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2019 Lunchtime Conversation Series: Australians Shaping the Nation

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by Vanessa (subscribe)
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Celebrating a stellar selection of distinguished Australians

The Lunchtime Conversation Series returns for a second exciting season this May and June.

Drawing on the 200 Treasures of the Australian Museum exhibition in the Westpac Long Gallery, a selection of distinguished Australians share insights into the inspiration behind their groundbreaking contributions, which have helped define the nation across science, politics and the arts.

The Lunchtime Conversation Series is available as a series of six sessions (get one free) and features a remarkable line-up of Australians, whose achievements have resonated beyond our shores.

Helen White, used courtesy of the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts

12:30pm, Tuesday 21 May: Tom Keneally AO

One of our most popular and prolific authors, self-described 'lefty troublemaker' Tom Keneally has produced more than forty novels, screenplays, memoirs and non-fiction. His embrace of challenging themes and social justice is evident in Bring Larks and Heroes, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and Schindler's Ark, which won the Booker Prize, and was made into the Award-winning film Schindler's List by Steven Spielberg

Charles Perkins on the way to Sydney University, 1963. Image: Robert McFarlane Robert McFarlane

12:30pm, Tuesday 28 May: Charles Perkins AO by Professor John Maynard

One of the most charismatic and well-known Aboriginal political leaders of the twentieth century, Charles Perkins was born to Arrernte and Kalkadoon parents in the 'old' Alice Springs telegraph station. An elite soccer player and the first Aboriginal Australian to graduate from University, his fiery, uncompromising contribution to the Indigenous Rights movement is illuminated by Professor John Maynard, Chair of Aboriginal History at the University of Newcastle.

Left to right: Dr Terry Percival, John Deane, Dietham Ostry, Dr John O'Sullivan, Graham Daniels. CSIRO

12:30pm, Tuesday 4 June: Dr Terence Percival AM (CSIRO WLAN)

Dr Terence Percival AM, a key member of the visionary CSIRO WLAN team who invented high speed Wi-Fi in 1992, trained as an electrical engineer and began his career in radio-astronomy. As Chief Research Scientist of CSIRO's Telecommunication Division, he led the creation of new tele-health, distance education and media production applications for next generation broadband networks. Dr Percival's contribution has been recognised with numerous local and international awards including the prestigious 2012 European Inventors Award.

The iconic image of a young Tran Van Giap with Fred Hollows in Vietnam. Image: Michael Amendolia Michael Amendolia

12:30pm, Tuesday 11 June: Professor Fred Hollows AC by Gabi Hollows AO

New Zealand born, UK trained eye surgeon Fred Hollows' drive to end the injustice of avoidable blindness emerged from a deep commitment to social equality. The economical approach to ophthalmology focussing on training local surgeons and reducing the cost of lens - which he and his orthoptist wife Gabi developed, has restored sight to more than 2.5 million people. The Fred Hollows Foundation which the couple established in 1992 just six months before Fred died, continues to empower poor and neglected communities across the world.

Albert Namatjira painting, circa 1946 Image: Arthur Groom Public Domain

12:30pm, Tuesday 18 June: Albert Namatjira by Franchesca Cubillo

Born on the Hermannsburg Lutheran mission in the Northern Territory in 1902, the life of iconic master painter and Western Arrernte man Albert Namatjira was entangled in virulent racial politics. Franchescha Cubillo, Churchill Scholar and Senior Curator Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art at the National Gallery of Australia, offers insights into the Hermannsburg Movement, the artist's magnificent paintings and enduring legacy.

Glenn Murcutt Glenn Murcutt

12:30pm, Tuesday 25 June: Glenn Murcutt AO

Architect Glenn Murcutt is globally acclaimed for his environmentally sensitive, sustainable and quintessentially Australian designs. The sole practitioner, teacher and critic, counts his childhood in Papua New Guinea and his father's inspiring guidance, informed by the ideas of Henry David Thoreau, as profound influences. Murcutt has received every significant award including the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the Alvar Aalto Medal and the AIA Gold Medal.


Tickets are now on sale for each event. Prices are as follows: Adult $150, Member $125, and Concession $135. Tickets include admission to the Museum and the 200 Treasures of the Westpac Long Gallery exhibition. Lunch available at the rooftop restaurant, No 1. William (level 4).

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit

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When: 21 May, 28 May, 4 June, 11 June, 11 June, 18 June, 25 June
Where: Australian Museum, 1 William Street Sydney, NSW 2010
Cost: From $125
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