Prof Louis Pasteur with rabbits, by Holding, 1887
Professor Louis Pasteur was certain he had the remedy against rabbit plagues and wanted to travel to Australia himself, but he was ill when he read of the competition in a Paris newspaper. So he sent his brilliant nephew Dr Adrien Loir (1862-1941), a handsome young scientist, to represent the family business – the Pasteur Institute.
Dr Adrien Loir, Prof Pasteur's nephew
Stephen Dando-Collins' book
The Rodd Island laboratory had another, almost incidental success. Dr Loir offered an impressive anthrax vaccine trial to the NSW Colonial government. When this was successful at greatly reducing anthrax, Dr Loir produced the vaccine in commercial amounts in the Rodd Island facility.
The Rabbit Commission didn’t give a prize to anyone in the end, but Dr Loir really wanted to stay in Australia and continue his work here. You will have to read the Dando-Collins book to see why the Rodd Island facilities, so hugely successful, eventually failed. In brief, we can say that the eventual Madame Loir hated living on the island and went back to France. Dr Adrien Loir bitterly resented his wife’s sabotage of his important work, and although he dutifully followed her back to France, in time he ran off with the maid and lived an exotic life in Africa and South America.
Rodd Island, Sydney Harbour
Dr Adrien Loir's two volumes of scrap-books, left by his daughter Dr Marie-Louise Hemphill, are in the Basser Library in the Australian Academy of Science, Canberra. They concerned his two visits to Australia: one in 1888-9 and the second in 1890-3. There are two other volumes of the same kind (not in the Basser Library) which apparently covered Dr Loir's later visits to South Africa and South America and his period as Director of the Pasteur Institute in Tunisia. In all these travels he was acting as the representative of Louis Pasteur, in relation to the development of protective inoculation against anthrax, rabies and other diseases.