German engineering prowess in Australia
German geophysicists who look for oil in Queensland gloriously combine Ross’s obsessions with engineering, Germans abroad, and natural resources.
The Germans, notes Ross, “have developed geophysics into a practical science. Everywhere in the world German geophysicists look for oil and mineral ores: in Texas, in New Zealand, in Africa, and in Australia.” [p. 790] Describing them at work near the town of Roma, Queensland, Ross stresses the mixture of modern technology (using electricity or even radioactive materials to test the ground) and a semblance of the esoteric, comparing their tools to divining rods. Ross even gushes over the construction of the tin huts the geophysicists’ camp consists of. Spending a night in one of them, he finds them “genius constructions. Not for nothing were their builders German engineers.” [p. 790]
This engineering and scientific brilliance is contrasted with the weak-mindedness of the local population. They had started speculating on a future fortune in oil as soon as rumors of oil drilling in this area had spread. The impartial German geophysicists, alas, cannot find any proof of substantial oil deposits in this area.
Colin Ross. Deutsche Ölsucher in Queensland. Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung. 1930 May 4; 39 18): 789–90, 800.