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Fitzroy Jardine (1896–1964)

by Carol Gistitin

This article was published:

Fitzroy Jardine (1896-1964), schoolteacher and scientist, was born on 3 March 1896 at Rockhampton, Queensland, seventh child of Robert Jardine, a railway stationmaster from England, and his native-born wife Mary Ann, née Pearce. Named Fitzroy after the river in flood at the time of his birth, he attended North Rockhampton Primary School. In 1910 he won a scholarship to Rockhampton Grammar School where he excelled academically, and represented the school in rowing, athletics, football, cricket and shooting. The headmaster Henry Kellow selected Jardine in his senior year to become a junior assistant teacher and sportsmaster. In 1915 he was appointed to the permanent staff. Sailing to England in 1917, he qualified as a pilot in the Royal Naval Air Service and on 20 October was appointed temporary flight sub lieutenant. In April 1918 he transferred to the Royal Air Force and was sent to France where he served as an acting flight commander and flight navigating officer with No.243 Squadron. He was mentioned in dispatches and demobilized in 1919.

On his return to Australia, Jardine entered the University of Sydney (B.A., 1924; M.Sc., 1929) on a repatriation scholarship. He graduated with first-class honours and was awarded university medals in geology and geography. A science research scholarship allowed him to complete a thesis on the geology and physiography of Queensland's wetlands, for which he was awarded the university medal for geology in 1929. The results of his investigations of the Fitzroy basin, Broadsound, Ayr, Townsville, Cairns and Torres Strait were published in eight booklets, reprints from the reports of the Great Barrier Reef Committee. While in New South Wales, he also worked with T. G. Taylor on a survey of the Kosciusko Tableland and collaborated with him on a study of the Kamilaroi tribe. Jardine declined an offer to undertake research in the Sepik region of Papua. The responsibility of caring for his parents and two unmarried sisters induced him to accept the post of science master at Rockhampton Grammar in 1928. Following Kellow's death, Jardine was appointed headmaster in 1936. At her parents' Rockhampton home on 29 December 1945 he married with Methodist forms Adah Kathleen Williams, a 27-year-old schoolteacher.

As the school's longest-serving headmaster, Jardine had a significant influence on education in Central Queensland. He led Rockhampton Grammar through a period of growth and change, and welcomed the broadening of educational opportunities in Queensland. Although favouring a bias towards science in secondary education, he recognized the dangers of premature specialization. Some of his innovations included the establishment of a hobby-room and the introduction of chess as a school activity. The 'Bomber's' large, powerful build and booming voice were in themselves an incentive to his pupils to develop the self-discipline—as opposed to imposed discipline—that he advocated. Compelled by financial circumstances to forgo a scientific career and follow teaching, Jardine brought to it a brilliant mind, integrity, sportsmanship and a concern for the individual.

After his return to Queensland, Jardine had pursued his interest in ethnography. Over two-thirds of his important ethnographic collection originated in the Rockhampton and Fitzroy region, but it also contained items from the Torres Strait Islands, the North Queensland rainforests, Central Australia, the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands. The collection is held by the Dreamtime Cultural Centre, Rockhampton. Jardine had also continued flying. In 1932 he became an honorary examining officer of local pilot-licence applicants for the Department of Civil Aviation. Only months before his contemplated retirement he died of a coronary occlusion on 3 August 1964 at Rockhampton Grammar School and was cremated with Christadelphian forms. His wife, son and daughter survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • L. McDonald, Rockhampton (Brisb, 1981)
  • T. A. Clinch, The History of the Rockhampton Grammar School, Centenary 1881-1980 (Rockhampton, Qld, 1982)
  • P. K. Lauer, Assessment and Identification of the F. Jardine Ethnographic Collection (Brisb, 1988)
  • Rockhampton Grammar School, Capricornus, 1964, p 5
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 4 Aug 1964
  • K. C. Gillam, A Brief Review of the Rockhampton Grammar School's 100 Years (1881-1981) (typescript, 1981, Rockhampton and District Historical Society).

Citation details

Carol Gistitin, 'Jardine, Fitzroy (1896–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


3 March, 1896
Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia


3 August, 1964 (aged 68)
Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia

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