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Leichhardt Letters p4

READERSVOICE.COM continues with the Leichhardt Letters and his final expedition…

Leichhardt set out in December 1846, on a second expedition, to cross the continent from the Darling Downs in the east, to the Swan River and Perth, on the west coast of Australia. After 800 kms, in June 1847, the expedition was forced to return. One account blamed heavy rains, malaria, famine, a mutiny, and possibly a nervous breakdown on Leichhardt’s part. Leichhardt wrote of another reason, to his brother-in-law:

The reasons for this failure are the following: The young people in my expedition came originally from Sydney; they were accustomed to soft, comfortable city life instead of the roughness of the bush…They only had worldly interests; they expected at the conclusion of the voyage employment by the government and monetary reward from the people. They had witnessed our reception in Sydney on our return from Port Essington and expected to earn the same laurels without difficulty. As soon as the hardships of the expedition started, their steadfastness was shaken, and, forgetting their previous profession of loyalty, they now regarded me as a hard taskmaster.

Then in 1848, Leichhardt set out again, from the Condomine River, to reach the Swan River near Perth on the other side of Australia. The expedition was last seen on April 3, 1848, at Cogoon Station on the Darling Downs.

The book Leichhardt Letters covers some of the searches for the lost party, and there have been different hypotheses about what happened. The disappearance remains a mystery.  This book is well worth reading if one can find it.