Sydney Observatory


Sydney Observatory: (33° 51′ 33″S, 151° 12′ 17″E) The Observatory published Australia’s first weather map in 1887. Weather readings were taken at Dawes Point, near today’s Observatory by Lieutenant William Dawes from 1788 when the First Fleet arrived; in the grounds of Sydney Observatory from 1855 until 1917; and continue nearby to this day. Located on Watson Road, Observatory Hill, The Rocks, Sydney, 1.2 km from Macquarie Place: the start of the Great North Walk.

The Great North “Walk Companion extract- page 11

“Suppose you were rowing a boat out into this harbour back in 1788,” I muse. “How long do you reckon it would take you and say 6 or 7 other sailors to get here?”
“From Botany Bay?”
“No, just as far as we’ve come on the ferry” — I try to sketch the outline of Sydney harbour on the back of a ferry timetable.
“Dunno—maybe an hour, or two.”
“OK, imagine you’re one of the marines that came on the First Fleet and your task, as well as rowing this boat today, is keeping the weather log for the newly established Port Jackson settlement. What’s going into that log today?”
“Sunny, hot; much too hot to walk very far.”
“Well, on the day I’m thinking of, it’s not quite as warm because it’s April. But still the weather record would need more than temperature. I guess wind direction and strength, humidity, clouds and probably a barograph reading too.”
We sway into each other on the wobbly wharf at Valentia Street: one staring down at the water surface, the other up to the clouds. My companion is, thankfully, smiling as I squat to write, in as good an attempt at Copperplate as I can manage, our weather record for our boat trip. “When we get back,” I promise, “I’ll show you a set of observations that come from about the time of our First Fleet.”

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