Dr Walter Geoffrey Duffield

← Return to Canberra Tracks

Walter Geoffrey Duffield, astronomer, was born on 12 August 1879 at Para Para in Gawler South Australia the son of David Walter Duffield, merchant and Florence Evangeline Kirkpatrick.

Walter Geoffrey’s grandfather, Walter Duffield (1816-1882), miller, pastoralist and politician, was born at Great Baddow, Essex, England, son of William Duffield, farmer. He arrived in South Australia in December 1839. In 1847 he moved to Gawler and purchased the Victoria Steam Flour mill, by 1851 he had begun to build up the fine Para Para House and Estate, winning prizes for his hams, wines and orchard produce, and making it a place of attractive entertainment for local functions, picnics and races. 

Walter grew up at Para Para attending Queen’s school and the collegiate School of St Peter, Adelaide. After graduating from the university of Adelaide in 1900, he won the Angas engineering scholarship and entered Trinity College Cambridge where he obtained his B.A after two years. He spent 1903 at the National Physical Laboratory on a Nobel research studentship. He married Doris Tennant Boult on 9 June 1909 at St Peter’s Anglican Church, Glenelg, and they had 3 children.

In 1910-11 Mount Stromlo had been chosen as the site for Commonwealth Solar Observatory but war intervened and it wasn’t until 1923 Duffield was appointed as its first director.

Photo: PIC/15611/3121 LOC Cold store PIC/15611 Fairfax archive of glass plate negatives/nla.obj-160020260


The papers of Walter Geoffrey Duffield (1879-1929) / listed by: Gavan McCarthy and Howard Sankey.          

National Library of Australia   NLpf 016.50994 D857M

  • View at the gravesite of Walter Duffielde
    View at the gravesite of Walter Duffield
  • Mt Stromlo Observatory
    Mt Stromlo Observatory
  • Mt Stromlo Directors Residence
    Mt Stromlo Directors Residence
  • Walter Duffield Grave on Mt Stromlo
    Walter Duffield Grave on Mt Stromlo
  • Para Para Homestead Gawler, SA
    Para Para Homestead Gawler, SA
  • Establishing Mt Stromlo Observatory
    Establishing Mt Stromlo Observatory