William Gosse (explorer)

William Gosse

William Christie Gosse (11 December 1842–12 August 1881), was an Australian explorer, who was born in Hoddesdon,[1] Hertfordshire, England and migrated to Australia with his father Dr. William Gosse in 1850. He was educated at J.L. Young's Adelaide Educational Institution[2] and in 1859 he entered the Government service of South Australia. He held various positions in the survey department, including Deputy Surveyor-General. He died of a heart attack on 12 August 1881, aged 38, after a long illness.

Although Gosse's exploration was not groundbreaking, he filled in many details in the central map. He named the Musgrave Ranges and was able correctly to lay down the position of some of the discoveries of Ernest Giles. On 19 July 1873 he reached Uluru and gave it the name Ayers Rock.[3][4] His second-in-charge, Edwin S. Berry (another AEI alumnus) was probably the first white man to climb "The Rock".[5]


Gosse married Agnes "Aggie" Hay (1853–1933),[6] a daughter of Alexander Hay and his first wife Agnes née Kelly (1818–1870) on 22 December 1874. (Hay's second wife, Agnes Grant née Gosse, was William's sister.) William and Aggie had three children:[7]

  • William Hay Gosse MC (1875–1918) was killed in action in France. He married Muriel, née Davidson, who died in 1920. Their son George Gosse (1912–1964) was awarded the George Cross in 1946;[8]
  • Sir James Hay Gosse (1876–1952) married Joanna Lang, daughter of Tom Elder Barr Smith – they had a daughter and four sons;[9] and
  • Edith Agnes Gosse (1878-).[10]

A brother-in-law, and also nephew, William Gosse Hay (1875–1945) was an author.[11]

A sister-in-law, and also niece, Helen (1877–1909), and her mother (William's sister), were lost at sea on the ill-fated SS Waratah.[12]

Other descendants include former Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Liberal Party leader Alexander Downer.


In 1931, the Hundred of Gosse, a cadastral division located on Kangaroo Island in South Australia was named in Gosse's memory.[13] In 1976 he was honoured on a postage stamp bearing his portrait issued by Australia Post.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Gosse, William Christie (1842–1881)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition. Australian National University. 2006. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  2. ^ Obituary South Australian Register 17 August 1881 Supplement p.2 accessed 10 February 2011
  3. ^ "Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park: Park History". Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources. Archived from the original on 2007-07-17. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
  4. ^ Ernest Favenc (1908) 'William Christie Gosse', Section 4, Chapter 15, The Explorers of Australia and their Life-work, Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd.
  5. ^ "Ayers Rock". The Sydney Morning Herald. 30 July 1930. p. 8. Retrieved 19 July 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ Agnes was a disturbingly common name in that family; "Aggie's" grandmother, mother, step-mother/sister-in-law, and an elder (deceased) sister were all named Agnes. Refer Alexander Hay (South Australian politician)#Children.
  7. ^ Fayette Gosse, 'Gosse, William Christie (1842–1881)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, Melbourne University Press, 1972, p. 276.
  8. ^ I. McL. Crawford, 'Gosse, George (1912–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, Melbourne University Press, 1996, pp 300-301.
  9. ^ Fayette Gosse, 'Gosse, Sir James Hay (1876–1952)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, Melbourne University Press, 1996, pp 301-302.
  10. ^ Dr Gosse and Family, Flinders Ranges Research|via=nla.gov.au
  11. ^ I. D. Muecke, 'Hay, William Gosse (1875–1945)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, Melbourne University Press, 1983, p. 239.
  12. ^ http://www.southaustralianhistory.com.au/alexanderhay.htm
  13. ^ "EXPLORER HONORED". The News. XVI (2, 476). South Australia. 25 June 1931. p. 3 (HOME EDITION). Retrieved 9 March 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  14. ^ 18c postage stamp, www.australianstamp.com