|Original minute books of the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria are held at:|
State Library of Victoria, MS13071; Boxes 2075/1, 2075/2, 207/3, 2088B/1.
Mostly bound volumes, manuscript, handwritten in ink.
Some missing, some incomplete, and many generally not in chronological order.
Philosophical Institute of Victoria:
President - Dr Mueller, Government Botanist & Director of Botanic Gardens.
Vice-President - Reverend John Ignatius Bleasdale & Dr Solomon Iffla
Treasurer - Professor Martin Howy Irving
Honorary Secretary - Dr John Macadam M.D.
Saturday 1 January 1859.
Holiday in Victoria: New Years Day.
Thursday 13 January 1859.
Holiday in Victoria: Holiday for the opening of the Melbourne and Murray River railway - 28½ miles from Melbourne Spencer-street station to Sunbury.
31 January 1859.
Cadell, in the P.S. Albury, enters the River Darling on 27 January - the first steamer to do so. He reaches Laidley's Ponds [Menindee] on 31 January and Mount Murchison on 4 February, but cannot get any further upstream towards Fort Bourke. He was back at the Murray junction on 13 February.
See: South Australian Advertiser, Friday 11 March 1859: 3
William Richard Randell in the P.S. Gemini followed in March, reaching Fort Bourke and almost reaching the junction of the Namoi and Barwon [Walgett].
Monday, 28 March 1859.
Annual Dinner of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria.
Argus, Tuesday 29 March 1859: 5
The members of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria held their annual dinner at the Criterion Hotel [Collins-street] yesterday evening. The festival was not nearly so numerously attended on the previous anniversaries, and the absence of many gentlemen connected with the University, whom we are accustomed to observe on such occasions, was noticeable. The repast was served in a very creditable style. The lack of all musical accompaniment, perhaps, tended to render the toast drinking somewhat sombre and monotonous, but the absence of music was decidedly better than the deafening strains which generally accompany such entertainments. About 50 gentlemen sat down to table. Dr Mueller, the President of the Institute, occupied the chair, supported on his right by His Excellency the Governor, Mr O'Shanassy, Captain White, Rev. Dr Bleasdale and Mr Miller; and on his left by Major General Macarthur, Captain Bancroft, Professor McCoy, and Dr Evans, Dr. Iffla officiated as croupier. The Rev. Dr Bleasdale said grace at the commencement of the dinner, and the Rev. Dr Shiel returned thanks at its conclusion.
After the usual loyal toasts .... The Governor [Sir Henry Barkly] then rose .... His Excellency said ... Something I hope will be done as regards the exploration of the interior before the present year expires. I should be sorry to have it supposed that less interest was taken in that question by this great and intelligent community than has been evinced at home or in the neighboring colonies. During the past year New South Wales has through Gregory traced Kennedy's Victoria River through Cooper's Creek into Lake Torrens; South Australia has, by the aid of Babbage and Sturt, pushed to the very verge of the central desert; even the settlement of Western Australia, with a mere handful of people, has, through the younger Gregory made most important discoveries, whilst we in Victoria have done nothing but talk. Yes, I forget - we have taken an important step - we have, thanks to the Chief Secretary's at length breaking through some of the red-tape fetters which bind us up, ordered 24 camels from India. (Laughter, and cheers.) If we get these ships of the desert, as I hope we shall then, I think the delay will not be regretted, especially looking to the great advantage which has been gained by the recent opening of the navigation of the Darling River by the enterprising Captain Cadell, accompanied by Sir [Richard Graves] MacDonnell. In a fortnight all stores and supplies for an expedition could be sent without difficulty, and at no great expense, to Mount Murchison, which is more than a third of the distance from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and Captain Cadell tells met that the River Darling at that point was wider and freer from snags than below, and that nothing induced him to turn-back but the anxiety of the squatters to get their wool down - a fact confirmed by what I read in the papers this morning, that the steamer Gemini [Randell] has ascended 800 or 900 miles farther up the Darling and its tributaries. Whether we direct our expedition, as I think would be most prudent, directly north, or venture on the more perilous course of sending it to the north-west, either to the Victoria River or Sharks' Bay, this will be a most important advantage to us. There is another practical question somewhat connected with this, and to which I hope to see the attention of the Philosophical Institute directed, and that is, the determining the best line for the electric telegraph which is some day or other to connect us with the old world. My friend Sir R MacDonnell is sanguine enough to look forward to the erection of telegraph posts from Adelaide across this yet unexplored desert. In Sydney I see they contemplate the probability of a line by Cape Yorke and the Eastern coast; but I must say it is my decided impression - and in this I am confirmed by our experienced Superintendent of Telegraphs, Mr McGowan - that whether the cable comes via Java and Sumatra, or direct from Ceylon, the only feasible plan is to land it at or near Freemantle, on the west coast of Australia, and bring it thence by King George's Sound [Albany]. So convinced am I of this, that I believe no time should be lost in laying a cable across the Great Southern Bight, a distance not exceeding 1,000 miles, the cost of which would be only £80 per mile. I trust that the society will turn its attention to practical questions of this sort, as well as to the many pressing scientific matters which fall peculiarly within its scope. By so doing I am confident the members will entitle themselves to the gratitude of the Community, and I call on you, therefore, to join cordially in drinking success to the Philosophical Institute of Victoria, coupling with it the name of your President, Dr Mueller (Loud cheers).
The Chairman [Mueller], in reply, said - I am greatly thankful to His Excellency, for the kindness he has shown towards me in proposing this toast, and to all those who have responded to it ... Might not the camel's track across the continent guide with their flocks the harbingers of new colonisation to the oases of our inland wastes, and lead them on and on, until by peaceful conquest we raise another Indian empire in continental Oceania. Might not the scenes of enterprise, of which the South has been a recent and astounded witness, soon be renewed on our northern shore, and the symbols of Neptune, Ceres, and Minerva be planted by Britannia on a coast of wide extent, now lying desolate? Might not the chain be closed by which, in harmony, civilisation should link one country to the other, by which young vigorous Australia steps in the series of mighty nations? Might not the telegraph - a talisman of commerce and philanthropy, a triumph of the genius of science - extend its girdle almost around the globe, and bring, at lightning's speed, this country in close communion with the remotest portions of the earth? But why, you ask, whilst we are assembled to inaugurate renewed labors, do I advert to questions apparently so far remote? Because we constitute part of a rising nation, because we see before us, in its grandest bearing, the destined future of Australia - because we are in part intrusted with the direction of new enterprises, which will, we hope, disclose what yet remains mysterious of the interior, will aid in opening the resources of the country to thousands of our fellow-men, and will facilitate immeasurably the commerce of the world. Then we are called to share in other labors tending to advance our social position, to smooth, with helping hand, the way by which science, ever beneficial, may exercise amongst us the power of its influence. Are we also not expected to raise this institution, to the standard of others in the mother countries - to keep pace with those rapid strides made in the path of progress everywhere? Shall we not likewise aim at that improvement, that perfection, by which, whilst missing yet less the country of our childhood, we may render the land of our adoption more homelike still, and may retain for it its wealth ...
Mr O'Shanassy proposed the next toast, which he said was one of great interest to the colony as well as to the Philosophical Institute - namely, 'The Australian Explorers'. (Cheers.) Even if they were governed by the most intense selfishness, they ought to join in this toast - for, had it not been for the Australian explorers, probably very few of the gentlemen present would be, in the colony. He did not intend to enter into the merits of those eminent men who had been engaged in the various explorations in the colony, which were more ably illustrated by the papers published by, and the lectures delivered in, the Institute, His duties in respect to this subject were of a different character. His Excellency had alluded in glowing terms to the results which would arise from exploration, and it would be for the present or succeeding Government to carry out this object. In all probability the Institute would, before the close of the year, be called upon either in conjunction with the Governments of the neighboring colonies, or of Victoria only, to lend their assistance in this matter. It was a subject of great regret that so little had hitherto been done by this colony in furthering exploration, but this apparent apathy would admit of explanation. When this, portion of the Australian continent was discovered by Sir Thos. Mitchell, little more remained to be done within its limits, and in its subsequent settlement its circumscribed boundaries left little room for exploring enterprise. In addition to this, the gold discoveries tended to draw men's minds away from any other consideration. The state of things had, however, now changed, and he would say for himself and colleagues that they were willing to bear their part, and render every assistance in their power. The Government had now an agent in India selecting camels, but he was quite aware that these were only one of the means necessary to insure success, and must not be depended upon alone. The opening up of the communication with the portions of the country already known was a great object to be gained, and by this means the same course might be followed which had so successfully been pursued in Indian exploration - namely, that of starting from various points simultaneously. He was proud to say that some eminent men connected with exploration were to be found in Victoria, and to one of them he had given his vote for the presidency of that institution (Hear, hear). And in voting for a man who had travelled 18,000 miles on an exploring expedition, he believed that he had done the wisest and best thing possible. Mr O'Shanassy then alluded to Count Straleski, who, he said, had been taunted on his arrival in the colony with being a Russian spy, but who, during his residence here, had shown how much he was devoted for science, and had, by his gentlemanly conduct, gained universal respect. He would conclude by expressing a hope that substantial advantages would accrue to the colony from the intended exploration, and that when His Excellency announced to the Home Government the result of the expedition, the announcement would have the effect of adding to the territory under His Excellency's Government (Cheers).
Dr Mueller returned thanks on behalf of the Australian explorers ... His Excellency the Governor and Major General Macarthur, with their suites, left the room about 11 o'clock, shortly after which the company broke up.
Related archives: Argus, 30 March 1859: 4
We should be glad to think that the remarks which fell from His Excellency the Governor, at the dinner of the Philosophical Institute, would have the effect of exciting some interest in the public mind on the subject of the exploration of this continent, and would overcome that vis inertias which has hitherto resisted almost every effort to promote that object. Our apathy is as inexplicable to others as it is discreditable to ourselves. We plume ourselves upon being the leading oolony of the Australasian group, but we make no appearance whatever when our neighbors enter themsolves as competitors in the race for geographical discoveries.
The centre of Australia will be shortly the only Terra incognita on the face of the globe; and it will be a reproach to us that it is so. Is it because we are rich, that we are parsimonious? - because we know absolutely nothing of the interior, that we are so incurious, and so disinclined to penetrate the only geographical mystery extant? ... We are at a loss to account for a circumstance which involves so severe a reflection upon the liberality of our fellow colonists. It is not many weeks since about £500 were spent in eating and drinking in honor of a dead poet; and not many months ago that upwards of £600 were contributed to buy a service of plate for a living mayor ...
Wednesday, 30 March 1859.
Ordinary monthly meeting of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria. The President, Dr. Mueller, in the chair. There were about 25 members present (Argus) 40 members (Age).
Argus, Thursday 31 March 1859: 5
The first ordinary monthly meeting for the session of the members of the Institute was held yesterday evening, at half-past 7 o'clock, at the Mechanics' Institute; the President, Dr Mueller, in the chair. There were about twenty-five members present.
Member of the Council: The Rev. Mr Bleasedale D.D., proposed Mr [Samuel Walker] McGowan, Director of the Electric Telegraph, as a member of the Council, in the room of Dr Iffla, who had been elected one of the Vice-Presidents. Mr Edward Jones seconded the motion. Dr Macadam proposed, as an amendment on the Rev. Dr Bleasdale's motion, the appointment of Dr Ludwig Becker as a member of the Council, and in doing so stated that his reason was that he thought Mr McGowan, from the arduous nature of his other duties, would be unable to attend the meetings of the Council.
Dr Iffla seconded the amendment. Dr Wilkie briefly supported the nomination of Dr Becker. Professor Wilson supported the original motion. Dr Mackenna opposed the election of Mr McGowan, urging upon the members the fact, that it was impossible for that gentleman to attend the meetings of the Council, even if elected, as he was continually absent from Melbourne. Mr. Sizar Elliott was in favor of Mr McGowan being chosen. Before the members present proceeded to the election. Professor Wilson drew attention to one of the rules, which stated that no person should take part in an election of a member of the Council until he had paid his subscription. After some discussion, the objection was allowed. Mr McGowan and Dr Becker were then balloted for, and Dr Becker was declared to be duly elected, the latter having received 17 votes and Mr McGowan 8. Dr Becker briefly returned thanks.
The following extract from a letter addressed to the President, Dr Mueller, by Mr A.C. Gregory, was read by the Secretary - [The letter referred to barometrical observations]. The reading of a letter that had been received from Mr Gregory on the subject of Australian exploration was postponed until the next meeting.
Wednesday, 20 April 1859.
Ordinary Meeting of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria, held at the Mechanics Institute.
Argus, Thursday 21 April 1859: 5
The attendance of members was tolerably full. Dr Mueller, the President of the Institute, having taken the chair. Dr Macadam, Secretary to the Institute, lead the minutes of the last meeting, which were adopted without remark.
Dr Macadam read a letter from A.C. Gregory Esq. on the subject of Australian exploration. He stated that Mr Gregory had sent the communication as a private one [to Dr Mueller] and, therefore, there could be no hesitation in submitting it to a public meeting. [Mueller felt the contents sufficiently important to be read to the Institute by the Honorary Secretary, Dr John Macadam].
The President said that he was very glad that the letter of Mr Gregory, treating as it did on a subject of the gravest importance, had been submitted to the members of the Institute, and he hoped that it would be fully discussed.
Dr Wilkie moved that a vote of thanks be given to Mr Gregory for the kind interest he had manifested in this most important object, and an object in which the Institute should take peculiar interest. The members of the Institute had proposed to fit out an exploration party, but at first they could not attain the requisite assistance from the Government. Afterwards the Government had placed a sum of money on the Estimates for this purpose, and the society, while accepting it, thought that the season was not suitable. At present, however, no such objection could exist, especially as there seemed from Mr Gregory's account every probability of finding a well watered country to the northward. The best place for a depot was, in his opinion, that indicated by Mr Gregory, viz. Cooper's Creek. He thought that any exploring party, to be successful, should remain it least two or three years in the field. Mr Gregory stood unrivalled as an explorer, and also as a commander, and although he did not seem inclined to undertake any Victorian exploration, yet his decision could not, in Dr Wilkie's opinion, be considered final. He begged to move:
That the Institute having had under consideration a letter, addressed to the President by Mr A.C. Gregory on the subject of Australian exploration, desire that their best thanks be conveyed to that gentleman for the kind interest which he has shown in the proposed organizing an exploring party in Victoria, and for the valuable suggestions which he offered for their guidance.
Mr Ligar seconded the motion. He did not think that Mr Gregory was anxious to raise the expectations of the inhabitants of the colony, or to unduly cast them down. He thought that the inhabitants of the Australian continent owed a deep debt of gratitude to this gentleman. The resolution was then put from the chair; and carried nem dis.
Dr Iffla moved the second resolution:
That in consideration of Mr Gregory's long experience and distinguished labors as an explorer, it is the opinion of the Institute that the command of the Victorian expedition should be offered to him. Mr Gregory had distinguished himself by his courage and prudence, and was undoubtedly the fittest person whom they could place in charge of an exploring party. He did not anticipate that a country of extraordinary fertility would be found by any exploration, but he thought that some good land might be discovered. The results of the exploration might not be very brilliant at first, but a properly conducted expedition could hardly fail of being beneficial to the Australian community. (Hear.)
Dr Mackenna seconded the resolution, which was put from the chair, and carried unanimously.
Dr Eades moved the third resolution:
That a letter be addressed to the Chief Secretary, recommending Mr Gregory for the appointment, and soliciting the concurrence of the Government in the choice of the Institute. He did not feel himself in a position to endeavor to dictate to any Government officer, and he would suggest that the resolution be amended, and that instead of recommending Mr Gregory for any appointment, the Institute should merely intimate its opinion that he was the fittest person to be employed. (Hear.)
Dr Wilkie said that he had intimated to the Chief Secretary the probability of some resolution in favor of Mr Gregory being arrived at by the Institute, and he had been informed that the appointment of Mr Gregory would be received with great satisfaction by the Chief Secretary himself and his colleagues.
Mr Ligar suggested that the Institute should communicate with Mr Gregory, and ascertain whether he would accept of this appointment - a fact which his letter rendered somewhat doubtful. They should first of all clear the way with Mr Gregory.
Dr Iffla suggested that a telegram should be sent to Mr Gregory, to ascertain his own views as to this appointment, and whether he would feel himself in a position to undertake this responsibility; and if so, how long he would be willing to remain in the field.
Mr J Watson thought that they should try to provide the "sinews of war" [the ?money ?needed for ?weapons and ?supplies during a ?war] before recommending any appointment whatever. Their appointment, or recommendation, would be of little use unless they could provide funds.
Mr Manuell did not see what the Government had to do with this expedition, considering that they had contributed nothing towards it. He hoped that the expedition would be successful without Government assistance.
The President said that the Government had gone to an expense of £3,000 for the importation of camels. He believed also that the Government would be ready to contribute financially.
Dr Becker was of opinion that the country should be ashamed of the manner in which they had treated Mr Gregory, who had done more good to Australia than any other inhabitant of the colonies; yet he was a broken man, both in health and fortune. After some further remarks upon the same subject, the speaker recommended that a gold medal should be bestowed upon every large subscriber to the exploration of the interior. Dr Becker regretted extremely that colonists were so desirous to shake off the golden fruit from that golden tree, Australia, without exhibiting any wish to manure the roots.
That a copy of Mr Gregory's letter be sent to the Chief Secretary, with an intimation that if it should meet the approval of the Government (as a contribution to the expedition), the Philosophical Institute will open a negotiation with Mr Gregory to take charge of the expedition.
Mr A K Smith moved, and Mr George Holmes seconded, the following resolution:
That immediate steps be taken to raise the sum yet wanting to complete the amount of £2,000 by private subscription, in order to secure the munificent gift of £1,000 made by a Victorian colonist, under the above condition, for the furtherance of Australian exploration. With, this view, that each member of the Institute be invited, by circular, to collect subscriptions for this patriotic object, if possible, amounting to not less than £20 each.
After the usual vote of thanks to the Chairman, the proceedings terminated.
Related archives: Age, Thursday 21 April 1859: 5
Related archives: Argus, Tuesday 26 April 1859: 6 Suggestion from 'A Colonial Artist' for a 'Sixpenny National Lottery' to raise funds.
Friday 22 - Monday 25 April 1858.
Holidays in Victoria: Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Day, Easter Monday.
Thursday, 5 May 1859.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee, held at 4.00 pm at the Mechanic's Institute, Collins-street.
Present: Stawell (Chair), Hodgson, Iffla, Elliott, Wilkie, Councillor Kenny, Dr Becker.
£600 had been raised, but there was still £1,400 to raise.
The Hon John Hodgson said he found it difficult to account for the extremely small attendance, except upon the supposition that all the members of the two Committees summoned by Dr Macadam had not received the summons. Dr Macadam was not able to be present, but had deputed a gentleman to attend in his place, from whom he understood that all the summons had been duly sent. It had been suggested that the project should be abandoned altogether; but for his part he would be extremely reluctant to give up the enterprise, and hoped that a similar feeling would animate other members of the two Committees. He should, seeing what a very small attendance there was, move the adjournment of the meeting until the following Thursday, at the same hour. Dr Iffla seconded the motion.
Mr Hodgson, in reply to Mr Elliott, said he had seen a notice which required all the members of the two Committees to bring their collecting books with them that afternoon. He trusted the Press would draw the attention of members to the absolute necessity which existed for pushing their exertions with promptness, for unless the required funds were raised in a very short time, the £1,000 donation would lapse.
Dr Becker, seeing the urgency of the case, proposed, as an amendment, that the meeting adjourn until Monday afternoon next; but on its being represented that members would experience inconvenience in attending upon that day, withdrew his motion.
The Chairman [Stawell] thought the only persons who had discharged their duty in the matter were the gentlemen of the Press. They had taken every opportunity of directing public attention to the subject, and recommending the objects of the movement, but, for some unexplained reason, people did not come forward as they ought to have done. He considered it to be the duty of tho members of the two Committees to bring with them as many co-members as possible to the meeting next Thursday, so that some definite conclusion might be arrived at, for in his opinion it would be far better to abandon the project altogether, than to be constantly putting off action.
Mr Hodgson said it might be desirable for the public to know that a considerable amount, in all about £600, had been already collected, of which amount Dr Mueller had about £90 in hand. Mr Kenny and himself had been promised £316, of which more than £200 had been paid. Mr Elliott said he had been promised £27, and had already received £15. He had no doubt but that he could get £50, if the matter were taken up warmly by all the Committee. Mr Kenny thought that if even very moderate exertions were used by the Committee, the project would be perfectly successful.
The motion for adjournment was then agreed to.
Related archives: Age, Friday 6 May 1859: 5
• Minutes of the meeting, 5 May 1859.
• p. 22. Minutes of the EC meeting, 5 May 1859.
Tuesday 10 May 1859.
Argus, Tuesday 10 May 1859: 4
Is the noble offer of £1,000, in aid of the exploration of the interior, to lapse in default of the conditions being complied with, or is it not ? Is the colony of Victoria, is the city of Melbourne, willing to incur the reproach of so discreditable an act of parsimony, and of manifesting so profound an indifference to so important an object? Why, the sum required to be raised by voluntary contribution is absolutely pitiful in comparison with the wealth of the community, the liberality of the individual donor, and the magnitude and value of the results which that liberality may enable us to achieve !
Is it apathy, or is it a deprecatory estimate of geographical science in general, and of a knowledge of the island we inhabit in particular, which induces men to make no response to the appeal put forth for subscriptions ? It cannot be the want of means, and it involves a severe censure upon the intelligence and public spirit of our population, to assume that it is a want of inclination. Yet, if we reject the former explanation, the latter presents itself as the sole alternative. Is it, then, a matter of utter unconcern to us whether the interior of this island-continent is a sterile desert or a basin of verdure - whether it is a scene of unmitigated desolation and a trackless solitude, or whether it is sprinkled with fertile oases, freshened by springs welling up in the midst of these green islands ? Have we so little of the spirit of adventure, of the thirst for knowledge, and of the sentiment of curiosity, that we can live for years on the margin of a great mystery, on the border land of the regions of geographical romance, almost the only Terra incognita on the face of the earth, and not stir a finger or expend a doit in providing for the revelation of the mystery? Suppose General Tom Thumb should carry out his rumored intention of visiting this colony, would he reap much loss than £2,000 by the visit? And would those who begrudge a small contribution towards a great national object, hesitate for a moment to disburse their half-crowns for the purpose of staring at a ridiculous pygmy ? Yet what a satire upon public intelligence and public spirit would be implied by the enrichment of the mankind and the niggardliness of the community in regard to the exploration fund!
We observe that an adjourned meeting of the Committee is appointed to be held at the Mechanics' Institute on Thursday next, when it is hoped that a body comprising some two hundred individuals, including the members of both Houses of Parliament, will not be represented by half-a-dozen persons, as upon the last occasion. Those who approve of the object for which the Committee was organised, should signify the same either by their personal attendance or by their contributions.
It appears that a sum of about £600 has been already subscribed, and as only a few months will intervene; before the expiration of the year during which the donation will be available, no time should be lost in complying with the conditions attached to the gift. This might be easily accomplished by each member of the Committee making himself responsible for the collection of a certain part of the sum total. The proportion - if all the members of the Committee would assume an equal share of responsibility - to be collected by each individual would be insignificant in amount, and would entail very little trouble in procuring it. A limit should be assigned to the period during which the collection should take place, and at the termination of the time fixed upon, say three months, the sums guaranteed should be handed over to the Treasurer of the Fund, so as to enable him to claim the promised £1,000, and to justify the initiation of measures to give practical effect to the donor's wishes; for by that time it is probable that the camels will have arrived, and that it will become necessary to make preparations for an expedition which will demand the exercise of the utmost forethought, a minute and patient consideration of innumerable points of detail, and a studious attention to every precautionary suggestion that is capable of obviating difficulties and diminishing the risk of failure.
Let those who purpose contributing towards so desirable an enterprise do it promptly, for the sake of the expedition, and for the credit of the colony Let it not be said that we are incapable of being acted upon by any other than sordid motives that an act of splendid liberality neither excites our approbation nor our sympathies; and that, while we are profuse in our expenditure where our personal gratification is concerned, we are close-fisted niggards when appealed to for subscriptions on behalf of an object immediately beneficial to the cause of science, and remotely, perhaps, of great advantage to the material interests of themselves and of posterity.
Thursday, 12 May 1859.
Adjourned meeting of the Exploration Committee [joint meeting with the Exploration Fund Raising Committee], held at 4.00 pm at the Mechanic's Institute on Collins-street.
Present: Hodgson (Chair), Eades, Wilkie, Becker, Iffla, Macadam, Dickson, Smith, Mr Butchant and 2 other gentlemen (Age - there was a scanty attendance).
Apologies from Stawell, and Mueller who was ill. Barkly and Finnis were present for part of the proceedings.
- Macadam read a letter from O'Shanassy acknowledging receipt of the Committee's letter and stating that the Government would consider the Committee's resolutions and take the necessary steps to purchase camels.
- Hodgson suggested each Committee member be responsible for raising £25 each.
- A discussion was held over proposing Gregory as Leader of the expedition.
Argus, Friday 13 May 1859: 6
A combined meeting of the Exploration Fund Committee and the Exploration Committee of the Philosophical Institute was held at 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon at the Mechanics' Institution. About 20 gentlemen were present. The Hon. John Hodgson occupied the chair.
Dr Macadam (the Honorary Secretary) read the following letter from the Chief Secretary's office on the subject of purchasing camels:
I have the honor, by desire of the Chief Secretary, to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 8th inst., and I am to inform you that the resolutions adopted by the Exploration Committee, which you have submitted therewith, will receive the early attention and consideration of the Government, and that no time will be lost in taking the necessary steps for the purchase of the camels required for the expedition.
(Signed) J Moore.
The Chairman [Hodgson] regretted the absence of Sir William Stawell, whose official duties in the Supreme Court prevented his attendance, and read a letter from the Chief Justice to that effect. With reference to the exploration of the interior, he (the Chairman) regretted that so little energy on the part of the two Committees had hitherto been shown, but it seemed as if public spirit had at last been aroused. So as to foster that spirit, it had been suggested to him that the members of the Committees, and any other gentlemen who chose, should make themselves responsible for the collection of a certain amount - say £25 each, or any other sum. By that means, considering the number of names upon the Committees, the required sum would be very shortly raised. He would leave it to the gentlemen present to suggest the measures to be adopted. He had £25 more to hand in, and hoped the gentlemen present were prepared to show that they had collected something considerable.
The Secretary [Macadam] said he had received £27, 10s. from Mr Sizar Elliott, £10, 10s. from Mr Denistoun Wood, and £5, 5s. from Mr P.A.C. O'Farrell, the latter gentleman asking permission to retain his collector's book. Dr Mueller had sent a letter, stating his inability to be present at the meeting, but enclosed £70 already collected. He had been promised £20 more, and would make himself responsible, in all, for £150 (Hear). Mr James Smith agreed to make himself responsible for £20, and expressed a hope that all the gentlemen present would promise to collect as much, or more.
The Chairman [Hodgson] said he and Mr Kenny had together collected upwards of £300, and he would be responsible for £100 additional.
Mr Thomas Dickson regretted the badness of the times, and said that Melbourne was always being stirred for religious and domestic purposes. He himself had been prevented from attending at the former meeting, and had nothing to report at the present. Neither would he bind himself to collect any particular sum of money but would do all in his power to advance the objects of the project. An article had appeared that week in the Age newspaper [Monday 9 May 1859:4], which, in his opinion, had materially affected the collection of subscriptions. Perhaps the Chairman could give some explanation on the subject?
The Chairman [Hodgson] said that he had read the article in question. He understood that some proposition had been made to Mr Gregory, but, as he was not present at the meeting of the Philosophic Institute referred to, was not aware of the terms. At the same time, he thought it was extremely premature of the Institute to make any promise whatever, and that action on the subject ought to have been deferred until the joint Committees had conferred together, in whose councils the subscribers to the fund had also a right to join.
Mr Dickson thought the remarks of the Chairman, going through the Press, would prevent the cause suffering.
Dr Macadam explained that the resolution alluded to, which he would ready, simply emanated from a portion of the members of the Institute, and not from the Committee, or from the Exploration Committee.
The resolution is as follows:
That a copy of Mr Gregory's letter be sent to the Chief Secretary, with an intimation that if it should meet the approval of the Government (as a contributor to the expedition), the Philosophical Institute will open a negotiation with Mr Gregory to take charge of the expedition.
Dr Becker said the letter from Mr Gregory was dated December 1858, and was not read for some time subsequently. It was not improbable that the discoveries in the neighborhood of Lake Torrens had altered that gentleman's views with regard to leading the exploring expedition. He thought that letter, and the action taken upon it, had directed the pen of the writer of the Age article alluded to.
Mr Butchart handed in £30 (£20 from Mr Thos Chirnside and £10 from Messrs J and J Winter). He had collected the money since seeing the circular calling the meeting, and had no doubt would be able to got £25 more very shortly (Hear).
The Chairman [Hodgson], in reply to Mr Dickson, said it was the intention of the Government to act liberally. They would, besides giving camels, make a money donation. The amount, of course, he could not state.
Dr Becker suggested a bazaar in aid of the fund. Mr Dickson did not think much money would be gathered by having a bazaar.
Dr Iffla, who had just come in, was informed by the Chairman that about £700 had been collected, and, with promises, £1,000 might be considered as virtually in hand.
Mr Dickson, while doubting whether any substantial result would ensue from a bazaar, at the same time considered it a perfectly legitimate course to adopt for the purpose of raising funds. The Chairman said unless the assistance and cooperation of the ladies were enlisted, he did not see much chance of a bazaar succeeding. Dr Iffla thought the only chance was to obtain money by direct subscription, as the machinery of a bazaar was extremely cumbrous.
Mr James Smith suggested the appointment of a few paid collectors, so as to expedite the collection of funds. The Chairman put the suggestion to the meeting, which was agreed to.
Dr Wilkie read a letter from the Town Clerk of Williamstown, promising £15 from the Municipal Council, in case the exploration project were not abandoned.
Mr Butchart said if the Committees were to send a paid collector to that much-maligned race, the squatters, the money would be raised in ten days (Hear, hear). It was agreed to send a collector up country, but no appointment was made.
Dr Becker stated that Captain Cadell had expressed his willingness to collect subscriptions along the Darling, Murrumbidgee, and other rivers in that part of the country. If the Chairman would give his authority, he (Dr Becker), would communicate with Captain Cadell on the subject.
That Captain Cadell's name be added to the Committee, and he be authorised to collect subscriptions.
The Chairman [Hodgson] asked Dr Eades if he would lay the matter of exploration before the City Council, so as to secure the cooperation of that body. Mr James Smith suggested that the example of the small Municipality of Williamstown should be laid before the Corporation of Melbourne. Dr Eades would be most happy to do all in his power. The reason he had moved so little in the matter, was because the affair appeared to have dropped through. Public excitement in behalf of exploration had been entirely allayed, and public sympathy turned into other channels. At the same time, suppose each member of the Committee took a certain section of the city in which to collect subscriptions, the money would soon be gathered, and if public meetings were held in the different wards no difficulty whatever would be experienced in realising the required funds.
His Excellency the Governor [Barkly], accompanied by [his private secretary] Captain [Octavius Frederic] Timins, here entered the room, and the Chairman explained to him what had been done at the meeting, and stated the amount already collected. He was sure that the meeting would be delighted to hear any suggestion from His Excellency.
His Excellency [Barkly] had nothing to suggest; he merely came to show the interest he felt in the matter, and was glad to hear that there was such an excellent prospect of collecting the required funds.
The Secretary read a letter from Captain Harrison, of Castlemaine, in which he stated that 200 subscribers of 2s. 6d. each had been obtained by him in a very short space of time.
His Excellency here left the room.
The Chairman [Hodgson], after alluding to the presence of the Governor, who had promised £50 to the fund, felt sure that the members of the Committees would be stimulated to fresh exertions. It was then agreed to adjourn the meeting until Tuesday next, at 4 o'clock.
Dr Eades received the sanction of the Committee to call ward meetings, and thought the Aldermen of the other wards would adopt the same course. During the meeting Dr Macadam read a letter from Dr Mueller, which stated that £50 had been collected by Mr McMillan, of Gipps Land, and conveyed a promise of more shortly.
After a vote of thanks to the Chairman [Hodgson], the proceedings terminated.
Argus, Friday 13 May 1859: 5
At last something like life has been infused into the actions of the combined Committees who have undertaken the task of collecting £2,000 towards the Exploration Fund. The money now in hand amounts to upwards of £700, and in all about £1,000 have been actually promised. Some of the speakers at the meeting held yesterday afternoon spoke in terms of greater confidence as to the result of their labors, and some few went so far as to guarantee certain amounts of money. An additional impetus was added to the sudden enthusiasm of the gentlemen present by the arrival, in the middle of the proceedings, of Sir Henry Barkly, accompanied by [his private secretary] Captain [Octavius Frederic] Timins. His Excellency was evidently highly gratified at hearing of the change much was beginning to work in the affairs of the two committees, and ventured to anticipate a flattering result. A bold assertion made by Mr Butchart, that in 10 days "that much maligned race," the squatters, would, if waited upon by a collector, contribute the whole sum required, was received with applause; and by way of striking the iron while hot, it was agreed incontinently to appoint the required functionary.
The cause is evidently taken to heart in Gipps Land, for it was announced by letter at the meeting, that £50 had been already collected by Mr McMillan, a gentleman whose exertions on behalf of the aborigines are favourably known, and that he expected soon to double the amount. Captain Cadell, who had requested to be allowed to collect subscriptions in aid upon the Darling and Murrumbidgee, was made a member of the Committee, and it was suggested that the Corporation of Melbourne should follow the good example set by the small Municipality of Williamstown, who are announced to be contributors of £15. Dr Eades promised to promulgate the matter, and received the sanction of the members of the Committees present to hold ward meetings.
Age, Saturday 14 May 1859: 4
To the Editor of the Age - Exploration of Australia
Sir, The committee for the above appears to be under the impression that the camels were sent for in order to be handed over to the committee for its use. Never was a delusion more fallacious. The camels were sent for by a vote of the House, and will be at the vote of the next Assembly for appropriation. The Government for the time is only the trustee in holding the property in the camels - has no independent power in employing them, and has not as yet given to the committee any direct expression, so far as I can glean, of any positive leaning either way, as to how the camels should be used.
The committee is a private association of citizens, and has no power or authority to touch the camels, excepting by the sanction of the Executive, acting by the instructions of the Assembly. I would suggest to the committee that its functions are first of all to lay down a good scheme of exploration. This has not been done. Nothing whatsoever is said about it having laid down a good practical scheme. Upon it ask gifts of money. Not money first, and some unknown scheme afterwards. With a good common-sense scheme propounded, the money may be got, and then application can be made for the loan of the camels, should this or any Government see fit to trust the execution of the exploration to a private association, and I apprehend if such application met the views of the Government of the day, the House would, or might be induced to assent to it.
Such appears to me to be the position of the case at present, as I know it was the opinion, held of it by members of the Cabinet and Assembly some months since.
I am, Sir,
Your Constant Reader.
Related archive: Age, Monday 9 May 1859:4
Related archive: Age, Friday 13 May 1859: 5
Related archive: Age, Friday 13 May 1859: 6
• p. 23. Minutes of the [adjourned] EC meeting, 12 May 1859.
Tuesday, 17 May 1859.
Meeting of the Exploration Committee held at the Mechanic's Institute.
Present: Hodgson (Chair), Iffla, Wilkie, Eades, Macadam, Elliott, Kenny, Bleasdale and other gentlemen, Gillbee, Mackenna.
Fund raising business.
Macadam suggested the camels would be useless unless accompanied by their native drivers.
Argus, Wednesday 18 May 1859: 4
The Committee formed for the purpose of raising funds to carry into effect this object met yesterday afternoon, at the Mechanics' Institute. The Hon John Hodgson occupied the chair. The minutes of the previous meeting having been read and confirmed.
Dr Macadam, the Hon secretary, reported having received a subscription of £9 10s. from the staff of the Magnetic Observatory (Cheers). He also had great pleasure in stating that the employees of the Botanical Gardens had subscribed towards the fund, and forwarded to him the sum of £21 10s. 0d (Applause). With regard to the appointment of efficient collectors for the several districts, he should be glad to hear from any gentleman present the result of his labors.
Dr Eades said that he had written to nearly all the collectors who had undertaken the duty, but sufficient time had not elapsed for him to receive their replies. As far as regarded the appointment of Mr George Hartwell, he (Dr Eades) could vouch for his entering into the heart of the undertaking con amore; he was perfectly sure Mr Hartwell would do his utmost to collect subscriptions towards the fund. The appointment of the present collector on behalf of the Benevolent Asylum was then discussed.
The Chairman [Hodgson] stated that he considered that gentleman could not satisfactorily perform both duties, the institution to which he was officially attached having a claim on his entire services. He expressed an opinion to the effect that the squatters should be communicated with, for, being a wealthy and numerous class, of superior education, they would very probably be disposed to subscribe liberally to the fund (Hear).
Dr Macadam said he had received a, promise of £50 from Mr Miller, of Gipps Land (Applause). He had heard that several of the squatters had offered to make a donation of 'stock' towards the fund, in lieu of or in addition to a subscription in money. Mr Miller, who took a great interest in the undertaking, had strongly advised the exploring party to start from the north-west coast. He had heard many arguments advanced, pro and con, in this matter, but the route proposed to be taken, had not yet been decided upon, and would be determined hereafter. He was of opinion that it was of no use purchasing camels for the expedition, unless they could secure the services of the drivers to whom the animals were accustomed (Hear, hear). In the first place, the camels, being of a discerning and intelligent character, would not obey or be managed by anyone whom they had not previously known; and, secondly, the drivers they had hitherto been in the habit of obeying might prove most useful to the expedition in other respects. He believed that it would be necessary to procure some 20 or 30 camels, and as many drivers. He did not consider that there would be any insuperable difficulty in the way of communicating with them, owing to their language.
The Chairman promised a further donation of £20, in addition to his previous subscription, and stated that he would ask all his friends to put their names down on the list. Six of the City Councillors had subscribed £11, and Mr Davis had already paid him the sum of £6 towards the fund. He was aware of Dr Eades' application to the Council and its result. He know the Council had no power to vote away into other channels the funds collected for the avowed purpose of improving the city.
Dr Wilkie (the Treasurer) said that the Council at Williamstown had voted £15. He hoped to receive a subscription from the City Council. He thought that if some gentlemen waited on the clerks and officers connected with the Government departments, as well as those of the different banks in the city, a considerable additional sum would be collected. A few months ago he had waited on several of the banks with a view to obtain a donation, but, having considered the matter among themselves, the directors had expressed an opinion that it would be impolitic to grant a sum of money, but at the same time intimated that they would have no objection to subscribe privately. He begged to offer himself as a collector, and should be happy to undertake the duties.
• p. 25. Minutes of the EC meeting, 17 May 1859.
Tuesday, 17 May 1859.
Age, Wednesday 18 May 1869: 5
A meeting was held at the Bull and Mouth Hotel [283-291 Bourke-street] on Saturday evening, for the purpose of determining the best means of collecting subscriptions towards the Exploration Fund. Dr Eades was present, but, owing to the inclemency of the weather, very few persons attended, and it was considered advisable to postpone the meeting to a future date. We understand that the Aldermen of the various wards will hold meetings for the purpose of obtaining subscriptions.
Monday, 23 May 1859.
Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee [joint meeting of the Exploration Fund Raising Committee], held at 4.00 pm at the Mechanic's Institute.
Present: Hodgson (Chair), Dickson, Bleasdale, Macadam, Eades, Wilkie.
Argus, Tuesday 24 May 1859: 4
A meeting of the combined Committees appointed to raise funds, and otherwise direct the management of this undertaking, took place yesterday afternoon, at the Mechanics' Institute. The Hon John Hodgson M.L.C, occupied the chair.
The Hon secretary, Dr Macadam, read the minutes of the previous meetings, which were confirmed. The following gentlemen were appointed to canvas the several wards of the city, with the view of obtaining subscriptions in aid of the fund:
- Mr Lennox for Lonsdale Ward
- Mr Hartwell for La Trobe Ward
- Mr Stark for Bourke Ward
- Mr Anderson for Gipps Ward
- Mr Claxton for Macarthur Ward and the shipping in the Bay.
These gentlemen were furnished with subscription-books, containing the written authority of the chairman.
Dr Eades stated, that the ward meeting convened by him on Saturday last had been postponed, on account of the smallness of the attendance, which he attributed to the unfavorable state of the weather.
The Chairman expressed the hope that the public, now that the object sought to be attained had been thoroughly ventilated, would respond generously to the appeals of the Committee, through its collectors.
Drs Wilkie and Macadam were requested to visit all the public offices of the city, in the hope that the example set by the employee of the Flagstaff Observatory and of the Botanical Gardens would be generally followed. After some further discussion had taken place, the Committees adjourned until Monday next at 4 o'clock, when the collectors were requested to be present with their respective reports.
• Minutes, 23 May 1859.
• p. 26 . Minutes of the EC meeting, 23 May 1859.
Argus, Tuesday 31 May 1859: 5
The Committee of the Exploration Fund met yesterday afternoon. Subscriptions to the amount of £49 were announced from the collectors appointed to canvass Lonsdale Ward; and the treasurer mentioned that the banks had promised to contribute to the Fund. The collectors of Bourke Ward and Macarthur Ward handed in £17, 6s. 6d. and £3 11s. 6d. respectively. The following donations were announced, in addition to some smaller contributions, which brought up this aggregate sum deposited to £120:- the Hon Henry Miller £10; Mr Ebden 10 guineas; Dr Howitt 10 guineas; the proprietors of The Argus £5; and Mr P. Higgins £5.
A letter was read from Mr C. Ledger, offering 10lb weight of coca leaves for the use of the expedition. These leaves possess highly nutritious properties, and are capable of supplying the want of both of food and drink.
• p. 27. Minutes of the EC meeting, 30 May 1859.
Argus, Tuesday 7 June 1859: 4
The Exploration Fund Committee met yesterday afternoon, when subscriptions amounting to about £80 were announced, including £13 19s. collected by Mr J. Carre Riddell, and £10 10s. from Messrs. Miles, Kington, and Co.
A communication was received from Captain Cadell, liberally offering his vessel for the gratuitous conveyance of the men, animals, and stores, belonging to the expedition to the starting point, on any of the tributaries of the Murray.
It was intimated in the course of the meeting that the German Association contemplated giving a concert for the benefit of the Exploration Fund.
• p. 28. Minutes of the EC meeting, 6 June 1859.
Thursday 9 June 1859.
Age, Thursday 9 June 1859: 4
To The Editor. Sir:
This committee is collecting moneys, and "Captain Cadell offers to convey men beasts, and stores up the Murray to the starting point" etc., and the whole case as simulatively left before the colony is, - "the committee is to have the camels - the committee is acting in concert with Government". I humbly ask you, Sir, to favor the public with information on this subject.
Has the committee any official existence? Did not the Government, long since, give intimation at the Mechanics' Institute, implying its purpose of doing the exploring? Is this committee authorised, even to imply, or to cause others to infer, that the camels will be handed over to its jurisdiction ? Is the committee acting with a semblance of duplicity ?
Has Government - or can any Government here, per se, authorise this committee to use the camels; or can Government, without the sanction of 'the House', part with its property in and control over the camels?
Your obedient servant,
A Daily Reader.
Tuesday 19 July 1859.
The South Australian parliament placed £1,000 on the estimates as a reward for the "first person who shall succeed in crossing through the country lately discovered by Mr Stuart, to either the north or north-western shores of the Australian continent, west of the 143° of east longitude and north of the southern parallel of latitude at 23½° [S]".
The House then debated sending a vessel to the north-west coast to assist an expedition, and on Wednesday 3 August 1859, Finke and Chambers petitioned the House for £1,000 to fit out an expedition under Stuart, with a guarantee of £5,000 if he reached the north coast. By the end of July the reward was increased to £2,000.
Related archive: South Australian Advertiser, Thursday 4 August 1859: 3
Related archive: Adelaide Observer, Saturday 6 August 1859: 2
Related archive: Argus,
Monday 1 August 1859: 5 [The news was reported in Melbourne in the Argus thus]:
South Australia: By the Havilah we have incomplete files from Adelaide to the 28th ultimo ... The following additional items have been placed upon the Estimates ... a reward to the first explorer who succeeds in crossing this continent, either to the north or north-western shores, 2,000l.
South Australian Advertiser, Wednesday 20 July 1859:3
South Australia: Parliament - Exploration to the North or Northwestern shore.
Mr Hawker moved they ... consider the propriety of presenting an address to His Excellency the Governor-in-Chief, praying that the sum of £1,000 might be placed on the Estimates as a reward to the first person who should succeed in "crossing from this colony to the north-western or northern shore of this continent".
Hawker remarked that from the manner in which the motion had been received he could see that the House as well as himself appreciated the immense importance of estalishing a line of communication between this colony and the north-western or northern portion of this continent. On the previous day they had received intimation that Mr Stuart who had, by his perseverance and judgment, previously made such important discoveries, had again proceeded in a north-western direction with still more important results than previously.
A proposition had been made by the Home Government, and an agent had been sent out by the last mail, to establish telegraphic communication between Great Britain and all the settled portions of the Australian colonies ... He was sure that eyery hon. member must see the enormous importance it would be to this colony if this should be the first settled portion of the Australian colonies which the telegraph would reach, and receive the first telegraphic news from Europe ... On the following Thursday, Mr Todd, the Superintendent of Telegraphs, would proceed to Melbourne for the purpose of communicating with the Superintendents of Telegraphs in Victoria and New South Wales upon all matters connected with electric telegraphs, and if Mr Todd could take down intelligence that this sum of £1,000 had been voted, and when it "was known that a good tract of country had been discovered for many hundred miles in the direction of the north-western shore", it might modify the views in reference to a cable in the north-eastern portion of the continent. He, therefore, formally moved "That an address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-in-Chief, praying that a sum of £1,000 might be placed on the Estimates, as a reward to the first person who should succeed in crossing from this colony to the north-western or northern portion of the Australian continent". Mr Hay cordially seconded the motion ...
... Mr Strangways ... thought, however, that the terms should be fixed a little more definitely ... amend his motion by inserting "via Stuart's country from Port Augusta to between 115° and 143° longitude" ...
... The Attorney-General would suggest to the westward of 143° of longitude, and to the north of the tropic, which would probably meet the views of all hon. members.
Mr Hawker adopted the amendment suggested by the Attorney-General, and the motion as amended was carried.
Wednesday 20 July 1859
A public meeting of the Geelong Exploration Fund was held at the Geelong Town Hall. Attendance was poor.
Town of Geelong - Exploration Fund.
I do hereby convene a public meeting of the inhabitants of the town and district of Geelong, to be held at the Town Hall on Wednesday, the 20th July instant, at three o'clock p.m., for the purpose of raising subscriptions in aid of the fund for the 'exploration of Central Australia'. The presence of merchants, traders and others to assist in organising measures for developing the internal resources of the Colony, is most earnestly requested on this most important question.
William Burrow, Mayor. Town Hall, Geelong, 15th July 1859.
Geelong Advertiser, Thursday 21 July 1859: 2
The only persons who attended the meeting called for 3 o'clock yesterday by his Worship the Mayor of Geelong, were his Worship the Mayor, Mr O'Meara, Dr Thomson, and a reporter from this office. Dr Thomson and Mr O'Meara seeing the unlikelihood of any business being done, soon left. His Worship and the reporter remained till twenty minutes to 4 o'clock, but no one else arrived.
The Mayor stated that the occasion of his calling the meeting was the receipt of a letter, dated the 7th July, from Dr Wilkie, drawing his attention to the fact, that only four weeks remained in which to make up the £2,000, the collection of which would entitle the Melbourne Exploration Committee to draw the £1,000, some time ago anonymously given on those terms. In answer to that letter his Worship had written to Dr Wilkie (who acts as honorary treasurer to the Melbourne committee) asking for information to lay before any meeting that he might call in the proposed behalf, and asking also that some member of the Melbourne committee might be deputed to attend such meeting and to answer any question that might be put. To that letter Dr Wilkie had replied that he had laid his Worship's letter before the exploration committee, and that no promise could be made with reference to the attendance of any member of the Melbourne committee; but that Dr Muller would write a letter containing statements which could be read to the Geelong meeting. His Worship had yesterday morning received a letter from Dr Mueller and handed it to our representative for publication, as follows:
Melbourne Botanical and Zoological Gardens,
Sir, - Not yet fully recovered from a long illness I must regret not being able to respond to your request of being present at the meeting convened by you to elicit a more general support from your city in the geographical development of Australia.
By the Honorable Dr Wilkie, to whom the credit is due of having first excited active interest in this colony for the furtherance of Australian exploration, I have been requested to address to you an outline of our proceedings in Melbourne for this purpose, and to otter for the consideration of your meeting a few brief remarks respecting the plans of operation mid the probable advantages to be derived from an undertaking in which every colonist of Australia must be deeply interested.
In regard to the first point, I may observe that in addition to the labors of the Exploration Committee elected by the Philosophical Institute, we have the advantage of co-operation of a Financial Committee constituted to collect the needful funds for the enterprise. Reports of their proceedings will be found in the volume of our transactions for I858, which I beg to transmit simultaneously with, this letter.
You will be aware that about eleven months ago the munificent gift of £1,000 for promoting the exploration of Australia was made by a Victorian colonist, whose name, through the patriotic donor's modesty and disinterestedness, remains yet unknown to us.
But his condition of raising within a year a double sum by voluntary subscription, has yet to be fulfilled, since but few gentlemen of the committee were able to devote sufficient time for collecting contributions; and although in some instances a most liberal support is to be recorded, yet the sum obtained by the combined effort of the two committees falls yet short of £1,000.
It occurred to us that without difficulty, by the united aid of gentlemen in various parts of the colony, at least part of the yet wanting amount may be raised, and to yourself grateful acknowledgment is due for rendering so considerately your powerful support in the good cause.
Although the sum of £3,000, if at all obtained would appear but very inadequate to the enterprise, particularly if undertaken, an it is proposed on a more extensive plan, it must yet be remembered that many months since the government ordered 24 camels for the proposed expedition from India. When thus provided with the principal means of transport, the party may, if we succeed to raise the above sum, be fully equipped and also provided with travelling supplies and depot stores for one season be proportioned to just expectations, we may then safely trust to the liberality of our Legislators for such subsidies as will be necessary carrying on the expedition for a series of years. The general plan of operation, which the committee recommends will be such as is likely to insure the safety of the party, and a at least a gradual if not rapid exploration of the main portions of the unknown interior.
Should, as suggested by Mr A. Gregory, a depot be established on the lower part of Cooper's Cree, in about longitude 140° 30', the explorers would then be enabled to reconnoitre from a far inland point the central parts of Australia until suitable localities, and remoter than the other are found for advancing gradually and safely the depot.
To judge from analogy permanent watering places are likely even to be found in our desert, although perhaps only very remote from each other, and unless poisonous herbs or the spears of the natives become destructive to the camels, these admirable animals which, will, find even in the parched and desolate regions of our Sahara the means of subsistence, will afford for the first time to the Victorian expedition immense advantages over those which were previously in the field.
If we further recollect that the late geographical researches of Mr Augustus Gregory, in Tropical Australia, of Major Warburton, Mr Babbage, and Mr Sturt, in South Australia, and of Mr F. A. Gregory, in the country north east of Sharks Bay, have considerably diminished, the extent of unknown country between the traversed tracts, and that there seem to the final exploration of the whole interior no obstacles which under the advantages of a favorable season and under the enjoyment of those means, which successes or failures in former explorations suggested, might not be overcome by experience, skill, caution, and perseverance - we may then regard the expedition proposed by the colonists of Victoria as timely formed, fully deserving the support of the country and well auguring of success.
Since this year the navigation of the Darling has also offered unexpected facilities for transit to the remotest interior, and thus a main depot on Cooper's Creek may be kept constantly supplied at comparatively inconsiderable expense, the enterprising Captain Cadell having even generously offered the use of his steamer for the transport of the expedition stores up the Darling.
Should the camels, as may be expected, soon arrive, the party could be organised and reach Cooper's Creek sufficiently long before the next rainy season sets in, to recruit fully their animals previous to the final start into tho unexplored country.
The advantages which are likely to arise from this enterprise are too obvious and too multifarious as to need, you will concur, any detailed explication. Suffice it here to say, that the fixing of direct overland routes from the southern colonies to Arulien's [sic: Arnhem's?] Land would probably tend to the speedy, occupation of the fertile pastures of north-west Australia, and thereby to the subsequent gradual extent of civilization around our tropical coasts, wherever harbors and sea communication facilitate export. And not without importance is assuredly this consideration at a time, when the long cherished hope for telegraphic communication between Australia and the northern hemisphere, is at the verge of realisation. And should even these great results not be promoted by the proposed journey, it will still be sufficiently important to secure national interest and support for the completion of the charts of this continent, and for the elucidation of the productions of nature which, never without purpose, a bountiful providence has strewed over every part of the globe.
I remain with the greatest respect, your Worship's very humble servant,
The 'Report of the Proceedings' referred to in the above letter is as follows:
[See: Macadam's Circular dated 15 September 1858]
His worship the Mayor states that he is ready to receive subscriptions to the funds; and suggests that, as the terms prescribed by the donor of the L1000 will expire in four weeks, those who mean to give had better do so quickly.
Geelong Advertiser, Thursday 21 July 1859: 2
The 'Exploration Meeting' called for yesterday was a failure. Two persons only attended. We predicted some time ago that the public would not give their money or waste their time to forward what looks like a mere dilletanti pic-nic scheme. The 'Exploration Committee' have never yet laid before the public any plan of a character to command confidence or to justify support. If they have such a plan, the best course they can adopt is to publish it.
Geelong Advertiser, Thursday 21 July 1859: 2
Public opinion is just now peculiarly pre-occupied; and matters which in ordinary times would receive considerable attention lose much of their interest by comparison with other subjects of more immediately momentous importance. People will not allow their minds to be diverted from those objects , which at this moment have an undoubtedly paramount claim upon their attention; and thus it happens that something very like lukewarmness is liable to be directed towards subjects which at any other time would claim a very large share of general interest. The remarkable failure experienced yesterday by His Worship the Mayor, in his endeavor to get together a meeting for the purpose of aiding the Melbourne Exploration Committee, was an instance in point.
It is certainly open to question whether the colonists of Victoria ought at this precise juncture to withdraw any portion of their attention from the business of thoroughly occupying and efficiently defending the territory they already possess, even to promote so important an undertaking as the further exploration of the interior of the continent. The moment is at the best not opportune for the attempt to get up any very great public movement in that direction. Moreover, there is a gratifying conviction in the minds of most persons that the work of exploration is certain to go on, even without any public aid at all. Those whom it most concerns will always prosecute it more or less vigorously, though all others stand aloof.
Were it, however, the obvious duty pf the inhabitants of the settled portions of Australia, to make precisely at this time some conjoint effort towards raising the veil of ignorance which hangs over that which may prove to be a highly valuable portion of the land we live in, it would still be matter of doubt whether this would be best done by the agency of the Melbourne Exploration Committee or by some other.
The liberal incognito enthusiast, who some time ago put down L1000 to be used for exploration, purposes, with the proviso that it should first be trebled by the donations of the public, had an undeniable right to attach that (as it has proved) difficult condition to his very handsome and otherwise perfectly free gift. So also have the public, before they contribute towards the object, a right to demand, as the condition on which they do so, that some intelligible plan of operations be laid before them as a guarantee that those who ask their money are ready to spend it and to spend it to some purpose, so that they may neither lose interest on their principal by delay, nor lose the principal itself by improvidence in its application.
We have said already and we repeat it again, that we are confident, were there now before the public, a man with a scheme looking likely to do any, no matter how little, real work in the field of Australian exploration, the money needed would be obtained from the public without difficulty. Had yesterdays' (attempted) meeting been called by such a man, the Town Hall (even at the inconvenient hour for which that meeting was called) would have been crowded.
Tuesday, 26 July 1859.
A Dramatic Performance in aid of the Exploration Fund by members of the newly formed Garrick Club was held at the Theatre Royal, Bourke-street.
The proceeds of the amateur performance given the other night at the Theatre Royal amount to about £50.
Under the Patronage of His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, K.C.B., Lieutenant-Colonel Ross, and the Members of the Royal Victorian Volunteer Yeomanry Corps.
Amateur Performance in aid of the Exploration Fund on Tuesday evening, July 26,cwill be presented Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton's comedy of:
|Lord Glossmore||Mr J B Philp|
|Sir John Vesey||Mr H Biers|
|Sir Frederick Blount||Mr W H Hickling|
|Stout||Mr H G Turner|
|Graves||Mr B A Henry|
|Evelyn||Mr W Levey|
|Captain Dudley Smooth||Mr A L Henriques|
|Sharpe||Mr H Hunter|
|Lady Franklyn||Mrs Vickery|
|Georgina Vesey||Miss Morgan|
|Cara Douglas||Mrs Heir|
|After which the farce of: 'MY PRECIOUS BETSY'|
|Wagtail||Mr B A Henry|
|Langford||Mr H Hunter|
|Miss Bobtail||Miss F Morgan|
|Mrs Wagtail||Miss Mortimer|
|Nancy Morgan||Mrs Gladstone|
|The box-office will be open on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Special trains for Williamstown after the performance.
Argus, Wednesday 27 July 1859: 5
The performance last night in aid of the Exploration Fund was a marked success. The gentlemen who took part in it were most of them, as amateurs, well used to the stage, and the parts severally entrusted to them were looked upon as in safe, if not in efficient hands. The Garrick Club furnished a not inconsiderable proportion of the cast, but the occasion being purely a special one, the company brought together is to be regarded entirely as extempore.
The purpose of the performance is laudable in the highest degree; the opening of the interior of this unknown continent should be a principal subject of consideration by every Australian, whether indigenous or imported, and the proposition to play in aid of so great an undertaking cannot but be looked upon as highly creditable to those gentlemen by whom it has been suggested and carried out. The numerous attendance last night gives us reason to hope that the fund will receive a valuable addition, and the scheme itself being thereby brought into prominent notice, may receive an increase of attention.
The comedy of 'Money' was far from an infelicitous selection. It had the advantage, besides others, of being well adapted for amateur representation, inasmuch as the characters are both varied and evenly distributed. It was performed exceedingly well; and while it is not possible to indicate any serious deficiency, it is gratifying to be able to record instances of surprising excellence. The part of Evelyn, by Mr W. Levey, was sustained with care, intelligence, and nice discrimination. In the first act its effect was a little diminished by a want of sufficient acquaintance with the acoustic qualities of the house, but this disadvantage overcome, the character progressed, not only with smoothness, but with a force and vigor which the audience were not slow to recognise. Mr Levey was never tempted into extravagance, but there was, at the same time, no indication of feebleness in his acting. His utterance was clear, his emphasis scholarly, and his feeling natural. Moreover, he looked the part to the life, Mr B. A. Henry was wonderfully graphic, irresistibly amusing, and not in the least farcical, in the curious character of Graves. His dolorousness was admirably preserved, both as to facial expression, solemnity of gait, and lugubriousness of speech. He played, in fact, with a quaint finish and a rare humor, which many professional actors might envy and imitate. The scene with Lady Franklyn put the house into a paroxysm, of merriment. The Sir John Vesey of Mr Biers was meritorious; the Sir Frederick Blount of Dr. Nickling very commendably characteristic; and the Stout of Mr Turner excellently made up. Mr. Philp played Lord Gloss more evenly; Mr. Henriques acted Dudley Smooth a little too quietly; and Mr. Hunter made Sharpe and the Old Member respectable impersonations.
The lady characters of the piece were in most able hands. Mrs Heir's Clara Douglas is known too well as a very charming delineation to need additional praise on this occasion; Mrs Vickery's Lady Franklyn is in like manner one of the acknowledged successes of the stage; and Miss Morgan's Georgina may be described in like manner. The progress of the comedy was not interrupted by a single hitch, and the principal characters were summoned before the curtain with much enthusiasm.
The farce of 'My Precious Betsy' followed, and Messrs. Bagster and Henry were eminent in extravagant drolleries until a late hour.
His Excellency the Governor was present, and a more brilliant dress circle has rarely been seen.
- Theatre Royal tickets (13 tickets) for a 'Dramatic Performance in aid of the Exploration Fund' 26 July 1859.
Friday, 5 August 1859.
Circular to the squatters of Victoria from the Exploration Committee:
Fourth Progress Report of the Exploration Committee of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria
Melbourne, 5th August 1859.
The great importance of the object must be our apology for the anxious soliciting your kind co-operation in the contemplated exploration of central Australia.
We deem it unnecessary to urge the incalculable advantages that would be secured by a successful exploration of this vast continent, and the duty of this colony to contribute for this purpose.
We earnestly beg, however, to direct your attention to the generous offer of £1,000 that has been made, on condition that £2,000 should be subscribed within twelve months. About £1,000 only has as yet been obtained, and that chiefly in Melbourne; and as only one month remains to complete the required amount, we venture to make this personal appeal to you, in the full assurance that you will appreciate our efforts to accomplish an object of so great a national importance, and that you will not refuse to aid us with a contribution to the Exploration Find.
We have the honor sir,
William F Stawell
The favor of an immediate answer is respectfully requested, addressed to the Hon Treasurer, David E Wilkie, Esq, MD, 106 Collins street-east, Melbourne.
Argus, Saturday 6 August 1859: 4
We understand that Mr Thomas Burr [(1813-1866), surveyor and mine manager, Deputy Surveyor General of South Australia 1839-46] has offered his services to the Exploration Committee of the Philosophical Institute, as a leader of the contemplated expedition into the interior.
Argus, Saturday 20 August 1859: 5
To the Editor of the Argus
Sir, I am glad to see in your intelligent and valuable journal that, amidst the wars and rumours of wars in Europe [Second Italian War of Independence, (a.k.a. Franco-Austrian War/Austro-Sardinian War/Italian War of 1859)], the Exploration Committee are pushing on the collection of funds for the attainment of an object more important and interesting to the Australian colonies than any event in Europe; and I am doubly glad to see that Mr Burr has tendered his services to head the exploration.
In Mr Burr the Committee will find not only a thorough and experienced bushman, but a geologist and a mineralogist - a combination of qualifications which are not common, and yet essential to a satisfactory exploration of our island continent. Push on the organisation of the expedition without delay, Sir. It is of more importance than even our elections. The colony of Victoria, with all her wealth, owes her existence to exploration. Having long known Mr Burr, I have no hesitation in saying that the Committee cannot entrust the expedition to more talented or safer hands.I am, sir, yours.
Argus, Saturday 1 October 1859: 6
Sir, - The following short communication, which you so promptly published on the 20th ult. seems to have been in request, for there is not a copy of your paper of that date to be had, nor a common file from which it has not disappeared. You will therefore render a service to the cause of exploration by its re-publication, along with the letter of Captain Sturt, whose name the Australian colonies have so much reason gratefully to remember.
[To the above published letter] I have now the pleasure of adding the following letter, from which it will be seen that my opinion of Mr Burr's qualifications for commanding the expedition is confirmed by that of Captain Sturt, than which the Committee can require no higher testimony:
Colonial Secretary's Office, Adelaide,
22nd June 1844.
Sir, The Deputy Surveyor-General, Mr Burr, having volunteered to accompany me into the interior, I venture to request your Excellency's approbation to his doing so. I need not point out to your Excellency the many useful attainments of that officer, and the consequent advantage his assistance would be to me; whilst, at the same time, his disposition is such that I am led to believe I shall at all times, and under all circumstances, receive from him the most cordial support. I shall, therefore, feel gratified by your Excellency's compliance with Mr Burr's wishes, if his presence can be dispensed with by the Surveyor-General, and there should be no other objection to his absence from headquarters.
I have the honour to be, Your Excellency's most obedient servant,
To His Excellency the Governor, &c.
His Excellency Sir George Grey, having other duties for Mr Burr to perform around Adelaide, more especially connected with the geology of the country, refused the leave of absence required.
Other certificates of character and ability might be given, but any addition to the, foregoing testimony would be superfluous. Permit me now to ask, what can the gentlemen of the Committee be waiting for? The requisite funds are understood to be all but complete, and they can have no doubt that any trifling amount that may be deficient will, on an appeal to either the public or the Government, be forthcoming before it be wanted.
Our enterprising South Australian neighbours, with not half the means of Victoria at their command, are nobly exerting themselves to penetrate the interior of what, on its first discovery, was called the Great South Land; but the exploration of a territory large as Europe will require more than one expedition, and the exertions of more than one colony.
I repeat, what are the Committee about? Are they going to slumber over the trust committed to them? until the noble gift of the original prosecutor be withdrawn, and the whole thing comes to nothing?
I am, Sir, yours, &c,
Melbourne, September 26.
Related archive: Thomas Burr's application
Related archive: State Library of Victoria, MS13071, Sub-series 4: Applications to join the Victorian Exploration Expedition received by the Exploration Committee. Alphabetical list of applicants. (Boardman - Curtain),
Box 2076/2 ex1004-073.
- Burr, Thomas. Application and testimonial submitted. Includes copy of 1844 letter discussing exploration. 1859-1860.
Friday 26 August 1859.
General Election in Victoria.
Holiday for Polling Day for the metropolitan electoral districts.
Portland Guardian & Normanby General Advertiser, Friday 26 August 1859: 2
The Exploration Fund: This fund is gradually growing, and it may yet be raised to the amount necessary to claim the £1,000 donation. We hear that the Committee have received the munificent donation of £100 from each of the three following gentlemen:
- Joseph Docker
- J. V. A. Bruce
- Henry Hopwood of Echuca
Melbourne, 5th September 1859.
We have the honor to announce to you, through his Honor the Chief Justice, Sir William F Stawell, that your munificent offer of £1,000 for Australian exploration has met with hearty response from all classes in Victoria, and we have succeeded in raising by private subscription the stipulated sum of £2,000 within the stipulated period of twelve months.
In announcing to you that we are in a position to claim your munificent gift of £1,000 we pray you, on behalf of every colonist of Victoria, to accept the assurance of our grateful esteem and of our warmest acknowledgments; and although your name is still withheld from us, we cannot withhold our admiration of your ostentatious patriotism and disinterested zeal in the cause of science.
We confidently believe that the valuable assistance which you have rendered to the cause of science and Australian progress, will, at no distant period, be rewarded by as wide extension of our geographical knowledge of those vast central regions of Australia which have been hitherto cut off from the civilised world, and still remain untrodden by the foot of civilised man. And we feel assured that it will ever be a source of unmingled satisfaction that you have so successfully initiated in Victoria a movement in favour of exploration, which we are fully justified in believing will be attended with the happiest and most successful results.
We have the honor sir,
William F Stawell
Saturday, 15 October 1859.
Argus, Saturday 15 October 1859: 4
The Exploration Committee are apparently having a short nap. We may echo the cry which has been more than once raised in our columns - what are the Committee about? The complete exploration of our continent has been sufficiently long deferred, and it is high time that so important a work should come to be regarded as a national undertaking, rather than a mere private speculation, or, at most, under Government sanction. Though we presume that there is now no doubt but that the condition annexed to the munificent donation of £1,000 will be complied with, yet it is a poor return that the completion of those conditions should be deferred to the last moment.
The map of Australia is a curiosity of the nineteenth century. Perhaps nothing approaching nearer to an absolute blank issues from the establishment of Mr Arrowsmith. A patch of terra-cognita on the south-east corner, a patch - a speck - on the south-west corner, a few bush-tracks across the desolate scene, and we have the map of golden Australia. The accounts of our explorers scarcely justify this state of things, nor that it should be allowed to remain. A more diligent examination of the records of past explorations would cause the map of our continent to look more comfortably furnished; and these records bring us to the brink of further discoveries. There is reason to believe that many districts, as large and as fertile as our colony of Victoria, at present lie unoccupied and unknown ...
... It cannot be urged as an excuse for deferring further explorations, that hitherto, latterly at least, they have led to no immediate or practical result. It would be difficult to point to any Australian expedition, however unsuccessful or disastrous, which has not furthered the cause of geographical inquiry. Where unknown regions are to be crossed, the most scanty and apparently the most trifling information is of great value. In the case of Central Australia this is manifest. The discovery of a single oasis, a creek, even a pool of fresh water, in the centre of our continent, would deprive Central Australia of its dangers and difficulties. To cross from the centre to any known coast would be a work of little hazard. It is the uncertainty whether, when men and horses are exhausted, a halting-place may be near, or, being near, can be discovered, which has made Australian exploration so tedious. It is this uncertainty which has deterred most of our explorers from launching out into the desert, and which, unfortunately, did not deter the ill-fated Leichhardt.
Mr Galton's plan, of which we have already given a sketch, seems admirably adapted for the discovery of halting-places, inasmuch as it enables the explorer to examine a district whose centre may be at a considerable distance from a camp or halting-place; and were a party to reconnoitre on such a principle, the main camp or depot could be pushed steadily and safely into the heart of the desert.
Monday 17 October 1859.
Argus, Monday 17 October 1859: 5
It is satisfactory to find that the funds for the exploration of the interior are in a fair way of being provided. The Exploration Committee have redeemed their pledge to the donor of £1,000 by doubling the amount of his subscription. They have not only, within the year, collected the £2,000 required in order to secure the above donation, but several hundred pounds in addition. As before announced in this journal, they have obtained free transport for stores on the Darling, equal to a donation of £500. The camels have been ordered from India, but it appears they cannot be shipped before December or January.
In the meantime, as the expense of the expedition will greatly exceed the amount of the subscriptions, the Government have been applied to for a grant in aid, and it is probable that a sum sufficient for the purpose will be placed upon the Estimates. There is now, therefore, a reasonable expectation that an efficient expedition will be formed, and will start for the interior in the early part of the ensuing year.
O'Shanassy agreed to place £6,000 on the estimates for 1860 and had promised his personal support.
A public meeting was ordered to be convened to receive the report of the Committee and determine future proceedings.
Macadam informed the Committee that Landells expected the camels to arrive in December or January.
Argus, Thursday 27 October 1859: 6
At a meeting of the Exploration Committee held on Friday, the 21st instant; present: Sir William Stawell, in the chair; the Hon John Hodgson, the Hon Dr Wilkie, Sizar Elliott Esq., and Dr Mueller, it was announced by the Hon treasurer [Macadam] that he had received, through Sir William Stawell, the promised donation of £1,000 for the Victorian Expedition, the generous donor, with an unexampled disinterestedness, still with-holding his name from the public.
The Honorary Treasurer [Macadam] further stated that the paid contributions now amount to £2,914. 6s. 4d., and the subscriptions not yet paid to £215. 18s., which sums, with the additional offer of Messrs. Turnbull and Cadell, to effect free transit of expedition-stores - equivalent to a subscription of £500 - amount to a total of £3,730. 4s. 4d., hitherto obtained by private contribution for the exploring expedition.
It was intimated that, in reply to application of the Committee, the Hon the Chief Secretary had agreed to place the sum of £6,000 on the estimates for 1860, to supplement the sum of £3,000 raised by private subscription; and that Mr O'Shanassy had kindly promised his personal support of this vote in Parliament.
It was resolved that a public meeting of the subscribers should be convened by the Exploration Committee, to receive their report and to determine on future proceedings, the meeting to take place as soon as the unpaid subscriptions had been called in.
Dr Mueller reported that, according to information lately received from Mr Landell [sic], the shipment of the camels and dromedaries from India for the Expedition was likely to take place in December or January next.
Related archive: Age, Thursday 27 October 1859: 6
• p. 29. Minutes of the EC meeting, 21 October 1859.
Wednesday 9 November 1859.
Holiday in Victoria in honour of the Prince of Wales attaining his majority. (Albert Edward, eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, born 9 November 1841. Became King Edward VII on 22 January 1901).
Wednesday, 16 November 1859.
Ordinary meeting of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria.
Age, Thursday 17 November 1859: 6
An ordinary meeting of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria was held at the Mechanics' Institute yesterday evening. The attendance, which was numerous, included his Excellency the Governor and one lady. Professor Irving occupied the chair.
The Secretary stated that the plans of the building for the Institute had been laid upon the table; he trusted the Institute would be able to hold their next meeting in their own hall.
The following Committees were appointed:
|Resources in the Colony Committee||23 members|
|Song Bird Committee||4 members|
|Museum Committee||4 members|
|Murray Cod Committee||4 members|
|Sewerage Committee||6 members|
|Exploration Committee||16 members|
Wednesday, 30 November 1859
Adjourned ordinary meeting of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria.
Argus, Thursday 1 December 1859: 6
An adjourned ordinary meeting of tho Philosophical Institute of Victoria was held last evening, in the hall of the Mechanics' Institution, Collins-street east. The attendance was moderate. Dr Mueller, President of the Institute, occupied the chair.
The Secretary announced that the now Hall of the Institute would be opened on Wednesday, the 7th December, and that an inaugural address would be delivered on the occasion by Dr Mueller ... The remaining portion of the business was postponed, and the Institute adjourned at half past 10 o'clock.
Saturday, 3 December 1859
Argus, Monday 5 December 1859: 6
A deputation from the Philosophical Institute waited upon Mr Nicholson, for the purpose of introducing to his notice certain matters connected with the Institute ... In answer to the deputation, Mr Nicholson stated that it was the intention ... of the present Government to confirm the vote of £6,000 promised by the former Government for exploration purposes; but this Government would have to co-operate with the other colonies.
Wednesday, 7 December 1859
Argus, Thursday 8 December 1859: 5
Several gentlemen connected with the Philosophical Institute of Victoria were assembled last evening at the doors of the new Hall in La Trobe-street, under the impression that the edifice would be formally opened, and that Dr Mueller President of the Institute, would deliver an inagural address on the occasion. Their expectations, however, were doomed to be disappointed, and some surprise was expressed that no signs of the expected inauguration were apparent.
Several of those present forthwith adjourned to the Mechanics' Institute, but met with no satisfaction from the Secretary, who informed them that he had received no notice of a meeting. It was rumoured about that the leading members of the Council of the Institute were, from different circumstances, not quite ready with their report, and that in consequence the inaguration had been necessarily postponed.
Wednesday, 21 December 1859
Annual meeting of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria
Argus, Thursday 22 December 1859: 5
The fifth annual meeting of the Philosophical Institute was held yesterday evening, in the new hall of the Institute, Victoria-street. Dr Mueller occupied the chair. About 50 members were present. The Chairman, in commencing the proceedings, congratulated the members of the Institute on their possession of the elegant structure in which they were assembled. It had been the intention of His Excellency the Governor to be present, but he was not at that time in Melbourne. They had, however, the gratification of meeting His Excellency Major-General Macarthur, under whose Administration the grant of land for the Institute was obtained (Applause).
The private subscriptions towards the Exploration Fund amount to nearly £2,500, sufficient to secure the £1,000 conditionally offered by a citizen of Melbourne, who desires that his name should remain unknown. In addition to this the Government have placed on the Estimates the sum of £6,000.
The roll of membership for 1859, including life and honorary members, and those whose subscriptions are not in arrear, as well as those names appearing on the suspense list, comprises a total of 208. With respect to the financial condition of the Institute, your Council has much pleasure in referring you to the Treasurer's balance-sheet, showing that, although a sum exceeding £3,000 has been expended in building, furnishing, &c., we have still a balance of £180 11s. 1d. to our credit.
Monday 26 December 1860.
Holiday in Victoria: in lieu of Christmas Day.