// you’re reading...


Leichhardt Letters p3

READERSVOICE.COM continues with Leichhardt Letters, written by German explorer and naturalist Dr Ludwig Leichhardt in the 1840s in Australia…

January24, 1846

On board the Heroine, an English ship which sailed from Java to Sydney:

My dearest brother-in-law, I trust that you received my letter in which I wrote to you before the commencement of my large expedition, and in which I informed you that I was just ready to cross the continent of New Holland [Australia], to go from Sydney to Moreton Bay [Brisbane] and from there to Port Essington [now just some remote ruins in the Norhtern Territory] on the north coast of New Holland. I have completed my voyage which lasted 16 months, and have lived in the wilderness for 14 and a half months, with the blue sky above, and New Holland’s forests around me…

We lived for 3 months on water and dried beef only…We found little game on the east coast of New Holland, and, when we found it, my companions could not shoot it. I had expected too much from these fellows, and found they were very mediocre shots; they could shoot neither birds nor four-footed animals – except when they were sitting still and close by.

April 18, 1846

On returning to Sydney, Leichhardt found that many people thought he had died:

I informed you in my last letter from on board the “Heroine” about the happenings on the voyage from Moreton Bay to Port Essington. I arrived in Sydney at the beginning of April, and no king could have been received with greater joy and more affection…My name was in everybody’s mouth, and everybody mourned the poor wanderer through the Australian wilderness, whilst only a few dared to criticise him for the foolish undertaking. During this almost general feeling of sympathy by the people, I suddenly came out of my grave, successful in my undertaking, and having in my pockets previously unknown and unexpected territories.

-continued next page