Page 827
Previous/Next Page
Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
Table of Contents

Origins of Australian Meteorology



The Origins of Australian Meteorology
FitzRoy and Maury
Thomas Brisbane
Phillip Parker King
Charles Todd
Ellery and Neumayer
Henry Chamberlain Russell
Clement Wragge
The International Scene
The End of the Beginning

Appendix 1: Chronological Chart of Early Meteorologists



Contact us

The End of the Beginning

Federation of the States in 1901 when the Constitution came into force was the end of an era in Australian meteorology. As previously mentioned the colonial meteorologists had met in Sydney in 1879 and in Melbourne in 1881 and 1888.

After Federation representatives of the individual States met to decide how the provisions of the Constitution should be effected. Various proposals were discussed with respect to meteorology and a Bill to establish a Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology was debated in August 1906. Mr Groom, Minister for Home Affairs, reported that the representatives of States considered that the States should retain the operational responsibility while a central institution should be responsible for theoretical and scientific meteorology. The board of visitors of the Melbourne Observatory believed that one Federal Bureau of Meteorology should be created, controlled by a meteorologist of high standing. Wragge's letters to the Pastoralists Review, quoted by Groom, also recommended one Federal Bureau of Meteorology separated from astronomical work. Parliament so resolved. The second reading debate of the original Meteorology Act occupies 26 pages of Hansard. The 1955 debate on the revised Meteorology Act occupies five pages.

These were the origins of Australian meteorology. In just over 100 years the first European settlers, in establishing an infant nation in a somewhat harsh and unfamiliar environment had found time to set up a meteorological service which made observations over an area larger than the whole of Europe, which provided forecasts, which issued daily isobaric charts and which accumulated a significant bank of meteorological data. Nearly all of the colonial meteorologists had other duties. Most were Government Astronomers and in addition Todd was Postmaster-General of South Australia. In addition to the great labour of establishing and maintaining a network of meteorological stations, organising collection by telegraph of the reports, preparing charts and issuing forecasts, they were also able to find time to investigate the scientific aspects of the atmosphere in this region. The early meteorological records and their published papers remain a monument to their efforts and an inspiration to all Australian meteorologists who follow them.

People in Bright Sparcs - Todd, Charles; Wragge, Clement Lindley

Previous Page Bureau of Meteorology Next Page

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

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher