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A total of 895 Australians who have risen to the top of their fields in sports, science, performing arts and media have been recognised in this year’s Australia Day Honours List for 2018.
While male athletes usually dominate the headlines, this year’s Honours List recognises some of Australia’s most well-known female athletes from a range of sports.
Australia Day Honours List level of award
- Companion of the Order (AC)
- Officer of the Order (AO)
- Member of the Order (AM)
- Medal of the Order (OAM)
But despite this, women still only make up one-third of all recipients.
Here is what some of the recipients had to say.
While male athletes usually dominate the headlines, this year’s Australia Day Honours List recognises our female athletes.
The late Betty Cuthbert (AC)
Australia’s “golden girl” Betty Cuthbert has been posthumously awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia.
She became Australia’s first triple Olympic gold medallist as an 18-year-old after winning the 100 and 200 metre sprints and being a member of the victorious 4×100-metre relay team at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
Cuthbert died last year, aged 79, after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.
As well as her on-track achievements, she has also been honoured for being a role model, fundraiser, and advocate for research into a cure for MS.
Evonne Goolagong-Cawley (AC)
Tennis legend Evonne Goolagong-Cawley has also been recognised with the nation’s highest honour for her sporting achievements and her role as an Indigenous youth health advocate.
Goolagong-Cawley won seven Grand Slam titles in her career, including four Australian Open titles.
Through her work at the Evonne Goolagong Foundation she encourages Indigenous children to get involved in tennis, to promote better health, education and employment.
Liz Ellis (AO)
Former Australian captain Liz Ellis is receiving an Office of the Order of Australia for her outstanding netball career — which included two Commonwealth Games gold medals and three World Championships.
She said she is proud to see women’s sport move to the forefront.
“To be a part of that movement that has now seen women’s sport move from the periphery now to front and centre, it’s incredibly satisfying to see that happen,” Ellis said.
“I feel really grateful that I’ve got the opportunity to be part of that movement and that moment.
“I’m not satisfied though, I want to see more happen.
“I want to get to the point where we talk about sport and not ‘women’s sport’.”
Shane Gould (AM)
Shane Gould was a shy 15-year-old when she won three gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
She’s being honoured for her service to swimming and to creating water safety programs in developing countries.
“When you see someone really struggling to manage the water and then it’s like they have a revelation, when a person whether they’re an adult or a child finally understands the water holds me up if I interact with it,” she said.
“To me that’s the ants pants.”
Susie O’Neill (AM)
Dubbed “Madame Butterfly” for her dominance in the pool, Susie O’Neill now has another title to add to her name.
She has received an AM for service to swimming and charity work.
“It’s a very proud moment to become a Member of the Order,” she said.
“To see my name on the list with the other names, people who have achieved and given so much, it will take some time for me to digest.”
Karrie Webb (AO)
As Australia’s most successful professional female golfer, Karrie Webb is used to accolades, but said being honoured with an AO came as a shock.
“I was thrilled a few years back when I became a member of the Order of Australia and I don’t think it’s something that you think you’re going to climb the ladder on,” Webb said.
“They’re such prestigious awards and the fact that my career and the things I’ve done in golf are so highly thought of that I would receive this recognition is really a thrill and an honour.”
Lucette Aldous (AC)
Lucette Aldous taught ballet to generations of young people, following a career which started in the 1950s and saw her dance with the Royal Ballet in London and as a principal dancer with the Australian Ballet.
At 79, she fondly remembers filming a version of Don Quixote together with Russian great Rudolf Nureyev in a hangar of the old Essendon airport in the early 1970s, and remembers Nureyev as being very generous, and humorous.
“It was sort of a personal contact, but one never over stepped his genius,” she said.
“At one stage, I had to learn a very difficult solo and he said, ‘OK, I sit and play my favourite piece of [Sergei] Prokofiev. Get on with it.
“I stood in the wings one time and I said, ‘You should open a ballet school just for ballerinas … I’ve learned so much’.
“The generosity, the knowledge that he had.”
Dr Mukesh Haikerwal (AC)
Dr Mukesh Haikerwal suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was attacked by three men with a baseball bat in a Melbourne park in 2008.
He has been recognised for his work as an advocate for mental health and accessible health care.
Despite the attack, he has a measured opinion on how best to tackle youth crime in Victoria.
“I think we’ve got to deal with the facts and the stats,” he said.
“And try not to politicise it because ultimately that causes pain at the time and causes less cohesion in our society in the future.”
Professor Trevor McDougall (AC)
Doctor Trevor McDougall is recognised as a leading world authority on ocean mixing.
His work focuses on discovering what role the ocean plays in climate change.
“It’s very easy to mix things horizontally and very hard vertically and what I’ve done is to really change the way the world thinks about that and how we model it in models of the climate,” he said.
Professor Creswell Eastman (AO)
Professor Creswell Eastman’s transformative work in iodine deficiency disorders in China led to him being dubbed, “the man who saved a million brains”.
He’s now working with pregnant Indigenous women in the Northern Territory who are iodine deficient to try to lower rates of intellectual disability.
“If we’re ever going to close the gap we have to concentrate on the first 1,000 days of life,” he said.
“Because that’s when your brain develops, that’s when most development occurs and if you don’t get it right then you’re not going to catch up later.”
Dr Jenny Martin (AC)
Doctor Jenny Martin has been working for decades to tackle what has been described as one of the biggest threats to global health — antibiotic resistance.
“We found that if we could knock out this particular machinery we could actually stop bacteria from causing disease,” Dr Martin said.
“Now we’re looking for drugs that can have the same effect.
“We’re in the early stages of that but we have some promising results.”
Tracey Spicer (AM)
Tracey Spicer has worked in the Australian media landscape for almost 30 years as a news reader and journalist.
She has been recognised for her excellence in broadcast, for being an author, her journalism work and for her advocacy work with a number of charities.
“I’m absolutely honoured and humbled to receive this award and I’d like to dedicate it to the now more than 1,000 women that have come forward courageously to talk about their stories as part of the MeToo movement,” she said.
Trevor Weatherhead (AM)
Trevor Weatherhead got his first beehive in 1972 and quickly turned a hobby into a career.
The executive director of the Australian Honey Bee Council hopes the accolade will shine a light on the importance of the honey bee industry.
“It’s not one of those that’s out in the limelight, yet it’s a very crucial industry for a lot of our Australian produce in particular,” he said.
“It’s been estimated between $4 billion and $6 billion worth of agriculture and horticultural crops rely on honey bees.
“The most notable ones are things like almonds, if you don’t have bees you don’t get an almond.
“Watermelons, pumpkins, rockmelons, no bees, no crop there.”
Respected sports broadcaster Gerard Whateley has announced he is leaving ABC Grandstand to take up a role at Melbourne-based radio station SEN.
Whateley has been the ABC’s chief commentator for 13 years, where he covered AFL, cricket, horse racing and Olympic and Commonwealth games, as well as hosting flagship general sports program Offsiders.
The 43-year-old has twice won the prestigious Alf Brown trophy for his overall contribution at the Australian Football Media Awards.
“Gerard joined the ABC in September 2004 and has established a reputation as one of Australia’s leading sports broadcasters and commentators across a range of sporting codes and events,” said ABC director radio Michael Mason in a statement.
“As a member of the Offsiders team since it commenced in 2006, Gerard has consistently delivered the highest standards of news and analysis to ABC audiences.
“The ABC congratulates him on his contribution and wishes him the very best for his future endeavours.”
Whateley said in a statement he thought he would complete the current Ashes series at the SCG Test but, “circumstances have changed and that won’t be the case”.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to be part of Grandstand Sport, Offsiders and the broader ABC,” Whateley said.
“I have never taken a day for granted and leave satisfied we have achieved much together.
“From the broadcasts of Black Caviar’s triumph at Royal Ascot to Kyle Chambers’s stunning gold medal in the pool at Rio and returning Grandstand Test cricket to India, I hope I have contributed to the rich archive of Australian sport and done justice to the events I have had the good fortune to call.”
Whateley will head the football and racing coverage at SEN, as well as hosting his own daily sport program. He will also continue his role as host of the Fox Sports program AFL 360.
Jumping from a 40-metre cliff, hoping your parachute will open; paddling out into huge seas and bracing as a three-storey wave crashes on your head.
Solo kayaking 23,000 kilometres past pirates and crocodiles from Germany to Australia; pulling up your body weight by one finger on a sheer rock face in Canada.
How can people do these things? And how can they overcome what would be paralysing fear for most of us, to seemingly cheat death?
Some say what they do is highly calculated to minimise risk and not an extreme sport, while others freely admit they are chasing that crazy adrenalin buzz, head down and charging.
Jaymz Hardwick — leaping off cliffs
Jaymz Hardwick has seen friends die BASE jumping, but said it was a misunderstood sport and not as risky as it seemed.
“It is dangerous, but it’s not extremely dangerous. It’s more a sport of the unknown,” he said.
He rated wingsuit BASE jumping, where people jump off mountains in a bat-like suit and fly down at incredible speeds, as the most dangerous sport in the world.
While he does draw the line at that, he has jumped from a cliff barely 40 metres high, which many people regard as well below the safe limit.
Hardwick has done hundreds of BASE jumps and now focuses on the more technical challenges of the sport.
“It’s a numbers game, that is you don’t know when your time’s up,” he said.
Hardwick said he could bring himself to do such low jumps by calculating the risk to the finest degree.
He and his friends visited the site several times, measured the height and put in safety measures, including a rope system to ensure his parachute opened 1.5 metres after he started falling.
Fear was a big factor he used to his advantage.
“To us, fear is something that keeps you safe more than anything,” he said.
“It allows you to check your pilot chute, check your pins, make sure that all your equipment is in check. Because in our sport equipment doesn’t generally fail, it is human error. So that fear helps you double check, triple check.”
He has had some close calls, like the time he jumped from Western Australia’s 1099-metre-high Bluff Knoll, and a miscalculation saw him land in the trees. Luckily he wasn’t seriously hurt.
The zenith of his career was when he was invited to a competition in Greece, jumping from huge, beautiful white cliffs overlooking the sea down to a landing spot on a small beach with a rusty shipwreck.
He plans to stop BASE jumping the moment his girlfriend becomes pregnant.
“I’d rather retire from this sport than unfortunately die from it,” he mused.
Felicity Palmateer — riding massive waves
When Felicity Palmateer recently came off a 10-metre wave during a competition off the Hawaiian island of Maui, about 400 tonnes of water came pounding down on her.
And she enjoyed it — sort of.
“It’s the strangest thing. There was nothing, no feeling going through me. I don’t know how to describe it,” the 25-year-old professional surfer said.
“It was like, I’m in the situation, there’s nothing I can do, so let’s just embrace it.
“I just really like the reward, you know — that feeling of adrenalin after catching an amazing wave or getting a big barrel.
“Even, as weird as it sounds, even wiping out, that adrenalin feeling after that, I kind of chase that feeling and it’s inside you, you know, I kind of want to chase it. In those experiences is when you grow.”
She does it because she has the drive that makes her want to take the drop on a lurching, heaving, beast of a wave. Not many do.
Palmateer puts it down to her father, who pushed her into bigger waves and told her to have no fear.
“I think if you have no fear, there’s definitely something wrong with you,” she laughed.
“I think anyone who says they’re not scared when they’re paddling out in 30-foot surf is lying.
“There’s always going to be some little element of fear.”
She has trained herself to be mentally comfortable in those extremely uncomfortable places, working on breathing exercises to give her more confidence in big surf.
And she has developed a mantra to calm her mind as huge slabs of ocean swell materialise on the horizon and threaten to push her deep under the water.
She thinks of a moment in her life when she felt really comfortable and happy.
“I literally shut my eyes in the surf and I just repeat that mantra, go over it again and try and get myself back to that. [To] have that same feeling again so my brain starts to make those same chemicals that it was when I was felling really happy and relaxed, and try and do that when I’m surfing 30-foot waves,” she said.
Logan Barber — scaling rock faces
Logan Barber recently joined a short list of some of the world’s best climbers when he became only the 12th person to climb Cobra Crack, a thin fissure up a vertical granite monolith in Squamish, Canada.
He has also travelled to remote locations in China, where he hung upside down from the Honeycomb Dome roof, the hardest traditional route in China, with stunning views of the wilderness behind him.
He is a traditional climber, which means he puts all his clamps and other gear into the rock as he goes, and removes it afterwards, without relying on any pre-existing bolts.
Barber has a calmness about him which makes you think he would barely break a sweat in the most terrifying climbing situations.
After years of experience, he said he felt no fear on the rock face.
“I wouldn’t say adrenalin. When I’m climbing I don’t really get scared or that buzz any more,” he said.
“Generally, I’m pretty calculated, and I’m very focused on performing a routine.”
“Once you’re off the ground, you’re in this vertical world and you’re not really thinking about hitting the ground.
“You don’t even know the ground is even there. You’re just learning to fall. And when you fall, you’ve generally got a rope to catch you, whether it’s after a metre or you might fall 15 metres.
“But, you know, the rope’s there and you’ve calculated how you’re going to land and you’re ready to land.”
He is completely focused on each new climb, but things can still go wrong.
He recalled one climb with a friend where after a couple of days they realised they were out of their depth and had run out of food, and had no choice but to keep going.
“You go a few days without food and you’re just climbing a wall and you have to get to the top,” Barber said.
“You basically get a bit lower on energy but you’re still making sure you make the right decisions. You just keep doing what you know how to do, so eventually you know you’ll get to the top. It’s just a matter of how long.”
“Things got a bit dire, but we kept going and we made it.”
He felt he was at greater risk driving his car down the freeway and said it was rare to be in an uncontrolled situation climbing.
Sandy Robson — endurance paddling
Sandy Robson has always enjoyed endurance sports, including solo kayaking 23,000 kilometres from Germany to Australia.
It meant three years of paddling through Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Asia and through Papua New Guinea to Australian territory on Saibai Island in the Torres Strait.
The 49-year-old prepared by rehearsing everything that could go wrong.
“You really need to creatively visualise the worst-case scenarios that you might face and think about how you’re going to respond so that you have an action, and if you don’t have one you need to go out and practice until you’ve got it,” she said.
That extended to her psychological approach to her fear of crocodiles.
She had previously been attacked by a crocodile during a trip to Cape York, and was told she needed to change her mindset to deal with the risk.
“So really rather than paddling along thinking that I’m prey and being fearful, [I learnt] to project my intention, which was to paddle to Australia and achieve this great goal,” she said.
And that worked to an extent.
When she encountered crocs in PNG, adrenalin kicked in to get her through.
“Adrenalin is essential for you to be able to think and respond and act quickly and make decisions, but once it gets over a certain point, that’s when it gets debilitating and I’ve experienced both of those in my time paddling,” Robson said.
“Certainly when I was in the water and I had a crocodile chasing after my kayak, I was definitely at the peak there of, ‘please don’t get me, please don’t get me.’
“You know, I don’t think I was particularly efficient, but I got out of there fast.”
Wollongong-born adventurer Jon Muir has climbed Mount Everest, kayaked oceans, trekked the North Pole and walked across Australia unassisted.
He holds numerous world records for his extreme adventures, and today he has been recognised with a Lifetime of Adventure award by the Australian Geographic Society — its highest accolade.
Jon Muir’s achievements:
- First unassisted ascent of Mount Everest
- 6,000km ocean traverse by sea kayak
- First solo traverse on foot of Australia’s largest salt lakes
- First unassisted solo traverse across Australia from Port Augusta to Burketown.
- Unassisted 1,700km trek from Spencer Gulf in SA to the centre of Australia
- Starred in 2004 documentary Alone Across Australia
- 1989 Order of Australia for services to mountaineering
The Lifetime of Adventure award recognises not only Australians who have excelled in their chosen field, but have given back to the nation by inspiring other Australians.
“More of my expeditions have not reached their objectives than have, but I don’t feel like they’re failures,” he said.
“Get out and have a go at things because that’s where the interest in life lies, in extending yourself.
“It’s okay if you can’t do it, but the important thing is to put your boots on and get out there. Otherwise you start wearing a groove that becomes a rut.”
It is a message that will inspire anyone, regardless of what they do in life.
For Mr Muir, it has always been about pushing his body to its limits.
Everest “a boring mountain”
Jon Muir got a taste for adventure while sailing with his neighbour on Lake Illawarra, but it was after seeing a documentary on Mount Everest at 14 years of age that he decided he would become a professional rock climber.
He started climbing the many cliff faces of the Illawarra’s iconic escarpment, left school at 16 and started conquering the mountains of New Zealand.
In 1988 he became the first person to climb Mount Everest without a Sherpa, then worked as a guide on the world’s highest mountain.
After his time working there he became disillusioned with Everest and set his sights elsewhere.
“I made the mistake of returning to Everest in the 90s as a commercial guide and the nature of the mountain, and who came to climb it, had changed,” he said.
“I got to know the Sherpas much better through that process. They’re treated as second rate citizens by those employing them.
“It’s a total horror show and I vowed never to go near such a place again.”
He also described Everest as a “boring” and “overrated” mountain that holds little interest for the world’s most hardcore mountaineers.
For Mr Muir, a real challenge was walking north across Australia from Port Augusta in South Australia to Burketown in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Surviving solo in Australian deserts
After completing numerous gruelling hikes, Mr Muir was looking for something to take him to his limit.
“Mountaineering had not done that and I still had a huge amount of energy left. I’d seen other people reach their limits and I wanted to get there,” he said.
“I took the challenge to walk across Australia unsupported and not following tracks, not being resupplied or having beasts carry my supplies.
“There I found my greatest challenges, the challenges out there are massive.
“The country is largely flat, but when you’re carrying your stuff it is far from it. You’re up and down all the time.”
He said even the maps indicating the location of waterholes would often lead to nothing.
Everything hinges on water out there — how much to carry and where it is going to come from next.
Adventuring a mental game
There is a lot made of the physical condition needed to conquer extreme climbs or incredibly long walks, but Mr Muir has seen fit men fail consistently where women or older men succeed.
“People get obsessed with the physicality, but I believe the mental approach is the most important in life, in general — whatever endeavour you choose to undertake,” he said.
“If you get your mental approach right, the body will follow.”
That is especially evident when you are in the Australian outback with no one around, dwindling food and water and the sun boring down on you.
“When you’re on the brink of survival, nothing is monotonous,” he said.
“When you could die any day from a mistake you make, you have to stay on top of your mind.”
By Lily Mayers
Software that automatically bulk buys online tickets as soon as they go on sale will be illegal when legislation from the New South Wales Government is introduced.
A reform to the state’s Fair Trading Act will outlaw the software that circumvents ticketing website protections, the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Matt Kean said.
“What we’re seeing is ticket bot technology being used to sweep up tickets and deprive genuine fans of getting access to the concerts and sporting events that they want to see,” he said.
The live entertainment tickets that are bought by the software are then resold at marked-up rates.
The Minister said the Australian-first legislation would stop this from happening.
“It’s time that genuine fans got a fair go and were able to access tickets at a reasonable price,” Minister Kean said
“I’m sick and tired of consumers being ripped off by shonky operators trying to make a quick buck at the expense of genuine fans.”
The Minister would not confirm if a mark-up cap would be applied to resold tickets.
Some Australian states have already introduced legislation to limit the amount that tickets can be resold for.
The legislation will be introduced this week.
It’s the high risks and stakes involved in racing that inspires Zenio Lapka to photograph the action of Australian motorsports.
“It’s a sport where people put their life on the line,” Lapka said.
“The element of danger, the colour, the spectacle and the competition — the racing, I love the racing.”
For 40 years the photographer from Blayney, New South Wales has dedicated a career to capturing images of the fast-paced world beyond the crash barriers and the famous faces behind the wheels.
A keen motorsport fanatic in his youth, it was in the late 1970s that Lapka started attending races with his camera in hand to record the events.
His passion soon developed into a profession that saw his pictures regularly published in the nation’s newspapers and prominent racing magazines.
Now a veteran of the industry, these days he concentrates his efforts on more artistic projects that aren’t as taxing on his health.
“The body is starting to breakdown and my reaction times aren’t as fast as they used to be, [especially] for getting out of the way if anything should go pear-shaped,” Lapka said.
“Believe me, when things go pear-shaped it happens very, very quickly.”
Lapka is no stranger to the dangers on the trackside.
In 1985, while photographing a race at Amaroo Park, he was struck by a loose wheel flung from a damaged car.
“I was on crutches for two months then a walking stick for a further three months,” he recalled.
Lapka returned to work with a permanent injury to his leg, but as a photographer it was the damage to his camera equipment that added to the pain.
“I trashed a brand new 300mm lens, how tragic is that?”
For Lapka, there was one event during his career that clearly stood out from the others.
It was the highly emotive Bathurst 1000 held in October 2006 — a month after racing legend Peter Brock was killed during a rally crash in Western Australia.
“It was a very memorable race because at the beginning, during the one-minute silence, you could hear a pin drop and you didn’t expect that,” he said.
He recalled the days when riots involving motorcycle race spectators broke out at the campgrounds of Mount Panorama.
“It was uncivilised at times,” he said of that era.
Then there was the time when Australian rock outfit Cold Chisel performed a show at the summit.
“About an hour into concert, all the outlaw bikies turned up, pulled down the fence and just walked through.
“The security guards just turned their backs and went, ‘oh well, nothing we can do’.
“Now it’s a bit more controlled and a little more family orientated.”
Throughout the decades Lapka has embraced the evolution to digital photography and did not miss the days of having to shoot the event on negative film.
“I had to come here and process [films] in the men’s toilet, hang it up on the back of the door and say to the guy coming in, ‘look, don’t touch the negatives, they’re still wet’,” Lapka said.
After decades of making the annual trek up and down Mount Panorama, this year’s Bathurst 1000 is the first time Lapka has decided to sit aside from photographing the main race event.
Now 60 years old, he said great stamina was needed for the repeated 6-kilometre hike around the track to the best vantage points.
“The body just can’t take a weekend of punishment,” he said.
“It gives you a thorough workout.”
Zenio Lapka’s latest exhibition of motorsports photography, Beyond Sharp, is on show at the Blayney Tourism Information Centre.