||Science and the making of Victoria
Table of Contents
Royal Society of Victoria 1854-1959
Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science
Philosophical Society of Victoria
Philosophical Institute of Victoria
Royal Society of Victoria
Royal Society of Victoria (continued)
Although some years had elapsed since the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition, no strong move within the Society had been made for further exploration until 1886, when a committee was set up by the Royal Society, in association with the Geographical Society of Australia, to consider the question of 'Antarctic Exploration'. For a number of years, European countries had been very active in the field of Arctic research, particularly in the establishment of meteorological and astronomical observation stations, and attempts had been made with similar ideas for the Antarctic. The committee pointed out that, as it was nearly 50 years since the last expedition was despatched to Antarctica, it was time that another scientific expedition be organized and despatched.
The Society had had some contact with polar exploration as, in 1874, during the visit of the Challenger to Melbourne after it had crossed the Antarctic Circle and closely approached what is now known as Princess Elizabeth Land, Professor Wyville Thompson, the scientific leader of the expedition, was made an honorary life member of the Society, and a set of the Proceedings donated to the library of the expedition.
It is perhaps well to consider in some details the early work of this committee, as Antarctic exploration was to play a prominent part in the life of the Society in latter years. The committee consulted a number of interested bodies both in Australia and overseas and, in addition, enlisted the sympathy of appropriate governments. It was felt that, provided a suitable steam vessel was available, no great difficulties were likely to be encountered, while the harvest of scientific results that could be reaped by such an expedition would most probably be high, and substantial advantage of a commercial nature might well be secured.
The representatives of the Royal Society, which included, among others, the president. Professor Kernot, and the Government Astronomer, Mr Ellery, met with the members of the Geographical Society on eight separate occasions during 1886 and 1887 and, after exhaustive enquiries throughout the world, produced a series of 23 recommendations which were forwarded to the Honourable the Premier of Victoria for his consideration. From these recommendations, the following warrant special consideration:
People in Bright Sparcs - Burke, Robert O'Hara; Ellery, Robert Lewis John; Kernot, William Charles; Wills, William John
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