That unsuccessful venture was a turning point in Harrison’s life because he decided to remain in Britain where he wrote on scientific matters as correspondent for The Age and other publications.
He remained there until 1892 when he returned to the Geelong district where he took up residence in a small house at Point Henry, then a marshy area on the shores of Corio Bay.
Still active in mind and body, he became involved in a project to harvest salt – an operation that continues to this day.
While Harrison was a brilliant inventor and a prolific journalist, he was not always up with the pace on the business side of his ventures – and this led him to an insolvency hearing in 1861. One result was that he lost control of The Geelong Advertiser which was sold in 1871. The paper was making money but profits were dissipated on Harrison’s business excursions into refrigeration and other enterprises.
Harrison somehow managed to combine his inventive career with that of a journalist and politician. He edited The Advertiser from 1840 to 1865 – despite his loss of ownership in 1861 – and was a member for the Town of Geelong in the Victorian Legislative Council for several years.
After his association with The Advertiser ended, he was involved for a number of years with The Age – at the time under the leadership of the remarkable David Syme – and other papers.
He worked as The Age’s correspondent in Britain in the alter years of his life and also became possibly Australia’s first popular science writer.
His personal life was also active, marrying three times and fathering 12 children.
When he returned to Australia he was 76 years of age – but the sunnier climate did not have the desired effect of restoring his failing health. He died apparently from pleurisy at the Port Henry cottage.
AIRAH's James Harrison Medal
Dr James R. Vickery
Sir Walter Eric Bassett
Bill Dobney Jr
Dr Tony Johnston
Dr John Kowalczeski
J.J.W. (Bill) Siganto
Dr Ernest Donnelly