KOSCIUSZKO HUTS ASSOCIATION

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Adrian Ingleby has directed us to some articles in relation to the design of the Observatory Hut, and also relating to the “Hatch” which Basil Newth built in 1899 to allow entry and exit during the winter months.

 
Basil was apparently a very smart man, he designed and built many items to assist with the taking of observations during bad weather (automatic timed bells, torch lights which would not go out in gales etc), he was a very good mathematician and he was also an inventor.
 
The 1910 article is about a patent he submitted re an airship or aerial planitrope.
 
All articles can be found on the marvellous National Library of Australia: Trove site
 
Click the links below to open the appropriate Trove article

Australian Town and Country Journal
Saturday 2 April 1898, Page 31
The Observatory Hut, Mount Kosciusko.
(See Illustrations on the web page.)
DETAILED PLAN DISPLAYED
Our Illustrations, for which we are indebted to Mr. Clement Wragge, show details of the observatory hut which is to be erected on Mount Kosciusko. As they show, very great care has been taken to meet the difficulty of living on Australia's highest and coldest spot. The specifications provide for the best work throughout, the walls being constructed of stone procured in the vicinity, walls 18in thick, with a height of from 7ft to 8ft. The front elevation shows a porch covered on top with, thick slabs. It will be noticed that the roof is a very thick one. The rafters are to be of round timbers, 6in diameter at the small end, and spaced 12in apart, covered on top with 3in by 1 1/4in hard wood battens. On this is placed 26 gauge galvanised iron, and on top of this will be placed 9in of concrete. The architect is Mr. G. D. Cochran, of Cooma.


Australian Town and Country Journal NSW
Saturday 16 April 1898, Page 18
The Kosciusko Hut.
Mr. C. D. Cochran, architect, of Sharp-street, Cooma, writes: In your issue of the 2nd instant you published a reproduction of the plan prepared by me for the Mount Kosciusko Observatory hut, with a short description of the building (presumably taken from the specification), and stating that I am the architect. I would point out to you that I have no further connection with the matter than the preparation of plans and specifications for a building such as I would guarantee to withstand the cold and winds on Mount Kosciusko; and, further, I am reliably, informed that the building will not now be constructed, as stated by you, or according to the specification, all external masonry being omitted, both in walls and roof, and the hut being merely a wooden one, roofed with iron. Under the circumstances I am not prepared to accept the responsibility attached, and would be glad if you will remove the impression caused by your article that I am supervising and guaranteeing the building as now being erected.

 

Evening News Sydney, NSW
Monday 18 April 1898, Page 3
KOSCIUSKO OBSERVATORY.
PREPARATIONS FOR THE WINTER
Mr. Clement Wragge, the Government Meterologist, has received a telegram announcing that a severe snowstorm had been experienced on Mount Kosciusko (says the Brisbane 'Daily Telegraph').

On the summit of the mountain the snow was 7ft deep, but lower down the drifts were of a much greater depth. The party in charge of the observatory, however, weathered the storm most successfully, and are reported to be all well. The materials for the observatory house have arrived on the mountain, and the work of construction will be pushed on as fast as possible. It is hoped that by April 20 it will be ready for occupation.

The house, which will contain two rooms, will be built of pine with two walls, an inner and an outer — the interspace being filled in with turf and rubble. Outside these two walls will be built a strong wall of granite. The roof is to be of galvanised iron with a heavy layer of cement or concrete over it, and it is confidently expected that this structure will successfully withstand the severest storm likely to be experienced. An ample supply of provisions for six months is now en route for the mountains, and a good stock of fire wood for the winter is already there. An extra supply of kerosene will also be furnished in case of necessity, not only for lighting purposes but also for cooking, being used in the Primus stoves.

Captain Iliff, of Kangaroo Point, will shortly be returning to Brisbane, and in his place Mr. Wragge has appointed Mr. H. J. Jensen, of Caboolture, who is now being specially trained for meteorological work. Mr. Jensen has already studied science extensively, and -is an excellent arithmetician, having successfully passed several examinations. The observatory staff for the winter will consist of Mr. Bernard Ingleby (of Adelaide), who is in charge, Mr. De Burgh Newth as second observer, and Mr. Jensen as third ob server. Mr. Wragge particularly wishes it to be understood that every possible provision is being made for the welfare of the Kosciusko staff during the severe winter which is likely to be experienced. Amongst other things a medicine chest has been provided, and contains all drugs and medicines likely to be wanted. The stock of winter clothing is of the most complete description, consisting of heavy coats of Tasmanian opossum fur, leather trousers, and other wearing apparel equally suited to severely cold weather.  Mr. Wragge states that no matter how bad the weather may be, relatives and friends of the observers need have no uneasiness concerning them.

Unfortunately, the construction of the telephone line above the snow-line would involve the laying of a special cable, and this cannot be completed in time for the winter. Moreover, at present the cost would be prohibitive. The use of snow- shoes will, therefore, be the only means of communication with the outside world. The observations already taken at the station are now being elaborately tabulated, and the results will shortly be made known. Those taken during the winter will possess a far greater value in asmuch as the Antarctic disturbances pass during that season more directly over the mountain. The co-relative low level station at Merimbula, which is in charge of Mr. Wragge's eldest son, will be maintained, and simultaneous observations taken as heretofore.



The Manaro Mercury, and Cooma and Bombala Advertiser NSW
Friday 29 April 1898, Page 3
MOUNT KOSCIUSKO OBSERVATORY.
Mr. Arthur Mawson, of Cooma, the contractor for the building of the observatory hut on Mount Kosciusko, arrived with his men at the summit late on Sunday evening last, guided by James Spencer, under most unfavorable weather conditions.

As it was too dark and blustery to pitch their camp that night, we — that is, six of us — had to make such shift as we could in the Arctic tent, which, never colossal, since the advent of Blastus has shrunk in dimensions to about 12ft square, to it can be easily understood that with the medley of sleeping bags, provision bags, etc., as bedmates, the conditions were not the most favorable to obtain a good night's rest.

On the morrow, at daybreak, which is of hardwood, was started, and by dint of hard labor one of the rooms was sufficiently completed to afford shelter that night in lieu of the melee of the former evening.

On Tuesday the country for miles around was covered with a light coat ing of snow, about 6in. having fallen during the night, while later a dense fog enveloped the mountain, and did not lift for the remainder of the day, which was intensely cold, the maxi mum temperature being under 30deg. F., and the minimum 24.3deg F.

This was heightened by a strong nor' -westerly wind, a peculiarity of mountain climate being that great cold is accompanied by high winds, the re verse to conditions prevailing at low levels, which made the roofing of the hut with galvanised iron a difficult task, two men having to sit on the sheets whilst four screwed them down ; frequent visits to the fire in order to thaw oneself being necessitated by the cold. That night the lowest temperature registered on the mountain was experienced, the thermometer on the ground falling as low as 11deg. F., or 21deg of frost, and everything at all exposed was covered with the most beautiful icicles, principally on the windward side.

On the following day, Wednesday, matters were very, little improved; indeed, they were, perhaps, under, the circumstances, even worse, as the stonework for the chimney had to be built, and the temperature being considerably below freezing, the mortar with which to bind the rocks together froze into a solid mass, and had to be melted when required from time to time. This shows the wisdom of abandoning the idea of a stone structure so late in the season, and although the one as at present built will not perhaps be so solid, with the huge rocks piled up against its sides, to say nothing of a coating of snow several feet thick, it is sufficient to stand any blizzard, even Kosciusko one, which, I can personally vouch for, are hard to beat. - April 22.

 

The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)
Monday 5 June 1899, Page 2
MOUNT KOSCIUSKO.
Mr. Wragge has just received a letter from Mr. Newth, observer in charge, Mount Kosciusko, who, with the assistant observer, Mr. Burcher, is comfortably housed for the winter on the mountain ; and the observatory is progressing most satisfactorily. Mr. Newth says, writing on the 15th May :-

"Most unexpectedly visited by two stock men to-day, so snatch this opportunity to send a hasty line. Have been busy, Burcher and I, all last week, fitting up the hut, and all is finished now. I bought what timber I could, and we built ourselves a hatchway, a kind of wooden chimney and trap-door, altered the fireplace, and built a storeroom; also put up more shelves, made another table, improved the bunks, and finished the sledge. This last is a great success as a toboggan; but we haven't, as yet, finished the harness for the dogs. Burcher has rigged the sledge with a mast and sails, and will write fully about it next time. All is snug now for the winter. The kero-sene "Primus" stoves a great success. Snow covers the ground from the great fall of the 3rd May, and the Cootapatamba Lake is frozen over 3in. deep. The weather is very cold. Temperature on the surface of the ground fallen to 5.3 deg. during the night. We are expecting bad weather and more snow now. Intend taking series of photographs during winter."

By the kindness of the Hon. G. H. Reid, Mr. Wragge has provisioned the Mount Kosciusko observatory till the end of the current year. The observers are supplied with every requisite, and except when actually taking the observations during the heavy gales and snowstorms, should be com-fortable enough. A library is being formed at the observatory, to which various scien-tific and learned societies in different parts of the world contribute by sending their "Journals and proceedings."


The Manaro Mercury, and Cooma and Bombala Advertiser (NSW
Friday 9 June 1899, Page 2
MOUNT KOSCIUSKO OBSERVATORY.
Mr. Wragge, Queensland Government Meteorologist, has just received a letter from Mr. Newth, observer-in- charge, Mount Kosciusko, who with the assistant observer, Mr. Burcher, is comfortably housed for the winter on the mountain, stating that the observatory is progressing most satisfactorily. Mr. Newth says, writing on May 15 :— "I was most unexpectedly visited by two stockmen to-day, so snatch this opportunity to send a hasty line. Have been busy, Burcher and I, all last week, fitting up the hut, and all is finished now. I bought what timber I could and we built our selves a hatchway, a kind of wooden chimney and trapdoor, altered the fireplace, and built a storeroom ; also put up more shelves, made another table, improved the bunks, and finished the sledge. This last is a great suc cess as a toboggan, but we haven't yet finished the harness for the dogs. Burcher has rigged the sledge with a mast and sails, and will write fully about it next time. All is snug now for the winter. Snow covers the ground from the great fall of May 3, and the Cootapatamba Lake is frozen over three inches deep. The weather it very cold. The temperature on the surface of the ground has fallen to 5.3deg. during the night. We are expecting bad weather, and more snow now, and intend taking a series of photographs during the winter." Owing to the kindness of Mr. G. H. Reid, Mr. Wragge has provisioned the Mount Kosciusko Observatory till the end of the current year. The ob servers are supplied with every re quisite, and except when actually taking the observations during the heavy gales and snowstorms should be comfortable enough. A library is being formed at the observatory, to which various scientific and learned societies in different parts of the world contribute by sending their journals and proceedings.



The Australian Children's Newspaper NSW
Tuesday 27 June 1899, Page 4
Mt. Kosciusko Observatory.
On the top of Mt. Kosciusko an observatory has been established by Mr. Wragge, the Queensland Government "weather prophet." A few months ago I journeyed up to the observatory to see it, and I hope some day to tell the story of my journey to readers of the CHILDREN'S NEWSPAPER. The two young observers, Messrs. Newth and Burcher, are now snowed in for winter. We will hear very little of them till spring comes and the snow disappears, for they are quite isolated from the outside world during winter. The other day Mr. Wragge received the following note from Mr. Newth:-

"I was most unex-pectedly visited by two stockmen today, so snatch this opportunity to send a hasty line. Have been busy. Burcher and I, all last week, fitting up the hut, and all is finished now. I bought what timber I could, and we built ourselves a hatchway, a kind of wooden chim- ney and trap-door, altered the fire-place, and built a store-room; also put up more shelves, made another table, improved the bunks, and finished the sledge. This last is a great success as a toboggan, but we haven't yet finished the harness for the dogs. Burcher has rigged the sledge with a mast and sails, and will write fully about it next time. All is snug now for the winter. Snow covers the ground from the great fall of May 3, and the Cootapatamba Lake is frozen over three inches deep. The weather is very cold. The temperature on the sur- face of the ground has fallen to 5.3 degrees during the night. We are expecting bad weather and more snow now, and intend taking a series of photographs during the winter."


Barrier Miner Broken Hill, NSW
Thursday 20 January 1910, Page 3
COMMONWEALTH PATENTS.
Following is a list af Commonwealth applications for letters patent received from December 16 to 31, 1909 : -
Basil De Burgh Newth, Sydney, mechanical engineer: An airship or aerial planitrope.