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On May 14–15, 1985, 63 discerning geomagnetists flocked to Canberra to attend the Geomagnetic Workshop coorganized by the Australian Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR) and the Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University (ANU). With an aurorally glowing cast that included an International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA) president, former president, and division chairman, the Oriental Magneto-Banquet (which was the center of the meeting), was assured of success. As a cunning ploy to mask the true nature of this gastronomic extravagance from the probings of income tax departments, a presentation of scientific papers on Australian geomagnetism in its global setting was arranged.

The Australian region, including New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and a large sector of the Antarctic, covers one eighth of the Earth's surface and historically has played an important role in the study of geomagnetism. The region contains both the south magnetic and geomagnetic poles, and two Australian Antarctic stations (Casey and Davis) are situated in the region of the south polar cusp (see Figure 1).