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Famous Australians - People Who Have Shaped A Nation

Updated on October 25, 2014

Famous Australians - Australian Immortal Icons

There are many famous Australians who have helped to shape Australia as a nation.

Australia is largely multi-cultural and as such our famous Australians come from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures. There are a few famous Australians that rise above the pack and truly reflect Australia as a country. These people have helped to inspire Australians and make the country that Australia is today.

Famous Australians,

That Helped Shaped A Nation.

I'm a proud Australian, a very, very proud Australian. - Steve Irwin


Steve Irwin

Passionate Wildlife Expert

Steve Irwin or "The Crocodile Hunter" is a famous Australian TV personality, wildlife expert and conservationist.

Steve put Australia and its wildlife on the map, attracting international interest (through television and appearances). Steve lived for his family and for Australia. Sadly Steve died doing what he loved in 2006.

Learn More About Steve Irwin

The Crocodile Hunter - Official Website

Australian Zoo Tour - Steve Irwin - Take A Zoo Tour With This Famous Australian


Ned Kelly

A Famous Australian Bushranger - "Such Is Life"

Ned Kelly (1854-1880) was an Australian bushranger, who was considered a folk hero among many for his defiance of the colonial authorities at the time. Ned Kelly was born in Victoria to an Irish convict father (convicts were a major proportion of Australia at this time).

After an incident at his home in 1878, Ned Kelly's mother and friends were convicted and taken away. Ned Kelly fled and ended up murdering three policemen (in self defence), from that day Ned Kelly and his gang became wanted outlaws.

Soon the entire Victorian and New South Wales police force began hunting down Ned Kelly. He not only evaded capture, but he started to fight back; robbing banks and distributing the money to his supporters for legal fees.

Ned Kelly made his final stand in a violent confrontation with police at Glenrowan, using home made steel plate armor. He suffered 28 bullet wounds before being captured and sent to jail. He was hanged for murder of the three policeman at the Old Melbourne Gaol in 1880. Ned Kelly's final words were "Such is life".

Learn More About Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly's Armour On Display At The Victoria State Library

Ned Kelly's Armour On Display At The Victoria State Library
Ned Kelly's Armour On Display At The Victoria State Library

Ned Kelly Movie Trailer


Ned Kelly's Song - By Johnny Cash

Listen To The Song On YouTube

In Australia a bandit or an outlaw was called a bushranger

One of Australia's most infamous bushrangers was a man named Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly was a wild young bushranger

Out of Victoria he rode with his brother Dan

He loved his people and he loved his freedom

And he loved to ride the wide open land

Ned Kelly was a victim of the changes

That came when his land was a sprout and seed

And the wrongs he did were multiplied in legend

With young Australia growing like a weed

Ned Kelly took the blame

Ned Kelly won the fame

Ned Kelly brought the shame

And then Ned Kelly hanged

Well he hid out in the bush and in the forest

And he loved to hear the wind blow in the trees

While the men behind the badge were coming for him

Ned said they'll never bring me to my knees

But everything was changed and run in cycles

And Ned knew that his day was at an end

He made a suit of armour out of ploughshares

But Ned was brought down by the trooper's men

Ned Kelly took the blame

Ned Kelly won the fame

Ned Kelly brought the shame

And then Ned Kelly hanged

No such body of free men has given so heroically since our history began. - John Masefield



A Group Of Famous Australians - Victory In Defeat

ANZAC stands for: Australian & New Zealand Army Corps.

In April of 1915, the Australian forces launched an offensive against the Turkish control of Dardanelle.

Unfortunately the ANZACs were sent to the wrong beach, instead of landing on an open field, they landed on a beach with scrub filled hills overlooking it. Needless to say the Turks were dug in from elevated positions and mowed down the ANZACs as they left the boats.

The campaign cost the lives of 7,600 Australians and 2,500 New Zealanders. 19,000 Australians and 5,000 New Zealanders were wounded.

The ANZACs - Official Government Website

The ANZACs Story

Anzac Landing at Gallipoli - (Mini Series)


Burke and Wills

The Great Explorers

In 1860 Robert Burke and John Wills led an expedition of 18 men, the goal was to cross Australia from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. A distance of about 2800km. At the time of their expedition most of inland Australia had yet to be explored and was unknown to settlers.

The south-north leg was completed successfully, but on the return journey both Burke, Wills and nearly all the men died. Leaving John King to be the only person to travel the entire expedition and return alive to Melbourne.

Learn More About Burke and Wills

150th Anniversary of Burke and Wills - ABC News


Eddie Mabo

Indigenous Land Rights

Eddie Mabo (1936-1992) became famous for his role in campaigning for indigenous land rights. When the British first landed on Australia they introduced a law called "Terra nullius" (empty land).

This law prevented indigenous Australians from having ownership over land they had lived on for centuries. All the lands of Australia belonged to the crown (queen/government) and indigenous Australians were required to purchase it (even though they had lived there for all their life).

Eddie Mabo refused to let his indigenous land fall to the crown and began a ten year long court battle to claim his land. Eventually Eddie's court case led him to an appeal in the High Court of Australia.

In 1992 Eddie Mabo died of cancer at age fifty-six. Five months after his death the High Court announced its historic decision, they overturned terra nullius and Eddie Mabo had his land, which opened the door for other indigenous Australians.

Learn More About Eddie Marbo


Phar Lap

The Loser Horse That Became A Champion

Australian's love the underdog (or underhorse), its part of our culture and Phar Lap was definitely an underdog after not placing in his first 8 races. Yes, Phar Lap is a racing horse, but this horse did more then what any human could and united Australia during the great depression.

Phar Lap was born of poor bloodline and was covered in warts, he even nearly died when someone tried to shoot at him. But Phar Lap had heart, actually a heart twice the size of any horse.

Phar Lap went on to win 37 out of his 51 starts, a tremendous winning ratio. He left for America and won his first race with ease, however Phar Lap died the next day.

Phar Lap - Official Website

Learn More About Phar Lap

Phar Lap, the one and only, a freak, a horse of the century. - Banjo Patterson

Phar Lap Wins The Melbourne Cup, 1930


Banjo Patterson - The Bush Poet

Banjo Patterson (1864-1941) was a famous Australian poet, author and journalist. He wrote poems about Australian life with particular focus on the bush, rural and outback areas of Australia. His most famous poems include "Waltzing Matilda" and "The Man from Snowy River".

Banjo Patterson is still one of the most wildly known and respected Australian writers. He appears on the Australian $10 note.

A Collection Of Banjo Patterson Poems

Learn More About Banjo Patterson

Banjo Patterson Depicted On The Australia $10 Note

Banjo Patterson Depicted On The Australia $10 Note
Banjo Patterson Depicted On The Australia $10 Note

Waltzing Matilda - By Banjo Patterson

Oh! there once was a swagman camped in the Billabong,

Under the shade of a Coolabah tree;

And he sang as he looked at his old billy boiling,

"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me."

Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda, my darling,

Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

Waltzing Matilda and leading a water-bag --

Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

Down came a jumbuck to drink at the water-hole,

Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him in glee;

And he sang as he put him away in his tucker-bag,

"You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!"

Down came the Squatter a-riding his thorough-bred;

Down came Policemen -- one, two, and three.

"Whose is the jumbuck you've got in the tucker-bag?

You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me."

But the swagman, he up and he jumped in the water-hole,

Drowning himself by the Coolabah tree;

And his ghost may be heard as it sings in the Billabong,

"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?"

Who Is Your Favourite Famous Australian? - Did You Enjoy This Lens? Did You Learn Something?

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    • martingallagher profile image

      martingallagher 4 years ago

      Great lens and what a nice way to pay tribute to these great people.

    • corinnephillips1 profile image

      corinnephillips1 4 years ago

      My favorite favorite famous Australians are Banjo Patterson and Dorethea Mackellor

    • VictoriaKelley profile image

      VictoriaKelley 5 years ago

      All Great Hero's especially Ned. Against the establishment....Good On Him!

    • tedwritesstuff24 profile image

      TedWritesStuff 5 years ago

      Interesting to see a convicted murderer amongst a list of Aussie legends... Ned was many things, but I just can't agree that killing police and robbing banks helped shape a nation! If that's the case then maybe Chopper Read should be here to? Good read though ;-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @moskit: Yes, it is the best country to live, especially Western Australia this is a great place for everyone.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Lang Hangcock

    • kristalulabelle profile image

      Kristen 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Very interesting info, I really enjoyed the read!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      Very interesting lens.

    • RestlessKnights profile image

      RestlessKnights 5 years ago

      I just knew Waltzing Matilda by Tom Waits. Now you've introduced me to Banjo Patterson. Thanks mate! Liked the lens btw :).

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      It's good to know Crocodile Dundee is not the only famous Australian... Great introduction to bunch of important people. Thumbs up!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Great lens, really enjoyed reading about famous Australians. Blessed.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      So interesting - learned about some of the famous Australians today! ~~blessed~~

    • sherridan profile image

      sherridan 5 years ago

      Steve Irwin was a total star!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      i love banjo paterson , he looks at australia and is able to describe it like no one else

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great list and a nice tribute!

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 6 years ago

      Nice tribute to Aussies :)

    • ShazTapp profile image

      ShazTapp 6 years ago

      I watched a documentary on Eddy Mabo the other day. Such a great man and what a struggle he endured. It's a shame he never lived long enough to hear the High Court decision. Bless him.

    • profile image

      andreablogger 6 years ago

      Steve Irwin, made me love crocs that much. I miss him.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 6 years ago

      I loved watching Steve Irwin.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I remember when Steve irwin died surprisingly I sat glued to the TV with tears rolling down my cheeks - he touched the lives of so many people. I am glad you included Phar Lap also a great Aussie legend

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      i love ned kelly he is my great great uncle

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      Steve Irwin's daughter is getting pretty well-known on her own now. Nicole Kidman would be another one that is quite famous.

      Interesting topic. Blessed by a squid angel and featured on You've Been Blessed.

    • moskit profile image

      moskit 7 years ago

      Lots of interesting Aussie facts. Australia is a country I plan on visiting in the future.

      You have been Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Great lens.

    • profile image

      travelandworkinasutralia 7 years ago

      Great info about Australia!!

    • ashroc profile image

      ashroc 7 years ago

      Lots of great info here. enjoyed my visit

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Have to say "For Those Who Are About To Rock" and "Devil Inside"...are the two songs of my favourite Australian bands.. AC/DC and INXS!

    • chrissuard lm profile image

      chrissuard lm 7 years ago

      What a wonderful lens. Very informative, I learned so much I hadn't known about Australians.

    • PaulaMorgan profile image

      Paula Morgan 7 years ago from Sydney Australia

      I had no idea Johnny Cash sang about Ned Kelly...

    • SidneyMorgan LM profile image

      SidneyMorgan LM 7 years ago

      Wow! I learned a lot. A few of the names surprised me but the information really surprised me! This is a very informative little window about the great people from "down under".

    • profile image

      Melbourne_Osteopath 8 years ago

      Great lens. You've captured some memorable characters. Go Australia. Lens rated.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I liked the quote from your "200 Significant Australians" link which said "there are many important Australians who aren't famous and many famous Australians who aren't important". My favourite Australians and people who have inspired me (who may or may not be famous) include Sir John Monash, David Warren, Howard Florey, Percy Grainger, Weary Dunlop, Sydney Kirkby, Fred Hollows and Terence Tao.

    • Eklectik1 profile image

      Eklectik1 8 years ago

      Great info! My wife went to Australia after college and loved it--we hope to bring our children there some day!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      (This lens is a contestant in the Downunder Awards for May. You can even vote for yourself! ( Best of Luck!

    • Aquavel profile image

      Aquavel 9 years ago

      You've been helping me so much with keywords and such, YOU are my favorite Australian! My favorites following you are: Olivia Newton John, Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Steve Irwin, The Bee Gees, Nicole Kidman (even if born in the states, both her parents were Australian), Paul Hogan, and since reading about him here- Phar Lap!!! (And Kiri Te Kanawa is top of my list for NZ!)