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Daintree, Richard (1832 - 1878)

20 June 1878
Geologist and Photographer

Richard Daintree was born in England and, while a student at Cambridge, suffered a pulmonary attack which led to his departure for the milder climate of Melbourne in 1853. He spent his first year in Australia prospecting on the Victorian goldfields. He began his career as a geologist under Alfred Selwyn on the government mineralogical survey, examining coal deposits at Westernport. Daintree returned to England in 1855 to continue his education, studying assaying at the Royal School of Mines under Dr Percy who was also a founding member of the Photographic Society of London.

Having returned to Melbourne, in 1858, he went into business in Collins Street, with the French writer and photographer Antoine Fauchery, and together they worked on the serial production of the ‘Sun Pictures of Victoria’, proposed for sale in ten instalments, of photographs of Victoria and eminent Victorians. Only three examples of the first instalment are known to exist: one in the State Library of Victoria, and the other two in the State Library of Queensland.

In 1859, Daintree returned to Selwyn’s survey, now called the Victorian Geological Survey, as a field surveyor. It was in his survey of the Bellarine Peninsula that he first used a camera extensively. He also used photography as a means of publicity in advertising the colony’s resources in England.

In 1863, Daintree made a general study of the physical structure of Queensland and later, managed ‘Maryvale’ Station. He was appointed the first Geological Surveyor of North Queensland in 1868, taking hundreds of photographs as part of his exploratory work. He took up the position of Agent-General for Queensland in London in 1872 where he worked enthusiastically to promote interest in that State. He was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of London, and was honoured as Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1876. He died on 20 June 1878.

Dianne Reilly