ESHG Biographies

Dorothy Hill - image courtesy John Jell. Portrait by Lola McCausland (1967), collection of The University of Queensland - reproduced with permission.

Harold George Raggatt  

Having completed first year at Sydney University in Science, Sir Harold George Raggatt (1900-1968)  enlisted in the AIF, just after his eighteenth birthday, and went overseas, reaching France just as the war ended. He used the time there to improve his German by conversing with prisoners-of-war. Raggatt graduated in 1922, and joined the Geological Survey of New South Wales. He worked in many parts of the state, but particularly in the Hunter Valley, where his structural mapping south towards Sydney led to the first drilling for oil in the Sydney Basin at Kulnura. Raggatt's D.Sc. thesis on the Structural Evolution of the Permo-Triassic Basin of East -Central New South Wales became one of the most quoted "unpublished" works in the Australian geological literature!

Harold George Raggatt - image courtesy 
Geological Society Australia Journal v16 pt 1 (frontispiece)

Raggatt took leave from the Survey to work briefly in New Guinea and North-West Australia, a step which was to prove important in influencing later work he directed. He was also influenced by working with aerial photographs for the first time, in 1937, realizing their importance in ensuring better speed, economy and accuracy in mapping. 

In 1939 Raggatt became Assistant Commonwealth Geological Adviser, and succeeded to the post of Adviser when W.G. Woolnough retired the following year. He assembled a group of geologists and geophysicists to undertake a survey of strategic minerals, later expanded to cover the survey, evaluation and development of the mineral resources of Australia. In 1945 Raggatt and J.M. Rayner visited the United States and Canada, and their report resulted in the formation of the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics (BMR), now Geoscience Australia, in May 1946. The rest is history, as they say. 

In 1951 Raggatt became Secretary of the Department of National Development, seeing this as an opportunity to further the use of geosciences and technology in the national interest, negotiating the Snowy Mountains Agreement, establishing the Australian Water Resources Council,the Australian Minerals Development Laboratories and the Atomic Energy Commission. Throughout his fifteen years in this job he ensured that the government contribution was "basic and systematic" resulting in complete air photo and regional map (1: 250 000) coverage, stream gauging and other matters which are now taken for granted (or are now supposed to be undertaken by the private sector!). 

On retirement Raggatt was very active in the mineral industry, and visited Africa several times for the United Nations. He also wrote Mountains of Ore, his statement on the discovery and development of Australia's mineral deposits. While gaining many honours Raggatt remained always approachable and unassuming, with wide interests, extending beyond the natural sciences 
Click below to download the biography of Harold George Raggatt in PDF form:
(note: image courtesy Geological Society Australia Journal v16 pt 1 (frontispiece))