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Portrait image of Geoffrey Thompson

Sports physician and flying doctor
Northern Territory, 2020 Australian of the Year

Dr Geoffrey Thompson is one of the Northern Territory’s quiet achievers, with a distinguished career as a flying doctor and a long history of community service. He oversaw the Royal Australian Air Force effort to evacuate Darwin after Cyclone Tracy devastated the city in 1974. A sports medicine pioneer, Geoff is chief medical officer for the Australian Paralympic Committee.

Stethoscope and pilot’s logbook

From the age of nine, Geoff wanted to be a doctor — and a pilot. Combining these two passions, he joined the Royal Australian Air Force. He was based in Darwin when Cyclone Tracy hit and supervised the evacuation of the city. Geoff has been a flying doctor and is now a sports and exercise physician, continuing to improve the health of people living in remote and regional Australia.

This is Geoff’s first stethoscope and his pilot’s logbook. Together they capture his long career in medicine and in the air.

A flight log book opened to show hand-written entries from 1974. A stethoscope with red plastic cover is beside the book.
Stethoscope and pilot’s logbook

A mini history

Our home, along with our aircraft and everything we owned, were totally destroyed by Cyclone Tracy. After I retrieved my waterlogged logbook, I transcribed many entries into this one. It now records flights made when working as a flying doctor, flying my own aircraft to remote Arnhem Land communities and charter flights when working as a professional pilot. It is a kind of mini-history.

New directions

When Sport and Exercise Medicine was established, I studied further and became one of the proud founding members of that small but dynamic and enthusiastic medical specialty. It has given me so many opportunities, including working with the Australian Paralympic team, and I feel very privileged to have such a fulfilling career.

A healthy lifestyle

Regular exercise is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. It can help prevent illness, is vital to injury recovery and has positive impacts for mental health. Being able to support people to stay active, especially those in Darwin and Alice Springs, is really satisfying.

This exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia in collaboration with the National Australia Day Council. Portrait images supplied by the National Australia Day Council.

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