Production date
Pre 1848
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Object detail

Octant, featuring a triangular ebony wood frame with peep sights and an ivory vernier scale mounted upon it. The mount for horizon mirror is present, but the glass is missing. In addition, the index arm, index mirror, sighting pinnula, index sunshades and index vernier adjustment screw and scale are all present, however, the object is incomplete. The horizon sunshades, limb and arc, and index mark are missing along with all makers marks and plates.
MARITIME TECHNOLOGY Navigational Instruments octant
EXPLORATION Terrestrial exploration accessories
Production date
Pre 1848
H345 x W235 x D75 mm
Media/Materials description
Ebony, brass, glass, ivory
History and use
This octant is believed to have belonged to the nineteenth century explorer Edmund Kennedy (1818-1848). It is thought to have been used on his last expedition.

Kennedy, along with 12 other men, set out from Rockingham Bay in May 1848 to traverse Cape York Peninsula. The expedition was beset by difficulties from the start.On reaching Weymouth Bay the party decided to split up. Kennedy, together with an Aboriginal guide Jackey; carters Costigan and Luff; and labourer Dunn, set out to get help from the supply ship they planned to meet at Port Albany to the north. Costigan, Luff and Dunn died en route and finally Kennedy was speared by local Aboriginals. Jackey eventually reached Port Albany and reported the fate of Kennedy. The two remaining survivors, Carron and Goddard, were rescued from Weymouth Bay.

Kennedy's expedition is known to have abandoned much of its equipment. According to Queensland Museum records, the octant was recovered from an Aboriginal woman around Pascoe River on Cape York in the region of Kennedy’s last expedition. It is reportedly identical to one he is known to have carried. The octant was donated to the museum in 1937.

Uploaded to the Web 27 May 2011.
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