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Biographical entry Birch, Charles Weldon (1821 - 1894)

25 June 1821
Camberwell, England
6 June 1894
Mt Albion, Queensland, Australia
Naturalist and Surveyor
Alternative Names
  • Birch, Charles Weldon (de Burgh)
  • Birch, Charles Weldon Count Zelling


Charles Birch was a surveyor whose early career was with the New South Wales Surveyor General's Department. Between 1852 and 1855 he was Assistant to Samuel Stutchbury on a series of surveys through northern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland. His role was collect geological and palaeontological specimens and assist with mapping, and take charge of the survey when Stutchbury was ill. Birch move to Queensland several years after his employment with the Surveyor General's Department ceased, spending most of the rest of his life as a pastoralist and surveyor in the Warrego and Bowen Downs regions. In the 1870s he made a number of expeditions through central and north-eastern Queensland collecting botanical and zoological specimens and writing of his travels and specimens in newspaper accounts. Birch was in contact with Ferdinand von Mueller from 1870, initially in relation to reported sightings of a European living with Aborigines and the possibility that he might be missing explorer Ludwig Leichhardt. From that time Birch's collecting activities increased with many botanical specimens being sent to Mueller up until his death. He added de Burgh and Count Zelling to his name on the grounds that they were family names.



Life event - Moved to Australia with his family
c. 1841 - 1852
Career position - Clerk, New South Wales Surveyor General's Office
1852 - 1855
Career position - Assistant to Geological Surveyor, New South Wales Surveyor General's Office
Life event - Became a pastoralist in the Warrego area, Queensland
c. 1870 - 1889
Career position - Land surveyor at Bowen Downs Station, Queensland

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Published resources

Journal Articles

  • Dowe, John Leslie, 'Charles Weldon (de Burgh) Birch (Count Zelling), an unassuming botanical and zoological collector in central and north-eastern Queensland', North Queensland Naturalist, 46 (2016), 16-46. Details


Helen Cohn