Skip to main content

Mr Albert Frederick Calvert (Image plate from Vanity Fair)
, 1895

by Sir Leslie Ward

chromolithograph on paper (sheet: 38.1 cm x 25.9 cm, image: 35.2 cm x 19.4 cm)

Albert Calvert (1872–1946), author, traveller and mining engineer, first visited Australia in 1890, when he undertook a journey of exploration from Lake Gairdner to the upper Murchison River. On a repeat journey over the same territory, he discovered the rare spinifex parakeet. He went on to circumnavigate Australia and explore the eastern gold fields of WA. Back in England he published the West Australian Review, was courted as ‘Westralia’s Golden Prophet’, and embraced an extravagant lifestyle of yachting, motoring and racing. In 1896, he offered to fund an expedition to search for Leichhardt and open a stock route from the Northern Territory to the Western Goldfields, but the expedition leaders died and Calvert proved unable to meet the expenses of the expedition. He financed further explorations of Australia, acted as managing director of Big Blow Gold Mines and Consolidated Gold Mines of Western Australia, consulted on engineering for the Mallina gold mines, and wrote fourteen slapdash books on Australia including studies of Aborigines, pearls, history and minerals. However, as a result of Federation and his own racing losses, Calvert’s passion for Australia was extinguished. He went on to write thirty-six books on Spain, two on Nigeria and five on German Africa. Initiated as a Freemason in 1893, he ended his writing career as an unreliable chronicler of Masonic history.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Ronald Walker 2002
Accession number: 2002.61