Trailblazers: Australia’s 50 Greatest Explorers

In Reportage by Dave Fanner1 Comment

This week I was lucky enough to attend the opening of Australia Museum’s new exhibition, Trailblazers: Australia’s 50 Greatest Explorers.

Holy shit, what a night! Champagne, beers and some of the most incredible high achievers this country has ever produced.  I’m still on an inspirational high after having chats with some of my heroes, like they were just normal people or something.


Sara and I with Jillian Exton and Andrew Lock

The exhibition features 50 adventurers, both past and present and is cleverly divided into five distinct categories:

Riding the Waves (Oceans)

Trekking the Wilds (Jungles/Deserts/Inland)

Going Over and Under (Caves/Mountains)

On Thin Ice (The Poles)

Taking to the Skies (Aviation/Space)

You’ve got your classics like Cook, Flinders and those legendary drongos, Burke and Wills, but the set up means they’re sharing the same space with modern explorers like Jon Muir and Tim Cope.  Reading these 50 stories, side-by-side, it’s easy to see that sense of adventure, the seeking out of uncertainty in exploration has stayed with us from the first explorers 50,000 years ago, through to this day.

Some of the highlights for me were the chain mail shark suits of underwater pioneers Ron & Valerie Taylor, comparing the difference in climbing equipment from Greg Mortimer‘s 1984 Everest suit and boots with Andrew Lock‘s modern stuff, reading about how hard Jon Muir was on his cross-country trips, reading about William Bligh who had the most epic life before and after the ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’, and Sydney Kirby‘s hilariously detailed descriptions of hygiene standards practiced by the Antarctic teams of the 1960s.  There was also a little tin of 100-year old dried meat rations which I found fascinating for some reason, I can’t actually remember who’s display that was from…but I wonder if it is still edible??

I imagine this exhibition will be on for awhile, as it must have cost an absolute truckload of money to put on, so if you’re feeling like you need a little inspiration in your life, head down to the Australia Museum and have a little explore.



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