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Goldie, Andrew (1840–1891)

by H. J. Gibbney

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

Andrew Goldie (1840-1891), naturalist and merchant, was born on 24 May 1840 at Kelburne, Ayrshire, Scotland, son of David Goldie and his wife Agness. After a sketchy education and apprenticeship to his father's trade of gardener he migrated in 1862 to Auckland where for some ten years he was a nurseryman. Back in Britain in 1874 he arranged to collect plants in the South Sea Islands for a London nurseryman but next year in Melbourne he was encouraged by Dr Ferdinand von Mueller to go to New Guinea. He arrived at Port Moresby in the mission steamer Ellengowan on 28 March 1876 but after some local exploration and two bad attacks of fever left in December for Sydney.

There Goldie published reports of his travels and arranged with Edward Ramsay of the Australian Museum to take two collectors, Alexander Morton and William Blunden, on his next trip. Accompanied by James H. Shaw, surveyor, the party reached Port Moresby in Goldie's cutter Explorer on 17 July 1877. Morton and Blunden went to the Laloki River and set up a camp while Goldie and Shaw sailed to Tupusulei, explored about eight miles (13 km) inland, climbed the Astrolabe Range and returned westward to Boera and the Laloki River where Shaw was hurt and left for Port Moresby. Goldie joined Morton and Blunden and on 10 November they moved west and found a large river; Goldie gave it his own name and one of his carriers appropriately found traces of gold. In December the party set off to collect on Suau Island but returned to Port Moresby after meeting Charles Dudfield, captain of the schooner Mavri, who had been wounded by islanders. Morton left for Sydney and for seven weeks the others explored the south coast: they entered Cloudy Bay, examined the Robinson River, named the Blunden River and Milport and Glasgow Harbours, and in the Louisiade Archipelago named the Redlick group and discovered Teste Island. Early in 1878 Shaw and Blunden went to Sydney where an assay of their gold specimens stimulated a rush. On 28 June 1879 Goldie led four Europeans and twenty carriers to the old camp on the Laloki; they explored as far as the Rouna Falls and returned to Port Moresby in September. Soon afterwards he sailed from Yule Island to Freshwater Bay in his new boat Alice Meade and named Alice Meade Lagoon and Goldie Reef.

Weakened by fever and hardship Goldie decided to settle in New Guinea. In May 1878 he had bought land near Hanuabada and set up a trading store. In September 1883 he joined J. B. Cameron, agent of a Sydney syndicate, in buying 17,000 acres (6880 ha) at Kabadi. This purchase defied native custom and poisoned his good relations with William Lawes. On establishment of the protectorate Goldie and Cameron sought recognition of the transaction and parted company when it was refused. In 1886 the government decided to remove European settlement from the Hanuabada area. In exchange for his property Goldie was offered six blocks in the new township at Granville West but after a vigorous paper war with Anthony Musgrave was compensated with £400 for his improvements, and given fifty suburban acres (20 ha) and three town allotments on which he built Port Moresby's first store in January 1887. Despite a report of his death in 1886 Goldie visited Sydney in 1891 but died soon after his return to Port Moresby on 20 November. Although evidence on his estate was destroyed in World War II, he left 3750 shares in Burns Philp & Co. Ltd to three sisters and two brothers.

Goldie was intensely jealous of his repute as an explorer and never allowed subordinates to publish independent reports. He was unpopular in scientific circles because he tended to see his collections as a commercial venture; yet many of the scientific discoveries claimed by him were allegedly made by his associate, Carl von Hunstein, a German naturalist.

Select Bibliography

  • T. F. Bevan, Toil, Travel, and Discovery in British New Guinea (Lond, 1890)
  • A. Wichmann, Nova Guinea, vol 2 (Leiden, 1910), part 1
  • G. Souter, New Guinea: The Last Unknown (Syd, 1963)
  • G. S. Fort, Report on British New Guinea, Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Queensland), 1886, 2, 939
  • Town and Country Journal, 19 Jan 1878, 13 Nov 1886
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 31 Dec 1879, 19 Jan 1880
  • W. G. Lawes journals (State Library of New South Wales)
  • E. P. Ramsay papers (State Library of New South Wales)
  • Protectorate papers (National Archives of Papua New Guinea)
  • manuscript catalogue under A. Goldie (State Library of New South Wales)
  • CO 243/43.

Citation details

H. J. Gibbney, 'Goldie, Andrew (1840–1891)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/goldie-andrew-3626/text5635, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 21 August 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

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