Sunday, May 12, 2013

Some More Australian Firsts, and Biggest

Military firsts:

Louis Brennan - the underwater torpedo 1874:

Brennan invented the idea of a steerable torpedo in 1874 and patented the Brennan Torpedo in 1877. The Brennan torpedo is often claimed as the world's first guided missile bu guided torpedoes invented by others predate it. Brennan's torpedo, however, was much simpler in its concept and worked over an acceptable range at a satisfactory speed so it is more accurately called "the world's first practical guided missile". Brennan’s patent was purchased by the British War Office for a sum believed to be more than £100,000. 

In 1903 Brennan patented a gyroscopically-balanced monorail system that he designed for military use and he successfully demonstrated the system on 10 November 1909.  No matter how the monorail car leaned, the gyroscope prevented it from falling over and automatically righted any lean. Fears that the gyroscopes might fail prevented adoption of the system for widespread use. 

Lance de Mole – the tank 1912:

Model of de Mole’s tank. 

Inspired by travelling over rough terrain in the Australian countryside, De Mole  developed the idea of a tracked armoured vehicle.  Although the need for such a vehicle in warfare had not yet arisen, De Mole repeatedly submitted his proposals to the British War Office from 1912 for a “chain-rail vehicle which could easily be steered and carry heavy loads over rough round and trenches.” His design was ahead of its time but the British War Office lost the plans somehow, built its own and did not pay royalties. In 1919 a Commission acknowledged his concept and design to be vastly superior.  He was granted £987 to cover his expenses.

The Biggest:

Australia is the largest island in the world. 

The flagpole at Parliament house in Canberra is the largest aluminium object in the world. 

The world’s largest cattle property is Strangeray Springs in South Australia.  At over 30,000 sq km, it is only slightly smaller than Belgium. 

World’s biggest gold nugget: 

Bernhardt Otto Holtermann with the Holtermann Nugget, discovered in 1872. 

Holtermann with mining colleagues, Holtermann being the seated figure to the left of the "nugget.

It was not strictly speaking a nugget, but rather a specimen or matrix, a vein of gold embedded in rock, in this case quartz.   Holtermann was not the only finder but his name came to be associated with the discovery.  A larger find was brought to the surface shortly afterwards but was broken up without being photographed.  Holtermann tried to buy the find off the Star of Hope Gold Mining Company, in which he was a shareholder, for above market value but that was refused and the "nugget" was melted down for its gold.  Holtermann left the company disheartened, settling in St Leonards, a suburb of Sydney.  Astute investments made him wealthy, enabling him to pursue his interests of photography, patent medicines and politics, becoming the elected representative for St Leonards.  He died on his birthday, 29 April 1885, aged 47, from cancer of the stomach and cirrhosis of the liver.

The world’s biggest alluvial gold nugget is The Welcome Stranger, discovered in Victoria in 1869.  It was located 3 cm (1 inch) below the surface beneath a tree.

Miners and their wives posing with the finders of the nugget, Richard Oates, John Deason and his wife.

The nugget was too big to be weighed on conventional scales so was cut into three by the local blacksmith.  The discoverers, Oates and Deason, ended up receiving a total of £9,381  for the gold, an amount estimated to be around 3,766,950 dollars (U.S.) in January 2013.

Following the find, Oates returned to the UK, married and came back to Australia.  He bought a farm and raised 4 children, dying at age 79.  Deason stayed on the gold fields and lost most of his fortune in bad gold investments.  He did retain enough to buy a small farm and died in 1915 aged 85.

Dick Deason, grandson of discoverer John Deason, holds a replica of the nugget.

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.