Inter Club – 12 June 2019

Speaker Jacki Hill-Murphy MA, FRGS


Is an explorer, teacher, film maker and speaker and has spent the past few years exploring and filming some of the most inhospitable and remote places on earth. There are many reasons why she loves  being an explorer including gathering memorable experiences that last forever recorded on film and in writing, pushing herself to the limit and being loosed from her cultural moorings. Her first major expedition was in 1988 when she crossed Africa via the Sahara Desert and West Africa, she has since been to South America, Africa, India, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Russia and lived in Turkey and the United States. Jacki’s favourite quote is: “Off the beaten track is the real world” Isabella Bird.

She has journeyed to some of the more inhospitable territories on earth. She did this while sure-footedly retracing the steps of some of the most gutsy, fearless and awe-inspiring female pioneers that most of us have never heard of. The Englishwoman has adventure  tales to tell, and was the  keynote speaker at this year’s Immrama Festival of Travel Writing in Co Waterford’s Lismore.

She’s no stranger to escapades: She climbed the Digar-La in India, just as the adventurer Isabella Bird did in the 1890s. She reached the 13,255ft summit of Mount Cameroon, just as ethnographer Mary Kingsley did around the same time.

She crossed Siberia, because that’s what missionary, voyager and nurse-friend of the leprosy community Kate Marsden did in Victorian times. She travelled the length of the Amazon River, often via dugout canoe with piranha swimming beneath. She did that because Isabel Godin did it in the 18th century, when she was the only survivor of a 4,800km expedition through the Amazon Basin. Of all of the female explorers whose footsteps she has retraced, Hill-Murphy feels closest to Mary Kingsley.

Admitting she sometimes feels Kingsley’s spirit around her, she says: “I think we’d get on well. Also, when I was 29, I lived around the corner from where she lived at that age, roughly 100 years earlier.”