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Biographical entry Leahy, Michael James (Mick) (1901 - 1979)


26 February 1901
Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
7 March 1979
Zenag, Papua New Guinea


Mick Leahy was an explorer who published widely about, photographed and filmed many of his travels. Although born in Australia, but spent most of his adult life in Papua New Guinea. He worked as a railway clerk, a freelance timber cutter, as a manager in the construction industry and as a prospector before carrying out major explorations of Papua New Guinea. He was one of the first Europeans to reach many areas and to discover and climb the country's tallest mountain – Mount Giluwe (1934). However, Jack Hides had also laid claim to be the first to discover Mount Giluwe, so Leahy went to England in 1935 and forced the Royal Geographical Society to set up a hearing into the two opposing claims. The following year Mick Leahy was awarded at grant from the Society and published his discoveries in their journal. He also joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a flight lieutenant and was assigned to the US chief engineer to build an airstrip in Telefomin. Leahy was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), made an honorary member of the US Explorers' Club (1959) and was awarded the US Medal of Freedom with bronze palm.



Career position - First European (with Michael Dwyer) to visit the Gafuku valley of New Guinea
Career position - Stakeholder of New Guinea Goldfields Ltd.
Career position - Expeditions through New Guinea to areas including the Wahgi-Nebilyer divide and Mount Hagen
Career position - Expeditions throughout New Guinea and climbed Mount Giluwe, the countries highest peak
Career position - Went to England for the Royal Geographical Society hearing over the discovery of Mount Giluwe and other landmarks
Award - Murchison grant received from the Royal Geographical Society
Award - US Medal of Freedom - bronze palm received
Award - Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Career position - Honorary member of the US Explorers' Club
Award - Explorers' medal received from the US Explorers' Club
Career position - First Contact the award-winning film of his travels produced

Archival resources

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Michael James Leahy - Records, 1930 - 1934, MS 384; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

Published resources

Book Sections


McCarthy, G.J.