Syd Kirkby: Lifetime of Adventure 2018

By Australian Geographic 26 October 2018
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Legendary Antarctic explorer Syd Kirkby has won the Lifetime of Adventure award, the AG Society’s highest honour.

At the age of five, after contracting polio, Sydney Kirkby was told he would never walk again. However a strict exercise regime involving swimming and boxing proved medical practitioners wrong, and by the time he was 20 in 1954, after being indentured to the Surveyor General of Western Australia, Syd was chosen for a surveying trek in the Great Sandy Desert.

Beginning his polar career two years later as leader and surveyor at Mawson Station, Holme Bay, East Antarctica, Syd is attributed with surveying more of the Australian Antarctic Territory than any other explorer including Douglas Mawson himself. From his first year in Antarctica in 1956 to his last trip in 1979-80, Syd mapped the region by dog sled and theodolite. His crew was the first to view the world’s largest glacier, Lambert Glacier and explore the Prince Charles Mountains.

In honour of his achievements, Syd was awarded a Polar Medal in 1958 and an MBE in 1966, and has several Antarctic landmarks to his name – Mount Kirkby, Kirkby Glacier, Kirkby Shoal and Kirkby Head. He received an Order of Australia earlier in 2018 in recognition of his service to surveying, to polar exploration, research and mapping expeditions, and to professional scientific societies.

syd kirkby

2018 Lifetime of Adventure award recipient Syd Kirkby receiving his medallion at the AG Awards Gala ceremony in Sydney.

Read about all the winners of the 2018 Australian Geographic Society Awards

The Australian Geographic 2018 Lifetime of Adventure Award is sponsored by Aurora Expeditions.

aurora logo 2018 lifetime of adventure sponsor

The Australian Geographic Society is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting adventure and conservation. You can make a direct donation or subscribe to Australian Geographic to support the AG Society.