The John McDouall Stuart Society Incorporated was formed in Adelaide in 1964, to perpetuate the name and achievements of the surveyor and explorer, John McDouall Stuart, and his Companions.
The patron is Dr Andrew Thomas. As Australia’s most recent explorer and only astronaut, Andy Thomas circumnavigated Earth in 1996 on board the spacecraft Endeavour. He carried artefacts from Stuart’s 1861-62 crossing of the continent with him. Dr Thomas is connected to FG Waterhouse, naturalist on Stuart’s last expedition.
The Society is run by a voluntary committee and has members in Australia, Scotland, England, USA and Hong Kong.
Besides newsletters, published articles & speeches, activities include field trips to significant historical sites associated with Stuart’s explorations, and other special events. Preservation, conservation and interpretation of these sites is another significant function of the Society. There is a social element at all functions.
Stuart had 33 Companions over his six expeditions. Researching and presenting the fascinating life stories of those Companions is another key activity. Often those stories are told as the Stuart Memorial Address.
The John McDouall Stuart Society’s Stuart Collection is housed in the Adelaide Masonic Centre, 254 North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia. Tours of the Masonic Centre are conducted on Thursdays at 2:00 pm or by appointment – Phone: 08 8223 1633.
Stuart's statue, Victoria Square, Adelaide, South Australia.
Stuart’s statue stands in Adelaide on the corner of Flinders and King William Streets, Victoria Square. A remembrance ceremony is held at his statue each year commemorating Stuart and his Companions.
The John McDouall Stuart Society acknowledges that a rich Aboriginal culture existed on the Australian continent before European settlement. References in these pages and other Society publications to ‘unknown territory, discoveries, explorers and expeditions’ are from a European perspective.
The committee of 8 members meets quarterly. It consists of:
- President – Rick Moore
- Vice President – John Lyon
- Secretary – Dean Harris
- Treasurer, Public Officer, Membership officer – Michael Belperio
- 4 other members
The committee is prepared to present illustrated talks to interested parties. Please contact the President or the Secretary via the contacts page.
History of the Formation of the Society
In July 1962, The Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (South Australian Branch) organised ‘Stuart Week’, a program of events to commemorate the centenary of Stuart raising the flag on the north coast of Australia. Walter McDouall Stuart placed a wreath on Stuart’s statue in Victoria Square, while at the same time wreaths were laid on the Stuart monument in Darwin, Alice Springs & Pt Lincoln. Wreaths were also placed on many of the companions’ graves, and on the grave of our little hero, at Kensal Green in London.
Following the major events of Stuart week, the RGS held a lecture that featured the story of William Patrick Auld’s life.
On July 23rd 1963, Mercia King, a granddaughter of Stephen King Jnr, penned a letter in which she said ‘I think it would be a very good idea if the descendants (old, young & middle aged) of the successful McDouall Stuart expedition could get together and do something to perpetuate their memory annually – a meeting or small function could be held around about July 25th, to commemorate their tremendous feat – as indeed it was.’
And so the John McDouall Stuart Society was born, within 12 months of Mercia King’s letter. In particular, Patrick Howard Auld had a wish for an organised society to remind us all of the exploits and achievements of Stuart and his brave and hardy followers. On July 25th, 1964, about 100 men, women & children gathered sedately at the Masonic Hall in Tusmore, Adelaide, South Australia, to create their own piece of history by forming the John McDouall Stuart Society.
EG Waterhouse moved that ‘This meeting of descendants, relatives and friends of those men who accompanied JMDS across Australia, or who were associated with the expedition, form a Society to be known as the “John McDouall Stuart Society” in order to perpetuate the name & achievements of the great explorer and those who accompanied him.’
The motion was carried unanimously. Keith Cameron Wilson was elected President; Patrick Howard Auld as Secretary & Treasurer. Two months later, the Society had 139 financial members, and all but one was related to Stuart, his Companions, or the Chambers brothers.