Friday, December 29, 2006

University of New England Exploration Society

Photo: Gordon Smith, University of New England Exploration Society Marker, Robinsons Knob Trail in the New England National Park

Gordon Smith keeps on putting great photos up on his photo blog with short commentaries that bring memories flooding back. In this case Gordon suggests that Marker “5A” in the photo is, probably, an indicator of some surveying work done by The University of New England Exploration Society in the area in the 1960’s. Gordon also notes that it’s also marked “3080” which would match the altitude in feet above sea level (930m).

At this distance I do not remember who was involved in the Society - I think Ian Hore-Lacy was one - nor did I get involved directly. The Society lived on the science/rural science side of the campus, I was on the arts side - the union separated the two. My pre-history work also satisfied my desire to charge round the country in Land Rovers. All this said, I was awfully impressed with the Society when I first arrived at University and remained so.

The Exploration Society was an excuse for adventure with a scientific focus. With, as Gordon notes, Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hilary as patron, the Society managed to attract a fair bit of sponsorship to fund exhibitions

Gordon records that in 1962 the Society mounted an expedition to North Queensland, and in 1964 staff and students mounted an expedition to Central Australia to study camel physiology. In 1968 the Simpson Desert was a Society research area. I am not sure that these dates are quite right, but they do give the pattern.

They also did a fair bit of work on the Northern Tableland, including support to other researchers. And last but not least, the Society also provided a four wheel drive driving course, something that I really wanted to do but did not get round to.

Even today, a web search picks up references to the Society's work. Between 1960 and 1966 the society published reports in a monograph series, as well as a book in in 1968 - Central Australia Expedition 1962. Then there are references in several journals, although I was not able to access these since I do not have access to a University Library and cannot afford to pay the on-line costs just to collect facts.

1 comment:

Gert Bruhn said...
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