Guide to the Sketchbooks of Edward Charles Frome (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Frome, Edward Charles
Sketchbooks of Edward Charles Frome (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1835 - 1853
Collection Number
155 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Approximately 160 sketches and watercolours, mainly of scenes in South Australia, but including nine watercolours painted by Frome in Mauritius 1852-53, one painting by J. Henderson entitled View in Van Diemen's Land and two paintings by Samuel Thomas Gill, one with the title Horticultural Show 1840.

Subjects of the paintings include: homes of settlers, such as Major O'Halloran, Capt. Charles Sturt, and Frome himself; topographical drawings; camps set up during the survey trips undertaken by Frome; townships established during the early period of settlement in South Australia, such as Kingscote, Kangaroo Island 1840, Wellington, on the River Murray 1840, and Morunde 1842; Aboriginal sites; and views of many South Australian localities.

Apart from four paintings in the second album, all the works were painted or drawn by Frome.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1965. (AJCP reel M987). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Art Gallery of South Australia. North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000.

For further information visit

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

In addition to the original AJCP microfilm, the National Library of Australia, State Library of New South Wales and State Library of South Australia acquired prints and colour transparencies of all the South Australian works. They also hold prints and colour transparencies of four framed paintings that were not microfilmed. These paintings depict the depot at Black Rock Hills, Smoker's Valley, Burra Creek and country near Mount Serle.

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.

Advisory Statement

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are davised that this Finding Aid contains material and descriptive information which may be considered culturally sensitive and may cause distress, including names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased.

This Finding Aid may contain terms that reflect authors' views or those of the historical period, but which may not be considered appropriate today. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in a historical context.


Artists; Burra, South Australia; Frome, Edward C.; Gill, Samuel T.; Henderson, J.; Kangaroo Island, South Australia; Kingscote, South Australia; Mauritius; Morunde, South Australia; Murray River, Australia; Murray River, Australia; New South Wales: paintings, drawings and prints; O'Halloran, Major; South Australia: Australian Aboriginals; South Australia: exploration; South Australia: paintings, drawings and prints; Sturt, Charles, Captain; Tasmania: paintings, drawings and prints; Wellington, South Australia


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 178, p65.

Biographical / Historical

Edward Charles Frome (1801-1890) was born at Gibraltar and grew up in London. He entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich in 1817 and was commissioned in the Royal Engineers in 1825. He worked on the construction of the Rideau Canal in Canada in 1827-33 and later undertook training of junior Royal Engineers at Chatham. He was promoted to the rank of captain in 1840.In 1839 Frome was appointed the third surveyor-general of South Australia and he and his family arrived in Adelaide in September. The appointment was for ten years and he remained in the colony until 1849.

Under his leadership, large areas of surveyed land were soon available for settlers and roads and secondary settlements planned. He explored and mapped new territory in the north and south-east of the colony. He also acted as colonial engineer and supervised the construction of bridges over the River Torrens and the Adelaide Gaol. He was a member of the Council of Government in 1839-43 and served on a number of public authorities.Frome subsequently served with the Royal Engineers in Mauritius, Heligoland, Ireland and Gibraltar.

He was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in 1854 and became lieutenant-governor of Guernsey in 1867. He retired in 1877.Frome was a talented artist. Most of his South Australian paintings and drawings were done while working on surveys or exploring expeditions. In particular, a large number were drawn during his survey of the Lake Alexandrina-Coorong region in 1840 and during his second northern trip to Lake Torrens in 1843.

The albums, sketchbooks and some single paintings were donated and bequeathed to the Royal Empire Society by Dora Wynne, the daughter of Frome, in 1929-30. The South Australian works were sold to the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1970.

Reference: R.G. Appleyard. Captain E.C. Frome, R.E., and his sketches of South Australia, 1839-1849, Bulletin of the Art Gallery of South Australia, vol. 34 (1-2), July-Oct. 1972. The article includes a full listing of the paintings and drawings.

Item Descriptions

Series. Sketchbook No. 2. South Australia, 1840

51 items

Township of Wellington on the Murray, 25 October 1840 (File 2)

Pencil and wash. 11.1 x 38cm.

Entrance of the Murray into Lake Alexandrina (File 3)

Pencil and wash. 11.1 x 38cm.

River Murray. Pomondah Point (File 4)

Pencil and watercolour. 11.1 x 38cm

Murray (File 5)

Pencil. 1.1 x 19cm.

Local method of burial (File 6)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 19cm

German missionary's hut on the Murray, 1840 (File 7)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 19cm.

Coorong (File 8)

'Spot where the murderers of the crew of the Maria were captured.' Watercolour. 11.1 x 19cm.

On the Coorong (File 9)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 19cm.

Salt lake in the Coorong Desert (File 10)

Watercolour and pencil. 11.1 x 19cm.

Salt lagoon in the desert, October 1840 (File 11)

11.1 x 19cm.

Lake Coorong. Halting place (File 12)

Pencil and wash. 11.1 x 27.3cm

Salt creek, Coorong, near Bonney's Well (File 13)

Pencil and wash. 11.1 x 19cm

View of the horizon from hill on our ride to the eastward (File 14)

Pencil. 1.1 x 19cm

Entrance to salt creek (File 15)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 23.5cm

Crossing place at U. Light, S. Australia (File 16)

Pencil. 11.1 x 19 cm

Camp (File 17)

Ink and pencil. 11.1 x 19cm

Village on the Coorong deserted by the Milmenina community after the murder of the crew of the Maria, 'Burnt by me', October 1840 (File 18)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 19cm.

Look out station of the Milmenura Community, Coorong, Oct. 3 (File 19)

Watercolour. 11.2 x 19cm.

'Pilgaru'., September 1840 (File 20)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 19cm.Depicts two locals hung for murder.

Sea outlet of the Murray from 'Barker's Knoll' (File 21)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 38cm.

Sea outlet of the Murray from the beach below 'Barker's Knoll' (File 22)

'Where that fine fellow Barker was murdered by the natives. I discovered the remains of his skull by digging in this knoll and gave them to his old friend Capt. Sturt.' Watercolour. 11.1 x 38cm.

Barker's Knoll. Sea outlet of the Murray, 1840 (File 23)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 38.4cm.

Rosetta Head, Encounter Bay, 1841 (File 24)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 19cm.

Rapid Bay. S. Australia, 22 January 1840 (File 25)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 38cm.

Rapid Bay (File 26)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 36.5cm.

Rapid Bay. First steamer going in (File 27)

Pencil and wash. 11.1 x 38cm.

Rapid Bay (File 28)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 19cm.

Jupiter Creek (File 29)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 19cm.

Nepean Bay. Kangaroo Island. Kingscote, 1840 (File 30)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 38cm.

Kingscote, Kangaroo Island. The first settlement in South Australia – made by the S.A. Company. (File 31)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 27cm.

Barossa Range from about 1½ miles N. of Gawler (File 32)

Pencil and ink. 11.1 x 38cm.

The 'H Tree' Hutt, 1840 or 1841 (File 33)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 19cm.

Scrub Plain (File 34)

Pencil and wash. 11.1 x 38cm.

Flinders Hummock (File 34a)

Pencil and wash. 11.1 x 38cm.

Barossa Range. (2 sketches) (File 35)

Pen and ink. 11.1 x 19.2cm.

Poole's Camp, S. Australia (File 36)

Watercolour. 11.1 x 32cm.

Poole's Camp on the Para (File 37)

Pencil and wash. 23.5 x 11.1cm.

Group [of trees] near Poole's Camp (File 38)

Pencil and wash. 25 x 11.1cm.

Miscellaneous sketches (File)

Contains rough drafts and notes.

Series. Sketchbook No. 3, n.d.

2 items

Archival History

25 pictures were removed from this book, of which four were framed and 21 placed in an album.

From the top of the highest of the 'Black Rock' hills, S. Australia (File 1)

Pencil. 17.8 x 28.1cm.

[View from Black Rock Hills.] (File 2)

Pencil. 17.8 x 28.1cm.

Series. Sketchbook No. 4. South Australia and Mauritius, 1845 - 1851

8 items

Several of the drawings in this book are not identified, while others depict scenes in Mauritius and also the Isle of Wight. The following are Australian drawings.

1st camp on the 'Burra', South Australia, 1845 (File)

Watercolour. 16.1 x 48.2cm.

2nd camp near the Burra, 1845 (File)

Pencil and wash. 16.2 x 35.2cm

Sand bar at the mouth of the Onkaparinga, April 1848 (File)

Watercolour. 16.2 x 24.3cm.

Noarlunga Bridge, Onkaparinga, S. Australia (File)

Pencil and wash. 16.2 x 24.2cm.

Hahndorf Bridge, 1848 (File)

Pencil. 16.2 x 40.5cm.

Picnic party, Yorke's Peninsula, South Australia., 1848 (File)

The Governor Col. Robe, Capt. and Mrs Frome, Mrs Torrens, Miss Cooper, Mr Dashwood & c. lost the boat and could not get on board the Cutter – or obtain either Provisions or Water. Periwinkles were however abundant – and we took on shore a supply of eatables that kept us alive till relieved in a few days.

Coastline sketches (File)

Col. Robe trying to patch up the boat. S. Australia, 1848 (File)

Where the Governor's Party were left to starve! Yorke's Peninsula, S. Australia.

Series. Sketches Album No. 1 of Black Rock Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula, Lower Murray and Coorong, Lake Torrens and Mid North, 1839 - 1849

Sketches medium includes watercolour, pencil and ink.

Places featured in the sketches include: Black Rock Hills; the Lower Murray and Coorong; Encounter Bay; Kapunda Mine; the Onkaparinga River and Valley; Lake Torrens and Mount Bryan.

For a full list of illustrations see supplementary material.

Series. Sketches Album No. 2 of the Fleurieu Peninsula, River Murray, Adelaide Hills and Barossa Ranges, 1840 - 1848

Sketch mediums include of watercolour, pencil and ink.

Places depicted in the sketches include: Eyre's Hut; the Murray River; Encounter Bay; the Onkaparinga River and Valley; the Coorong; Gawler; McLaren Vale and Colonel Frome's residence Sydneham.

Includes two sketches by John B. Henderson of Hobart and Van Diemen's Land.

For a full list of illustrations see supplementary material.