Northmost Australia


Robert Logan Jack.


Robert Logan Jack, Northmost Australia: Three centuries of exploration, Discovery and Adventure in and around the Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. With a Study of the Narratives of all Explorers by Sea and Land in the light of modern Charting, many original and hitherto unpublished Documents, thirty-nine illustrations, and sixteen specially prepared maps. In Two Volumes. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co, 1921. First Edition. Royal octavo, Vols. 1 and 2: each 25.3 x 16.3 x 5 cm; Vol. 1: 50 Chapters, xv, pp. 1-366; Vol. 2: Chapters 51-99, xiv, pp. 367-768. With frontispiece portrait photograph, dated 1920, of RL Jack (1845-1921), pristine tissue guard, further 38 full page b/w plates; 17 folding maps and charts including the Index map and an additional set of 16 duplicate maps (total: 33 maps and charts) in end pockets at end of each volume. Three Indexes at end of Vol. 2: Persons, Localities and Subjects, pp. 741-768. Hard cover with cream dust jackets, original dark green cloth, spines and front boards gilt.

Condition: Very good. Very slight browning to page edges of Vol. 1, a little browning to parts of some endpapers, dust jackets very lightly soiled and jacket top and bottom edges a little scuffed, narrow 1.3 cm long slit near top of Vol. 1 jacket where spine meets front cover, not affecting cover. Tight and clean set.

Robert Logan Jack (1845-1921), a Scottish-born geologist and explorer, graduated from the University of Edinburgh, subsequently making a great contribution to Scottish geology by mapping the coalfields. Appointed geological surveyor for northern Queensland in 1876, he arrived the following year in Townsville; in 1879 he became government geologist for the whole Colony. On a journey in 1880 he was speared in a surprise night attack by Aboriginals. Logan Jack’s geological work in Queensland is remarkable for its prolific results and its accurate and detailed observation. Jack’s recognition of the basinal structure of western Queensland and its potential for artesian water led to the first government bore in the Great Artesian Basin being sunk at Barcaldine in 1887. He personally mapped and appraised the Bowen River coalfield and coal prospects near Cooktown, Townsville and the Flinders River, and reported on twelve goldfields and four northern tinfields, silver mines, various mining districts and sapphire deposits.

At the first meeting of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science in 1888, Jack participated as president of the geological section. In 1894 he served as Royal Society of Queensland president. He collaborated with Robert Etheridge on several publications in the 1880s and 1890s and in 1899 Jack issued the final edition of his geological map of Queensland. Resigning from government work in 1899 he travelled to China to undertake exploring work, escaping the Boxer Rebellion by arduous travel through 725 km of uncharted mountainous territory to Burma. From 1901 to 1904 he practised as a consultant mining geologist in London. On returning to Australia, he spent five years as a consulting engineer in Western Australia, doing valuable work in the ventilation and sanitation of mines and on lung disease among miners. By 1910 Logan Jack was a consulting geologist in Sydney.

In his last major publication, Northmost Australia, 2 vols. (London, 1921), he gave detailed accounts of all the explorations of north Queensland, including his own. Northmost Australia is an important work containing previously unpublished accounts of explorations such as those by William Carron, William Hann, James Mulligan, George Dalrymple, Donald Laing, and J.T. Embley. Many of his geological journeys were through unexplored country, especially Cape York Peninsula. Logan Jack died at Sydney on 6 November 1921, survived by his wife Janet Love, née Simpson, whom he married at Glasgow in 1877; by his son Robert Lockhart who became hydrologist for South Australia and later chief geologist of the Broken Hill Pty; his stepson James Simpson Love, a well-known grazier in north Queensland; and by two stepdaughters. He was buried in the Presbyterian section of Waverley cemetery. Logan Jack had an ingrained democratic outlook and some of his letters are held in the Geological Survey Office, Brisbane.