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William John Wills

Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2082/3c.
Victorian Exploring Expedition Records, Instructions issued to members of the VEE by the Exploration Committee.
Leader's copy of Instructions to surveyor, meteorologist and astronomical observer.
Signed John Macadam and dated, Melbourne, 3rd September 1860.
Manuscript, handwritten in ink on blue foolscap paper, 9 pages.


1. Every opportunity should be taken to ascertain the geographical position of the party, referring it to some well marked point, as offered by an easily recognisable mountain, the junction of rivers, creek &c.

2. This should be done by astronomical observations, as well as by dead reckoning. The dead reckoning always to commence with the last good, reliable astronomical observations made.

3. For determining the Latitude, the different methods chosen to depend entirely upon circumstances, and it is only mentioned here that observations on sun, moon and stars will have to be used.

4. The determination of the Longitude should be effected by lunar distances; if with stars, eastern and western distances should invariably be taken when possible, and the longitude should be derived from both sets. These observations, as well as those on latitude, should always be reduced immediately after the observations, or at least as soon after as possible. The longitude should further be ascertained whenever an opportunity occurs by occultation of stars, by eclipses of the sun, moon and Jupiter's satellites. There is no necessity, however, for reducing these observations whilst on the journey, as it would be impossible to devote that amount of care to this work without interfering with the more essential work, and which would be desirable; and the original observations should, as early as possible be clearly copied with ink, in a book, with every fact necessary for the subsequent reduction.

5. All astronomical phenomena of particular interest should be observed, if the means at the disposal of the astronomer do admit of such observations, and if these should not interfere with the general progress of the expedition.

6. The variations of the compass must be observed as often as circumstances permit.

7. Observations on the zodiacal light may be made with great facility and advantage for science. The limits of the phenomenon should be traced upon a good map of stars, and afterwards taken from it and noted in a note-book.

8. A good look out should be kept for meteors; the declination and right ascension of the beginning and the end of their courses, with the exact time and accompanying circumstances, should be noted. Particular attention should be paid to meteors near the zodiac.

9. Whenever a permanent camp is to be erected, a systematic registration on meteorology should at once be carried on. The hours of registration are to be as numerous as possible. The hours 6am, 9am, 3pm and 9pm being obligatory. The registrations should extend over the following elements :

Pressure of air, observed with the mercurial barometer,and, in the case of an accident happening to the instrument then with the best aneroid in the camp. The aneroids should be compared with the mercurial barometer whenever they are to be taken out for taking measurements of heights, or conducting meteorological observations in a branch expedition. They ought to be compared again as soon as they are returned to the main camp. The aneroids to be observed in a horizontal position. In the case of measurements of heights, Lamont's hypsometrical tables should be used.

Temperature of air and evaporation are to be observed with Munich hygrometer, in the large portable metrological stand.

Direction and force of wind, by the astronomical meridian, and by Beaufort's notations.

Amount and form of clouds, and direction of the upper currents.

Duration and intensity of rain, dew, hail &c, solar radiation and terrestrial radiation.

An exact register should be kept on all remarkable phenomena in meteorology, as whirlwinds, storms, thunderstorms,mirage, refraction, twinkling of stars &c, &c.

10. While traveling the aneroids and the small hygrometer should be easily accessible, so that without any delay the observations can be made at the hours above mentioned. Such observations to be used afterwards for computing the height of the ground passed over.

The temperatures of rivers, creeks, lakes and wells should be observed on the surface and with the help of the sounding thermometer, on the bottom. Should gases arise from the depth, they should be caught in small glasses prepared for the purpose, in order to have them analysed afterwards.

11. Particular attention should be paid to the direction of the flights of birds.

12. Magnetical observations, in addition to the determination of the variations of the compass, should be carried out whenever an opportunity offers, though without interfering with the main object of the expedition.

13. The work connected with the topographical survey requires hardly any further remarks, but that everything should be done as [carefully?] and accurately as possible, and that all more strictly called scientific observations should subordinate to the mapping of the country.


General Instructions for Scientific Observers

Scientific observations or work that would cause hindrance, or otherwise interfere with the progress or necessary work of the expedition, never to be undertaken if contrary to the instructions of the Leader.

All specimens, journals, sketches, maps, or other documents, to be exclusively the property of the Royal Society, on behalf of the Government of Victoria; and on no pretence whatever are either specimens or copies of the said documents to be given away, or forwarded privately to any person, or even officially, except through the Leader, although it is intended that each observer should, on publication of the results of the expedition, receive the credit due to him for his observations.

All scientific, or other documents, journals, &c., relating to the expedition, to be at all times accessible to the Leader.

Committee of the Victorian Exploring Expedition.

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