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  • The Getting of Australian Antarctica

The Getting of Australian Antarctica

  • 22 Oct 2019
  • 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
  • USC, K Block LT2, Sippy Downs


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RGSQ Lecture Series

Syd Kirkby

Syd will speak of how Australia, a nation which had no individual identity for almost all of the discovery phase of Antarctica's history became its biggest claimant. He will also review the remarkably successful Antarctic Treaty and what it really dose, rather than what it is widely thought to do.
Syd Kirkby is a long retired surveyor who considers himself blessed to have spent practically all his working life in "Big Picture" and exploration surveys.
Particularly satisfying undertakings over the years have included major very broad acres land classification, road location and delineation, surveys for opening new agricultural land in WA; the 1954 joint Commonwealth/WA Government Geology/Astronomical mapping control expedition to the Great Sandy Desert, at a time when its indigenous inhabitants still lived fully traditionally; and a 1959 survey in the Great Sandy Desert to provide control for the western down-range of the Woomera rocket range.
This period was interspersed with wintering (1956-57, 1960-61 and 1979-81) and summer (1961- 62, 1962 - 63 and 1964 - 65 and 1979 - 80)  engagement in Australia's Antarctic programme, undertaking extensive and prolonged sledging journeys for exploration and mapping.  In the early years of this work about 85% of Antarctica was unexplored. That is to say - had never been seen.
From about the mid 60s on his major focus shifted to the national Topographic mapping programme where he was heavily involved in such developments as Aerodist, the revolutionary airborne electronic survey system, the laser terrain
2 profiler, digital photogrammetry and ortho/photomapping. In 1975 he became Assistant Director of National Mapping, with responsibility for field surveys and map compilation for the programme, until the compilation of the last map in the series in 1984.
He was awarded the Polar Medal in 1958, made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1966 and made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2018.
He was awarded the Thompson Medal of the RGS, and the second highest and highest honours of the Australian Geographic Society.  He was cited by the Australian newspaper in its published review of the 20th Century as one of the ten great Australian adventurers of the century, and was included in the Australian Museum's "Trailblazers, Australia's Fifty Greatest Explorers"

Photo: Observing at Rumdoodle Peak. Courtesy of Syd Kirkby.

University Sunshine Coast, K Block, Lecture Theatre 2

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