Chewings, Charles (AA 59)

Charles Chewings

Born: 16 April 1859, Woorkongoree, South Australia
Died: 9 June 1937, Glen Osmond, South Australia

Charles Chewings, geologist and anthropologist, was born on April 16, 1859 at Woorkongoree Station, near Burra, South Australia; the third son of John Chewings, pastoralist, and his wife Sarah.

In 1883 he travelled from Murat Bay to the Warburton Range to assess the area’s pastoral possibilities. Impressed with the efficiency of camels in the interior, in 1884 Chewings sailed to India and shipped nearly 300 of them to Port Augusta. Next year he opened a camel transport service based on Hergott Springs (Marree), explored the MacDonnell Ranges more thoroughly, and stocked his cattle-run, Tempe Downs. He mapped and named Chapple Range and Mount Chapple, Northern Territory, after his old headmaster, F Chapple.

On 8 February 1887 he married Frances Mary Braddock at Port Augusta and they went abroad for a year. On returning he was a stock and station agent, sharebroker and commission agent in Adelaide as well as maintaining the camel transport service, managed at Hergott Springs by Fushar Ackbar.

Chewings was excited by marine fossils discovered on Tempe Downs by his manager F Thornton, and in 1891 published Geological notes on the Upper Finke Basin in the Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia.

After studying geology at the University College, London and the University of Heidelberg, Germany (PhD 1894), he was elected to fellowships of the Royal Geographical and Geological societies, London. In his paper Central Australia (1891) in the former Society’s Proceedings, he reviewed the region’s history and praised its pastoral possibilities, mineral wealth, and suitability for date growing and ostrich farming.

In retirement he compiled an Aranda vocabulary including all the words previously recorded by other students and himself. This and the manuscript of his translation of C F T Strehlow’s Die Aranda - und Loritja - Stamme in Zentral - Australien (1915) are in the University of Adelaide’s Library.

Chewings was an earnest, energetic man with the practicality to work successfully in adverse conditions, he accomplished notable pioneer work in geology and the study of Aboriginal culture. Survived by his wife, two daughters, and two sons, he died on 9 June 1937 at Glen Osmond. His name is perpetuated in the Chewings Range, Mount Chewings and a street in Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

The South Australian Museum Archives contains, correspondence, vocubulary and publications.