You will be writing a biography about one of these Australians.

Learning Intention: To be able to choose a person of interest to unpack a seed.

Success Criteria:

  • Select a person of interest from famous Australians; I have a list on the blog they must choose from.
  • Unpack the seed with the following the headings.
  • Research by using the biography graphic organiser on the blog to unpack in your Writer’s Notebook.
  • Find facts that would interest the reader.
  • Find as much detail as you can to fill your page ready to write a biography about this famous person.

Choose one of these 20 Top Australians.

 20. Jessica Watson

Some 16 year olds are too afraid to go to the bank by themselves. Jessica decided to sail around the world on her own at that age. We frequently discuss  in our workshops the best way to overcome fear is to take action and for Jessica to take on a task so challenging and so frightening is a true testiment to her character. She no doubt inspired many teenagers around the country to get off their computers and iPhones and experince the world around them. Jessica became the youngest person to sail around the world unassisted, finishing her journey in Sydney Harbour in May 2010. She was awarded the Young Australian of the Year in 2011 and will always be remembered as the teenager who conquered the world – all by herself.

19.  Leigh Colbert

The former Geelong and North Melbourne player may seem like a strange choice to many, however Leigh Colbert was one of the main reasons I am now pursuing my passion and have the confidence to do so. He only coached me for one weekend but the lasting impact he had was truly inspirational. He had no responsibility to take me under his wing and believe in me in 2006. It was the first time I had encountered a male role model with such a presence to believe I was capable of greater things. A true indication of a special individual is being soft in speech but loud in action. This is Colby to a T. Leigh is also one of the greatest networkers going around. This is due to his great communicational skills, unwavering integrity and a true passion to care. A personal choice yes, but anyone who knows Leigh would not disagree.

18. Catherine Hamlin

I’m guessing not a lot of people have heard of Dr Catherine Hamlin. I was one of these people until a week ago. Coming across Catherine’s story has been remarkably enlightening. Her willingness to help Ethiopian women who have suffered shocking child birth injuries is without a doubt the best that Australia has to offer. In Australia we don’t hear about  obstetric fistula in Ethiopia and Catherine didn’t  have to either. Out of site, out of mind. She could have stayed in Australia and made a decent salary as a GP, however Catherine knew she could help. Her immediate actions were the mark of a great woman, opening the  Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. She has given hope and a new life to 3rd world women who otherwise had none. Coincidentally I read a quote this morning by Tom Brokaw “It’s easy to make a buck…. It’s a lot harder to make a difference”. Catherine Hamlin made that difference to the vulnerable women who needed her. An unsung inspiration of Australia.

17. Cathy Freeman

The weight of a nations expectations were on her shoulders. Never before had an athlete lit the flame at an Olympic Games before their greatest achievement. Gold medal or fail were the only outcomes. How Cathy Freeman kept her emotions under control and go on to win that famous race in Sydney was nothing short of inspirational. I still remember watching the race on TV like it was yesterday and to see her overcome everything to claim the gold medal definitely inspired the whole nation. No one can ever take that famous night away from Cathy, nor should they – she deserves every accolade that comes her way.

16. Black Caviar

A horse in the list. Of course. Where would Australian horse racing be without this unbelievable mare. She has captured the nation not just with her winning streak (20 as it stands) but her confidence and beauty. She is like a dolphin in lane 4 at the 100m freestyle final. While everyone else is splashing away with great intensity and energy, Caviar cruises to victory with the grace of a champion. That world ‘champion’ gets thrown around too often, but no one would deny that Black Caviar and champion belong in the same sentence. Credit too must go to Luke Nolan and Peter Moody for the way they manage her. A great support team, and great teams produce great results. However every so often a remarkable ‘one’ can rewrite history.

15. Adam Ramanauskas

AFL football is a tough sport. Pre-season training, injuries,  media pressure etc. All this pails in comparison to trying to play one of the most competitive sports on the planet whilst battling cancer – 3 times. Adam Ramanauskas’s story should be an enlightening one for all who have had  setbacks in their lives. Adam was one of the best young talents in the AFL system, winning the 2000 premiership with the Essendon Football Club and coming runners up in the AFL Rising Star Award in the same year. Being diagnosed with a form of cancer in 2003 didn’t stop Adam from playing within 8 weeks of his surgery. His cancer resurfaced 3  years later and in the in the middle he required a full knee reconstruction due to a training mishap. This would be enough to break most people, not Adam Ramanauskas. He courageously got back to play  his first AFL game in 2 years. When it comes to football and life this guy epitomises what is represents to be seriously courageous.

14. Lleyton Hewitt

Every list has a controversial addition. This is mine. In saying this I 100% believe Hewitt belongs here. Playing doubtably the most competitve sport in the world, Hewitt has got more out of his ability than most would have. Why? Guts, determination, pride, never say die attitude and his willingness to constantly improve. He may come across a little bit brash at times but it’s in this brashness that his extraordinary results have come. He has for the good part of a decade held Australia’s hope in the Grand Slams and won more Davis Cup matches for Australia than any other player. You put Hewitt’s ability in 99.99999% of the population they become a good average tennis player. You put Lleyton Hewitt’s ability with Lleyton Hewitt’s spirit you get an all time great. Inspirational in my eyes.

13. Cadel Evans

3 weeks. Approximately 35000 kms. The Tour de France is probably the most gruelling sporting event on the planet.  This sport is tailor made for riders north of the equator. There is more money, greater sponsorship, better coaches and state of the art training facilities in the Northern Hemisphere. Don’t tell that to Cadel Evans. In 2011 he became the first Australian to win the illustrious event. There could have been countless times over the past 5 years when Cadels’ setbacks could have been too much. He could have walked away from the sport with a healthy career and respect from his peers. Cadel said no, he knew he had more to give, he knew he win the Tour. Finishing runners up and breaking his collar bone in previous years did not break his spirit. His time trial ride against the Schleck brothers last year came directly from his giant heart and his will to succeed. He wants to back it up again this year. It would take a brave man to bet against a guy with the mental toughness and determination of Cadel Evans. An Australian icon.

12. Jason McCartney

How can one game of football define a career or more importantly the character of a man? Ask Jason McCartney. After playing with several clubs in the AFL before being near fatally injured in the 2002 Bali bombings, Jason made one of the bravest returns in sport to play one final game with North Melbourne. It must take an extraordinary individual to bounce back from severe second degree burns to over 50% of your body, coupled with the rigours of AFL football. However Jason is one of those individuals that anyone would aspire to be – Brave – Courageous – Resilient. ‘It’s not how many times we fall but how many times we get back up’. Jason didn’t just pick himself up, he jumped to his feet and in doing so inspired so many people around him as a symbol of hope. A true mark of a hero is someone that faces adversity and not only bounces back strong but arouses a belief in others that they too can do the same. Does Jason McCartney ring a bell?

11. Trisha Silvers (Broadbridge)

What should have been the happiest week of Trisha’s life, turned into the most devastating. On her honeymoon on Phi Phi Island in Thailand in late 2004, a massive tsunami hit the island killing her beloved new husband, Melbourne footballer Troy Broadbridge. Most people would have forgiven her if she had lost faith and said that ‘life wasn’t fair’. However hope wasn’t lost, faith remained and she found the strength within to find an empowering way to positively impact others. Trisha pursued positives not negatives, solutions not problems and found a light amongst the darkness – a characteristic we all should strive for. She enlisted Melbourne footballers to build a school on tsunami-devastated Phi Phi Island through her formed Broadbridge Foundation. To go back to Thailand takes strength, to go back and make a difference takes a remarkable woman. In 2006 she was awarded Young Australian of the Year. Trisha has also been heavily involved in the Reach Foundation, an Australian organisation that promotes youth self-esteem. She was quoted 2005 that “I want to be known for the person I am and the positive things I do, not for the negativity of what happened.”. I will say it again a remarkable woman.

10. Don Elgin

I’ve only met Don (Donnie to his mates) on a handful of occasions but that is more than enough to know that he is one of the most inspirational guys I will ever meet. His positive outlook on life dispite his disability is unbelievably contagious. After having a 5 minute conversation with Don you want to run through the nearest brick wall or free the world from all its hatred. His ability to touch and move anothers’ soul is quite remarkable and he is currently spreading his powerful message through his motivational speaking and newly formed company StarAmp Global. Born without the lower portion of his left leg, Don has accomplished more than most, winning medals for sprinting and the Pentathlon during his career as an athlete at the Paralympics and World Championships (Gold at the World Champs in 1994, Berlin for 4 x 100m relay). Don’s greatest achievement in my view is his authenticity, connectiveness and his ability to inspire people to go beyond what they thought was possible, despite their percevied disadvantages.

9. Chris O’Brien

A reality TV surgeon turned real Australian hero. Dr Chris O’Brien (head and neck surgeon) won many admirers on the reality TV show RPA for his willingness to care and empathise with cancer sufferers. Chris was instrumental in establishing the Lifehouse Sydney Cancer Centre which allows cancer patients to gain knowledge and share experiences all under the one roof. Chris penned many books to assist individuals in their fight. Tragically Chris was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour himself in 2006 but continued on his great journey despite the crippling disease. With the knowledge of the ernormity of the battle in front of him, Chris defied doctors with his tenacity and resilience before succumbing to his illness in 2009. Kevis Rudd said shortly after his death, “I believe Chris O’Brien has been a truly exceptional Australian. Chris O’Brien was a man of leadership, vision and courage. He inspired people, both through his work as a cancer specialist and through his own three year battle with an aggressive, highly malignant brain tumour”. Couldn’t have said it better. A great man.

8. Howard Clark

Outside of Ballarat not too many people would know of Howard yet his story is  a truly inspirational one. Like many teenagers Howard loved his football and was invited to play with Melbourne’s Under/19 team. He woke one morning after a game with a sore back and after consulting with doctors for a routine check up it was announce that his spine was overcome with cancer. His football dream – gone in a flash. His life was in the balance, it was am extremely dangerous operation. The doctors told him he would have only a 2% chance of ever walking again, that he should prepare himself for life in a wheel chair. They also stated he would never be able to have children. After 12 surgeries (10 of them over 10 hours) and 20+ tumours removed from the spine Howard is not in a wheelchair, he walks unassisted and has three beautiful children William, Tom and James, naturally conceived with his lovely wife Jane. Life is not a breeze for Howard though. He has no feeling below his waist, lives with extreme pain and is struck down by viruses on a constant basis. However he never chases sympathy or complains about his setbacks. All his energies go into his family and his beloved football team at St. Patrick’s College Ballarat, which he has successfully coached for the past decade and has housed some of Ballarat’s finest footballers and strongest leaders. A truly remarkable story and remarkable man.

7. Peter Hughes

Putting a wounded man ahead of yourself is a selfless act. Putting hundreds of wounded people ahead of yourself despite your own life threatening injuries is outright courageous. What Peter did in the hours after the Bali bombings should be a reminder that true heroes do walk among us. He insisted to doctors that he was fine and there were ‘worse’ people injured than himself. This ultimately nearly cost him his life. His injuries more serious than first thought. Bravery doesn’t come from brave words it comes from brave actions. His story reminds me of the quote “I can’t hear what you are saying because your actions are speaking so loudly”. Peter is a walking/talking example of why evil will never prevail. It can knock a few down but the tough will remain. Peter would no doubt be a leading player in that pack. What an act. What a man.

6. Gemma Sisia

It has been said, Australia is the greatest country on Earth. We have spacious freedom, amazing beaches and friendly people. What motivates someone to leave and relocate to a 3rd world country? Gemma left for East Africa on a safari trip only to return with a new found love for the region and its people. She wanted to give an education to the unprivileged kids that otherwise had no foreseeable future. Gemma decided she wanted to open a school of her own in Tanzania. But like so many great ideas she had no money, no support and seemingly no hope. Did this stop Gemma? Absolutely not. Through relentless hardwork, a passion to make a difference along with the help of charity workers and volunteers, the School of St. Jude at the base of Mt.Kilimanjaro now educates over 1500 Tanzanian students. These students now have hope, faith and a reason to make a difference in their own right. All this due to an Australian country girls’ compassion to care.  An unassuming hero.

5. Jim Stynes

Such an inspiration. I once read that “life isn’t about the length you live, it’s about the depth you live”. Not too many people could say that they have lived a more fulfilling life than Jim. Kevin Sheedy rated his football story the best of the 1990′s, which in itself is incredibile (winning a Brownlow Medal in a sport that is foreign to his country of birth). However his life outside of football is just as remarkable. He touched the lives of so many disadvantaged kids through his lovable character and his charity company Reach. There are people today who can attritube their turn around and success to the guidance and empowerment Jim gave them. They way he fought his cancer in last couple of years of his life inspired a nation. His positive mind-set and willingness not to be defeated will always be cemented in my mind. He is the type of person I regret never meeting. Australia has lost an exceptional icon but is a better place for Jim having lived in it. RIP Jim Stynes.

4. Caleb Neyenhuis

If the gift of sight was taken away from you by a  rare form of cancer, how would you respond? Caleb should be an inspiration to us all. At just 3 years of age Caleb eyes were riddled with cancer and had to have them both removed. The way Caleb has responded should be a wake up call for us from time to time when thinking we are having a bad day. His mother has said that he never complained despite enduring chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgury to remove both his eyes. “Life is not happens to us but how we respond to what happens to us”. There is no clearer example than this brave boys’ amazing courage. In 2007 he received a national Take 5 Young Braveheart Award. Caleb continues to contribute in school and plays his beloved sport of AFL. He may have lost the gift of sight but Caleb has gained unmeasurable bravery under duress and is an inspirational gift to Australia.

3. Kurt Fearnley

This man is a freak. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. The motivation and determination that Kurt possesses is nothing short of inspirational. Born without the lower portion of his spine has not held him back in any way. In fact it has propelled him to become a quintessential Australian role model. Kurt has conquered the globe in wheelchair racing from 5000 metres to marathons, winning paralympic gold medals and countless races around the world. He is the undisbuted iron man of the Wheelchair Marathon. In 2009 Kurt crawled the Kokoda Track in 11 days. Did he do it for his own personal satisfaction? No doubt – he loves pushing his body to the brink. But he also did it in support of Movember and Beyond Blue. That sums him up right there. The type of guy you would want in your corner. Tough – Uncomprimising – Unshakably determined. A true champion.

2. Ben Roberts-Smith

Too many people compare sport to war. Speaking with my Grandfather and other war veterans there should be no comparison. Ben Roberts – Smith is an out and out Australian hero. Forget kicking goals or winning gold medals, Ben risked his own life in the field of battle to ensure that his fellow soldiers would not be harmed. There is no braver act a human being can possess. He was duly awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia (the highest award in the Australian military) for his actions and has also been awarded the Medal for Gallantry for a previous action in Afghanistan, making him the most decorated member of the Australian Defence Force or any other Commonwealth army. Ben, Australia is eternally proud. You are a legend.

1. Nick Vujicic

No arms – No legs – No worries. That is Nick’s motto. How can a man born with no limbs be so happy and content when so many others complain about their situation in life? Only Nick can answer that.  However if everybody had a table spoon of his amazing attitude the world would truly be a better place. The strength, the resilience, the positive attitude and affirmations that Nick displays on a daily basis is beyond belief. If you have never heard of Nick or his story, please do yourself a favour, listen to him speak or read his book (Life Without Limits), you will never look at life the same way again. The most inspirational person one could ever imagine, not just in this country or this century but worldwide and across history.