The 20 Most Famous People Who Have Lived In Adelaide

1. Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson holding the two Oscars that he won for Braveheart

Gibson is an actor, director, producer and screen writer whose most famous films include; Mad Max, the Lethal Weapon series, Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ. He won two Oscars for Braveheart, in the categories of Best Picture and Best Director. Gibson lived in Adelaide for a short period of time during which he joined the State Theatre Company of South Australia and shared a $30 per week apartment with his soon-to-be wife Robyn.

2. Sir Donald Bradman

Sir Donald Bradman walking out to bat at the MCG during the third test versus England in 1936/1937. He went on to score 270 runs in what has been rated as the greatest test innings of all time.

Bradman was an Australian cricketer and widely considered to be the greatest batsman of all time. His test match average of 99.94 is thought to be the greatest statistical achievement in any major sport. Bradman lived in Adelaide for a large part of his life which included playing for South Australia’s domestic cricket team throughout the years 1935-1949. He died in Adelaide in 2001.

3. Rupert Murdoch  

Rupert Murdoch on the cover of TIME Magazine.

Murdoch is the chairman and CEO of News Corporation and has an estimated net worth of $6.2 billion. He lived in Adelaide for a short period of his life during which he started his first newspaper.

4. Julia Gillard

The Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, addresses parliament.

Gillard is the current Prime Minister of Australia and the first female to hold this role. Gillard was born in 1961 and her family immigrated to Adelaide in 1966. She attended school and University in Adelaide until she moved to Melbourne in 1981.

5. Lleyton Hewitt

Lleyton Hewitt celebrates winning the Wimbledon men’s singles final in 2002

Hewitt is a tennis player who was formerly ranked number 1 in the world. He is the youngest person to have held the number 1 ranking, achieving this feat during 2001 at the age of 20. He won the US Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002. Hewitt held the world’s number 1 ranking from November 2001 until June 2003 for all but 2 weeks. He was born in Adelaide in 1981 and has resided there for the majority of his life until he recently moved to Sydney.

6. Bon Scott

AC/DC play at the Ulster Hall in 1979. Bon Scott appears in the centre of the picture.

Scott was the lead singer of the band AC/DC until he died during 1980 in London. AC/DC’s first album following Scott’s death, ‘Back in Black’ was a tribute to Scott and became the second best selling album by any band or singer in history. A 2004 issue of ‘Classic Rock’ rated Scott as the number one ‘frontman’ of all time ahead of the likes of Freddy Mercury. He moved to Adelaide in 1970 and lived there for several years.

7. J M Coetzee

J M Coetzee receiving his Nobel Prize in 2003.

Coetzee is an author and academic who has twice won the Booker Prize and has also been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is a leading advocate for the animal rights movement and often depicts the reality of South Africa’s apartheid. Coetzee was born in South Africa and has lived in Adelaide since 2002.

8. Geoffrey Rush

Geoffrey Rush holding the Oscar that he won for Best Actor.

Rush is an actor who won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Australian schizophrenic concert pianist, David Helfgott. He played this role in the film ‘Shine’ which also won Rush a swag of other awards including a BAFTA and Golden Globe. Rush lived in Adelaide for a short period of his life during which he joined the State Theatre Company of South Australia.

9. Jimmy Barnes

Jimmy Barnes performs for Cold Chisel

Barnes is a singer and songwriter who was the lead vocalist of the rock band, Cold Chisel and is currently a solo performer. He has achieved 14 Australian top 40 albums as part of Cold Chisel along with 13 chart reaching solo albums encompssing nine number 1s. Barnes was born in 1956 and his family immigrated to Adelaide from Scotland in 1961.

10.  Anthony LaPaglia

Anthony LaPaglia in ‘Without a Trace’

LaPaglia is most famous for his role as Jack Malone in the TV series Without a Trace. He appeared in 9 episodes of the sitcom Frasier and won an Emmy for this role. LaPaglia was born in Adelaide in 1959.

11.  Sir Douglas Mawson

Sir Douglas Mawson

Mawson was most famous for his explorations of Antarctica between 1911 and 1914. He was almost killed during one of these trips when a sledge and a man accompanying him fell down a crevasse. Mawson and Mertz walked 500km to base to survive and this process involved them eating their huskies. Mertz died during this 500km trek and Mawson spent weeks hiking and eventually arrived at the base. The first permanent Antarctic base was named after Mawson and his face was featured on the Australian $100 note. Mawson was born in 1882 and became a lecturer at the University of Adelaide in 1905. He consequentially spent the majority of his life in Adelaide.

12.  Howard Florey

Howard Florey

Florey won a shared Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine in 1945 alongside Fleming and Chain for the extraction of penicillin. Fleming was the person who originally observed the unique properties of mold that make it suitable for penicillin while Florey and Chain developed mold into a useful treatment. It is considered that Florey’s involvement in developing Penicillin has saved over 80 million lives worldwide. Florey was born in Adelaide in 1898 and studied medicine at the University of Adelaide until he moved to Oxford. Florey died in 1968.

13.  Geoff Ogilvy

Geoff Ogilvy holds the 2006 US Open trophy aloft.

Ogilvy is a professional golfer who won the US Open in 2006 and has also won the World Golf Championship three times. Ogilvy was ranked as the 3rd best golfer in the world during 2006. He was born in Adelaide in 1977.

14.  Paul Davies

Paul Davies presents a speech

Davies is a physicist who specialises in theoretical physics, cosmology and astrobiology.  He is also the author of many philosophy based physics books that make these topics accessible to the layman. Davies was born in 1946 in London and held a post at the University of Adelaide for several years.

15.  Sir William Lawrence Bragg

Sir William Lawrence Bragg performs an experiment

Bragg was a physicist who discovered the Bragg law of X-ray diffraction. This law makes it possible to determine the precise position of the atoms inside a crystal based on the manner in which the X-ray is diffracted by the crystal lattice. This discovery earned him the Nobel Prize in 1915, which he shared with his physicist father. To date he is the youngest winner of a Nobel Prize, receiving this honour at 25 years of age. Bragg was born in Adelaide in 1890 and attended school and University in Adelaide until 1908 when his father accepted the chair of physics at University of Leeds.

16.  Terence Tao

Terence Tao (aged 11) pictured at the front, stands among the rest of the Australian International Maths Olympiad team

Tao is a mathematician who won the Fields Medal (the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize) in 2006. Tao was a child prodigy who attended University maths classes at the age of 9. He was assessed to have an IQ of between 220 and 230 at the age of 11/12. He is still the youngest winner of a gold medal in International Mathematics Olympiad history, winning this award at the tender age of 13. Alongside Ben Green, he proved that there is an arbitrarily long progression of prime numbers. Tao has been labelled the ‘Mozart of mathematics’ and is considered to be one of the greatest mathematicians in the world. Tao was born in Adelaide in 1975 and attended school and university in Adelaide before moving to the US in 1992.

17.  Sir Mark Oliphant

Sir Mark Oliphant

Oliphant was a physicist who played a central role in the initial demonstration of nuclear fusion and consequently the development of the atomic bomb. He also co-discovered deuteron, triton and helium-3. Oliphant became a staunch opponent of nuclear weapons and was also a humanitarian. He was born in Adelaide in 1901.

18.  Stuart O’Grady

Stuart O’Grady dons the yellow jersey in The Tour De France

O’Grady is a professional cyclist who has won two world championships, an Olympic gold medal, three Tour De France stages and has ridden second in the points classification aspect of the Tour De France on four separate occasions. O’Grady has won a swag of other races and tours and is predominantly a sprinter, starting his career on the track. He was born in Adelaide in 1973.

19.  Scott Hicks

Scott Hicks

Hicks is a film director who is most famous for directing the movie, Shine. He has won an Emmy award and been nominated for an Oscar. He was born in Uganda in 1953 but has lived in Adelaide since the age of 14.

20.  Andy Thomas

Andy Thomas wearing his space suit

Thomas is a NASA astronaut and an aerospace engineer. He has been involved in many spaceflight missions and was the first Australian born astronaut to enter space. Thomas was born in Adelaide in 1951 and became an American citizen in 1986 in order to gain entrance into the NASA astronaut program.

About this list

‘Famous’ is defined as “celebrated: widely known and esteemed.” This definition makes the concept of an individual compiling a ‘most famous’ ranking list quite problematic. To avoid the subjectivity that ‘most famous’ lists imperatively contain, this list is ranked based on a formula that I compiled that incorporates several quasi-objective measures of ‘fame.’ The first of these measures involves the “widely known” aspect of the ‘famous’ definition. This was accounted for by a Google search of each individual’s name assuming it was a unique name. For those members of the list with a common name, several Google searches were performed in which different specific fame associated key words were searched for alongside the individual’s name. The number of Google search results approximately correlates to fame in a tautological manner. The second component of my formula accounted for the magnitude and breadth of the individual’s achievements. This was determined by assessing the length of each member’s Wikipedia page, in terms of number of words. Wikipedia pages are written according to very precise standards in which only notable achievements are mentioned and the longer the Wikipedia entry, generally the greater the achievement. The final aspect of my formula was designed to counter the era centric component of the internet. Those who reaped fame prior to the internet’s advent were disadvantaged by my formula hence I skewed the results based on the timeframe in which the individual was at their most famous.

This list was designed with an international perspective in mind hence those Adelaide residents who are only famous within the bounds of Australia were excluded from this list. I subjectively chose the ‘most famous’ 20 Adelaide residents and my aforementioned formula ranked them. Due to my own biases and areas of interest, some famous Adelaide residents may not have been included in the list. Some contemporary famous Adelaide residents possibly should have been included in my subjective list, including Teresa Palmer and Ben Folds. The eclectic fields in which the 20 Adelaide residents achieved fame mean that some readers of the list will be more familiar with some names than other names. Cultural relativism may also influence the reader of this lists familiarity with the 20 Adelaide residents. For instance, Sir Donald Bradman is likely to be well known in India and not so well known in the US. I must emphasise again that although this list contains a quasi- objective element, due to my formula, fame can only mainly be considered as a subjective concept. Without interviewing every person on the planet, or at least a fair cross country sample, it is impossible to rank this list accurately.

UPDATE: Since compiling this list, pop singer Sia has shot to international stardom. She was born in Adelaide, attended Adelaide High School and in her early twenties moved to London.

Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair also spent time living in Adelaide.



  1. @Lee Thanks for the friendly reminder about Tony Blair being a former Adelaide resident. 🙂 I didn’t recall his name at the time of making this list however he is certainly worthy of being within in.

  2. Another suggestion for you – in fact two – Greg and Ian Chappell, two of Australia’s most famous cricketers. Both brothers captained the Australia side at some point in their careers and the Adelaide Oval has named a stand after them: The Chappells Stand. They were both born in South Australia (near Adelaide) and whilst they don’t live in the State now, they are certainly among South Australia’s most famous sons.

  3. UPDATE: Since compiling this list, pop singer Sia has shot to international stardom. She was born in Adelaide, attended Adelaide High School and in her early twenties moved to London.

    Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair also spent time living in Adelaide.

  4. Saw you had a golfer there… Adam Scott former world number one was also a resident of Adelaide in his younger years!

  5. Sir Robert Helpmann, danced with Margot Fontaine and Anna Pavlova, made many films, those of us growing up when he was at the top of his career, considered him very famous .

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