The 2019 Wilkins Oration
“Wilkins in the Air”

Thursday 31 October, 2019.
Featuring keynote speaker Laura Kissel of Ohio State University.


The Wilkins Foundation (Patron: Dr Richard ‘Harry’Harris SC OAM) and University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute are pleased to present speaker Laura Kissel, Senior Curator of Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Centre, the world’s premier Wilkins archive, to deliver the 2019 Wilkins Oration.

Navigator, explorer, cartographer and arguably the first aerial cinematographer, Wilkins bridged the Heroic Age of polar exploration and the technological age.

What was it about this South Australia-born adventurer and modern polar explorer that so captivated Americans and made him more famous in the US than in his home country?

In a journey through the Wilkins archive, Senior Curator Kissel will evaluate the legacy of this real-life Indiana Jones and eminent citizen scientist, and help to bring Wilkins home to South Australians.

Braggs Lecture Theatre, Braggs Building,
University of Adelaide
Thursday 31 October 2019. 6.30 pm registration for 7.00 pm start.
Cost: $20.

Purchase tickets at:

Laura Kissel

Sir Hubert Wilkins

Dr Richard Harris announces
new “rescue mission”

South Australia’s national hero and joint Australian of the Year 2019, Dr Richard Harris SC OAM, is on a new rescue mission: to revive the legacy of one of the world’s greatest adventurers and polar explorers, SA-born Sir George Hubert Wilkins.

In doing so, he also hopes to inspire the next generation of explorers and guardians of the planet, spark a greater interest in the natural sciences, and help children “unlock their inner explorer”.

Dr Harris was today announced as the patron of the newly formed Wilkins Foundation. The Foundation honours the extraordinary achievements of the Mount Bryan-born pioneer, more commonly known as Sir Hubert Wilkins – and who is better known in the United States than in his own state of South Australia.

“Sir Hubert, born in the bush in 1888, traversed the globe and became an engineer, explorer, meteorologist, ornithologist, aviator-navigator, official war photographer, cinematographer, geographer, sub-mariner, musicologist, poet and philosopher,” said Dr Harris. “He was fearlessly adventurous and one of the most knowledgeable and visionary intellectuals of his time.

“He was the ‘father of polar meteorology’ and one of the first to recognise the need for and the possibility of making long-term weather forecasts, in order to predict seasonal conditions. His mighty efforts, including a voyage in a tiny submarine beneath the ice pack in the North Pole in 1931, resulted in the establishment of weather stations at both the North and South Poles. These critical weather stations would eventually provide the data for an understanding that the climate was changing,” said Dr Harris.

“Wilkins, a dual Military Cross recipient, is an unsung hero and long overdue to be placed in the same category as other Australian explorers such as Sir Douglas Mawson, Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith and John McDouall Stuart.

“I want this foundation to bring the Wilkins legacy to the forefront of the Australian consciousness and give our younger generation a taste for adventure,” said Dr Harris.

He added that the volunteer group behind the Wilkins Foundation, chaired by Stephen Scammell, was now looking for seed sponsorship to help get its mission underway. “We have much to do to achieve our goals. These include education and life experience programs for school children, transforming our website into a major resource, and citizen science projects and research scholarships in the natural sciences arena to further the many areas of interest that so captivated Wilkins.”

For further information contact the Foundation.

Dr Richard Harris SC OAM, holding Sir Hubert’s binoculars kindly provided from the collection at the restored Sir Hubert Wilkins Cottage.

Whet the appetites of your associates for truth; give advice only when it is asked for.
Sir Hubert Wilkins