Camp View, Field Naturalists ' Club Expedition to King Island

Archibald James Campbell1887 - 1888

Museums Victoria

Museums Victoria
Carlton, Australia

One of thirty-two black and white photographs in an album taken by Archibald James Campbell during a Field Naturalists' Club of Victoria expedition to King Island in November 1887. The aim of the expedition was to "before the introduction of numerous foreign plants and animals rendered it impossible to do so, to ascertain as precisely as we could in the short time at our disposal the fauna and flora indigenous to the island." The party included 26 members of the Field Naturalists including sportsmen, oologists, botanists, conchologists and taxidermists but as they noted in thier report "all were transformed into collectors of anything which might throw light upon the living inhabitants, both animal and plant, of the island." The main camp consisted of 10 tents nestled into a sheltered spot beside Yellow River Creek. The party had little more than two weeks for thier survey and they used the base to venture out and collected specimens. The frenzied collecting is witnessed in this image, while living specimens of possum and bird are held by field naturalists the disarray of the camp reveals drying pelts and sea stars laid out on the ground.


  • Title: Camp View, Field Naturalists ' Club Expedition to King Island
  • Creator Lifespan: 1853 - 1929
  • Creator Nationality: Australian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Box Hill, Victoria, Australia
  • Creator Birth Place: Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
  • Date Created: 1887 - 1888
  • Physical Dimensions: w200 x h150 mm
  • Type: Image
  • Rights: Copyright expired: Source: Museum Victoria / Photographer: A.J Campbell, Copyright expired: Source: Museum Victoria / Photographer: A.J Campbell
  • External Link: Museum Victoria Collections
  • Medium: Photograph
  • Subject: Artwork, lantern slides
  • Artist biography: Archibald James Campbell was born on 18 February 1853 at Fitzroy, Victoria. He was the eldest son of Archibald Campbell, who came to Australia in 1840, and his wife Catherine, née Pinkerton, both of Glasgow, Scotland. After education at a private school in Melbourne, Campbell entered the Victorian civil service in 1869 where he worked as a customs officer, retiring in 1914.His interest in nature was aroused in childhood at Werribee where he lived with his grandparents until the age of 10. His first love was egg-collecting, and his general interest in birds was further inspired by the study of John Gould's works at the Public Library.Campbell studied photography under Mr. L Hart, at the Working Men's College, Melbourne. His main aim in doing so was to illustrate his work of Natural History.He was for many years active in the Field Naturalists' Club of Victoria. By 1896 his collection of eggs represented 500 species. Campbell initiated the first of several dinners which led to the formation in 1901 of the (Royal) Australasian Ornithologists' Union; he was president in 1909 and 1928 and co-editor of its journal, 'The Emu', for 13 years.In the 1890s he contributed a series of articles on Australian birds to the Australasian and in 1905 was a founder of the Bird Observers' Club. In quest of eggs and bird-lore he travelled throughout Australia, often under rough conditions. He scientifically described and named over 30 Australian birds although only a few of these names have resisted synonymy. He published papers on eggs in the Southern Science Record, the Victorian Naturalist and the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria; one was read at the International Ornithological Congress at Budapest in 1891. These papers formed the basis for his major and still useful 'Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds' (1900), in an edition of 600 copies published in both one and two volumes. His pioneer collection, made when custom divided sets of eggs for exchange rather than preserved them as full clutches, was later presented to Museum Victoria.Campbell was elected a colonial member of the British and an honorary fellow of the American ornithologists' unions. He was a keen conservationist, showing concern for disappearing species, and a pioneer bird-photographer (having photographed Lesser Noddies as early as 1889). A lover of acacias, he was founder in 1899 of the Victorian Wattle Club (later League). He helped organise spring excursions on 1 September each year into the bush surrounding Melbourne, which evolved into the first 'national' Wattle Day, celebrated in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide on 1 September 1910.He was a member of the board of management of Toorak Presbyterian Church, a tenor in its choir, and an elder of Box Hill Presbyterian Church.Campbell married a teacher, Elizabeth Melrose Anderson (d.1915), at South Yarra on 11 March 1879; they had five children. By his second marriage to Blanche Ida Rose Duncan, a trained nurse, at Toorak on 27 March 1916, he had one son. He died at Box Hill on 11 September 1929 and was buried in St Kilda Cemetery.
  • Artist: Archibald James Campbell

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