Ludwig Leichhardt

Ludwig Leichhardt:  Born October 23 1813, Died 1848

Leichhardt was a Prussian natuarlist  before traveling to Australia in 1842j, interested in the many undiscovered rock formations, plants, and animals in Australia.  In September of 1842, Leichhardt went north from Sydney to the Hunter River valley to study the geology and biology of the area.  This study lasted until early 1844.  At that point, he joined a plan for a government sponsored expedition from Moreton Bay to Port Essington (see map below).  When this was cancelled, he decided to lead the expedition himself with private funding.  He departed from Moreton Bay on October 1 1844 to begin his 3000 mile trek.

Almost surprisingly, Leichhardt made it to Port Essington December 17, 1845.  After 15 months, he had been given up for dead and was greeted as a hero upon returning to Sydney.  With newfound credibility as an explorer, he was then able to enlist the support of government grants and private investors to finance further exploration.  With this, he planned an east to west trek across Australia from Darling Downs to Perth in December 1846.  However, due to poor preparations, disease, bad weather, and lack of food, his party was forced to turn back just into the expedition.

Leichhardt began his final exploration in March 1848, intended to reach from the Condamine River to the Swan River near Perth.  However, his party was never seen again after entering the interior of the continent.  Numerous searches over the next decade turned up very little except for some Aborigines with metal tools, skeletons, and marked trees.  The newest evidence in this still unsolved case is a nameplate found on an old burnt shotgun inscribed with "Ludwig Leichhardt 1848."  The location of the artifact suggest that he made at least 2/3 of his journey, and avoided the desert interior by taking a route closer to the coast.