John Watt Beattie (Biographical details)

John Watt Beattie (photographer; Australian; Male; 1859 - 1930)

Also known as

Beattie, John Watt


John Watt Beattie was a commercial photographer with his own firm in Hobart, Tasmania. Besides documenting Tasmania, becoming state photographer in 1896, he accumulated and published a large stock of photos as listed in his Catalogue of a Series of Photographs Illustrating the Scenery and Peoples of the Islands of the South and Western Pacific (undated but probably 1909).

    In 1892 Beattie lent a camera to his friend Bishop Montgomery for a tour with the Melanesian Mission which visited Norfolk Island, the Banks and Torres groups (Vanuatu), Santa Cruz, Reef Islands, Nukapu, Makira, Malaita, Guadalcanal, Gela, Isabel (Solomon Islands), and Pentecost, Ambae, Maewo (Vanuatu). Montgomery and missionaries Welchman and Brittain took photos which were returned to, and published by, Beattie.

    In 1896 Beattie himself visited Norfolk Island and made photos of the Melanesian Mission base there which are listed in his Pacific Islands catalalogue. In 1906, through Bishop Montgomery, Beattie was invited to accompany Bishop Cecil Wilson on the Melanesian Mission ship Southern Cross, from Auckland via Norfolk Island to Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. The ship went via Port Vila, Pentecost, Ambae, Maewo, Banks and Torres groups (Vanuatu), Vanikoro, Reef Islands, Santa Cruz, Makira, Ugi, Ulawa, Malaita, Gela, Savo, Guadalcanal, Isabel, Vella Lavella and Choiseul (Solomon Islands), then returned by the same route. Beattie made 1,500 full and half-plate photos and kept a diary of his tour which complements his inscriptions on the plates and the entries in his catalogue.
(From paper presented by Terry Brown to ASAO conference 2011)


Beattie, J. W. 1906 Journal of a Voyage to the Western Pacific in the Melanesian Mission Yacht Southern Cross 25 August-10 November 1906. Royal Society of Tasmania MSS RS.29/3.
Beattie, J. W. 1909 Catalogue of a Series of Photographs illustrating The Scenery and Peoples of the Islands in the South and Western Pacific.

These and other relevant papers are published by Project Canterbury at