||Federation and Meteorology
Table of Contents
George Grant Bond
Register of Marks
Chapter 7 (continued)
In early 1920, a concrete suggestion to improve the situation was reported in the press. 'Captain Rhodes, Harbour Master at Rockhampton, has issued a circular in which he urges the establishment of an observation station on the Willis Group of islands300 miles off the north Queensland coast'. George Bond in Brisbane, struggling through yet another summer of cyclone and flood worries, was quick to support the idea, and to present it through the proper channels to Head Office. A little later the Observer reported that the President of the Townsville Chamber of Commerce had telegraphed the Minister for Home and Territories as follows: 'The SS Bingera left Brisbane, and at 11-30 pm was dangerously situated in the centre of a cyclone. Had a meteorological station been established in the Willis Group, reliable information, giving twelve hours warning, would have delayed the vessel. This Chamber implores and urges immediate consideration of the establishment of this meteorological station'.
The approach of the cyclone season of the next year brought the first indication to the public that the Commonwealth Bureau in Melbourne was giving serious consideration to the proposal. 'Two important proposals have been drawn up by the Federal Government', reported the Courier in August 1921. 'A Meteorological Reporting Station is being considered for the largest island in the Willis Group. The island is only 30 feet above sea-level at its highest point, and uninhabited, and there is some concern that a cyclonic sea might swamp it'. (However, it was later considered safe, because of the longstanding vegetation on the island.) 'A trial station is to be set up, and if satisfactory, is to be made permanent. A similar station is to be set up on Lord Howe Island, 200 miles east of Port Macquarie'.
A few months later, the press reported that Captain Rhodes of the Pilot Service, Mr McDonald, a radio engineer, and a member of the Townsville Chamber of Commerce, were duly transported to Willis Island, returning a week later with a favourable report. In September of the same year, came the welcome news that the Federal Government had approved the proposal for a trial period, and that a Meteorological Station with wireless transmitting and receiving facilities would be in place for the next cyclone season. In announcing the news, the Courier stated, 'It is understood that the credit for suggesting Willis Island as a wireless base and also for persistently advocating its establishment, is due in large measure to the State Meteorologist, Mr G. G. Bond'. Captain Rhodes obviously should have received the credit for the first part of the statement (as a later letter to the Editor pointed out), but George Bond was certainly its strongest advocate, not surprisingly, in view of his summertime cyclone problems, and the criticism that came his way.
In November of 1921 came the report of the first radio-telegram from Willis Island, 'which was hailed with the liveliest satisfaction by the State Meteorologist'. It gave atmospheric pressure, air temperature, and direction and force of the wind, and reports would be sent three-hourly in the summer months. 'This will be of enormous help in monitoring cyclonic developments in the Coral Sea', said Mr Bond.
People in Bright Sparcs - Bond, George Grant
© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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