Fitzroy in Flood

The Yarrunga Creek hosts nine high waterfalls, including the 81m Fitzroy Fall. We do not know the First People names for the pools of these falls.

European settlers originally called the main fall ‘Throsby’s Waterfall’ to honor the explorer Charles Throsby. The fall was visited by Sir Charles FitzRoy, Governor of New South Wales (1846-51) in 1850. The main fall was renamed in his honor: the 10th Governor of New South Wales.

He was brother of Robert FitzRoy, the captain of Darwin's research ship, the Beagle. This was an interesting and tragic family. I have often followed in the footsteps of Robert's travelling companion, Charles Darwin as i travel the Blue Mountains, standing at Govett's Leap where he gazed into the abyss and saw immeasurable time unwind. 

But, here, I stop to remember the tragedy of Robert FitzRoy.

Robert had done his level religious best to convince Darwin of the error of Darwin's science, blaming himself for failing to get Darwin to adhere to religious rather than scientific belief. In a debate on Darwin's Origin of Species in 1860, Robert was seen "lifting an immense Bible first with both and afterwards with one hand over his head, solemnly implor[ing] the audience to believe God rather than man".  Afterwards he told the audience that the book gave him "acutest pain" but he was shouted down.

We honor Robert by still referring to weather predictions as "forecasts", a word of his own invention as he devoted his own scientific passions to the Metrological Office. He died tragically, after serving as Governor of New Zealand, attaining the rank of Vice Admiral in the Navy and exhausting his fortune in propping up the finances of the Metrological Office, by suicide in 1865. 

We have forgotten about the FitzRoys. 

Perhaps the name of this fall is an apt way of reminding us of the rough passage life sometimes spins us. 


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