Explorations of Australia 1840 to 1860

Progress of Exploration

The coasts of Australia had all been examined before the year 1815. From that date, those who wished to make fresh discoveries were obliged to penetrate into the interior; and we have already seen that , previous to the year 1836, explorers were busy in opening up the south-east portion of the continent. Oxley had made known the northern districts of New South Wales, and Allan Cunningham the southern part of what is now the colony of Queensland; Hume and Hovell, Sturt and Mitchell, had traversed the southern districts of New South Wales and the territory now occupied by Victoria. Followed closely in the footsteps of these intrepid discoverers, the squatters had entered all these districts, and, whenever the land was suitable, they had settled down with their flocks; so that, ere long, all that corner of Australia which would cut off by drawing a straight line from Brisbane to Adelaide was fully surveyed. But there still remained to be explored about seven-eighths of the continent; and from this date onward there was an unbroken succession of adventerous travellers, who entered the vast central territory for the purpose of making known its nature and capacities. But the manner of conducting an expedition was now very different from what it had been. Previous explorers had been provided with parties of convicts and had traversed lands for greater part grassy and well watered. These expeditions had their dangers, arising chiefly from the hostility of the blacks; and Allan Cunningham, his brother Richard, with many others, sacrificed their lives in their ardour for discovery. But subsquent travellers had to encounter, in addition, the pangs of hunger and thirst in the arid desert which occupies so great a portion of Central Australia.

Progress of exploration before 1840 had opened up the Southern Eastern portions.

1840 - Edward John Eyre starts his expedition from the head of Spencer's Gulf; he stops by Lake Torrens, then by Lake Eyre. The expedition continues north east to Mount Hopeless but is then forced to return. The Australian Bight is eventually rounded by Eyre after many difficulties. Baxter, Eyre's companion is shot by two native servants. Eyre and his Aboriginal guide , Wylie, arrive at King George's Sound reaching the town of Albany.

1844 - Charles Napier Sturt starts from Darling; is detained at his depot by drought- Mr Poole dies. Journey to the Centre - Sturt, with four men, penetrates to the Stony Desert- Is forced to return- Again starts from the depot; discovers Cooper's Creek- On his return to Adelaide he becomes blind.

1844 - Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichardt rounds the Gulf of Carpentaria to Van Diemen's Gulf - Discovers many rivers and fine pastoral regions - (1847) Explores part of Queensland- (1848) Starts from Brisbane to cross to West Australia- Never heard of again.

Sir Thomas Mitchell discovers the higher part of Sturt's Cooper's Creek; calls it the Victoria River.

1848 - Edmund Kennedy sent to follow up Mitchell's discoveries- In 1848 he explores the Cape York Peninsula - Speared by natives.

1856 - Gregory follows the Victoria River; enters the Spinifex Desert, then passes eastward to Brisbane.


History of Australia