Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Ludwig Leichhardt

The Northern Territory News reports that a 'boffin' is to travel through the the north west deserts of Australia in a bid to find the final resting place of explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, who disappeared around 165 years ago. Central to the search for evidence is the fact that Leichhardt was know to carve the letter L into trees to mark his campsites. Dr Darrell Lewis, a National Museum of Australia research fellow, said "All the explorers marked trees everywhere ... It was really to help future people to relate to the maps." An illustration of this historical graffiti can be seen in an 1858 Sydney Morning Herald article.

Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt, who was German, began geological investigations in Australia in 1841. In 1848 he set out with the object of crossing the continent from east to west, but the last heard of him was from McPherson's Station, on the Cogoon River, Darling Downs, on April 3 1848. Five relief expeditions were sent out between 1851 and 1865, but no trace of the expedition was ever found. Various theories have been put forward about the disappearance including that the group was massacred by Aborigines, washed away in a flooded creek or perished of thirst and starvation in the desert. The following report about one of search parties appeared in the Manchester Guardian on January 14 1862:

Read Leichhardt's Journal of an Overland Expedition in Australia, here.

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