Climate and Culture Connections in Australia Neville Nicholls Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre Melbourne

Some interesting influences of climate on culture in Australia inc 19th century .


The mid-19th century saw a succession of arguments about whether the Australian climate was
“healthy” (Nicholls, 1997). Just one of these debates concerned tuberculosis (then known as
consumption or phthisis). As early as 1850 Australia was being promoted as having a climate beneficial
to consumptives, leading to a “rush” of consumptives to the colonies. One medical critic of this
promotion was expelled from the Medical Society of Victoria for his “heretical” views. The debate then
raged between the medical profession and the Victorian Government Statist, Henry Heylyn Hayter, who
used his Victorian Government Year Books to attack the belief that the climate was favourable for the
cure of consumption. The Age newspaper took Hayter’s side, but the debate continued until the end of
the century. Writers encouraged emigration to the colonies by stressing the quality of the climate:
“What do our struggling thousands gain by emigration to such lands as Australia and New Zealand, and
what do they lose? For the foggy uncertain climate of Great Britain they will find one equally healthful
and invigorating” (Heatherington, 1883).



About the same time, on the other side of the world, a development in climatology which would have a
profound impact on the Australian economy was under way. After an injury forced him from active
service, Lieutenant Matthew Maury of the US Navy in 1842 took charge of the Navy’s Depot of Charts
and Instruments in Washington. While in this office he compiled oceanographic data from old and
current ship logs, to prepare charts of winds and currents, “for the improvement of commerce and
navigation” (Maury, 1857). His published charts and books were in immediate demand from sailors, and
led to a sudden reduction in the duration of voyages. Maury notes that the charts reduced the England-
Australia round trip from 250 days to 160 days, saving British commerce an estimated ten million (U.S.)
dollars annually (Maury, 1857, viii). The commercial importance of this increased understanding of the
climate of the globe must have had marked impacts on the Australian colonies.

australian women in 19th century poetry – Google Search


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s