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Table of Contents

Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service




Chapter 1: Growing Up
Early Australian Meteorologists
Early Days in the Bureau
Forecasters' Training Course
My Classmates
Reorganisation of the Bureau
Love and Marriage

Chapter 2: Port Moresby Before Pearl Harbour

Chapter 3: Port Moresby After Pearl Harbour

Chapter 4: Allied Air Force HQ and RAAF Command, Brisbane

Chapter 5: Japan Surrenders and We Are Demobilised



Appendix 1: References

Appendix 2: Milestones

Appendix 3: Papers Published in Tropical Weather Research Bulletins

Appendix 4: Radiosonde Observations 1941–46


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Early Australian Meteorologists

At this stage of my reminiscences it might be useful to examine the history of the NSW Divisional Office which was located on Observatory Hill adjacent to the southern approach to the harbour bridge. This was an historic meteorological site. Lt William Dawes of the Royal Marines had established a primitive astronomical and meteorological observatory in July 1788 near the present position of the south-east pylon of the harbour bridge and not far from where the Divisional Office was located in 1939.

Soon after his arrival in the Colony of New South Wales, in November 1821, Governor Thomas Brisbane erected an astronomical and meteorological observatory on a hill behind the governor's residence at Parramatta, 24km west of Sydney. After Brisbane's departure in 1825 the Parramatta Observatory became neglected and was finally closed in 1840.

In 1859, following a great deal of local discussion and lengthy correspondence with the authorities in London, the Sydney Astronomical and Meteorological Observatory was constructed on what then became known as Observatory Hill. The site of the Observatory, now preserved as a museum, is on the summit of the hill, west of the southern approach to the harbour bridge and no more than 600 metres south-west of the site of Dawes' observatory.

Earlier names of the site were Windmill Hill in the 1790s, Fort Phillip or Citadel Hill from 1804 and Flagstaff Hill from 1817 to 1860. Actually the hill had been used for flag and semaphore signalling from the 1790s and the signal station remained adjacent to and east of the Observatory.

H. C. Russell, Australian-born and a graduate of the University of Sydney, was employed as a computer in the Observatory in 1859 and was appointed Government Astronomer of the Colony of NSW in 1870, continuing in that position until his retirement in 1905. He made many significant contributions to the science and practice of meteorology in the colony.

People in Bright Sparcs - Dawes, William; Russell, Henry Chamberlain

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Gibbs, W. J. 1995 'A Glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service', Metarch Papers, No. 7 March 1995, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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