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Origins of Australian Meteorology



The Origins of Australian Meteorology

Appendix 1: Chronological Chart of Early Meteorologists



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Preface (continued)

One significant source which was not available when the Meteorological Note was published in 1975 was the result of the research by McAfee (1978, 1981) into the work of Lieutenant William Dawes in establishing, in 1788, an astronomical and meteorological observatory on a site in the immediate vicinity of the spot where the south-east pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge now stands. After a dispute with Governor Phillip, Dawes returned to England in December 1891, the observational program being discontinued and the observatory falling into disrepair.

Other significant sources of new or additional information are the report on Sydney Observatory by J. S. Kerr (1991) and other material, some unpublished, stored in the archives of the Sydney Observatory (now a museum). An example of the interesting information in these archives is that H. C. Russell was 23 when he was first employed at the Sydney observatory as a computer. Another intriguing piece of information in newspaper clippings in the observatory archives is an account of an attempt on Russell's, life in 1877. A small but deadly explosive device was sent to him by mail. On opening the package he was only saved from serious injury when the mechanism malfunctioned.

Windows on Meteorology: Australian Perspective, edited by Eric Webb, will soon be published by CSIRO Publications as the result of an AMOS initiative. This volume will contain an article by me entitled 'A mini-History of Meteorology in Australia' which has been pre-printed by AMOS (see Gibbs, 1996). My paper contains further information on Australian meteorology in the nineteenth century including that from the journal of Matthew Flinders (1814).

Papers by Gibbs (1952, 1983) and Priestley (1982) describe some of the more recent history and supplement Gentilli's paper (1967) which contains a wealth of references in its bibliography. A recent welcome addition is the report on the history of the Department of Meteorology of the University of Melbourne by U. Radok (1993). A further contribution will appear as Metarch Papers No. 13 which sketches a history of the Bureau from 1946–62.

Recent interest in the early history of meteorology in Australia is not surprising. The stories of the young colonial meteorologists—Todd, Ellery, Neumayer, Russell, Wragge and others of that period— are full of excitement and achievement.

W. J. Gibbs

June 1998

People in Bright Sparcs - Dawes, William; Ellery, Robert Lewis John; Flinders, Matthew; Neumayer, Georg Balthazar; Priestley, Charles Henry Brian (Bill); Russell, Henry Chamberlain; Todd, Charles; Wragge, Clement Lindley

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Gibbs, W. J. 1998 'The Origins of Australian Meteorology', Metarch Papers, No. 12 June 1998, Bureau of Meteorology

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