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Jack, Robert Logan


Was born at Irvine, in Ayrshire, Scotland, on 16 September 1845. He was educated at the Irvine academy and Edinburgh university and, after some 10 years' experience with the geological survey of Scotland, was appointed geologist for northern Queensland in March 1876. He arrived in the colony in April 1877, and soon afterwards was made geologist for the whole colony. An early piece of work was an examination of the coal resources of the Cooktown district, and in August 1879 he began an exploring expedition to the most northerly part of Queensland in the hope that payable goldfields might be found. A second expedition was made towards the end of the year, and though no field of any great value was discovered, much was added to the knowledge of the country. The party endured many hardships and Jack himself was speared through the shoulder by hostile aborigines. In 1880 he published a work on the Mineral Wealth of Queensland, a Handbook to Queensland Geology appeared in 1886, and in 1892 with Robert Etheridge Jr (q.v.), The Geology and Palaeontology of Queensland and New Guinea was published in two volumes. He resigned his appointment in 1899.

In January 1900 Jack led an expedition to China starting from near Shanghai up the Yangtse Kiang River. In June, while at Chengtu, word was received of the Boxer rebellion, and the explorers, eventually found a way out through Burma. The Back Blocks of China, published in 1904, gives an account of the experiences of the party. In 1901 Jack returned to England and took up private practice, but in 1904 came to Australia again and did work for the government of Western Australia. From 1907 he resided at Sydney where he died on 6 November 1921. He was survived by a son, Robert Lockhart Jack, also well-known in Australia as a geologist. A large number of Jack's reports are listed on page IX, vol. I, The Geology and Palaeontology of Queensland and New Guinea. At the time of his death he had recently completed his Northmost Australia, an interesting account of exploration in northern Queensland, especially valuable for its accounts of the less known men, which was published in London in 1921. He was elected a fellow of the Geological Society in 1870, he received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Glasgow university, and in conjunction with Etheridge was awarded the Clarke memorial medal by the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1895.


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