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Eminent Australians

Australia is a country with a comparatively small population and a short recorded history. Nevertheless it has produced a large number of distinguished people. Australia is one of the world's most innovative nations, full of highly talented people from all walks of life who are encouraged to fulfil their dream and do their best. The array of talent and inventiveness is both diverse and abundant. This is just a snapshot of Australian alumni who have achieved international success in their particular field.

Science, medicine, engineering

Dr Peter Colman
One of the world's leading x-ray crystallographers, a driving force behind the anti-influenza drug. Awarded the Australia Prize in 1996.

Sir Gustav Nossal
Chairman of the Scientific Advance Group of Experts for the Global Programme for Vaccines and Immunization at the World Health Organisation since 1994

Ralph Sarich
Worked on engines resulting in the development of the orbital engine. The company is now listed on Wall Street.

Dr Andrew Thomas
NASA Space Shuttle astronaut, aboard the Russian MIR space station, recently returned from his third space mission

Sir Alan Walsh
First developed the atomic absorption spectrophotometer, a complex instrument used in chemical analysis to determine low concentration of metals

Business, government

Rupert Murdoch
Controls the world's third largest media empire including the New York Post, the London Times, Twentieth Century Fox productions and the LA Dodgers baseball team

Jaques Nasser
CEO of the Ford Motor Company, the world's second largest auto company

James D Wolfensohn
World Bank's ninth President in 1995


His Eminence Cardinal Edward Cassidy
Cardinal President for the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews since 1989

Colleen McCullough
Author of best-seller The Thorn Birds which was selected by the United States Literary Guild 

Germaine Greer
Feminist and author of The Female Eunuch

Thomas Keneally
Author of Schindler's Ark, winner of the coveted English literary Booker Prize, and developed by Stephen Spielberg into the popular film, Schindler's List

Ian Kiernan
Established "Clean Up Australia" which has now become an international event, "Clean Up the World". He was awarded the prestigious 1998 United Nations Environment Programme Sasakawa Environment Prize

John Pilger
Leading international journalist and documentary filmmaker for his exposure of human rights abuses. He was awarded the UN Association Media Peace Prize and Gold Medal in 1979 and 1980 for his television documentary Year Zero which exposed the atrocities of the Pol Pott regime in Cambodia. He was also awarded the International Reporter of the Year in 1970.

Visual artists

Sir William Dobell
Eminent portrait painter and winner of two Australian Archibald Prizes. The American Time magazine cover illustrations.

Ken Done
Creative director and a commercial artist before taking up painting. After a successful exhibition he began to market his prints commercially and is now well known internationally, turning over $100 million a year.

Pro (Kevin) Charles Hart
Prolific artist. His paintings are in great demand internationally and can be found hanging in the White House and in the Prince Phillip's (husband of Queen Elizabeth) collection in Britain.

Robert Hughes
After a distinguished career in Australia, Hughes was selected as the senior art critic for Time magazine.
He has received numerous accolades for his work including the Frank Jewett Mather Award for Distinguished Art Criticism.

Leslie Petty
Freelance cartoonist in London and New York and feature cartoonist for The Australian newspaper. He also made a number of award winning cartoon films including the Oscar-winning Leisure '77.

Richard Tyler
Fashion designer and a favourite of Hollywood stars including Brad Pitt, Jeff Goldbrum, Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts

Brett Whitely
Internationally recognised for his paintings. He was awarded numerous prizes for his works including the international prize at the Paris Biennale and the Australian Archibald Prize for portraiture. His work is represented at the Australian National Gallery in Canberra, the Tate Gallery in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Music, film, theatre

Bruce Beresford
Film director in Australia and Hollywood. Tender Mercies received an Academy Award nominee for Best, Director. He also directed the movie, Driving Miss Daisy, which won the 1990 Oscar for Best Picture.

Russell Crowe
Internationally acclaimed actor Russell Crowe has confirmed his stature as one of the world's leading men with his Oscar-winning role as Maximus in Gladiator (2000) and his Oscar-nominated role as Jeffrey Wigand, the tobacco industry whistleblower in The Insider (1999).

Judy Davis
Coveted role in the internationally renowned Australian movie, My Brilliant Career, launched her onto the international stage. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for A Passage to India in 1984.

Mel Gibson
International movie star for his roles in the Lethal Weapon series. He then went on to direct and act in the Academy Award winning movie, Braveheart. Mel Gibson was also awarded the Academy Award for Best Director.

Nicole Kidman
International movie star for her roles in 24 movies, including Moulin Rouge, The Others and Cold Mountain. She was nominated for Best Actress in the 75th Annual Academy Awards for her role as Virginia Wolfe in The Hours.

Baz Luhrmann
Film director of the Australian movie Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge and the critically-acclaimed contemporary version of Romeo and Juliet

Dame Nellie Melba
Soprano opera singer of worldwide renown and popularity. Appeared regularly at Convent Garden and major houses in Europe and United States. The ice-cream dish peche melba is named after her.

Peter Sculthorpe
Music composer. He is best known for the Sun Music series composed for the Commonwealth Festival of Arts in London. He was appointed an Order of Australia in 1990.

Peter Weir
Film director of a number of critically-acclaimed and popular Hollywood movies, The Truman Show and Green Card, and an Academy Award nominee for directing Witness and the Dead Poets Society.


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