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Science and the making of VictoriaRoyal Society of Victoria
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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



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Royal Society of Victoria (continued)

The final organization of the expedition was quickly accomplished, and after a careful and thorough briefing, the party departed from Royal Park, Melbourne, on 20 August 1860 in the presence of a large number of people, including the Mayor of Melbourne, Dr Richard Eades, who was also vice-president of the Royal Society.

Two nights previously, on 18 August, a special meeting of the Society had been called, the main business being to take leave of the exploring party and to read and sign the Memorandum of Agreement between the exploration committee of the Royal Society of Victoria and the several persons forming the exploration party. This set out fully the right of succession as leader of the party and the rates of pay of individual members of the party.

The story of the progress and ultimate fate of this exploration party need not be considered here, except to say that the Society received regular reports on its progress and, in spite of adverse public criticism, did all in its power, as was shown later, to provide assistance when disaster overcame it. The untimely death early in the expedition of Dr Ludwig Becker, the artist and naturalist, was greatly lamented by the Royal Society, as Becker not only had been a very early member of the Society but had contributed greatly, by papers and discussions, to its progress. The safe return of John King, the sole survivor, was made the occasion for a special commemorative meeting of the Society, when a gold watch, a gift from the Royal Geographical Society of England, was presented to him.

The government now agreed to provide a National Observatory amalgamating under one roof the Magnetic Observatory from Flagstaff Hill and the Astronomical Observatory at Williamstown; a new site to the north-west of the Botanic Gardens was chosen, which, because of its commanding situation and the absence of buildings, lent itself admirably for such a purpose. Thus came into active being, in 1863, through the initiative and drive of the Royal Society, a major scientific institution which, for nearly 100 years, was to serve in a very distinguished manner the scientific life of Australia.

People in Bright Sparcs - Becker, Ludwig; Eades, Dr Richard

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Pescott, R. T. M. 1961 'The Royal Society of Victoria from then, 1854 to now, 1959', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, vol. 73, no. 7, pp. 1-40.

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