He had to cover the present South Australia and Northern Territory, a combined area of 2.3 million sq. km. In his 28 years Brown covered almost all of this enormous region, a feat probably unparalleled in the geological profession. He was dogged by political and bureaucratic orders to investigate every optimistically advertised mineral show and every request for underground water, so there was little chance to instigate a consistent program of geological mapping. In addition to his geological responsibilities Brown also acted as Inspector of Mines for some years.
Despite these heavy demands on his time Brown was remarkably astute in gathering and synthesising geological data and as early as December 1883 he produced a basic geological map of South Australia (1 inch=16 miles). In 1898 he produced a map of the Northern Territory (1 inch=20 miles).
His reports are notable for their terse prose and factual statements. He was always cautious in his reports of mineral prospects, and criticised the public for indulging in speculation on the stock exchange before mines were "fully examined, prospected and scientifically proven". "..the present age demands a more intelligent class of mine captains, engineers and miners, and the establishment of schools of mines becomes every year more necessary and the time has passed for mines to be managed by rule of thumb". Thanks largely to Brown's efforts a School of Mines was established in Adelaide in 1889. He resigned in 1912, but continued to advise the Department of Mines until his death in 1928.
Written by David Branagan