Australia's most famous long-range weather forecaster, Mr. Inigo Owen Jones, died on 14th November at Crohamhurst Observatory, Beerwah, Q., from which he had issued his controversial predictions for many years. His forecasting theory, based on astronomical observations and the repetition of weather cycles, was never proved conclusively (recently a Federal meteorological authority announced after investigations that it had a 50-50 chance of being correct), but nevertheless he had a big following in Australia, particularly amongst primary producers, and his regular seasonal forecasts were widely published through the rural press, including the Pastoral Review. To show their appreciation of the value of his research, some primary industry organisations, together with a contribution from the Queensland Government, set up the Long Range Weather Forecasting Trust in 1942 to help finance the Crohamhurst Observatory and enable its work to be continued.
Born at Croydon, England, 81 years ago, Inigo Jones was brought to Australia by his parents in 1874, the family settling on a farm at Crohamhurst, about 60 miles north of Brisbane. He was educated at the Brisbane Grammar School, and later joined the staff of the late Mr. Clement Lindley Wragge, Queensland Government meteorologist. He first began issuing his long-range weather forecasts in 1923, and in 1927, when he received State Government assistance in his work, moved from Crohamhurst to Brisbane. In 1934, however, he returned to Crohamhurst to build an observatory with financial help from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Mr. Jones was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Meteorological Society, a member of the Astronomical Society of France, and the American Meteorological Society. His work will be continued by Mr. Lennox Walker, whom he nominated as his successor shortly before his death.
An Appreciation by Horace Flower
Tens of thousands of farmers and graziers throughout Australia followed the long-range forecasts of the late Mr. Inigo Owen Jones without realising much about the personality of the man. His forecasting work created many controversies and drew to him much favourable comment as well as adverse criticism, but apart from being a meteorologist he was a philosopher, artist, gardener, and practical farmer.
A descendant of one of the most historic and brilliant architects in British history (the Inigo Jones of 1573 to 1652, who ranked with Sir Christopher Wren in fame), his father was a distinguished engineer, Owen Jones, and his mother a member of a world-famous family of mathematicians and scientists—the Bernoulli family. From 1874 to 1954 he was a resident of Queensland, and devoted to astronomy and meteorology from his school-days, as the record of his life tells all who have followed his work or who have inquired into his history.
Inigo Jones' philosophy of life is well illustrated in the following extract from a letter to me: "You advocate co-operation. Now, if as I say, the whole universe is just a vast electro-magnetic machine of which our planets are part, and we individuals too are magnetic units, then Nature shows us that co-operation in living is the only way of life. If, in a magnetic machine, any part became more forcible than another, then the whole machine would be out of balance and go wrong with disastrous results." I never pretended at any time to know anything about the science of meteorology or the mysteries of astronomy, but Inigo was always ready and willing to spend time trying to open the minds of those who inquired into these regions of thought.
His field of correspondence knew nothing of national boundaries, which is true of all genuine scientific workers and researchers. In his library were crammed thousands of volumes, the subjects of which ranged from fiction of a dozen nationalities to the works of the great dramatists and philosophers, works of supreme artistic quality from countries as opposed to one another as the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. There in his library one would quite likely discover an artist's easel carrying a canvas upon which he was depicting his idea of "The Garden of Epicurus" in Athens, which was the centre of a school of philosophy in the third century B.C. Or, on his verandahs, looking for miles across the mountains and valleys of the encircling ranges, one might find a delightful water-colour of some nearby beauty spot. In his gramophone-record library reposed a most unique and carefully-selected range of recordings of classical music, of opera, singers of note, together with dramatic recitals from the Shakespearian plays, all relieved by light-opera and some of the lighter music. It was probably the largest and most varied private collection in Queensland.
All round his home, which was nearly 60 years old, grew a luxurious and expansive garden. Here one might find anything ranging from tropical orchids to English holly or a glorious Magnolia tree in full bloom. A most discriminating gardener, with amazing "green fingers" and wide knowledge, Inigo was also a farmer and cultivated some of his wide lands, as well as running a sound herd of grade Jersey cows. He was for very many years a Synodsman of the Brisbane Diocese of the Anglican Church, and one who was not afraid to criticise constructively and very emphatically without distinction between the Archbishop and the humbler laymen. Round the Blackall Ranges he was a friend and counsellor to the neighbourhood farmers and people of all classes and creeds—what one would term "a real white man" to his fellows.
A living memorial to Inigo grows upon about fifty acres of his original farm-land, which he gave to the Department of Public Lands to enable the Forestry Department to plant a pine forest upon it. These trees are growing year by year within sight of the little Crohamhurst Observatory where the kindly visionary, Inigo Jones, kept vigil with the sun, moon, and stars.
'Jones, Inigo Owen (1872–1954)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/jones-inigo-owen-539/text540, accessed 25 May 2013.