Born: 19 March 1895, Adelaide, South Australia
Died: August 1991, Adelaide, South Australia
Hedley Herbert Finlayson was a Demonstrator and Assistant Lecturer in Chemistry at the University of Adelaide when he developed a keen interest in the study of Australia’s indigenous mammals in the early 1920s. In 1930 he became Honorary Curator of Mammals at the South Australian Museum, a position he held until his retirement in 1965.
Despite permanent injuries he sustained during the course of his chemistry research in 1918, Finlayson travelled widely around Australia pursuing his interest in the study of mammals. His expeditions were largely self-funded. In the early 1930s he made a number of trips into Central Australia to study the indigenous mammals and people of the region. On one of his Central Australia expeditions he obtained specimens of the desert rat-kangaroo (Caloprymnus campestris), which had been thought extinct for 90 years. His trips to Central Australia later formed the basis for his 1935 book, The Red Centre, which was reprinted eight times.
In 1927 Finlayson was appointed Honorary Associate in Mammalia at the South Australian Museum after he had donated a number of skins to its collection. In 1930 he was made Honorary Curator of Mammals, a position he held until his retirement in 1965.
The South Australian Museum Archives contains photographs, maps, a medal, personal papers, and a collection of anthropological papers.