Australia's Big Science Picnic, 1914

'Australia's Big Science Picnic, 1914: Some New Evidence'

Professor Lynette Russell, FRHistS, FASSA, of Monash University, will deliver the 2015 Annual Lecture of the History Council of Victoria. This event is arranged with support from the Old Treasury Building, Melbourne.

LISTEN NOW! If you missed the event, or want to hear the lecture again, you can listen to it via this link:


DATE: Thursday 22 October 2015

TIME: 6 pm (light refreshments) for 6.30 pm (lecture)

VENUE: Old Treasury Building, 20 Spring Street, East Melbourne (click here for information on public transport and parking)

TICKETS: $15 per head - click here to book
Your contribution to this event will help the History Council of Victoria to promote History in Victoria.

FLYER: click here to download a PDF flyer about the event, and help us promote the Annual Lecture.

In 1914 the Australian Federal Government sponsored the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) to travel to Australia for their annual conference. Over 150 scientists were fully funded by the Australian Commonwealth government and they travelled on three ships especially commanded for this purpose. Across five major cities public talks, demonstrations and excursions familiarised the visiting scientists with Australian natural and hard sciences, geology, botany as well as anthropology. In terms of anthropology the congress presented a unique opportunity to showcase Aboriginal culture. This lecture draws on recently uncovered archival materials from Oxford’s Bodleian Library and considers the personalities, logistics, events and outcomes of this massive undertaking. In terms of outcomes just two of the Association’s recommendations were to establish a Commonwealth Scientific Institute (later CSIRO) and to develop a national telescope at Mt Stromlo. Although these were delayed by the outbreak of the Great War, it is clear that this Big Science Picnic was no mere singular event, but rather the BAAS in Australia left a legacy we are still beneficiaries of today.

Ticket for Melbourne BAAS meeting, 1914 Group at 1914 BAAS meeting, University of Melbourne

Event ticket for 1914 BAAS meeting

An unnamed group at the University of Melbourne for the 1914 BAAS meeting


Professor Lynette Russell is an Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow (2011-2016) at Monash University and was visiting fellow at All Souls College Oxford 2014-2015. She completed a PhD in history from the University of Melbourne and has taught and researched in the area of historical and Indigenous studies for nearly twenty years. She is author or editor of ten books. Her current work is in the cutting edge area of anthropological history. She is an elected fellow of Cambridge University’s Clare Hall, AIATSIS and the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Royal Historical Society.


The History Council of Victoria Incorporated (HCV) is the peak body for history in the Australian state of Victoria. Its vision is to connect Victorians with history and to inspire engagement with the past, their identity and the world today. The HCV champions the work of historians and the value of history. It recognises that history can be written about any place, any person, any period. The HCV advocates why history matters.

Read More


Our calendar lists all upcoming public events arranged by the History Council of Victoria (HCV), plus events in Victoria, Australia, that are added by our Friends and Members.

If you are organising an event that relates to History, we encourage you to publicise it on our website.

Read More


As the peak body for history in Victoria, the History Council makes submissions on current issues. In doing this, the HCV Board is guided by its Advocacy Policy and by the Value of History, a statement developed co-operatively by the HCV and the History Councils of New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

Read More


Since 2015, the HCV has been pleased to sponsor the Years 9 and 10 category of the Historical Fiction Competition organised by the History Teachers' Association of Victoria.

Read More


Ways to support us:

Subscribe to our free newsletter:
Endorse the Value of History statement:
Find us on socials: Twitter / Facebook / YouTube

Read More



The HCV was formed as an advisory body in 2001 and incorporated in 2003. It comprises representatives from cultural and educational institutions and heritage bodies; history teachers and curriculum advisors; academic and professional historians; and local, Indigenous, community and specialist history organisations.

As the peak body for history, the HCV has both ‘outward-looking’ roles (including advocacy and representation to government and the wider community, consultation, community education, and networking with allied interest groups) and ‘inward-looking’ roles (including member support, information dissemination, and networking between members).





Image acknowledgements to go here.