In celebration of 100 years of Australian Antarctic expeditions we gathered on 25 January for a glittering evening. Human Nature came from Las Vegas to give a hugely entertaining performance and Christian Honor wowed us with his culinary talents in the kitchen.
100 Years of Antarctic Expeditions
This year we honoured 100 years of Australian Antarctic Expeditions. Douglas Mawson was the first Australian to lead an expedition from 1911-1914. The Australia Day Foundation celebrated by creating our own Antarctica experience here at Australia House.
Our Australian guest chef Christian Honor is an Ex-Ramsey chef who has worked in restaurant kitchens all over the world. Having made London his home, Christian owns and runs Chriskitch in Muswell Hill and brought his unique style to the challenge of creating an inspiring four-course menu for our guests.
Thanks to Qantas for bringing Human Nature, Australia's most successful male vocal group, to London direct from their Las Vegas residency at the Venetian Casino & Resort. With over 18 Top 40 hits to their name, Human Nature exemplifies the spirit of Australia and certainly had our audience on their feet.
The Award Winners
Australian of the Year in the UK
As we celebrated the centenary of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition it was fitting that award-winning writer, lecturer, historian and world expert on Antarctica, Meredith Hooper, was named Australian of the Year in the UK 2014. The award was given in recognition of her passion and dedication to educating the world about Antarctica and climate issues.
Hooper, whose father studied geology under Australia’s great Antarctic explorer, Douglas Mawson, is a long-time Trustee on two UK Antarctic committees. She first came to England on an Adelaide University scholarship and researched her post-graduate degree at Oxford. She made her first of many journeys south in 1994 when her children’s book A for Antarctica prompted an invitation from the Australian Antarctic Division. Still at the top of her profession, Hooper provides expert advice to exhibitions and the film industry and will be giving a paper at next month’s Mawson Centenary celebrations in her hometown of Adelaide.
Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is a popular figure in British politics, well-known for his passion and patriotism and has always been a great admirer of Australia and Australian values.
Educated at Eton and Oxford, he began his career in journalism at The Times and went on to become Assistant Editor of The Telegraph from 1994-99 and editor of The Spectator from 1999-2005. He entered parliament as MP for Henley in 2001 and served in Conservative Shadow Cabinets under Michael Howard and David Cameron. He left the commons after his first victory in the 2008 London Mayoral elections. In his late teens, Johnson spent time working in Australia and fell in love with the way of life. He credits this time for shaping his future career as a writer, scholar, historian and politician. Australia Day Foundation Director, Bill Muirhead was delighted to award the 2014 title of Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK to Johnson who displays "archetypal Aussie characteristics in abundance and flies the flag for Australians in the UK". Johnson speaks of Australia as an open-minded and innovative country which continues to make a significant contribution to world affairs and prosperity.
Young Australian Achiever of the year in the UK
Sydney born ballet dancer Steven McRae was awarded 2014 Young Australian Achiever in the UK in recognition of his remarkable talent and all that has achieved in his career at such a young age. McRae has displayed ambition, passion and determination and is an inspiration to young people everywhere to chase their dreams.
The son of a drag racer, McRae went on to become the Royal Ballet’s youngest principal dancer in 2009. His dreams of a career in dance began with jazz and tap classes at age seven. At 14 he performed with Tap Dogs at the opening of the Sydney Olympics and has represented Australia on the world stage ever since. He is co-creator of the Manga Ballet Hero Fantasy, a series of illustrated stories featuring dance characters including Steven himself, through which he hopes to change the public perception of ballet and dance in general. McRae holds a BA in Business Management and Leadership and has future plans to move into the directorial side of dance and the arts. He regularly returns to Australia to visit his old ballet school to teach and mentor students there and will perform his favourite role, Romeo, in July with the Queensland Ballet.