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Andrew Dougald Watson (1885–1962)

by Barry Price

This article was published:

Andrew Dougald Watson (1885-1962), by Morton Henry Moyes, 1912-13

Andrew Dougald Watson (1885-1962), by Morton Henry Moyes, 1912-13

State Library of New South Wales, Home and Away - 36071

Andrew Dougald Watson (1885-1962), Antarctic explorer and headmaster, was born on 27 June 1885 at New Lambton, New South Wales, fourth son of nine children of Scottish-born parents William Watson, miner, and his wife Jane, née Thomson. After primary schooling at Newcastle, Andrew attended Maitland Boys' High School. A pupil-teacher at Hamilton (1901) and New Lambton (1902), he gained a scholarship to Fort Street Training School, Sydney, in 1905. Next year he was a temporary teacher at Paddington and Lithgow and in 1907 at Forest Lodge, Crystal Street and Newtown, Sydney. In 1908 he received a scholarship, initially in arts, to the University of Sydney (B.Sc., 1913), where he studied geology, chemistry and biology.

Watson represented New South Wales at baseball in 1907-11, and in 1914 when he played against visiting teams from the United States of America. He was a first-grade cricketer for the university in 1910-11 and North Sydney in 1918-19 and also an outstanding golfer. Later his pastimes included woodwork, fishing and bowls.

Joining (Sir) Douglas Mawson's 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition, as a geologist and photographer, Watson spent almost a year in 1912-13 in the group of eight led by Frank Wild, at the Queen Mary Land or Western Base. There he trained the party's dogs and dug a shaft to study the glacial ice. He also studied glacial effects on the landscape and accessible rock such as the Hippo Nunatak. In the summer expeditions, Wild, A. L. Kennedy, C. T. Harrisson and Watson explored to the east, but broken ice hindered their mapping of the coast. A promontory on David Island was named Watson Bluff. In December Watson was rescued from a crevasse: 'in an instant I found myself dangling at rope's end, fully fifteen feet, into a yawning chasm, with sheer walls'. A subsequent lecture on the expedition was published in the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society in 1937. In 1946 he was president of the Antarctic Club of former explorers.

On 8 May 1913 at St Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Sydney, Watson married Esther Enid Godfrey, to whom he had become engaged before leaving for the Antarctic. He lectured in geology at the University of Adelaide in 1913, then returned to the New South Wales Department of Public Instruction next year as a science teacher at Sydney Boys' High School. A long period followed at North Sydney Boys' High School, first as science master and then as deputy-headmaster. He was headmaster at Glen Innes (1933-35), Bowral (1935-37), Canberra (1938-45) and Homebush Boys' (1946-49) high schools. Respected by staff and students, Watson set the tone in his schools. About 6 ft (183 cm) tall and of solid build, he wore spectacles and an academic gown at school. He was 'a very dignified man', courteous and quietly spoken but aloof and austere. A Canberra High School colleague commented, 'Andy went southward ho with Mawson and he hasn't thawed out yet'. Watson died on 9 January 1962 at Cremorne, Sydney, and was cremated. His wife and son survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • D. Mawson, The Home of the Blizzard (Lond, 1915)
  • Jubilee Yarralumlan (Canb, 1988), p 1
  • Sun-Herald (Sydney), 18 Feb 1979, p 160
  • Watson papers (State Library of New South Wales)
  • private information.

Citation details

Barry Price, 'Watson, Andrew Dougald (1885–1962)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 26 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (Melbourne University Press), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Andrew Dougald Watson (1885-1962), by Morton Henry Moyes, 1912-13

Andrew Dougald Watson (1885-1962), by Morton Henry Moyes, 1912-13

State Library of New South Wales, Home and Away - 36071

Life Summary [details]


27 June, 1885
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia


9 January, 1962 (aged 76)
Cremorne, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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