Hilbert van Dijk was born on 24 September 1918 in the Netherlands, and he grew up in Amsterdam. He learned to fence at a young age and became one of the top epee fencers in the country, consistently ranked among the top six.
Van Dijk immigrated to Australia in 1948, and within weeks of his arrival, he joined the Swords Club and won the New South Wales foils and epee championships. He went on to win the first national titles in foils and epee at the inaugural championships of the Australian Fencing Association in 1949. He won the national title in epee a second time, and he also won the New South Wales foils championship twice and the New South Wales epee championship in five consecutive years from 1949 to 1953.
In addition to his fencing achievements, Van Dijk became a member of the New South Wales Olympic Council and was involved in promoting the sport of fencing in Australia.
In August 1953, Van Dijk married Mahdi Browning, a descendant of the English poet Robert Browning and niece of the novelist Daphne du Maurier. The couple had two children, Marguerite and Hil, and lived in Strathfield for many years.
After the 1956 Summer Olympics, where he captained the team épée, Van Dijk joined Richard James Vandyke in the real estate company Vandyke and Vandyke in Strathfield, New South Wales. He used his business partner’s spelling of his surname for the company, rather than his own.
Van Dijk passed away on 10 November 2001 in Sydney, Australia, at the age of 83. His son Hil Van Dyk is an artist and is also based in Sydney.