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Biographical entry Bowler, James Maurice (Jim) (1930 - )


Leongatha, Victoria, Australia


Jim Bowler is a geomorphologist whose main research was into the evolution of climate. He focussed on the landforms and soils in arid and semi-arid areas of Australia, investigating the hydrology of ancient Australia and how water levels in Australia tied into global climatic events. Bowler studied closed lake systems as if they were rain gauges that might offer evidence of major climate change. His work on the dune fields in the Murray-Darling Basin elucidated how the lunettes were formed. While doing fieldwork in the Willandra Lakes in 1968 he discovered the cremated remains of what came to be called Mungo Lady, exposed on the surface of the soil and at risk of erosion and destruction. This and subsequent discoveries provided evidence of Aboriginal presence in Australia for much longer than had been supposed.



Education - BSc, University of Melbourne
Education - MSc, University of Melbourne
1965 -
Career position - Research Fellow, Australian national University
Education - PhD, Australian National University
Award - Research Medal, Royal Society of Victoria
Career position - Vice-President, International Union for Quaternary Research
Award - Stillwell Medal, Geological Society of Australia
1988 -
Award - Fellow, Australian Academy of the Humanities
Award - Mawson Medal, Australian Academy of Science
1999 -
Award - Fellow, Royal Society of Victoria
Award - Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to earth sciences, particularly through the study of landscape and environmental history, and to Australian prehistory
Award - Centenary Medal for service to Australian society and the humanities in prehistory and archaeology

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Published resources


  • Griffiths, Billy, Deep time dreaming: uncovering ancient Australia, Black Inc., Carlton, Vic., 2018, 376 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Bowler, J., 'Joseph Newell Jennings', Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, Supplementband, vol. 55, 1985, pp. v-ix. Details
  • Bowler, Jenny, 'Mungo memories', Griffith Review, vol. 19, 2007, pp. 180-5. Details
  • Magee, John and De Deckker, Patrick, 'J. M. Bowler's contribution to Australian Quaternary studies: a tribute to Jim Bowler', Quaternary international, vol. 83, no. 5, 2001, pp. 1-4. Details
  • Magee, John and De Deckker, Patrick, 'Australian Quaternary studies: a tribute to Jim Bowler', Quaternary international, vol. 83, no. 5, 2001, pp. 5-7. Details

Helen Cohn