THE former headquarters of one of Queensland’s most respected long-range weather forecasters is on the market.
Located at 131 Crohamhurst Rd, the property known as Crohamhurst Observatory was built in 1935 by Inigo Jones, and was used as the site of solar and planetary observations, and weather measurements, that were used in Jones’ forecasting services.
According to the Queensland Heritage Register, the site is important as it “demonstrated the role of weather observing and recording in the history of Queensland”.
Jones’ worked at the Queensland Meteorological Bureau before moving to the family farm, where he continued his daily weather recordings, and “achieved lasting recognition” after recording the highest daily rainfall in Australia (907mm) at Crohamhurst in February 1893. That record still stands.
But true recognition and support for his work came in the late 1920s, according to the heritage register.
He died in 1954 but was regarded by his biographer, Tim Sherratt, as Australia’s “weather prophet”.
His protege, Lennox Walker, also a respected long-range weather forecaster, continued his work in to the 1990s.
Property records show the observatory, the house and the land was then sold by Robert Lennox Walker in a “family sale” to his son Hayden Walker, also a long-range weather forecaster, in 1998.
Crohamhurst Observatory, which is no longer in use, was heritage listed in 2008, and was sold to Ross and Emma Tindall in 2009, and was recently listed for sale.
Mr Tindall said they were drawn to the property because of the classic Queenslander-style house and the history attached to the observatory.
“The thing that always comes to mind is that rainfall record,” he said. “And it still stands.
“Since we have been here we have had maybe about 260mm in one day so 907mm is amazing.
“When Cyclone Oswald came through (in 2013) we had about 900mm in six days.”
Cyclone Oswald formed in the Gulf of Carpentaria on January 21, 2013, making landfall at Kowanyama as a category one storm just six hours later.
Downgraded to a low, it then turned south, running almost parallel to the Queensland coast and in to NSW, causing widespread flooding.
Cyclone Owen is currently located in the Gulf of Carpentaria and a category three storm, but the “zombie cyclone” is expected to perform a U-turn back towards Queensland sometime today, reaching severe category four status early tomorrow.
It is then predicted to make landfall between Kowanyama and Gilbert River early Saturday, before adopting a south-easterly track — eerily similar to Cyclone Oswald.
Mr Tindall remembers Cyclone Oswald well, having kept weather records of his own during his time at Cromahurst.
As for the observatory, it remains “untouched”.
“It is the size of a small house but we didn’t really know what to do with it,” he said. “My wife is a silversmith and set up in one part of the observatory and I had my model trains in another part.”
The property comes with a house with a wraparound deck and the heritage-listed observatory on 1.33 hectares.
The observatory consists of three large rooms, and one small storage room, original benches and a functioning toilet and hand basin.
It is currently a registered not-for-profit, but could be respectfully redesigned as a second dwelling, dual living for extended family, or even a unique Airbnb rental.
The Queenslander house has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, casement windows and French doors, VJ walls, airconditioning, a spacious kitchen with new appliances and has been freshly painted.
It also has satellite internet, an aerial signal booster for mobile phone, a home phone line, five water tanks and other features. On the block, there is also established gardens and fruit trees.
The Tindalls have done some work on the house, including installing a woodburning stove and insulated the ceiling
But with two young children, the Tindall’s are now keen to downsize and move closer to schools, amenities and job opportunities.
“It would really suit a treechanger or retired couple,” he said.
The property is listed with Sandra de Jersey of Re/max First Caloundra.