If you could invite anyone - from any period in history - to Christmas dinner, who would it be?
Would you discuss Victorian opera with Dame Nellie Melba over peaches and icecream, or quiz Bennelong about his life, or wax lyrical over politics with the late Gough Whitlam?
Choose your ideal guestlist from our suggestions below, or let us know who you would rather have over to dinner in the comments section. We can't wait to see your lists!
Captain James Cook – explorer and navigator who made the first recorded European contact with the east coast of Australia.
Don Bradman – legendary Australian cricketer, and one of the most skilled sportspeople to have ever played.
Ned Kelly – one of the most iconic figures of Australian history, Ned Kelly was a 19th-century bushranger whom many regard as a hero who fought against the British authorities’ oppression of Irish-Australians, while others view him as an outlaw murderer.
Nancy Wake – a New Zealand-Australian journalist who was a French Resistance leader in World War Two, hunted by the Nazis as the ‘White Mouse’.
Ludwig Leichhardt – a German-born explorer who vanished on an expedition somewhere in the Queensland outback in 1848
Matthew Brady – the little-known ‘Gentleman Bushranger’ from 19th-century Tasmania, a Manchester-born convict-come-bushranger who had a reputation for robbing his victims politely, and never robbing or causing harm to women. Upon his capture (and execution), his cell was reportedly filled with flowers sent by Tasmanian women.
Daisy Bates – an Australian journalist and anthropologist who devoted 40 years of her life to studying Australian Aboriginal culture and customs, and working for their welfare by setting up camps to care for transient Indigenous peoples.
Dame Nellie Melba – Australia’s most famous opera singer, who became one of the best-known sopranos of the Victorian era and performed around the world
Arthur Phillip – the first Governor of the colony of New South Wales who established the settlement of what later became Sydney at Port Jackson after the long voyage on the First Fleet
Bennelong – an Indigenous man from the Sydney region who was kidnapped by Governor Phillip and kept by him to learn more about the culture and language of Indigenous people; the pair later became friends (although Bennelong reportedly orchestrated the Governor’s later non-fatal spearing attack in what is believed to have been a ritualised payback). He was the first Aboriginal man to travel to England, where he reportedly charmed high society.
Caroline Chisholm – a 19th-century philanthropist who set up various homes and care centres to assist emigrants to Australia; it is believed she helped place more than 11,000 people in jobs and homes during her seven years in Australia.
Oodgeroo Noonuccal (formerly Kath Walker) – poet, activist, artist and the first Indigenous Australian to publish a book of verse
Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith – world-renowned aviation pioneer who disappeared during a record-breaking long distance flight attempt in 1935
Gough Whitlam – either the best or the worst Australian Prime Minister ever, depending on your politics, who died in October this year – his well-known charm and legendary wit would make him a worthwhile dinner companion no matter where you sit on the political spectrum
Anna Pavlova – the world-famous Russian ballerina toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s; perhaps an even more welcome inclusion at the Christmas dinner table would be the scrumptious fruit-and-meringue dessert named in her honour. Whether the Pavlova originated in Australia or New Zealand remains a heated point of contention between the two countries even today.
Julius Caesar - Roman general and stateman widely considered to be one of the greatest military commanders in history.
William Shakespeare - the 16th century English poet, playwright and actor, widely acknowledged as the greatest English language writer.
Marilyn Monroe - the American actress and model, who starred in a number of films in the 1950s and 60s and became famous for her sultry beauty and hourglass figure.
Oscar Wilde - the 19th century Irish writer, poet, playwright and wit.
Sir Richard Francis Burton - the English explorer, geographer, writer, translater, spy, poet, diplomat and soldier (among many others). He explored the world, and was - apparently - able to speak 29 languages.
Emmeline Pankhurst - leader of the British suffragette movement, who helped women win the right to vote through political activism.