Celebrating multi-cultural Australia


Captains Bruce & Alex welcome guests on board 'S.S. Australia
23rd January

One of Australia’s greatest strengths is our cultural diversity. We benefit enormously from our people, drawn from a wide variety of cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds. The country’s original inhabitants, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples, are the custodians of one of the world’s oldest continuing traditions. They have been living in Australia for at least 40,000 years. The rest of Australia’s people are migrants or descendants of migrants who have arrived in Australia from about 200 countries since Great Britain established the first European settlement at Sydney Cover in 1788. When the Australian Government first created the ‘Assisted Passage’ scheme to attract British migrants down under travel was by ship and in 2010 guests were invited on board the ‘S.S. Australia’ to celebrate Multicultural Oz. 


Phil Aiken, Sir Robert Wilson, John Williams, Ainsley Newson, HE John Dauth
John Williams, AO, OBE
Australian of the Year in the UK

“John William’s talent is awe inspiring and there is no doubt he has influenced many to take up the guitar.  As the foremost ambassador of the guitar we consider John Williams a truly worthy recipient of the 2010 Australian of the Year in the UK award, said Philip Aiken, Chairman of the Australia Day Foundation.

Williams has been working magic with the guitar for more than seven decades.  His great interest in contemporary music has led to wide-ranging musical collaborations, including with Japanese, Cuban and African composers.  He has recorded everything from classical music through jazz to pop, and worked with an extensive list of other great musicians, including: Itzaac Perlman, Jacqueline du Pré, Daniel Barenboim, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Andre Previn and Cleo Laine. 

Born in Australia to an English jazz guitarist father and Australian mother, Williams was given his first guitar at the tender age of 4.  He quickly showed signs of genius, and when he was just 11 he was invited by Andreas Segovia to attend his summer schools in Italy.  A mere six years later, after more study at the Royal College of Music, Williams made his professional debut at Wigmore Hall. 

Williams was awarded an OBE in 1980, made an officer of the Order of Australia in 1987, and presented with the Edison Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.



Sir Robert Wilson
Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK
Embracing both mining and energy resources, his stewardship of a number of major projects has contributed significantly to Australia’s economic wealth and the Australia Day Foundation consider Sir Robert Wilson a worthy recipient of the 2010 Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK award.

The award recognises the extensive contribution Sir Robert has made to Anglo-Australian business over almost four decades.

It is also a tribute Sir Robert’s pioneering work on reform in the mining industry.  He has campaigned for mining companies to establish a better financial track record, and established the Global Mining Initiative which introduced more ethical approaches to labour and the environment.

Under his stewardship Rio Tinto worked to limit its greenhouse gases, encourage biodiversity, and was a founding signatory of the Australian Minerals Industry Code for Environmental Management.

As well as being Chairman of the BG Group plc, a position he has held since 2004, Sir Robert is the Senior Independent Director of GlaxoSmithKline.  He was the Chairman of The Economist from 2003 to 2009, and was knighted in 2000. 
Dr Ainsley Newson
Young Australian Achiever of the Year in the UK

Ainsley Newson has a clear idea of where she is heading and her desire to continue with her research and pass on her valued knowledge to others is why the Australia Day Foundation considers her a worthy recipient of tthe 2011 Young Australian Achiever of the Year award said Philip Aiken, Chairman of the Australia Day Foundation.

A scientist who has lived in the UK for 7 years, Dr Newson is a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Ethics at the University of Bristol.

In her work Dr Newson grapples with some of the most challenging ethical questions modern science raises – questions about genetics, biotechnology and human reproduction, including the emerging technology of ‘synthetic biology’, which aims to design artificial biological components.

Not just a brilliant researcher, Dr Newson is also an inspiring teacher.  The University of Bristol has recognised this, awarding her a “Rising Star’ prize for teaching in 2007. 

Dr Newson earned a PhD in Medical Ethics from the University of Melbourne before she moved to the UK in 2003.  She then completed a three-year Research Fellowship in Ethics and Genetics at Imperial College London. 


Thai Ambassador H.E. Mr. Kitti Wasinondh, Tanongsak Yordwai, David Thompson and Philip Aiken.
David Thompson
It has been said that Sydney born Michelin star chef David Thompson probably knows more about Thai cooking than any other ‘Westerner’. An expert on Thai food, David has researched Thai culinary techniques and ancient recipes which have led to a greater appreciation of Thai food in the West. David took on the challenge to design a Thai dinner for just under 300 guests that included 6 main dishes. One of the main courses was Australian kingfish braised in soy with shredded ginger, or dtom kem plaa insiri as the Thais call it. David’s menu was sensational.


Legendary Australian theatre performer Philip Quast
Philip Quast
Philip Quast charmed the audience with his extraordinary singing voice and choice of songs, in particular his medley of quintessentially ‘Aussie’ folk tunes.  Philip was born in Tamworth and began his career with the State Theatre Company of South Australia after graduating from Australia’s premiere drama school NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts). His theatre achievements are vast but his magnetic performance as Javert in Les Miserables is famous.  Philip was the first actor to receive three Olivier Awards for Best Male Performance in a Musical category. His film and television credits are too numerous to list and it is not surprising that this extraordinary performer is in great demand in Australia and London. 
Kirby Hughes hails from Sydney and has been living in London for the past 2 years. In July of 2009 she graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with a post graduate diploma in Music Theatre. She recently performed in ‘Crazy for You, ‘The Pyjama Game’ and with Elton John at the Royal Albert Hall. Kirby is currently performing in the UK version of ‘High Society’ at the Gatehouse theatre. 



Sam Harrison was in the original cast of ‘Beyond the Game’ at the Sydney Opera House before moving to London where he recently graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with a post-graduate degree in musical theatre. He most recently performed in ‘Salad Day’ at the Riverside Studios before heading north to perform as Prince Rupert in ‘Snow White’.


Macquarie Bank
National Australia Group
Rio Tinto
Anglo American
BAE Systems
BG Group
BHP Billiton
CQS Management
Robert Walters
Tourism Australia
The Weir Group
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© Australia Day Foundation / 2020