Three article published by Trove describing the difficult winter conditions suffered by our early scientists.

Albury Banner and Wodonga Express NSW

Friday 23 September 1898, Page 27 

MOUNT KOSCIUSKO OBSERVATORY.

[Written for the ' Manaro Mercury' by Mr. B. De Burgh Newth, Mount Kosciusko.)

Slowly but surely is the winter relaxing his icy grip, and though the signs of approaching spring are as yet far and far between, I think I can say that we have had weather to contend with at least as unpleasant as we are likely to have — in fact that we have left behind us the worst of the winter, and the observatory is still running successfully, in spite of the gloomy predictions of certain persons whose minds are overburdened with superfluous knowledge of the mountains.

That there are dangers I freely admit, mainly connected with expeditions to and from Jindabyne, and such excursions as we make among the mountains for our own benefit, not forgetting the occasional narrow escapes from being blown away and lost, which an observer may experience whilst taking night observations in exceptionally bad weather — but what else can be expected in a place like this ? At first though it might hardly be credited that the way could be lost between the screen and the house, some thirty yards or so, but let it be remembered that to the darkness of a cloudy night and a thick fog, may be added a wind almost strong enough to lift one off one's feet, blowing as likely as not from the house, and that wind will be loaded with a blinding sleet impossible to face — and the predicament of an observer whose light has blown out whilst he is at the screen will be better understood.

It is in fact a case of trusting entirely to instinct for the contour of the ground, which, so far from being any guide is most misleading, ever changing, as it is, with the fresh falls of snow and the drifting occasioned by the wind, and practically buried as the house is, he might walk right past it without knowing, or reach the entrance unexpectedly (as I did once) and as this entrance consists of a hole some 8ft. deep, with slippery sides, his mode of progress down and thence through a short tunnel to the door may be far more rapid than dignified.

Such a night as I have been describing was September 5, and I really should have thought twice before venturing out had not the expedient occurred to me of tying a rope from my wrist to the house corner as a guide back. Though evidences of the coming thaw are at hand, in fine weather, in the incessant drip, drip, from our roof of galvanised iron, from which we have cleared off the accumulated snow, and in other places where the sun's rays have fallen; in bad weather, by the occasional fall of rain in place of the hail, 'sago,' sleet, etc., we are accustomed, to, the general wetting nature of the fogs and snow, with the high temperature (sometimes reaching 35 degrees), and even perhaps thunder and lightning, unknown through the past winter months ; yet the snow depth is still on the increase, and the surface is now flush with our roof on all sides but one, and on that one nearly so. As I remarked before, we obtained entrance by a pit and tunnel, and with these contrivances are really far more comfortable than earlier in the season, when snow would drift in through the then unprotected door whenever open, and often prevent us from properly closing it again. Certainly the tunnel nearly becomes choked at times, but an hour or so spent in shovel ling in the hole into which it opens, and where one can be fairly sheltered from the wind whilst thus engaged, generally seems to set things to rights again. It is less pleasant, however (but fortunately of rare occurrence), when the snow is accumulating so fast that a clearance has to be made every four hours, and this perhaps at night. We have an excavation in front of our two windows, but in bad weather they generally suffer eclipse to such an extent that we have to fall back on lamplight as an alternative to total darkness. Then another fine day arrives, and we dig them out once more. As a minor trouble, which perhaps at times causes as much amusement as annoyance, I might mention the little drops, of water which fall at unexpected times from unexpected places in our ceiling, and caused probably by the melting of ice collected between the iron and the lining, from the sleet driven in through such small places as exist in a roof where the iron overlaps the walls, by the high winds in May. Needless to say the humor of the situation is scarcely appreciated by one on whose work, or down the back of whose neck, the drop has fallen. As a direct challenge to any inventor and maker of lanterns who might desire to send us a specimen (free, of course) to be tried and recommended, I will take this opportunity of stating that we have tried a bicycle lamp, a stable lantern, a 'hurricane light' and a 'masthead,' without much success, and that a lamp which will burn here without careful shielding will certainly answer any where else in Australia. For the greater part of the year we have used a hurricane light protected by a tin shield fastened to one side and held to windward, but the glass at length going the way of all 'unbreakable' lamp chimneys, we were -reduced to taking out a bicycle lamp in a billy- can, and cautiously raising the lid of the billy when light was needed, we can say without exaggeration that there is about one night in a week when any of the regular types of lantern will keep alight without precaution. Lately I have myself constructed a lantern with the special view to suiting the eccentricity of the Kosciusko winds, which seem to blow up and down, and round corners, besides the regular direction at the time. It has a wind proof sliding door, a peculiarly shape protecting hood over the chimney, giving the whole structure the appearance of a Chinese pagoda, and the legs which are hollow and serve to ventilate the lamp from below are also especially constructed to baffle the wind and not be blocked by the snow when the lamp is placed on the ground. We have used this in the teeth of a strong gale, but as it has the knack of unexpectedly going out occa sionally, for some unknown reason, generally when only a moderate wind is blowing the Kosciusko lamp problem is still unsolved.

Mr. Ingleby and a Mr. Eden, who is travelling via Mt. Kosciusko to Grogan on the Murray, a decidedly adventurous, if interesting journey, arrived here on the 10th, and since then Mr. Eden and myself have been waiting a break in the weather to get away; he westward down the Murray, I eastward to Jindabyne. They seem to have had a first rate journey here, travelling the distance from Friday Flat on the Thredbo river to the summit in only three hours. This quick travelling is due to the fact of the snow being frozen hard, and is rather a contrast to the seven hours hard work usually required for a winter ascent. I must not conclude without mentioning an entirely new phenomenon in connection with night readings. On 10th September, at night, when the fury of the elements had rendered the taking of the observations an absolute impossibility, I was in no small measure astonished (for I was the luckless observer) when left in the dark by the lamp going out, to see every angle of the said lan tern lit up by a ghastly lambent flame, and to find the drops of moisture all over my headgear and on the oilskin emitting a phosphorescent light. A minimum thermometer, held up in the wind to obtain an idea of the temperature, became vividly illuminated, and on taking out and holding up (standing in the shelter of our entrance hole) a crosscut saw, the light playing along the teeth presented a most remarkable appearance. This is some what akin to "St. Elmo's Fire," seen at sea playing round ships mast tops, and indicates a highly electrical state of the atmosphere or of the sleet driving with the wind at the time. Lightning flashed frequently, but was accompanied by thunder. This is the second of the two readings which have had to be given up since the founding of the observatory, the other occurring in August, when the observer, Mr. Ingleby, had a very narrow escape from becoming altogether lost. The lamp, usually so successful in cases of this sort, refused to burn at all, and several at tempts to reach the screen thus had to be given up. Anyhow, I don't believe that the instruments could have been managed even in daylight, for the amount of what the people about hero call 'sago,' a most appropriate name, driving with the gale, almost prohibited finding the screen, let alone taking a set of readings. Certainly I nearly reached the screen once, but it was only with the greatest difficulty that I made my way back to the house again.



The Gundagai Independent and Pastoral, Agricultural & Mining Advocate NSW
Wednesday 5 October 1898, Page 8
MOUNT KOSCIUSKO OBSERVATORY.
TAKING OBSERVATIONS. DIFFICULTIES WITH LAMPS.
CURIOUS PHENOMENA.
( By Mr. B. 'De Burgh NEWTH, Mount Kosciusko.)
Slowly but surely is winter relax ing his icy grip, and though, the signs of approaching spring are as yet far and far between, I think that we can say that we have had weather to con tend with at least as unpleasant as we are likely to have — in fact that we have left behind us the worst of the winter, and the observatory is still running successfully, in spite of the gloomy predictions of certain persons whose minds are overburdened with superflous knowledge of the mountains. That there are dangers I freely admit, mainly connected with expeditions to and from Jindabyne, and, such excursions as we make among the mountains for our own benefit, not for forgetting the occasional narrow escapes from being blown away and lost, which an observer may experience whilst taking night observations in exceptionally bad weather — but what else can be ex pected in a place like this ?

At first thought it might hardly be credited that the way could be LOST BETWEEN THE SCREEN AND THE HOUSE, some thirty yards or so, but let it be remembered that to the darkness of a cloudy night and a thick fog, may be added a wind almost strong enough to lift one off one's feet, blowing as like ly as not from the house, and that this wind will be loaded with a blind ing sleet impossible to face — and the predicament of an observer whose light has been blown out whilst he is at the screen will be better under stood. It is in fact a case of trusting entirely to instinct for the contour of the ground, which, so far from being any guide, is most misleading, ever changing as it is with the fresh falls of snow and the drifting occasioned by the wind, and practically buried as the house is, one might easily walk right past it without knowing, or reach the entrance unexpectedly (as I did once), and as this entrance consists of a hole some eight feet deep with steep slippery sides, his mode of progress down and thence through a short tunnel to the door may be far more rapid than dignified. Such a night as I have been describing was September 5th, and I really should have thought twice before venturing out, had not the expedient occurred to me of tying a rope from my wrist to the house corner as a guide back.

Though evidences of the coming thaw are at hand, in fine weather, inn THE INCESSANT DRIP, DRIP from our roof of galvanised iron, from which we have cleared off the accumulated snow, and in other places where the sun's rays have fallen; in bad weather, by the occasional fall of rain in place of the hail, "sago," sleet, etc., we are accustomed to, the general wetting nature of the fogs and snow, with the high temperature (sometimes reaching 85 degrees), and even per haps thunder and lightning, unknown through the past winter months; yet the snow depth is still on the increase, and the surface is now flush with our roof on all sides but one, and that nearly so. As I remarked before, we obtained entrance by a pit and tunnel, and with these contrivances are really far more comfortable than earlier in the season, when snow would drift in through the then unprotected door whenever open, and often prevent us from properly closing it again. Certainly the tunnel nearly becomes choked at limes, but an hour or so spent in shovelling in the hole into which it opens, and where one can be fairly sheltered from the wind whilst thus engaged, generally seems to set things to rights again. It is less pleasant, however (but fortunately of rare occurrence), when the snow is accumulating so fast that a clearance has to be made every four hours, and this perhaps at night.

We have AN EXCAVATION IN FRONT of our two windows, but in bad weather they generally suffer eclipse to such an extent that we have to fall back on lamplight as an alternative to total darkness. Then another fine day arrives and we dig them out once more. As a minor trouble, which perhaps at times causes as much amusement as annoyance, I might mention the little drops of water which fall at unexpected times from unexpected places in our ceiling, and caused probably by the melting of ice collected between the iron and the lining, from the sleet driven in through such small places as exist in a roof where the iron overlaps the walls, by the high winds in May. Needless to say the humor of the situation is scarcely appreciated by the one on whose work, or down the back of whose neck, the drop has fallen. As a direct challenge to any inventor and maker of lanterns who might desire to send us a specimen (free, of course) to be tried and re commended, I will take this opportunity of stating that we have tried a bicycle pump, a stable lantern, a ''hurricane light" and a "masthead," without much success, and that a lamp which will burn here without careful shielding will certainly answer any where else in Australia.

For the greater part of the year we have used a hurricane light protected by a tin shield fastened to one side, and held to windward, but the glass at length going the way of all "unbreakable" lamp chimneys, we were reduced to taking out a BICYCLE LAMP IN A BILLY-CAN and cautiously raising the lid of the billy when light was needed. I can say without exaggeration that there is about one night in the week when any of the regular types of lantern will keep alight without special precaution. Lately I have myself constructed a lantern with the special view of suiting the eccentricity of the Kosciusko winds, which seem to blow up and down, and round corners, besides the regular direction at the time. It has a wind-proof sliding door, a peculiarly shaped protecting hood over the chimney, giving the whole structure the appearance of a Chinese pagoda, and the legs, which are hollow and serve to ventilate the lamp from below, are also specially constructed to baffle the wind and not be blocked up with the snow when the lamp is placed on the ground.

We have used this in the teeth of a strong gale, but it has the knack of unexpectely going out occasionally for some unknown reason, generally when only a moder ate wind is blowing, the Kosciusko lamp problem is still unsolved. Mr. Ingleby, and a Mr. Eden, who is travelling via Mt. Kosciusko to Grogan on the Murray, a decidedly, adventurous, if interesting journey, arrived here on the 10th, and since then Mr. Eden and myself have been waiting a break in the weather to get away, he westward down the Murray, I eastward to Jindiibyne. They seem to have had a firstrate journey here, travelling the distance from Friday Flat on the Thredbo River, to the summit in only three hours. This quick travelling is due to the SNOW BEING FROZEN HARD, and is rather a contrast to the seven hours of hard work usually required for a winter ascent. I must not conclude without mentioning an entirely new pheno menon in connection with night readings.

On September 10th at midnight, when the fury of the elements had rendered the taking of the observa tions an absolute impossibility, I was in no small measure astonished (for I was the luckless observer), when left in the dark by the lamp going out to see every angle of the said lantern lit up with a ghastly lambent flame, and to find drops of moisture all over my head gear and on the oil-skin emitting phosphorescent light. A minimum thermometer, held up in the wind to obtain an idea of the temperature, be came vividly illuminated, and on taking out, and holding up (standing in the shelter of our entrance hole) a cross-cut saw, the light playing along the teeth presented a most remarkable appearance. This is somewhat akin "St. Elmo's Fire,' seen at sea playing round ships' mast tops, and indicates a highly electrical state of the atmosphere or of the sleet driving with the wind at the time. Lightning flashed frequently, but was unaccompanud by thunder. This is the second of the two readings that have had to be given up since the founding of the observatory, the other occurring in August, on which occasion the observer, Mr. Ingleby, had a very narrow escape from becoming absolutely lost. The lamp, usually so successful in cases of this sort, refused to burn at all, and several attempts to reach the screen thus had to be given up. Anyhow, I don't believe that the instruments could have been managed even in daylight, for the amount of what the people about here - call "sago," a most appropriate name, driving with the gale, almost prohibited finding the screen, let alone taking a set of readings. Certainly I nearly reached the screon once, but it was only with the greatest difficulty that I made my way back to the house again. — ''Monaro Mercury.'



The Monaro Mercury, and Cooma and Bombala Advertiser NSW
Monday 30 January 1899, Page 3
MT. KOSCIUSKO OBSERVATORY. WORK OF THE OBSERVERS.
Mr. B. De Burgh Newth, Chief Observer at Mt. Kosciusko, sends the following with reference to the daily work at the Observatory : —

We on Kosciusko are often asked what we do and what is the use of the Observatory, by tourists and others who, looking over our Observatory, are prompted by their interest in the scheme to put such questions. As many of your readers will be interested in the weather forecasts, and as these forecasts must depend entirely on the observations made at the many stations scattered over Australia, it might not be out of place for me to briefly describe through the medium of your columns, the nature of the work done at what I can unhesitatingly call the best equipped meteorological station in Australia.

The Mt. Kociusko high level observatory is furnished with a com-plete outfit of the best meteorological instruments, and three trained observers to devote all their time and attention to the management of these instruments and to recording every detail of pressure, temperature, humidity, wind, precipitation and cloud. The Kosciusko Observatory was established on Dec. 9th 1897, under the direction of Mr. Clement L. Wragge, Government Meteorologist, of Queensland, Mr. Wragge super intending in person the setting up of the instruments and the commencement of the series of observations which have been carried on successfully ever since.

First, a tentative experiment to run for four months, under the general management of Captain Iliff, Mr. Bernard Ingleby, of Adelaide, as first observer, and myself second, funds were found available and observers willing to carry on the enterprise through the winter. The stout canvas tent which had sheltered us through the summer months was superseded by a substantial wooden building, a stock of firewood and provisions laid in, and with Bernard Ingleby, Observer in charge, myself second, and H. J. Jensen, of Caboolture, near Brisbane, third, the meteorological work was carried on through the long winter, March to October. Then Mr. Ingleby, and Mr. Jensen resigned and the management was entrusted to me, with Mr. R. Leslie Burcher, of Candelo, as second observer, and Mr. N. A. Carr, of West Maitland third. Throughout this time we have received about 200 visitors in all, who put names, dates, and sometimes remarks in a book kept by us for the purpose, all of whom seem to take considerable interest in our work and its object.

Our observatory 'hut,' as we call it, is a wooden building, lined and ceiled, roofed outside with galvanized iron, situated down by the ' trig ' cairn which marks the very summit of Mt. Kosciusko, 7328 feet above sea level. Round the building we have erected a stone wall five feet high and four feet wide as precaution against the great winds, and a conductor fourteen feet over the roof (or twenty-three feet high altogether) ensures our safety from lightning. Inside, the hut is divided into an outer living room, and an inner sleeping apartment, where on wooden bunks are placed the arctic sleeping bags we are accustomed to use here. We save space by stowing things as much as possible, on shelves and brackets, stores, tools, cooking utensils, etc, in the living room, while in the other we keep our books, instruments of various kinds, and the like. We have quite a library of mathematical and scientific books and papers to fill our shelves, maps and plans to tack on the walls and some neatly framed Kosciusko photographic views (presented by Mr. Kerry the well-known Sydney photographer and president of the Alpine Club) put the finishing touch to the interior.

I would like to describe our equipment rather fully. We take our pressure observations with a mercurial barometer, a Fortin examined at Kew, hanging from a stout bracket with its 'attached thermometer' to give the temperature of the instrument. A. Richard's barograph secure from being shaken or otherwise disturbed by being placed on a shelf hung by four cords gives a continuous record, a pen supplied with special ink indicating the barometric pressure on a paper coiled round a drum actuated by clock work, wound up and re-fitted once a week. Outside in the most exposed position to be found, and well away from the house is set up a Stephenson thermometer screen, firmly stayed and otherwise secured with wire guys. In this and with their bulbs precisely four feet above the surface of the ground are two Kew verified thermometers. The one gives the true shade temperature, the other, having its bulb covered with muslin kept wet by strands dipping into a vessel containing water, indicates the temperature of evaporation. The difference between the two readings gives us an indirect measure of the percentage of humidity, a large difference indicating a dry atmosphere, and vice versa. Suitable instruments in the screen give the maxima and minima, and a Richard's thermo graph supplies a continuous record. So much for the screen. A maxi mum thermometer with the bulb blackened, placed in vacue in a casing of glass, the whole on a stand four feet from the ground and exposed to the full power of the sun's rays, shows the solar radiation a minimum on a blackened board, gives the temperature on the ground at night (terrrestrial radiation) and readings below the surface are secured by lowering a thermometer into tubes sunk in the ground to depths of 1, 2, 4, and 8 feet. A little kerosene at the bottom is collected by a tiny bucket fastened round the bulb of the instrument and serves to keep the mercury at the one temperature while the thermometer is being hauled up and read. These earth tubes, which only project about 2 inches from the ground, and are covered with easy fitting caps to exclude dust, rain, snow, etc, not being very conspicuous objects require to be protected by a fence of wire netting, six feet by four, put up around them. Precipitation is collected for measurement in a tropic rain guage with the rim two feet above ground. This gauge has to be specially fixed so as not to be blown over. Cross pieces of wood to act as it were as roots are therefore fastened to it below the surface. Another guage set in the roof of our house and managed from within is specially intended for use when the principal instrument is ice-bound.

Wind, force and direction are given by an anemometer and wind vane set centrally five feet above our roof, and connected with re cording apparatus within. It be comes quite a problem to dispose all these instruments suitably with reference, to one another, and the securing of the best results from each. Cloud movement is conveniently studied standing by the house door and looking up beyond the points of the lightning conductor. A complete description of the sky and general weather notes must accompany each set of observations.
With the exception or the "solar maximum" read and reset at 8 p.m. the "terrestrial minimum" at 8 a.m., and the temperatures in the four earth tubes taken at 4 a.m and 4 p.m., all the instruments are read four-hourly, i.e., at midnight, 4 and 8 a.m., noon, 4 and 8 p.m. A set of observations thus comprises at least ten instrument readings, the rainfall if any (or hail, snow, sleet as the case may be) wind direction and force estimated apart from anemometer records, cloud, amount, kind, velocity and direction of movement, weather now and since, 19 notes altogether. Then half-hourly in the morning (from 8 till 12) we have a special set of readings to take, 4 instruments, and eight other notes each time. Thus altogether we make at least 208 notes daily. In addition to this, as it is important to ob serve punctually, we require to take frequent astronomical observations with sextant and artificial horizon for the purpose of securing the correct time. For keeping time we have a strong eight day movement in a specially-made cedar case rigidly screwed in position over our mantel piece ; also this clock governs the electric bell to rouse and warn us of the night readings, causing the bell to commence ringing at 10 minutes to 8, 12, and 4, and in the most unlikely case of the summons not being attended to and the bell "switched off," allowing it to ring 5 1/2 min., when the current is automatically turned off again. Then the barograph and thermo graph have to be attended to every Monday, new papers put on the drums, the pens supplied with fresh ink and the clock work re-wound.

The observations are neatly copied and sent to Brisbane with duplicates of the barograms and therograms, also reports on the work here, ete. An observer begins at midnight, takes the readings, turns out again at 4 a.m. and at 8 a.m., when he is up for the day. He takes all that day's reading, finishing at 8 p.m. The following set is taken by the next in turn. For checking the instruments and for experimental research we have a Kew standard thermometer, a boiling-point thermometer, three spare minima, one of which is a Kew, and an extra storm thermometer. Then there is a rain band spectroscope, a pocket instrument, being a combination of prisms and lenses which the observer, directing the instrument towards the sky near the horizon by noting the position of a certain dark line on the prismatic colours, may speculate with more or less success as to the proximity of wet weather. Mr. Wragge has lent us a powerful telescope and we are indebted to the Department of Lands N.S.W, for the loan of a 5in. theodolite and a prismatic compass. So much for the equipment. Looking after these instruments so as to be sure of the correctness of their indications, carefully noting their readings, and sending away the observations whenever we can to Brisbane, our duty ends here, and it is the business of the Chief Weather Bureau, Brisbane, to classify and discuss the results side by side with those of the counterpart station, the low level at Merimbula, and their bearings on the forecasts, till when communication by telephone can be established the warnings and advices wired from Kosciusko will play an important part in the meteorology of Australasia. Then the Kosciusko observations are of use indirectly, as a scientific experiment bearing on meteorology in general, the study of vertical barometric gradients for instance, and other matters of little interest to the general public, but of great importance to the meteorologist who by studying these problems can advance his knowledge and improve his forecasts.

 

The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser NSW
Friday 3 February 1899, Page 1S
Australia's Sanatoriam.
No. 3. A TRIP TO MOUNT KOSCIUSKO. On Top of the Mountain.
[By One of the Company.]
I have proceeded so far in previous issues with the history of our exploits as to carry readers to Jindabyne, situated 27 miles from the summit of Kosciusko. It would seem a mere bagatelle to accomplish that short distance in one day, but tourists will find it not "all beer and skittles" (as I once heard our member sum up life in Parliament) negotiating the climb. The ascent is gradual from the time you leave Jindabyne. Several routes may be taken — in fact there are a couple of bridle tracks, leading from Kiandra, known only to bushmen, which considerably reduce the distance. But rough bush work is unsavoury to the ordinary white armed tourist, so I think the popular mode of doing the alpine sights is to entrust yourself at Jindabyne to the care of the guide, as we did. The fees to the guide are