About the book
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
LEICHHARDT, FRIEDRICH WILHELM LUDWIG (1813-1848?), naturalist and explorer, was born on 23 October 1813 at Trebatsch, Prussia, the fourth son and sixth of the eight children of Christian Hieronymus Matthias Leichhardt, farmer and royal inspector of peat, and his wife Charlotte Sophie, née Strählow. Leichhardt was educated at Trebatsch, a boarding school at Zaue, a gymnasium at Cottbus, and at the Universities of Berlin (1831, 1834-36) and Göttingen (1833). At Göttingen friendship with a fellow student, John Nicholson, who had studied medical science, aroused Leichhardt's interest in science, and he turned from his earlier study of philosophy and languages to the natural sciences. Leichhardt pursued knowledge for its own sake and not in preparation for any particular qualification or career; he ceased to follow a prescribed syllabus and no university degree was ever conferred upon him. The practice of addressing Leichhardt as 'Doctor' arose later out of recognition by his contemporaries that he was a man of learning dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge.
In 1837 John Nicholson's younger brother William, with whom Leichhardt studied at Berlin, returned to his home at Clifton in Gloucestershire and Leichhardt went with him. Until 1842 these two young men lived frugally on William's small income while they studied medical and natural science at the Royal College of Surgeons, the British Museum and the Jardin des Plantes, and by field observation in England, France, Italy and Switzerland. To enable Leichhardt to fulfil his plan to study the natural sciences in a vast new field William Nicholson paid his fare to Australia, provided clothes and necessities for the journey and gave him £200.
About the Author
Ludwig Leichhardt, 1813-1848
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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