Winners of the 2016 Australian Geographic Society Awards

By AG Staff 27 October 2016
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Adventurous teenagers are the big winners of this year’s AG Awards, with three of the 10 medallions to be awarded to people under 20.

HIGH-ACHIEVING MILLENIALS are the big winners of this year’s prestigious Australian Geographic Society Awards, with three Australians under the age of 20 recognised for their record-breaking adventures at an awards ceremony being held in Sydney.

At 14-years-old, Jade Hemeister is the youngest of the medallion winners, receiving the Young Adventurer of the Year award after becoming the youngest person to ski to the North Pole in April. Alongside Jade, 19-year-old Alyssa Azar and 18-year-old Lachlan Smart were presented with Spirit of Adventure medallions for their achievements in mountaineering and aviation, respectively.

Ten medallions were awarded at the 29th Gala Awards, held at the Sofitel Wentworth Grand Ballroom and hosted by journalist Ray Martin. This year over 400 distinguished guests (including special guest speaker Dr David Suzuki), AG Society members and members of the public came together to celebrate the achievements of Australia’s top adventurers and conservationists.

tim jarvis

Tim Jarvis is the first person to receive both Adventurer of the Year and Conservationist of the Year awards. (Image: Ed Wardle/25Zero)

Deep-sea diver Ron Allum has been awarded the coveted Lifetime of Adventure award for his technological feats, including but not limited to his role in building the submersible Deepsea Challenger, which in 2012 reached the Earth’s deepest point.

Pilot Michael Smith is the 2016 Adventurer of the Year, after becoming the first person to solo-navigate the world by a single-engine sea-boat over eight months in 2015. Previous 2013 Adventurer of the Year Tim Jarvis has been awarded Conservationist of the Year for his 25Zero project, which aims to highlight the retreat of glaciers on the world’s 25 equatorial mountains. Jarvis is the first person to have received both medallions.

Another young achiever, 25-year-old Joshua Gilbert takes home the Young Conservationist of the Year award for his lobbying towards a Royal Commission into climate change and work on former US-presidential candidate Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.

In addition to Alyssa Azar and Lachlan Smart, former soldier Brian Freeman also received a Spirit of Adventure medallion for founding Walking Wounded, a foundation which helps former soldiers gain confidence through exercises such as walking the Kokoda Trail. In 2016, Brian lost a finger to frostbite when summiting Mt Everest carrying a list of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

The AG Society Gala Awards are Australia’s longest-running awards celebrating adventure (and now conservation), founded by the Australian Geographic Society in 1987. Each year through grants, fundraisers and sponsorships, the Society gives in excess of $300,000 to Australian conservation and adventure efforts.

Previous high-profile winners of the AG Awards include Bindi Irwin, Tim Flannery, Bob Brown and Jessica Watson.

The full list of the 2016 Australian Geographic Society Gala Award winners is below. Click on the winners’ names for more about them:

Lifetime of Adventure

Ron Allum

Sponsored by APT

Lifetime of Conservation

Robyn Williams

Sponsored by Odyssey Travel

Adventurer of the Year

Michael Smith

Sponsored by Bremont

Conservationist of the Year

Tim Jarvis, AM

Young Adventurer of the Year

Jade Hameister

Sponsored by World Expeditions

Young Conservationist of the Year

Joshua Gilbert

Spirit of Adventure

Brian Freeman

Alyssa Azar

Lachlan Smart 

Congratulations to all the winners! 

And thank you to the sponsors of the AG Society Awards: