Diary of Adelaide weather from 1843 to 1856 gives SA the longest continual temperature records in Australia

Citizen scie ntist Mac Benoy and SA’s National Archives director Nick Gleghorn examining the weather diary at the State Library.
8 July 2020

The discovery of an extensive 150-year-old diary has filled a key gap in Adelaide’s colonial weather history and will also provide one of the longest continual records in the Southern Hemisphere.

The diary contains crucial weather data details from 1843 to 1856, including rainfall, temperatures, cloud types and even barometric pressure meticulously recorded in longhand.

The records began 20 years after the city was founded and were created by the Survey Department, under the guidance of Surveyor-General Edward Charles Frome.

Australian Meteorological Association project manager Mac Benoy said the discovery was part of a 15-year search by local volunteers to find colonial Adelaide’s missing weather records.

“A group of citizen scientists hosted by weather bureau have ‘rescued’ these documents,’’ he said.

“They (the 1843 to 1856 diary records) are part of a much larger project, imaging 110,000 pages of weather observations, maps and articles covering the period from 1838 to 1957.’’ But the photographs now have to be digitised, requiring a request for volunteers.

With the Australian National University, the group is now looking for volunteers to undergo the huge task of transcribing into digital format the 1843-1856 diary which is 1500 lines, or 170 pages.

ANU climate expert Dr Joelle Gergis said the discovery was hugely significant in the colonial history of Australia.

Read the full article on The Daily Telegraph website, featuring commentary by Dr Joelle Gergis and Caitlin Howlett