Lieutenant William Dawes’ weather journal

The Journal of Lieutenant William Dawes at the Royal Society London. Image: Joelle Gergis

Lieutenant William Dawes was a scientist who sailed on the First Fleet’s HMS Sirius and maintained the first meteorological records kept during the early years of the colony.

Thanks to the hard work of climate researcher Robert McAfee, who in 1977 searched for and finally located Dawes’ missing journal in the library of the Royal Society in London, we now have access to a vital piece of our colonial climate history.

Dawes’ weather measurements spanned 14 September 1788 to 6 December 1791, comprising 182 hand-written pages of up to six daily observations of temperature, barometric pressure, winds and weather remarks.

A weather journal with comparable detail for this period anywhere in the world is a rare find.