Truganini||Tasmanian Aboriginal spokesperson and leader|
|Unaipon, David||Inventor, preacher, author, spokesman|
|Wyatt, Ken||Teacher, community leader, MP [First Indigenous Member of the House of Representatives]|
|Yagan||Indigenous resistance fighter|
|Yunupingu, Mandawuy||Musician, teacher, activist|
- 200 Significant
Grouped alphabetically and under specific headings. Information on how chosen.
- Australian Biography Online
‘A web-based biographical resource profiling some of the most extraordinary Australians of our time’. Film Australia and the National Library.
- Australian Composers
‘The links feature a short biography, email & web links, and photo for each represented composer’. Nearly 400.
- Australian Dictionary of Biography Online
Contains 10 000+ biographies of Australians, both famous and “infamous”. Entries have been done by people from the field in which the person being covered was best known. Multiple search methods : surname, occupation, author, town, specific dates and more.
Highly recommended !
- Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program
‘A free online service that enables full-text searching of newspaper articles. The service includes newspapers published in each state and territory from the 1800s to the mid-1950s’. Access material from the history of Australia about individual famous people, written while they were alive.
- Australian of the Year Awards
Information about the awards and all the recipients of Australian of The Year, Senior Australian of The Year, Young Australian of The Year and Australia’s Local Hero.
- Australia’s Nobel
Laureates and the Nobel Prize
Overview of winners and the Nobel Prize, plus individual biographies.
- Famous Australians
‘Learn about the famous people of Australia, from famous Australian singers to famous Australian sportspeople’.
- Gallery of Australian
Civics and Citizenship Education website. There is also a Gallery of Historical Biography’.
- Dictionary of Australian Biography
Project Gutenberg. A 1949 listing by Percival Serle.
- Encyclopaedia of Australian Science
University of Melbourne. ‘Incorporating Bright Sparcs and Australian Science at Work’.
- Famous Australians [in 5 minutes]
ABC Australia. A ‘series of five-minute profiles on notable and interesting Australians aiming to inspire children with the lives of people who have taken risks, followed their dream or reached for the stars’.
- List of Australians
Kids.net.au. Famous Australians grouped under headings from Art to Other Areas.
- Tall Poppy Campaign
[Great Australian Achievers.] ‘Some of Australia’s great men and women, past and present, whose achievements are celebrated’.
- The Australian Women’s Register
‘A rich and growing source of information about Australian women and their organisations. Use the Register to find women, organisations, archives and publications’.
Indigenous Biography Sites
- Aboriginal Heroes : Episodes in the Colonial Landscape
‘Five narratives retell episodes of Queensland history. The revived narratives bring Aboriginal oral memory and the ‘unvoiced’ into the Australian public domain’.
Aboriginal people & Role Models
Creative Spirits. ‘ ’.
Information on ‘a few of the inspirational Indigenous people who have accomplished great personal achievements as well as great cultural achievements for their fellow Indigenous peoples’. Skwirk.
- Indigenous Australians
Part of the Australian Dictionary of Biography Online. Each of the 193 [at time of updating] links to further information.
- Lists of Indigenous Australians
Lists from historical figures to writers, musicians to sportspeople. Wikipedia.
- Martyrs in The Struggle for Justice
‘A Gallery in Tribute to Heroes of the Political Struggle for Aboriginal Rights : 1905 - 2005’.