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Charles Chewings was born at Woorkongoree station, near Burra, South Australia, the third son of John Chewings, pastoralist, and his wife Sarah, née Wall. He was educated by a tutor and at Prince Alfred College, Adelaide. After engaging in sheep farming, Chewings travelled to the Finke River in central Australia in 1881 with two camels, and found them so useful that he imported more of them and started a carrying business. He gave some account of his explorations in his The Sources of the Finke River (1886). Chewings married Miss F. M. Braddock in 1887 and they had two sons and two daughters.
Chewings went to Europe in 1888, studied geology at University College London and University of Heidelberg, obtaining the degree of Ph.D. After returning to Australia, Chewings worked in Western Australia for some years reporting on mines, before going back to South Australia to resume camel carrying. He was much interested in the aborigines and made a careful study of them.
Chewings was very interested by the discovery of marine fossils on Tempe Downs station by his manager F. Thornton, and in 1891 published "Geological notes on the Upper Finke Basin" in the Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of South Australia. He listed the fossils and began a tentative interpretation of the region's succession of rock strata. Chewings became a mining consultant in Coolgardie, Western Australia, in 1894, and later worked in Central Australia for almost 20 years.
After the First World War, Chewings retired to Adelaide and contributed several more scientific papers relating to central Australia to the Transactions. He worked for some time on a dictionary of the Aranda language, and towards the end of 1936 published a good popular book on the aborigines entitled Back in the Stone Age. He died on 9 June 1937 and was buried in West Terrace Cemetery. Chewings was a fellow of the Geological Society of London and of the Berlin Geological Society.
- Hans Mincham, "Chewings, Charles (1859 - 1937)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, MUP, 1979, pp 634-635
- Serle, Percival (1949). "Chewings, Charles". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
- Kimberly, W.B. (compiler) (1897). History of West Australia. A Narrative of her Past. Together With Biographies of Her Leading Men. Melbourne: F.W. Niven.
- Mincham, Hans. Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.