WALTER, Charles (Carl) (1831-1907)
A group of twenty-four stereoscopic views of rock formations and other topographical features along the coastline of southwest Victoria, circa 1865.
[Melbourne : Age Office, circa 1865]. Twenty-four stereoscopic albumen print photographs, each image approximately 80 x 80 mm (arched format), on original yellow card mounts, 90 x 170 mm, versos with original paper labels printed with the series title ‘AUSTRALIAN SCENERY’ and the photographer’s information ‘Chas. Walter. Photographic Artist to The Illustrated Australian News, The Age Office, Melb. Registered. Copyright’, together with a serial number and location caption in manuscript in ink; all are strong prints with good tonal range, some examples with light foxing or marks, but overall in very good condition; the mounts are uniformly clean and stable, with the all-important labels intact.
An important group of mostly unrecorded photographic views of the Victorian coastline between Cape Otway and Port Campbell, part of the so-called “Shipwreck Coast”. Aside from their aesthetic value – particularly, for example, in the dramatic views of the rock formations we know today as the Twelve Apostles, or of a family collecting fossils on the foreshore, or the views in which we believe the photographer Charles Walter has placed himself in the foreground – many of the images potentially contain information of great significance to geological science, since they provide a very early visual record of this coastal environment that can be used to help evaluate the extent to which its physical appearance has been affected by climate (or, indeed, human activity) over the last 150 years.
The group also has a direct association with Hugh Gibson, owner of Glenample Station which features in many of the photographs; the stereoviews were quite possibly acquired by him directly from Charles Walter, before being given to his sister, Annabella Sloane (see note on provenance below).
German-born photographer Charles (Carl) Walter is perhaps best known for his series of carte de visite portraits of Aborigines taken at Coranderrk Reserve, near Healesville, in the mid 1860s, but between 1865 and 1870 he also produced stereoviews of scenic locations throughout regional Victoria, and in the early 1870s, southern New South Wales.
It is no coincidence that Walter had a predilection for photographing rock formations and other unusual topographical features: keenly interested in the natural sciences, he carried out work for the Technological Museum at the Public Library of Victoria and for the Victorian Department of Agriculture, as well as collecting botanical specimens for von Mueller.
The serial numbers on the present group of Walter stereoviews would suggest that his Australian Scenery series, taken and published around 1865, comprised a relatively large number of images. However, according to Trove, institutional holdings of examples from this series are negligible. Deakin University Library holds one of the images from the group offered here (the view of Curdie’s Inlet), otherwise Trove traces none in Australian collections.
The manuscript captions on the labels in this group are as follows:
227. Curdie’s River
230. Parker Falls, Cape Otway
231. Parker Inlet, Cape Otway
232. Point Franklin Caves, Cape Otway (Note: the seated figure is probably the photographer, Charles Walter)
233. Stellactite [sic] Cave, Cape Otway (Note: the standing figure is probably the photographer, Charles Walter)
237. Gellibrand River and Point Ronald
238. The Hermitage, below steps to beach at Glenample
240. The Hermitage Tunnel at Glenample
242. Sandmirror at Glenample
243. Coast scene near Glenample
244. Coast scenery near Sherbrook [sic], Glenample
245. The Elephant Rock, Glenample
246. The Caves near the Sherbrook [sic]
247. Another Bluff near the Sherbrook [sic]
249. Coast Scene near the Sherbrook [sic]
251. Sherbrook [sic] River and Cerberus Bluff
252. Port Campbell
253. Clifton Castle Rocks on the Western Victorian Coast
254. Fossil Cliffs near the Sherbrook [sic], West Coast Victoria
255. Curdie’s Inlet, West Coast of Victoria
256. Bay of Islands near Curdie’s Inlet
257. Bay of Islands Scene on the West Coast, Victoria
258. Tunnel at the Bay of Islands
259. Bay of Islands Bluff
Provenance: Alexander and Annabella Sloane, of Mulwala and Savernake Stations, southern New South Wales; thence by descent. (Note: Annabella Sloane, née Gibson, was the sister of Hugh Gibson, of Glenample Homestead, the closest pastoral station to the Twelve Apostles)