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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

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Royal Society of Victoria



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Royal Society of Victoria (continued)

Following the death of Baron Sir Ferdinand von Mueller in 1896, the question of a permanent memorial to his memory was discussed. Co-operation was immediately offered to the Royal Society of Victoria by the Royal Society of Tasmania and the Royal Geographical Society of Australia. As a result, the Mueller Medal was founded, the first award being made in 1904 to A. W. Howitt, the noted explorer and anthropologist and a member of the Society. Howitt, then an old man and in failing health, received the award at a joint meeting held with the Field Naturalists Club.

The earlier interest of the Society in the reservation of Wilson's Promontory as a national park was reviewed in 1904 when it was reported that the Lands department was proposing to throw open this area in 1,000 acre blocks for grazing purposes. It was immediately decided that a joint deputation from the Field Naturalists Club and the Royal Society should wait on the Minister for Lands to protest at this proposal. This deputation brought a rapid response as, in the Government Gazette for 8 March 1905, the permanent reservation of 75,000 acres there as a site for a national park was gazetted. It was felt later that this area was not enough, and that portions of the narrow neck of the isthmus should also be reserved. In this the government finally agreed—a total reservation of 103,000 acres resulting in the formation of the magnificent national park we know today.

Early in 1907, a request was received from the Federal Meteorological Bureau in Melbourne that the triangular piece of land at the east end of the Society's grounds be placed at the disposal of the Department of Home Affairs for meteorological purposes. After ascertaining from the Lands department that there was no obstacle in the way of the Society leasing portion of their area, provided it was for scientific purposes, an agreement was entered into with the Federal department that the area in question would be available to them for £50 per annum. It was a suggestion from the government at the same time that any such moneys received should be kept in a separate account, and devoted solely to the improvement of the Society's buildings and land. Thus was established a weather station which for over 50 years has kept daily recordings of the meteorology of Melbourne.

A proposal which had been under consideration for some time that there be no distinction between members and associates, that all be treated as 'members', and that the annual subscription be fixed at £1.1.0, was finally abandoned in 1907. It was hoped to attract more members in this way, but it was found that the state of the Society's finances was such that the proposal was impracticable.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Bureau of Meteorology

People in Bright Sparcs - Howitt, Alfred William; Mueller, Dr Ferdinand

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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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