Jiří Viktor Daneš

The story of the first Czechoslovakian Consul in Australia, Jiří Viktor Daneš, who travelled to every corner of Australia to study geographical phenomenon.

Official relations between Czechoslovakia and Australia were established on a consular level in 1920. The site in Sydney where the first Czech consulate once stood is now an enormous concrete parking lot next to the prestigious Sydney University. Read on if you want to hear the story of the first Czechoslovak General Consul.

Jiří Viktor Daneš, born 23rd August 1880, became the first Czechoslovakian General Consul in Australia in 1920. The geography professor and enthusiastic traveller remained in this role until 1922.

Jiří Viktor Daneš
Jiří Viktor Daneš (left), J. Shirley and Karel Domin on a trip to the Tambourine Mountains in the east of Australia. Source: DANEŠ, Jiří Viktor and Karel DOMIN. Dvojím rájem. 2nd ed. Prague: J.Otto, 1925, p. 796

Daneš, who expressed interest in travel from an early age, had already undertaken the long and unpleasant journey to Australia in 1909, together with botanist Karl Domin. After the long journey, which at the time took 15 months by boat, he examined geomorphology, researched karsts and studied local settlements. Their research took them to very remote areas of Australia, which they often had to get to via horse and cart. Daneš managed to visit caves and karsts in every Australian state and territory besides South Australia. He drew up the first map indicating the prevalence of limestone in Australia. Just how successful his expedition was is shown by the fact that a valley in North Australia was named after him – the ‘Daneš Valley’.

After his return he released a magazine entitled Dvojím Rámem (Through a Double Paradise), based on his experiences, photos and notes from his journey. In addition to this magazine, he also frequently published on a wide range of topics related to Australia, from geomorphological phenomenon in Australia, to the representation of Australia in Czechoslovak literature and even about the origin and disappearance of Aboriginals, who he had the chance to observe during his travels. He also caught the attention of the wider public with his travel journals.

After surviving many a dangerous expedition to all corners of Australia, he passed away in 1928 during a car accident in Hollywood, America.

This article is but a brief summary of the adventures of the first Czechoslovak General Consul in Australia. On these pages we will gradually publish more interesting facts about Jiří Viktor Daneš and many other fascinating things which connect Australia and the Czech Republic – and despite the enormous distance between our two countries, there is truly a lot of them.

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