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Blog post from Friday, 2 October, 2015

Ludwig Leichhardt / portrait drawn by Isobel Fox

Leichhardt, Ludwig, 1813-1848

A naturalist and explorer Ludwig Leichhardt arrived in Australia in 1842 with the intention of exploring the inland. On this day October 1, 1844 he left Jimbour, the farthest settlement on the Darling Downs to journey overland 4,828 kilometres to reach Port Essington on 17 December 1845.

In 1844 Leichhardt led his first expedition to Port Essington, NT, departing from the Darling Downs, Qld, in October and reaching his destination in December 1845. The party crossed vast areas of previously unexplored territory and skirted the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria. At one point they were given up for lost. Their surprise reappearance caused a national sensation.

The discovery of new lands between Brisbane and the north of Australia, and Leichhardt’s success in exploring country previously unknown to Europeans raised great interest. Following this expedition, Leichhardt became famous within the Australian colonies and in Europe, and his exploration achievements were recognised by gold medals from the Geographical Societies of London and Paris.

Lasting legacy: Leichhardt left behind a detailed record of his experiences in Australia in the form of field books, note books, journals and letters. His reputation as an explorer rests largely on his one successful expedition and the intriguing mystery of his disappearance during his attempt at an east-west crossing of Australia in 1848. See these records in the manuscripts and pictures collections of the Mitchell Library, Sydney.

Read more about the history of our nation in Discover Collections on the State Library of NSW website.