A climate for a nation

forecast: 1 January 1901

The day had been hot, the air hung ‘heavy and dead’; but as evening approached, ‘ominous-looking clouds’ swept over the city, and a thundery change seemed imminent. On this, the last day of the nineteenth century, as Australia prepared to celebrate its birth as a nation, the people of Sydney looked to the weather. ‘The keenest dread is that Proclamation Day will be wet’, the Age reported, ‘“Will it rain?” is the question in everybody’s mouth’.1

The storm broke shortly after 7 o’clock. Fierce winds and heavy rains battered the city’s festive finery, toppling some flags and hoardings, and making ‘rather a sorry sight’ of the buntings. As drizzle continued on into the night, the Government Astronomer, H.C. Russell, offered calm reassurance: ‘Prospects are strongly in favor of fine weather for our natal day’.2

Despite Russell’s confident prediction, 1 January 1901 dawned uncertain. ‘Overhanging clouds and portending thunder’ threatened to mar the procession that was assembling in the Domain. But just before the parade marched off on its triumphant journey towards the inauguration ceremony, the cloud cover began to break. Suddenly, the sun ‘burst forth’, flooding the scene with new colour and life: ‘His beams were never before half so welcome’, remarked the Age. Soon, an ‘invigorating southerly breeze’ arose, rustling the banners and the flags, freshening the air. The weather, it seemed, had succumbed to the sense of occasion. ‘The new nation was awakening’, the Age continued, ‘and with it inanimate nature was springing into renewed beauty and life’.3

The sun played the part scripted for it in many of the celebratory odes that heralded the achievement of Federation.4 The rising sun symbolised Australia’s youth, opportunity and integrity. But if the sun’s finely-timed appearance seemed portentous, its performance was perhaps a little overdone. By midday its rays were beating down on the closely packed crowds ‘with terrific intensity’.5 Sixteen soldiers collapsed due to the heat.6 Moreover, in a continent that had yet to emerge from a long and terrible drought, a blazing sun might equally symbolise lost hopes, failures, and ragged, desolate dreams.

Optimism that Australia’s ‘empty lands’ would readily fall to the plough was blunted by the long drought of the 1890s.7 Nonetheless, expectations remained strong. The new nation’s destiny was still imagined to lie somewhere amidst its ‘vast spaces’, but this destiny was as much of a challenge as it was a gift. If the land was to be won, its character had to be known, its climate understood, its extremes predicted and moderated. While all of the colonies maintained meteorological services, mostly staffed by astronomers like Russell, the value of cooperation and coordination was clear.8 When the constitution of the new nation was framed, astronomy and meteorology were the only fields of scientific endeavour in which the Commonwealth sought power to legislate.9 More than just a matter of efficiency, meteorology offered itself as a tool to the eager nation builders.

climates of opinion

It was with considerable satisfaction that Littleton Groom rose to address the House of Representatives on 1 August 1906.10 As the member for Darling Downs, Groom had been alarmed by the closure of the Queensland Weather Bureau in 1902, and had urged the Commonwealth to exercise its constitutional powers by establishing a Federal Bureau.11 In the years that followed, Groom urged and urged again, taking the matter up with Prime Ministers Barton, Deakin and Watson.12 But on 1 August 1906, he was no longer demanding action. As Minister for Home Affairs in the Deakin Protectionist government, it was Groom who finally introduced legislation to create a federal meteorological department.13

In his speech, Groom emphasised the value of accurate weather information for primary producers and shipping. National coordination offered improvements in efficiency and accuracy, but also, he noted, the opportunity for ‘a proper study of climatic conditions… which are of importance in considering the suitability of certain localities for settlement and development’. ‘Under a Federal system’, Groom continued, ‘we hope to become thoroughly acquainted with the climatic conditions of the continent’.14 Groom wanted more than just efficiency; he imagined the Commonwealth Bureau as just one component in a system of institutions and legislation that would foster the settlement of Australia’s ‘empty spaces’.15 Speaking on the Commonwealth takeover of the Northern Territory in 1909, Groom remarked: ‘We are every year acquiring a better knowledge of our natural conditions and a better understanding of the laws of production’. Through the work of institutions such as the Bureau of Meteorology, Groom believed that ‘much of the land that is now despised will ultimately become very productive’.16

The Bureau’s climatological research effort was bolstered when Griffith Taylor was appointed as ‘physiographer’ in 1910, although he promptly left for the Antarctic.17 Upon his eventual return, Taylor subjected Australia’s supposed ‘potentialities’ to scientific scrutiny, examining the effect of climate on settlement and the development of primary industries.18 Australia was ‘empty’ for a reason, he concluded, the climate could not sustain the sort of intensive settlement that Groom and others had hoped for. Taylor’s numerous publications on the topic were peppered with visually-arresting graphs and maps — climographs, hythergraphs, econographs, isoiketes — the tools of the meteorologist and the geologist were used to create a new kind of weather map, a forecast for the nation.19 However, it was not a picture the nation builders expected or liked. The blanks on their map foretold opportunity, sunny skies over open plains; but Taylor’s map forecast little change, a large, leaden mass had settled over the heart of the continent.20 It was ‘useless’.

Taylor’s Australia was beset with deserts both climatic and cultural. He was impatient with wilful ignorance and political posturing, and took as his mission to ‘tell the truth and shame the booster’.21 But he could also be arrogant and dogmatic, seeking to enshrine his own discipline at the core of the nation-planning exercise. For their part, the ‘boosters’ fell back on outraged expostulations, ridiculing ‘armchair experts’, and invoking the manly virtues of courage and determination as a match for any supposed climatic limits.22 But they were hardly as irrational or ignorant as Taylor may have imagined. Taylor’s critics were surveying a human landscape, seeking a role for the individual in the destiny of a nation. The distance between the two sides was not so great, and had the debate centred on small-scale, regional assessments, they may have found considerable room for agreement.23 Instead there was a battle of the maps, as each side sought to trace the boundaries of nationhood on the outlines of a continent.

Even though Griffith Taylor fled the country in 1928, his assessments gathered authority and acceptance, particularly amongst the ranks of ‘experts’ and ‘planners’. But the burgeoning power of science and technology also offered inspiration to the dreamers. New waves of optimism washed over the desert lands, hope sprouting afresh. In 1941, as Australians began to wonder about the shape of the postwar world, one of the country’s most eminent engineers presented a plan to remake the continent. J.J.C. Bradfield, the designer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, advocated a massive system of dams and tunnels to turn water from north Queensland rivers inland, ultimately to fill Lake Eyre.24 The huge increase in surface water, he argued, would increase rainfall, permanently altering the climate of inland Australia.

Bradfield based his climatic theories on the work of E.T. Quayle, one of the Bureau’s pioneer researchers and Griffith Taylor’s former room-mate.25 However, the new generation of meteorological researchers questioned Quayle’s findings and dismissed Bradfield’s extravagant predictions.26 Only Quayle, now retired, offered any support. ‘Having… satisfied myself that it is possible by human agency to bring about very considerable local improvements in the climate of the southern half of our continent’, Quayle maintained, ‘I am loath to believe that nothing of a similar character is likely to result in the northern half’.27 But what government was likely to spend £30,000,000 to find out?28

Bradfield’s dream may have seemed too ambitious, but another large-scale water diversion project became the symbol of Australia’s postwar development. The Snowy Scheme combined traditional values of community and hard work, with a new sense of technological potency. Rivers and mountains could now be tamed, perhaps the weather itself would soon succumb. In a world where the boundary between energy and matter could be crossed at will, what limits could remain?

Griffith Taylor returned to Australia in the 1950s, in time to observe a new swell in the rhetoric of ‘Australia Unlimited’.29 In his morning newspaper he could read the head of CSIRO, Ian Clunies Ross, describing how ‘poor, almost worthless soil’ was being transformed into ‘fertile pasture’; how exciting ‘new possibilities’ had emerged in the development of the north; and how rain-making experiments offered the prospect of ‘substantially increased’ rainfall. In words to gladden the heart of any ‘booster’, Clunies Ross proclaimed that ‘there are no problems so great that they cannot be solved once we marshal our resources for a resolute and sustained attack on them’.30

The Australian national optimism index continues to swing between the highs of ‘possibilism’ and the lows of ‘determinism’. Even as we ponder the environmental costs of the Snowy Scheme, we revel in nostalgia for its nation building heroics. In 2000, the outgoing president of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists called for an ‘audacious water scheme’ to permanently fill Lake Eyre, thus to increase rainfall across the Murray-Darling Basin. Such a project, he argued, ‘could be a catalyst for uniting and inspiring us’.31 Some politicians agree. ‘In the past, ideas such as the Bradfield scheme have been dismissed as being unworkable,’ commented the Labor member for Dunkley in 1993, ‘But it has been proved that things which were considered impossible and impractical yesterday, are not so today through modern science and technology’.32 The Liberal member for Dickson called for ‘the determination to look at these things and make them happen’. He envisaged a new Snowy scheme, a program of major capital works that would ‘end this terrible drought-wet cycle… and provide a vision for this country’.33

Edmund Barton rallied the Federation movement with the cry ‘a nation for a continent, a continent for a nation’, but the fit between nation and continent is still uncomfortable (perhaps a few tucks here… or a little off the length…). Even with our supposedly heightened environmental sensibilities, each new flood or drought awakens the nagging suspicion that the weather is somehow against us. We have inherited a ‘vision’ of nation building that imagines its fulfilment in defeat of climate, the conquest of nature.

battling the elements

As the long drought was reaching its peak in 1902, the popular Queensland poet George Essex Evans sought to evoke the suffering of those ‘fighting in the battle-line’:

Drought and ruin hold the land:
Round our homes their hosts have met;
On our hearths their thrones are builded;
On our hearts their seals are set.34

But despair had not yet won, for the ‘legions of the army’ stood wearied but defiant. With ‘steadfast hand’ and ‘gallant heart’, settlers were locked a seemingly endless war against a capricious and malevolent foe — nature.

Evans was a friend of Littleton Groom, and corresponded regularly with Alfred Deakin.35 Like many others, he shared their dreams of national destiny. Although Federation brought a sense of unity, nationhood was still a work in progress. Australia had to prove itself worthy of a place in the vanguard of white civilisation. Even as the drought ravaged lives and landscape, Evans welcomed it as an opportunity for improvement:

In the surfeit of abundance
Lurks the canker of decay:
From the discipline of hardship
Grows the power to mould and sway
With threads of pain and bitterness
God weaves upon the loom of Fate:
In furnace-fires of suffering
He makes a nation great.36

‘Iron-seared’, the mighty nations of Europe had won empires and influence through war. The character of their manhood had been tested and hardened in adversity. Lacking the same character-building opportunities, Australia declared war on the weather.

The battle against the elements, it was imagined, would strengthen both nation and race. Australia would earn full possession of the continent, and its sturdy settler stock would emerge healthy and vigorous. This was the dream of ‘White Australia’, and the battle was given urgency by perceived threats to the nation’s racial mission.37 Looming always was the challenge of Australia’s tropical north. If the drought-flood cycle of southern climes seemed cruel, it was at least more familiar than the heat and humidity of the tropics. The north was not just empty, it was alien. The war had to be carried deep into enemy territory.

In 1913, Littleton Groom introduced a lecture by Dr Anton Breinl, the director of the Australian Institute of Tropical Medicine. ‘Australians have taken upon themselves the task of settling the northern parts of their continent’, Groom noted , however, ‘it was yet to be proved’ that such a policy could be justified ‘according to the rules of nature’.38 Many argued that the tropical climate was not only uncomfortable for white settlers, it was injurious.39 Basic standards of moral and physical ‘hygiene’ were compromised, and the threat of disease was ever present. Instead of improvement, the north raised the spectre of racial degeneration. In attempting to subdue this ‘foreign’ land, white settlers might themselves become more ‘asian’. Australia was ‘faced with one of the most far-reaching experiments of modern times’, Breinl argued, ‘an experiment which certainly justified the application of unlimited effort’. For only in meeting this challenge, he continued, could the nation be certain of ‘the possession not only of Northern Australia, but also of the whole of a united Australia by a white community’.40

Groom, of course, was optimistic, and imagined the settler venturing northwards into battle ‘accompanied by the best scientific brain that could be sent with him’.41 But the tropical climate was doubly threatening. It presented both a test of character for White Australia, and a reminder of the nearness of Asia. If Australians were unable to master the heat and undertake ‘effective occupation’ of their empty northern frontier, how could they hope to repel invasion from Asia. Indeed, could they legitimately claim to own a land in which they could not live?42

Knowledge of Australia’s tropical climate and its effects on white settlement seemed vitally important for the nation’s growth, integrity and security. And yet, when an attack finally came, Australia was unprepared. The Pacific War revealed the limitations of the country’s meteorological systems and prompted a rapid overhaul in organisation, method and theory. As they have throughout history, science and war formed a fruitful alliance.

With the first use of poison gas in 1915, the wind became a weapon of war.43 Weather had always played its part in the outcome of military campaigns, but, in World War 1, with gas and the increasing use of aircraft, meteorology found itself promoted to the battle front.44 Indeed, as European meteorologists began to pay close attention to the boundaries between air masses, the term ‘front’ was borrowed from the battlefield to play an important role in forecasting, eventually to appear as the bumpy lines on our weather map.45

When war threatened again in 1939, Australian authorities were quick to appreciate the potential value of meteorological services and arranged for control of the Bureau to be transferred to the Department of Air.46 A vast network of observing and forecasting stations was established across Australia and the Pacific. But the problem of the tropics remained. As new data flooded in, the inadequacy of existing forecasting methods was revealed. The techniques of frontal analysis, developed originally in Norway, had to be modified to suit the rather different climatic conditions. A new tropical research unit was charged with the task, its work receiving international recognition.47 As a result of such successes, meteorology emerged from the war with new confidence, new abilities, and a growing weight of public expectation. The tropics had been robbed of some of their mysteries and dangers, but new threats had arisen. The wind had once again become a carrier of death.

Brighter than the sun, with its mushroom cloud, rushing winds, and rain of deadly fallout, the atomic bomb invaded public consciousness through the metaphors of meteorology. The weather had changed for the worse. As the effects of radioactive fallout became more widely understood, civil defence planners and military strategists placed increasing value on accurate meteorological data. One of Australia’s civil defence chiefs returned from an overseas briefing in 1955, emphasising ‘the need to get our meteorological experts together to give special study to the behaviour of winds at varying altitudes’. ‘It is these winds’, he continued, ‘that move “fall out” material across incredible distances’.48 The head of the Bureau, L.J. Dwyer, sought to keep his staff informed of fallout studies, stressing that ‘meteorological factors play an important role in both the peaceful and hostile uses of atomic energy’.49

When Australia agreed to host British atomic bomb tests, meteorologists were enlisted as guardians of public safety. As talk of drifting clouds and radioactive rain began to alarm the populace in 1956, the Minister for Supply, Howard Beale, outlined the meteorological precautions to be taken at the test site in the Monte Bello Islands: ‘the forecasting of suitable weather conditions’, he stressed, ‘ is a vital factor in ensuring that the actual firings only take place when weather conditions are satisfactory’.50 Thirty years later, the Royal Commission investigating the tests noted that according to available climatic data the chances of obtaining ‘satisfactory’ conditions were slim. Political imperatives outweighed meteorological assessments.51

With the coming of the atomic bomb and the prospect of global annihilation, some argued that national boundaries had become irrelevant. The wind knew no borders. And yet, as the world rushed into a new ‘cold’ war, divisions were heightened, frontiers were reinforced. Distance is measured in many units, from the spatial to the cultural — from angstrom and metres, to prejudice and fear. In the early years of the twentieth century, Australia seemed vast, but Asia was oppressively close. Throughout our history, weather and climate have served both to bridge the distances and emphasise the gaps, enabling us to imagine both a nation and its enemies.

forecast: 1 January 2001

On the last day of the twentieth century, as Sydneysiders prepared for yet another fireworks spectacular, the weather threatened once again to intervene. ‘A strong diagonal wind across the harbour would spoil the picture’, worried the artistic director, ‘the weather forecasts this year are not promising’.52 The concerns may have been familiar, but much had changed in a hundred years. Anyone preparing to go to fireworks or the ‘Journey of a Nation’ parade, had access to a surfeit of up-to-date meteorological information: bulletins on radio, television, the internet, or even their mobile phone; not just forecasts either, but detailed climatic data, satellite photos and radar images of approaching storms.

The history of meteorology has been a history of collection, coordination and integration. The telegraph revolutionised forecasting in the nineteenth century, prompting increased cooperation between the Australian colonies, and leading ultimately to the establishment of the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. Radio enabled the observation network to extend beyond Australia’s shores, while aeroplanes provided access to the upper atmosphere. The realm of meteorology expanded, bureaucratically and geographically. As we watch the nightly weather forecasts on television now, we can see the weather moving across the country. Satellite images show the spirals of cyclones, the cloud band of an approaching front. All this superimposed over the familiar outline of the Australian continent. At last we see the big picture. Or do we?

In 1910, E.T. Quayle began to speculate on the relationship between monsoonal patterns to Australia’s north and rainfall distribution across the continent.53 Could the air pressure in Darwin tell you something about the possibility of rain in Victoria? Answers were a long time coming, and it was not until the 1980s that detailed analysis was able to confirm some of Quayle’s correlations. He had been observing the workings of what we now call El Niño, part of ‘a global-scale system of ocean-atmosphere interaction’.54 Major floods and droughts in Australia were no longer simply continental events, they were linked via ocean currents to conditions half a world away.

Since the Second World War, the focus of Australian meteorology has become increasingly international, both through participation in organisations such as the World Meteorological Organisation, and through a greater understanding of global systems like El Niño.55 Even as our knowledge of the continent increases, its boundaries blur. Perhaps the idea of an Australian climate is as much a construction as the nation itself.

FEDERATION & METEOROLOGY »

  1. Age, 1 January 1901, p5; Daily Telegraph, 1 January 1901, p. 5. []
  2. Daily Telegraph, 1 January 1901, p. 5; Age, 1 January 1901, p. 6. See also Helen Irving, To constitute a nation: a cultural history of Australia’s constitution, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999, pp. 16-17 []
  3. Age, 2 January 1901, p. 5 []
  4. For example, George Essex Evans won a NSW government prize for the best Commonwealth Day Ode for his poem which began: []
  5. Age, 2 January 1901, p. 6 []
  6. Irving, To constitute a nation, pp. 16-17 []
  7. Geoffrey Blainey, A land half won, Sun Books, Melbourne, 1983, pp. 348-361 []
  8. On attempts to coordinate meteorology before Federation, see: R W Home and K T Livingston, ‘Science and technology in the story of Australian federation: The case of meteorology, 1876-1908’, Historical Records of Australian Science, vol. 10, no. 2, 1994, pp. 109-127. For general accounts of colonial meteorology and meteorologists, see: W J Gibbs, ‘The Origins of Australian Meteorology’, Metarch Papers, no. 12, June 1998; W J Gibbs, ‘A mini-history of meteorology in Australia’, in Eric K Webb (ed.), Windows on Meteorology: Australian perspective, CSIRO, Melbourne, 1997, pp. 81-104; J Gentilli, ‘A history of meteorological and climatological studies in Australia’, University Studies in History, vol. 5, no. 1, 1967, pp. 54-79; H C Russell, ‘Astronomical and meteorological workers in New South Wales, 1778-1860’, Australasian Association for Advancement of Science, vol. 1, 1888, pp. 45-94. []
  9. Power over ‘astronomical and meteorological observations’ is conferred by Section 51 (viii) of the Australian Constitution [link to Parliament House site]. Inclusion of this power was debated at the Australasian Federal Convention in 1897, see: Official Report of the National Australasian Convention, Adelaide, March 22 to May 5, 1897, Adelaide, Government Printer, 1897, pp. 775-6 [link to Parliament House site] . See also: John Quick and Robert Randolph Garran, The annotated constitution of the Australian Commonwealth, reprint of 1901 ed., Legal Books, Sydney, 1995, p. 566 []
  10. For biographical information see: David Carment, ‘Groom, Sir Littleton Ernest’, in Bede Nairn and Geoffrey Serle (eds), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1983; David Carment, ‘The making of an Australian liberal : The political education of Littleton Groom, 1867-1905’, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. 62, no. 4, March 1977; Jessie Groom, Nation building in Australia : The life and work of Sir Littleton Ernest Groom, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1941. []
  11. Toowoomba Chronicle, 10 December 1903. []
  12. Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates (CPD), vol. 14, 30 June 1903, pp. 1569-1570; CPD, vol. 17, 22 September 1903, p. 5272; CPD, vol. 18, 23 March 1904, p. 808; CPD, vol. 19, 25 May 1904, p. 1525. []
  13. CPD, vol 32, 1 August 1906, pp. 2136-2142. On the legislative program of the Deakin government, see: J A La Nauze, Alfred Deakin – a biography, 2 vols., vol. 2, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1965, pp. 407-408; Littleton Ernest Groom, Nation building in Australia : the work of the second Deakin administration, 1905-1908, Protectionist Association of Victoria, Melbourne, 1909. []
  14. CPD, vol. 32, 1 August 1906, p.2141 []
  15. Groom linked Commonwealth action on meteorology with his long sought-after Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture, modelled on the US Department of Agriculture, see: Toowoomba Chronicle, 10 December 1903; Toowoomba Chronicle, 15 November 1906; Groom, Nation building in Australia : the work of the second Deakin administration, 1905-1908, pp. 9-10. On Groom’s hopes for the Bureau of Agriculture, see: CPD, vol. 36, 23 July 1907, p. 776-8; Littleton Ernest Groom, ‘Australian Bureau of Agriculture: Memorandum on the establishment of’, Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers, no. 194, 1908; CPD, vol. 50, 3 August 1909, pp. 1919-29; Sir George Currie and John Graham, The origins of CSIRO: Science and the Commonwealth Government 1901-1926, CSIRO, Melbourne, 1966, pp. 1-6. []
  16. CPD, vol. 50, 30 July 1909, p.1886 []
  17. John Hogan, ‘Notes prepared by John Hogan (1896-1970)’, Metarch Papers, no. 2, March 1986, pp. 15-17. For more biographical information on Taylor, see: Thomas Griffith Taylor, Journeyman Taylor: The education of a scientist, Robert hale, London, 1958; Marie Sanderson, Griffith Taylor – Antarctic scientist and pioneer geographer, Carleton University Press, Ottawa, 1988. For more on the early research work of the Bureau, see: J Gardner, ‘Stormy weather: A history of research in the Bureau of meteorology’, Metarch Papers, no. 11, December 1997 []
  18. Joseph Michael Powell, Griffith Taylor and ‘Australia Unlimited’, The John Murtagh Macrossan Memorial Lecture, 1992, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, 1992; Joseph Michael Powell, An historical geography of modern Australia, Cambridge university Press, Cambridge, 1988, pp. 129-149; David R Oldroyd, ‘Griffith Taylor and his views on race, environment, and settlement, and the peopling of Australia’, in Useful and curious geological enquiries beyond the world: Pacific-Asia historical themes. The 19th International INHIGEO Symposium, Sydney, 1994, pp. 251-274. []
  19. For an examination of some of Taylor’s graphical methods, see: Ibid., pp. 252-253, 267-8 []
  20. Various versions of Taylor’s map showing Australia’s settlement prospects appeared from the 1920s onwards, see: Ibid., p. 268. For some further examples, see: Powell, An historical geography of modern Australia, pp. 144-7. []
  21. Ibid., p. viii []
  22. Powell, Griffith Taylor and ‘Australia Unlimited’; David Walker, Anxious Nation: Australia and the Rise of Asia 1850-1939, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1999, pp. 154-167. []
  23. Powell, An historical geography of modern Australia, p. 149 []
  24. J J C Bradfield, ‘Watering inland Australia’, Rydge’s Weekly, 1 October 1941; Richard Raxworthy, The unreasonable man – The life and works of JJC Bradfield, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1989, pp. 136-7 []
  25. Hogan, ‘Notes prepared by John Hogan (1896-1970)’,, p. 15. []
  26. Commonwealth Meteorological Bureau, ‘Bradfield Scheme for “Watering the Inland”: Meteorological aspects’, Bulletin (Commonwealth Meteorological Bureau), no. 34, 1945 []
  27. Ibid.,, p. 25 []
  28. This figure was apparently suggested by Bradfield in response to the Premier of Queensland, see: Raxworthy, The unreasonable man – The life and works of JJC Bradfield, p. 137 []
  29. For some of the changes and continuities in the vision of ‘Australia Unlimited’, see: Tim Sherratt, ‘Frontiers of the future: science and progress in 20th-century Australia’, in Deborah Bird Rose and Richard Davis (editors), Dislocating the frontier: essaying the mystique of the outback, ANU E-Press, Canberra, 2006, pp. 121-142. []
  30. Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), 19 June 1957, ‘Australia Unlimited’ Supplement, p. 28. []
  31. Ian Levy, ‘Lake Eyre Inland Sea: A Millennium Project’, Australian Institute of Geoscientists, 28 May 2000 [contained in this pdf from AIG site]. []
  32. CPD, 17 August 1993, p. 51. []
  33. CPD, 23 October 1997, p. 9752. []
  34. George Essex Evans, ‘In time of drought’, Brisbane Courier, 18 September 1902, p. 9. []
  35. Groom, Nation building, p. 229; La Nauze, Alfred Deakin – a biography, pp. 229-30. []
  36. Evans, ‘In time of drought’. []
  37. Walker, Anxious nation, pp. 113-126. []
  38. Argus, 25 November 1913. []
  39. Walker, Anxious nation, pp. 141-153; David Walker, ‘Climate, civilisation and character in Australia, 1880-1940’, Australian Cultural History, no. 16, 1997/98, pp. 77-95; Warwick Anderson, ‘Geography, race and nation: Remapping “Tropical” Australia’, Historical Records of Australian Science, vol. 11, no. 4, 1997, pp. 457-68; Neville Nicholls, ‘A healthy climate?’, in Eric K Webb (ed.), Windows on meteorology: Australian perspective, CSIRO, Melbourne, 1997, pp. 105-117. []
  40. Argus, 25 November 1913. On white settlement as an ‘experiment’, see: Walker, Anxious nation, p. 150. []
  41. Argus, 25 November 1913. []
  42. Walker, Anxious nation, pp. 98-126. []
  43. Irritant gas was first used in October 1914, with the first use of poison gas following in April 1915, see: Peter Dennis, ed., The Oxford companion to Australian military history, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1995, p. 263. []
  44. D P Mellor, The role of science and industry, vol. 5, Australia in the War of 1939-1945, Series 4 (Civil), Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1958, pp. 512-3; see also comments by H A Hunt, Commonwealth Meteorologist, Argus, 2 August 1919. []
  45. Ibid., p. 513. For an explanation of the ‘knobbly lines’ see: ‘What the lines mean on weather maps’, SMH, 9 April 1946, p. 2. []
  46. On Australian meteorology in WW2, see: Ibid., pp. 512-530; J Joyce, ‘The story of the RAAF Meteorological Service’, Metarch Papers, no. 5, October 1993; T Haldane, ‘War history of the Australian Meteorological Service in the Royal Australian Air Force, April 1941 to July 1946’, Metarch Papers, no. 10, October 1997. []
  47. Mellor, The role of science and industry, p. 523. For a first hand account of this work, see: W J Gibbs, ‘A glimpse of the RAAF Meteorological Service’, Metarch Papers, no. 7, March 1995. []
  48. SMH, 24 December 1955, p.5. []
  49. Memo headed ‘Meteorology and atomic energy’, 14 August 1959, National Archives of Australia (NAA), A6456/3 R102/004. []
  50. Press release headed ‘Meteorological services in atomic weapons tests’, 15 February 1956, NAA A6456/3 R209/4. []
  51. Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia, The report of the Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia, 3 vols., vol. 1, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1985, pp. 233-4. []
  52. Sun Herald, 31 December 2000. []
  53. Neville Nicholls, ‘Developments in climatology in Australia, 1946-1996’, Australian Meteorological Magazine, vol. 46, 1997. []
  54. Peter Whetton, ‘Floods, droughts and the Southern Oscillation connection’, in Eric K Webb (ed.), Windows on meteorology: Australian perspective, CSIRO, Melbourne, 1997, p. 181. []
  55. On Australia’s role in international cooperation, see: W J Gibbs, ‘A perspective of Australian meteorology – 1939-1978’, Australian Meteorological Magazine, vol. 30, no. 1, March 1982, p. 7; W J Gibbs, ‘A very special family: Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology, 1945-1962’, Metarch Papers, no. 13, May 1999. []

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I'm a historian and hacker who researches the possibilities and politics of digital cultural collections.

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