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2012 the Year in Review
4 - Michael Clarke hits an unbeaten 329 in Sydney - the highest individual Test score at the SCG and the fourth-best tally by an Australian batsman in Test history.
26 - Oscar winning actor Geoffrey Rush is named 2012 Australian of the Year.
26 - The prime minister and opposition leader are rushed from a Canberra restaurant by Julia Gillard's security after Aboriginal tent embassy protesters surround it and bang on the glass windows.
29 - Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal in a marathon final at the Australian Open.
19 - Darwin marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing by Japanese aircraft in WWII, which killed at least 243 people.
24 - Gordon Wood walks free after after winning an appeal over the murder of his girlfriend Caroline Byrne in 1995.
27 - Julia Gillard defeats Kevin Rudd in a caucus ballot with 71 votes to 31, the biggest victory in a Labor leadership ballot in 30 years.
2 - Almost 1700 people leave their homes as floodwaters drench NSW, leaving 75 per cent of the state either under water or threatened by flooding. Less than two weeks later and one-third of NSW's communities are declared natural disaster zones.
2 - Former NSW premier Bob Carr drafted to join Labor's the front bench. Eleven days after the surprise move, Mr Carr is sworn both a senator and as Australia's foreign minister.
16 - Queensland's flood inquiry finds there was evidence three Wivenhoe dam engineers had colluded to pen a misleading report about how they managed water releases before Brisbane and Ipswich flooded last year.
17 - Margaret Whitlam, the wife of former prime minister Gough Whitlam and a revered Australian public figure, dies aged 92.
19 - The controversial mining tax, which imposes a 30 per cent tax on the extraordinary profits of coal and iron ore miners, clears its final hurdle and passes the Senate 38 votes to 32, with support of the Greens.
20 - AFL great Jim Stynes succumbs to cancer aged 45. St Paul's Cathedral in central Melbourne is packed to capacity at his state funeral a week later, with thousands more standing across the road in Federation Square.
20 - Former Country Fire Authority volunteer Brendan James Sokaluk is convicted of starting a Black Saturday bushfire that killed 10 people. Just over a month later, he is jailed for 17 years and nine months.
22 - Australia's most wanted criminal Malcolm Naden is arrested on a private property near Gloucester, NSW, after seven years on the run. The former bush fugitive will stand trial next year for the murders of two Dubbo women.
24 - Campbell Newman pulls off the most staggering victory in Queensland's political history, leading the LNP to 78 seats in the 89-seat parliament, and leaving Labor just seven. Anna Bligh quits politics the next day.
30 - The 91st Archibald Prize is awarded to artist Tim Storrier for his portrait The histrionic wayfarer (after Bosch).
13 - Bob Brown resigns as Australian Greens leader, after 16 years in parliament, and welcomes being replaced by his long-term deputy, Christine Milne.
15 - Four-time Olympic gold medallist Murray Rose dies at the age of 73 after battling leukaemia.
15 - Comedian Hamish Blake upstages his more fancied rivals to take home his first Gold Logie at the gala awards night in Melbourne. The announcement comes with a bit of a fiz after the news is posted online by a media outlet well before it's revealed at the ceremony.
17 - The PM announces that Australian troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by mid-2013.
19 - Men at Work flautist Greg Ham is found dead at the age of 58 in his Melbourne home. He had been angry and embarrassed about a copyright controversy over the iconic flute riff he played on the band's global hit Down Under.
20 - Mining magnate Gina Rinehart loses a bid to have her children's multi-billion-dollar family trust claim dealt with through confidential mediation and not in open court. She tops BRW's richest 200 people in Australia for the second year in a row, when it's announced a month later.
22 - Parliamentary Speaker Peter Slipper stands aside amid allegations of sexual harassment against a former male staffer and misusing Cabcharge entitlements.
29 - MP Craig Thomson is suspended from the Labor Party over allegations he misused almost $500,000 in union members' funds on prostitutes, cash withdrawals and electioneering.
8 - Treasurer Wayne Swan hands down the budget with a vision to bring it back to surplus while redistributing the wealth of Australia's Asia-fuelled resources boom.
13 - Sydney's "Angel of The Gap", Don Ritchie, dies aged 86, after 50 years spent coaxing desperate people back from The Gap.
15 - Australia cricket captain Michael Clarke weds Kyly Boldy in a secret ceremony among family and close friends at a luxury resort in the NSW Blue Mountains.
20 - Bee Gees Robin Gibb dies aged 62 after a lengthy battle against cancer.
28 - Gotye takes out the top gongs at the 2012 APRA Music Awards, winning the Songwriter of the Year award and Song of the Year for Somebody That I Used To Know.
5 - David Gallop resigns as the chief executive of the Australian Rugby League Commission after 10 years at the helm.
6 - Venus transits across the face of the sun - next time will be in 2117. Thousands of people head to observatories to view the spectacle, although much of the eastern seaboard gets gloomy weather.
12 - A coroner in Darwin finds that a dingo killed nine-week-old Azaria Chamberlain while the family was on a camping trip at Ayers Rock in 1980. The packed courtroom - in what is the fourth coronial and final inquest into the matter - erupts into applause.
14 - A plan to set up the world's largest network of marine parks around Australia is announced. The country's marine reserves will cover 3.1 million square kilometres or a third of Australian waters.
16 - Fairfax Media outlines a major restructure and redundancies for 1900 employees. Two days later, News Ltd also announces plans to restructure and shed staff, but does not specify how many jobs will be lost.
21 - At least 90 asylum seekers drown after the overcrowded boat carrying them capsizes between Indonesia and Christmas Island.
23 - Black Caviar wins The Diamond Jubilee Stakes at the Royal Ascot, taking her record to 22 wins from 22 starts.
25 - Nineteen years after his parents were stabbed to death in their Sydney home, Jeffrey Gilham is acquitted of their murder. His older brother Christopher, 25, was stabbed to death in the same incident.
1 - The carbon tax comes into effect, with the $23 per tonne price on carbon emissions directly impacting on 294 electricity generators and other companies.
4 - Scientists believe they've found the "God particle" that shapes the universe. Teams of physicists from around the world, including in Melbourne, gather to hear the news released by CERN in Geneva that a particle consistent with the Higgs boson has been discovered. One excited physicist compares it to Columbus discovering America.
5 - After going to a decider, Queensland win a record seventh straight State of Origin series, downing NSW 21-20 in a nailbiter at Suncorp Stadium.
5 - Lochie Hinds, the 16-year-old from Sydney, swims the English Channel, becoming the youngest Australian to compete in the open-water swim.
13 - Australian cricket great Brett Lee retires from international matches.
27 - Olympic opening ceremony marks the start of the London Games - the 30th summer Olympic Games since 1904. Chosen as flag bearer, Lauren Jackson becomes the first woman to lead Australia's team into a summer Olympics in 20 years.
30 - President of the beleaguered HSU, Michael Williamson, resigns by text message to a senior union official, after a leaked report detailed more than $20 million of questionable payments.
13 - The federal government accepts all 22 recommendations of an expert panel on asylum seeker policy, which recommends offshore processing. Legislation passes both houses three days later.
15 - A painting by renowned Australian artist Arthur Boyd titled Bride Running Away fetches a record price of $1.68 million at auction in Melbourne.
15 - Commonwealth Bank sets a record for an Australian bank with a $7.09 billion net profit for the year to June 30.
22 - BHP Billiton scraps its $A28 billion Olympic Dam expansion in South Australia and the $A18 billion Port Hedland harbour expansion in WA, blaming low commodity prices and higher costs.
23 - Julia Gillard defends herself in an hour-long press conference against "false and highly defamatory" claims dating back 17 years, when as a lawyer at Slater & Gordon she set up a union fund for free for her then partner Bruce Wilson, who was later accused of corruption.
24 - Jayant Patel to face new trial after High Court quashed manslaughter convictions for deaths of three patients.
3 - The prime minister declares a "national crusade" to elevate the education system into the world's top five for reading, science and mathematics by 2025, from about seventh now. The plan needs an extra $6.5 billion a year, with the state and federal governments to haggle over the split.
9 - AFL and Port Adelaide player John McCarthy dies aged 22 after jumping from a building in Las Vegas. A US coroner finds his death was accidental.
14 - Asylum seekers arrive in Nauru, the first to be dealt with under the Gillard government's offshore processing scheme.
15 - Angry Islamic community members in Sydney and around the world protest against an anti-Muslim film denigrating the Prophet Mohammed. Sydney's Muslim community leaders later condemned the violence, which resulted in 11 arrests.
19 - The Abel Tasman super trawler is banned from fishing in Australian waters for two years, pending further investigations.
19 - Cory Bernardi is dumped as Tony Abbott's parliamentary secretary for suggesting legalising gay marriage could lead to a push for polygamy and bestiality. The controversial Liberal senator doesn't offer an apology.
19 - Prince William and wife Kate wrap up their tour of the Pacific with a brief stopover at Brisbane airport. It was marred by a row in Europe over topless photos taken of Kate during a holiday at a private estate in southern France.
24 - Essendon's Jobe Watson awarded the AFL's 2012 Brownlow Medal.
25 - Tasmanian timber company Gunns goes into administration and receivership. The company made a $904 million net loss in 2011/12.
27 - The body of ABC employee Jill Meagher is discovered in a shallow grave outside of Melbourne, six days after she went missing after work drinks. Three days later, an estimated 30,000 people march along the 3km stretch of Sydney Road in Melbourne where she was last seen alive.
29 - Sydney Swans beat Hawthorne in the AFL grand final.
30 - Melbourne beats the Bulldogs in the rugby league grand final.
30 - Broadcaster Alan Jones apologises after sparking outrage by telling Young Liberals that Julia Gillard's father "died of shame". His comments spark outrage and lead to political tension.
4 - Police lay more than 20 charges against former Health Services Union president Michael Williamson over allegations he hindered their investigation into the union.
4 - Four Australian-Italian girls are removed from their mother in Queensland and sent to their father in Italy after a bitter international custody battle that began in 2010.
9 - Peter Slipper resigns from his role as parliamentary Speaker after just 11 months in the job, over offensive text messages. Labor's Anna Burke subsequently becomes the third Speaker in three years.
9 - In a blistering attack in parliament, Julia Gillard accused Tony Abbott of being sexist and misogynistic. The next day, prime minister's parliamentary "smackdown" goes viral, making news around the world and dominating social media trends.
12 - The 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, 88 of them Australian, is remembered.
16 - The man at the centre of the Gangnam Style craze, 34-year-old Korean rapper Psy, arrives in Australia. By the end of the year Google says he is Australia's highest-trending search term.
18 - Australia wins a seat on the United Nations Security Council after a four-year campaign.
24 - The Queen extends Governor-General Quentin Bryce's five-year term by another six months to March 2014.
28 - The Australia in the Asian Century White Paper is launched, particularly highlights the opportunities to come from selling quality goods and services to a growing Asian urban middle class.
1 - Australian soldier Daniel Keighran is awarded the nation's highest military honour, the Victoria Cross, for exceptional bravery on the battlefield in 2010. Seven Australian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in 2012.
1 - Star rugby league convert Israel Folau confirms he will leave the AFL after played 13 games in the Greater Western Sydney's debut AFL season.
12 - It's announced a royal commission into the handling of child sexual abuse by religious and other organisations will be appointed by the end of the year.
13 - The sun disappears over large areas of northern Australia in the first total eclipse seen in the country since 2002.
21 - The first group of asylum seekers, including children, are transferred from Australia to Papua New Guinea's remote Manus Island.
22 - The first Murray Darling Basin plan for Australia is signed into law by Federal Environmental Minister Tony Burke.
22 - Australia cricket captain Michael Clarke hits a double ton for the fourth time in a year, the first cricketer in Test history to do so.
22 - Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer quits the Liberal-National Party, where he was a life member.
29 - The first legislative step towards establishing a National Disability Insurance Scheme is launched by the prime minister.
1 - In a world first, mandatory plain-packaging on tobacco products comes into force in the form of unattractive olive-brown packs.
3 - Ricky Ponting plays his last game for Australia as South Africa form a guard of honour to farewell him. He notches up 13,378 Test runs at an average of 51.8 over his career.
4 - St James's Palace announces that Prince William and his wife Catherine are expecting their first baby. The Duchess of Cambridge had been admitted to the King Edward VII Hospital in central London that afternoon with acute morning sickness.
5 - Hundreds of mourners farewell renowned Australian author Bryce Courtenay at his funeral service in Sydney.
10 - 2Day FM presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian apologise for a telephone prank linked to the death of British nurse Jacintha Saldanha. They had called the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was a patient and had been put through to a nurse.
11 - The year ends in a two-point primary vote lift for Labor and a one-point gain for the coalition in the final Newspoll for 2012. The coalition's primary vote ticks up to 46 per cent, which would give it a clear election win, to Labor's 32 per cent. Ms Gillard, however, leads Mr Abbott 43-34 per cent as preferred prime minister.
12 - The sexual harassment claim against former speaker Peter Slipper is dismissed, with the judge describing it as a "political attack".
13 - Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes lands in Sydney, after being extradited from London, to answer child sex abuse allegations dating back to the 1980s.
18 - A memorial service is held for Dame Elisabeth Murdoch at St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne with tributes paid about her countless good works during her 103-year life.
19 - The prime minister says she will formally apologise to victims of past forced adoption practices in March next year. A senate inquiry had recommended the apology after about 150,000 unwed mothers had their babies taken against their will between the 1950s and 1970s.
20 - The federal government concedes it's unlikely to deliver on its promised budget surplus this financial year, in the wake of a big drop in tax revenues.
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JULIA GILLARD. Defeated Kevin Rudd's leadership challenge and kept her minority government afloat despite losing a speaker and an MP. Toughed it out in the face of poor opinion polls, a fractious cabinet and relentless opposition attacks over her activities as a lawyer in the 1990s.
BOB CARR. Plucked from political retirement and parachuted into the Senate in the plum post of foreign minister in an upshot of Labor's leadership wars.
GINA RINEHART. Skyrocketed to the top as the richest Australian and the world's richest woman. Rinehart almost trebled her mining fortune in one year to $29 billion, growing richer by $1m every half-hour, though falling commodity prices have since eroded that.
THE CHAMBERLAINS. Finally got the piece of paper that declared they had nothing to do with the disappearance of their baby Azaria near Uluru in 1980. A death certificate stated a dingo took their daughter after all, despite Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton spending three years behind bars for murder.
SALLY PEARSON. Australia's golden girl of the 2012 London Olympics, winning her hurdle sprint by two-hundredths of a second. Anything less than perfection would not have been good enough. She delivered.
MICHAEL CLARKE. Married model Kyly Boldy in a secret ceremony in the Blue Mountains, then batted like Bradman, becoming the first Test cricketer to notch four double-hundreds in a calendar year. A 1-0 series loss to world No 1 South Africa denied him the perfect end to the year.
GEOFFREY RUSH. The Oscar-winning actor was cast in the new and prestigious role of Australian of the year.
PRINCE WILLIAM. Australia's future king and his wife Catherine celebrated news of their first baby, who will be third in line to the British throne, though Kate entered hospital early with acute morning sickness.
JOHN HOWARD. Appointed to the Order of Merit, an exclusive club handpicked by the Queen and limited to just 24 members. The former prime minister said the rare honour had come "out of the blue".
DAVID GALLOP. Appointed to run the "sleeping giant" of Australian football, bouncing back after being forced to end a decade at the top of rugby league's administration.
CAMPBELL NEWMAN. Pulled off the most stunning victory in Queensland's political history, leading the LNP to 78 seats in the 89-seat parliament.
CHRISTINE MILNE. The long-term Australian Greens deputy took over her party's top job after BOB BROWN resigned, ending his 16-year parliamentary career.
DANIEL KEIGHRAN. Awarded the nation's highest military honour, the Victoria Cross, for exceptional bravery in Afghanistan in 2010.
COMMONWEALTH BANK. Set a record for an Australian bank with a $7.09 billion net profit for the year to June 30.
JAYANT PATEL. The former Queensland surgeon won a new trial after the High Court quashed his manslaughter convictions for the deaths of three patients.
SCHAPELLE CORBY. Granted clemency by Indonesia's president, reducing the convicted drug smuggler's 20-year prison sentence by five years.
GORDON WOOD. The late Rene Rivkin's former chauffeur walked free after three years in jail after winning an appeal over the murder of his girlfriend Caroline Byrne in 1995.
AUSTRALIA. Convincingly won a vote for a two-year stint at the world's top table, as one of 10 non-veto powers on the UN security council. Also won the right to host the powerful G20 leaders summit in Brisbane in 2014.
HOME OWNERS. Won mortgage relief as the Reserve Bank cut the cash interest rate in four stages by 1.25 percentage points to 3.00 per cent, though the commercial banks did not pass on the cuts in full.
KEVIN RUDD. Quit as foreign minister saying he no longer had the support of the prime minister or senior cabinet members, before losing a leadership challenge against Julia Gillard by 71 votes to 31. But though he denied any further leadership ambitions, Rudd supporters kept him on ice as an alternative should Ms Gillard stumble ahead of next year's federal election.
PETER SLIPPER. The controversial Liberal renegade resigned after just 11 months as Labor-nominated speaker in the House of Representatives over alleged sexual harassment of a male staffer via text messages, though a Federal Court judge later dismissed the case.
JAMES ASHBY. A judge threw out his case against Slipper as an abuse of process and said it amounted to a "political attack" against his former boss. But the saga is unfinished as Ashby plans to take his case to Fair Work Australia.
CRAIG THOMSON. Suspended from the ALP, he sits on the crossbench of federal parliament as an independent after a protracted row over alleged misuse of a union credit card when he was an official of the Health Services Union. Maintains his innocence and plans to contest civil proceedings launched by Fair Work Australia.
MICHAEL WILLIAMSON. The boss of the scandal-plagued Health Services Union quit as vice-president of Unions NSW after being charged with offences including defrauding the union of $620,000. The HSU administrator later launched legal action to recoup union funds he allegedly fraudulently obtained.
TONY ABBOTT. A Nielsen poll showed his standing with voters was the second-worst in Liberal Party history, nine points shy of Andrew Peacock's 72 per cent rating in 1984. But Abbott may get the last laugh, as polls also put the coalition ahead of Labor heading into an election year.
JULIAN ASSANGE. The Wikileaks founder lost his UK appeal against extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault investigation. He has been holed up in Ecuador's London embassy ever since after the South American nation granted him diplomatic asylum.
ANNA BLIGH. Quit politics after her Queensland Labor government's crushing defeat at the polls.
NATHAN TINKLER. The former No 1 on the BRW Young Rich list lost his private jet and helicopter, shut down his Melbourne racehorse operations and offloaded 300 of his thoroughbreds at auction as falling coal prices undermined the cash flow of his mining empire.
OLYMPIC SWIM TEAM. Suffered its lowest medal haul for 20 years at the London Olympics, and its first Games without an individual gold for 36 years. James Magnussen lost the 100m freestyle final by the narrowest margin possible, but it was the event he had made his own.
ISRAEL FOLAU. After a dismal first and only season in AFL, he broke his Greater Western Sydney contract, failed in a bid to return to his first love of rugby league, then hopped to a third code, union, for one-third of what he was being paid in Aussie Rules.
MEL GREIG and MICHAEL CHRISTIAN. The 2Day FM presenters were taken off the air over a telephone prank linked to the death of a British nurse at the hopsital caring for the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge.
MALCOLM NADEN. The most wanted man in NSW was captured by police after seven years on the run, on a private property in the state's mid north. He has been charged with the 2005 murder of a 24-year-old woman, aggravated indecent assault on a 15-year-old girl in 2004, and shooting with intent to murder a police officer in 2011.
MATTHEW MILAT. The 19-year-old relative of Belanglo Forest serial killer Ivan Milat was sentenced to a maximum 43 years jail for the axe murder of a friend.
PAUL DOUGLAS PETERS. The once high-flying businessman was sentenced to at least 10 years in jail for strapping a fake collar bomb around the neck of Sydney schoolgirl Madeleine Pulver in a bizarre botched extortion attempt.
BRENDAN SOKALUK. The former Country Fire Authority volunteer was jailed for 17 years for deliberately starting a 2009 Black Saturday bushfire that killed 10 people, destroyed 156 homes and burnt 36,000 hectares at Churchill in eastern Victoria.
ANDREW LINDBERG. The former Australian Wheat Board managing director was fined $100,000 and banned from company management for two years for failing to tell both the AWB board and the UN what he knew about bribes paid to Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime for wheat deals. Former AWB chief financial officer Paul Ingleby was fined $10,000.
DARRELL LEA. The loss-making chocolate giant went into voluntary administration, then was sold to the Quinn family, owners of Queensland-based VIP Petfoods, in a restructure that cost more than 400 jobs.
GUNNS. The Tasmanian timber company went into administration and receivership after recording a $904 million net loss in 2011/12.
AIR AUSTRALIA. The Brisbane-based budget airline went into voluntary administration under mounting debts, standing down 300 staff, leaving around 4,000 passengers stranded and owing $20 million to its biggest creditor, ANZ. (AAP)
Diana Bliss, 57, wife of businessman Alan Bond. January 28.
Bliss stood by her husband through his bankruptcy in 1992 and when he was sentenced to four years jail for fraud in 1997 in one of the biggest corporate collapses in Australian history. She visited him in prison regularly. But the successful theatre producer had been suffering a depressive illness months before she was found dead at the couple's luxury beachside home in Perth. Her 73-year-old husband later wrote that the illness "would not let her see the beauty of the world". "Her spirit and love had no bounds," he wrote. "If she could not find something good in someone, she never uttered a word against anyone."
Ian Turpie, 68, game show host. March 11.
The Melbourne-born singer, actor, radio, stage and television performer was best-known by most Australians for telling them to "come on down", as the host of TV game show The New Price is Right. The former child actor began his career at 10, and won a Logie for his show Turpie Tonight and two Penguin awards for the New Price is Right. Brother Alan Turpie likened Turpie's life to a cricket innings: "It wasn't a long, boring century. It was a quickfire 68 and a few flashy fours and some great sixes."
Margaret Whitlam, 92, swimmer, first lady. March 17.
Hailed as a feminist icon of the 1970s, Mrs Whitlam was widely recognised as one of the few prime ministerial wives to touch the Australian people independently of their husbands. The Bondi native swam breaststroke for Australia at the 1938 Empire Games, and married Gough Whitlam, later to be Labor PM in 1972, just six weeks before he was called up by the RAAF for service in WWII. Her husband's unprecedented dismissal as PM in 1975 incensed her, and she could not forgive then governor-general John Kerr. But Liberal leader Malcolm Fraser, who took over as PM, later turned from foe to friend and attended her funeral with his wife Tamie. Mrs Whitlam died one month short of celebrating her 70th wedding anniversary with Gough, who called her "the love of my life". "She was Gough's lighthouse and safe harbour," said former South Australian premier Mike Rann, "his wisest counsel, mentor to many, inspiration to thousands of Australian women."
Jim Stynes, 45, AFL legend. March 20.
The skinny Irish teenager came to Australia as an experiment and became the best player in the AFL. The 18-year-old Dubliner answered a newspaper advertisement placed by the Demons as part of their famous "Irish experiment" and after a tough apprenticeship, the ruckman made his senior debut in 1987. By the time he won the Brownlow Medal in 1991, the only winner to have been brought up outside Australia, Stynes was well into his remarkable streak of 244 consecutive games, an AFL record. The streak eventually ended in 1998 and Stynes retired after 264 games. He took over as chairman in mid-2008, a year before being diagnosed with brain cancer and initially given nine months to live. A TV documentary would show Stynes going to the extremes of drinking his own urine and having coffee enemas to help combat the disease. He was twice named Victorian of the year for his social and youth work. "What I find most amazing of all is that of all the kids from around the world we could have attracted to the game we found him, Jim Stynes," his former Melbourne teammate Gary Lyon said in a eulogy.
Lincoln Hall, 56, mountaineer. March 20.
The Canberra-born climber cheated death in 2006, stunning the world and the climbing team that found him delirious and frostbitten near the peak of Mount Everest, a day after being left for dead. Asbestos disease killed him six years later as he succumbed to mesothelioma contracted when he helped his father build cubby houses as a child. Fellow mountaineer Peter Cocker, who met Hall when he was 12 and accompanied him on his first trip to the Himalayas in 1978, said: "He was truly the coolest person you could ever be in a tight spot with. The only blessing is he went quickly. He didn't want an operation ... that's Lincoln."
Jimmy Little, 75, singer. April 2.
A member of the Yorta Yorta people, James Oswald Little was signed to Festival Records in 1956 but did not break into the top 10 until his hit Danny Boy four years later. He was influenced by Nat King Cole and Jim Reeves, and his mellow country music earned him the nicknames The Balladeer, Gentleman Jim and the Honey Voice. He was inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 1999 and later named a National Living Treasure. Little initially faced discrimination but always turned the other cheek in keeping with his Christian faith. "Jimmy Little was a man of soul, he had his country in him and he shared that with all Australians. He disarmed us, he charmed us and encouraged us to think beyond ourselves," said NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell.
Murray Rose, 73, swimmer. April 15.
English-born Rose learned to swim at the age of five at Sydney's harbourside Redleaf Pool in Double Bay. Twelve years later, the blond-haired swimmer won three gold medals at the peak of his power at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. He won another gold at Rome in 1960 to complete back-to-back 400m titles. At one stage he held the world records for 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle. Lesser known is Rose's stints in Hollywood, which included appearances in Ride the Wild Surf and Ice Station Zebra. But his movie career was not as successful as his swimming career and he eventually returned to Australia. "I think, taking into consideration the amateur era, Murray was the greatest of all time," said Australian Olympic swimming champion John Konrads.
Greg Ham, 58, musician. April 19.
At their peak, Ham's Men at Work became the first ever Australian band to have a number one album and single in both the US and the UK. But friends said Ham spiralled into depression and anxiety following a court's finding in 2010 that his signature flute riff in the band's smash hit Down Under was copied from the children's song Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree. He was found dead in his Melbourne home by friends concerned about his welfare. "We played in a band and conquered the world together. I love him very much. He's a beautiful man," said fellow band member Colin Hay, who penned a song for Ham which was performed at his funeral.
Don Ritchie, 86, Angel of The Gap. May 13.
Ritchie loved fishing, boats and the navy but it was his love of life that earned him the epithet Angel of The Gap. The 85-year-old lived just metres from Sydney's notorious Watsons Bay cliff and for half a century helped hundreds of people reconsider ending their lives. "He was a fisher of men. He threw his line out to terrified people whose lives were shattered and gradually brought them to shore," said friend and priest Father Tony Doherty.
Robin Gibb, 62, singer, musician. May 20.
Before he scaled the heights of the pop world with the 1970s Bee Gees disco hits including Stayin' Alive and Night Fever, Gibb lived briefly in Brisbane in 1958 with twin brother Maurice. He later survived a rail crash in southeast London that killed 49 people in the `70s, and lost younger brother Andy to cocaine addiction in `80s. Gibb often wondered if all the tragedies in his life were "a kind of karmic price we are paying for all the fame and fortune we've had". Gibb died after a lengthy battle with cancer. DJ Paul Gambaccini said he was talented beyond even his own understanding. "Everyone should be aware that the Bee Gees are second only to Lennon and McCartney as the most successful songwriting unit in British popular music," he said.
Barbara Holborow, 81, NSW children's magistrate. May 23.
Holborow was a magistrate, author and foster mum to eight children, but her no-nonsense approach and passionate pursuit of the rights of young people in the legal system earned her a reputation as "the children's champion". Holborow helped set up free legal aid for children, a special court for those suffering from neglect and abuse, and a special jail for first-time offenders aged 18 to 25. Long-time friend and Youth Off the Streets founder Father Chris Riley said: "She would incur the wrath of barristers and solicitors when she said to the children in front of her: `Come up here and speak to me, tell me what's going on in your life'."
Graeme Bell, 97, jazzman. June 13.
Bell was the grandfather of jazz in Australia, a pioneer who began playing in bands in 1935, and gained fame as a Dixieland and classical jazz pianist, composer and band leader. He became the first Westerner to lead a jazz band in China after the fall of the Bamboo Curtain. The Australian Jazz Awards are named after him, forever referred to as 'the Bells'.
Daniel Batman, 31, athlete, June 26.
The Sydney Olympian, a direct descendant of Melbourne's founder John Batman, was one of the top 10 fastest Aussie sprinters ever. He briefly attempted a comeback to win selection for the 2012 London Olympics. He was killed after his car hit a culvert and rolled on a Northern Territory highway. Former sprint champion Matt Shirvington, who trained with Batman for the Sydney Olympics, said his death was a massive loss for the athletics fraternity.
John Treloar, 84, athlete. July 23.
Treloar competed at the 1948 London and 1952 Helsinki Olympics, where he became the first Australian man to qualify for an Olympic 100 yard final. He finished sixth, just 0.1 seconds behind the winner, in one of the closest blanket finishes in Olympic history. Treloar won three gold medals at the 1950 Empire Games in Auckland, in the 100 and 200 yards, and the 4x100 yard relay. His son, John Treloar Jr, informed Australia of his father's death with a simple statement: "Dad passed away exactly as he ran. Quickly."
Daryl Cotton, 62, musician and actor. July 27.
The Adelaide-born pop singer was a founding member of Australian band Zoot in 1965, which also featured Rick Springfield. He embarked on a solo career in the 1970s and his most successful solo release was the 1980 hit Same Old Girl. Cotton also appeared in the television soap opera The Young Doctors and presented several TV shows during the late 1970s and early `80s. He died of liver cancer.
Adam Cullen, 47, artist. July 28.
The Blue Mountains-based artist won the 2000 Archibald prize with his portrait of actor David Wenham. He gained some notoriety with his painting of images that included dead cats, bloodied kangaroos, headless women and punk men. As well as being an entrant in this year's Archibald, Cullen was a subject, shown holding a gun in Paul Ryan's Cullen - Been Feudin. It was possibly a reference to Cullen's run-in with the law over firearms found in his car in a drink-driving episode in November 2011. His lawyer told a court Cullen suffered from bipolar disorder and had serious physical and mental health problems.
Robert Hughes, 74, art critic. August 6.
The Australian-born writer, whom The New York Times once proclaimed the world's most famous art critic, began writing about art in the 1960s. He moved to New York after he was headhunted by Time magazine in 1970 to be their art critic. Hughes' relationship with Australia was often strained. "You can tow Australia out to sea and sink it for all I care," he once said. He later recanted the statement and objected to his reputation as a racist and elitist bully. "I don't mind being an elitist bully, but I do mind being a racist." Liberal frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull, who is married to Hughes' niece Lucy, posted on Twitter: "Farewell my dear old mate. Rest in peace."
John Gillard, 83, father of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. September 8.
A long-standing supporter of the union movement, John Gillard grew up in a coal mining village in Wales and left school at 14. He worked as a psychiatric nurse in South Australia after he moved his young family to Adelaide in 1966. Prime Minister Julia Gillard was in Vladivostok, Russia, for the APEC summit when she learned her father had died. She quoted Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in an emotional tribute to her father in Parliament, "Do not go gentle into that good night."
John McCarthy, 22, AFL player. September 9.
The Port Adelaide footballer died tragically from injuries sustained while trying to jump from the roof of a Las Vegas casino to a nearby palm tree. McCarthy had been with 10 other Port players on an end-of-season trip but became separated from teammates at a nightclub. More than 1000 mourners attended the former Collingwood player's funeral in his Victorian seaside home town of Sorrento. "He loved his friends. He loved his teammates. He just generated love," said his mother.
Bryce Courtenay, 79, author. November 22.
The South African-born author became Australia's biggest-selling novelist of the past 20 years, selling more than 20 million books worldwide. The former advertising creative wrote his first and most successful novel, The Power of One, late at age 56. His output was commended by colleagues and publishers alike, penning and delivering at least one book a year. His last was released a week before his death and accompanied by a message on Facebook thanking readers for their loyalty. Fellow Australian author Fiona McIntosh said he was "a man of the people". "He's not too busy, he's not too big, he's not too arrogant to talk to - whether you're a reader, not a reader, he is a man of the people who consistently offered escapism."
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, 103, philanthropist. December 6.
Wife of media baron Sir Keith Murdoch and mother of Rupert, Dame Elisabeth touched thousands of people with her generosity, particularly for the arts, children and medicine. "Many thanks for condolences about my Mum. A great lady, wife, mother and citizen," tweeted News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch. Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu called her a "beacon of love and Victoria's guardian angel". Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: "Her example of kindness, humility and grace was constant. She was not only generous, she led others to generosity."
Tony Charlton, 83, broadcaster. December 17.
Charlton was the first broadcaster to call a televised game of Australian football, a VFL match in 1957 for Channel Seven. A year earlier he had worked for Channel Nine at the first major TV event in Australia, Melbourne's 1956 Olympic Games. Turning later to his favourite game, golf, he was promoter and tournament director of the Australian Open, the PGA Championship and the Victorian Open from 1970 to 1983. Charlton was awarded an AM and an OAM, inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and the AFL Hall of Fame, and given the Order of Merit from both the Australian Olympic Committee and the Melbourne Cricket Club. He was also a restaurateur and a pilot. (AAP)