Although scientific astronomy has a long and illustrious history in Australia, it was not until 1895 that the first astronomical society was formed. This was the New South Wales Branch of the British Astronomical Association (see B.A.A. 1894-5; Gale 1895a,b), and before the end of the century it was joined by others in Melbourne and Brisbane (B.A.A. 1897-8; Editor’s Note 1979; Ellery 1901:13; Thomson 1897). These societies and their predecessors, the Astronomy Branches of the Royal Societies of New South Wales and South Australia (Waters 1980), were the mainstay of astronomical activity – both professional and amateur – in nineteenth century Australia, providing as they did regular meetings, library facilities, and avenues for publication and celestial observation.