Ludwig Leichhardt, 1813-1848


Biographical note

Prussian explorer and naturalist, most famous his exploration of northern and central Australia.

He led three major expeditions to explore parts of northern and central Australia. The first, mounted as a private expedition, started on October 1, 1844 from Jimbour on the Darling Downs and ended after a nearly 4800 km overland journey in Port Essington on December 17, 1845. He returned to Sydney by boat to a hero's welcome. The Journal of an Overland Expedition in Australia, from Moreton Bay to Port Essington, a Distance of Upwards of 3000 Miles, During the Years 1844-1845 by Leichhardt describes this expedition.

The second expedition, now with the assistance of a Government grant and substantial private subscriptions, starting in December 1846, was supposed to take him from the Darling Downs to the west coast of Australia and ultimately to the Swan River and Perth. After covering only 800 km the expedition team was forced to return in June 1847 due to heavy rain, malarial fever and famine. After recovering, Leichhardt spent 6 weeks in 1847 to examine the course of the Condamine River and the country between the route of another expedition led by Mitchell in 1846 and his own route, covering nearly 1,000 km.

In March 1848 Leichhardt again set out from the Condamine River to reach the Swan River. He was last seen on April 3 1848 at McPherson's Station, Coogoon on the Darling Downs. His disappearance after moving inland, although investigated by many, remains a mystery.

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