Image Lawrence Hargrave with box kites, 1894

TLF ID R3321

This is a sepia photograph, measuring 24.2 cm x 29.3 cm, of aeronautical inventor Lawrence Hargrave (left) and an unidentified man in Stanwell Park, on the coast between Sydney and Wollongong, New South Wales. They are assembling five box kites and joining them together, in preparation for using them to lift a man into the air. The kites are labelled 'A', 'B', 'C', 'D' and 'E'. There appears to be a form of spring scale attached to the kite section marked 'C', and the men may be measuring the force applied by the wind. They are in fairly open country high above the sea, where it is likely that the winds would be strong. Hargrave is in shirtsleeves and leaning back, straddling a seat attached to the kite marked 'E'. Behind the kites is the reel of wire that was attached to the kites, to prevent them from flying free.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows Lawrence Hargrave (1850-1915) assembling his box kites in Stanwell Park where, in 1894, he became the first man in Australia to fly - his contraption of four connected box kites enabled him to float 5 metres above the ground.
  • It shows the components of Hargrave's four-box-kite construction - he discovered that box kites, with their two separated cells or double planes, provided the best stability in the air, thus providing an effective platform for the engine needed to achieve powered flight.
  • It shows one of three aeronautical concepts developed by Hargrave that were vital in the design of the first aeroplanes - the box kite wing, the curved wing surface to generate greater lift and the thick leading wing edge or aerofoil.
  • It demonstrates, by virtue of the fact that a photographer was present, that Hargrave had no interest in keeping his experiments secret - he never patented anything and was happy to share his ideas with everyone at a time when would-be aviators were vying to become the first to achieve powered flight; although they did not acknowledge it, the Wright brothers directly benefited from Hargrave's inventions when they flew in 1903.
  • It shows an example of the photographic work of Charles Bayliss (1859-97), known for his large-scale composite panoramic photographs, including a famous 5-metre photograph of Sydney taken in 1879.

Other details

  • Author
  • Person: Charles Bayliss
  • Description: Author
  • Contributor
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Charles Bayliss
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements