Dick Smith Biography

Mr Smith has long argued in favour of a “sustainable” population. Photo: James Brickwood

Dick Smith is one of Australia’s most well-known and respected personalities. So much so, that in 2005 the National Trust nominated him as one of ‘Australia’s Living Treasures.”

“I won the lottery of life,” says Dick, “being born in Australia and able to enjoy our beautiful country.”

Businessman, entrepreneur, adventurer, philanthropist, aviator and a passionate advocate for the environment, Dick is active in many fields of public life. He talks and travels widely and is never shy to take on difficult topics—from aviation reform to supporting refugees.

As a businessman he is best known for founding Dick Smith Electronics in 1968 (sold to Woolworths in 1982), founding Australian Geographic magazine in 1986 and launching Dick Smith Foods in 2000.

Less well known is his work as a philanthropist. He is a supporter of many charities and individuals in need. In recognition of this he was honoured as Australian of the Year in 1986 and in 1999 received the award of Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). In 2015 he Dick was advanced to a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) “for eminent service to the community as a benefactor of a range of not-for-profit and conservation organisations, through support for major fundraising initiatives for humanitarian and social welfare programs, to medical research and the visual arts, and to aviation”.

Dick is regularly voted among Australia’s most trusted individuals.

It is as an adventurer that Dick has become best known. Since making his first expedition to climb the forbidding Balls Pyramid rock as a 20 year old, he has gone on to achieve many world firsts. These include the first solo round-the-world helicopter flight and the first round the world aeroplane flight landing at each pole. Dick also made both the first crossing of Australia by balloon in 1993 and the first trans-Tasman balloon crossing in 2000.

His latest interest is in initiating a debate on Australia’s addiction to population and economic growth, sparked by his concern for the future his grandchildren will face.  In January 2012, Dick’s work in this field was recognised by Stanford University (USA) through their appointment of Dick as Consulting Professor to the Department of Biology, School of Humanities & Sciences. “I consider this the most important thing I have ever done,” says Dick, “and I will spend the rest of my life working towards a sustainable future so that our grandchildren can enjoy a life as wonderful as mine.”