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Home -> David W Carnegie -> Spinifex and Sand -> Part 5 Chapter 9

Spinifex and Sand - Part 5 Chapter 9

1. Part 1 Chapter 1

2. Part 1 Chapter 2

3. Part 1 Chapter 3

4. Part 2 Chapter 1

5. Part 2 Chapter 2

6. Part 2 Chapter 3

7. Part 3 Chapter 1

8. Part 3 Chapter 2

9. Part 3 Chapter 3

10. Part 3 Chapter 4

11. Part 3 Chapter 5

12. Part 3 Chapter 6

13. Part 3 Chapter 7

14. Part 4 Chapter 1

15. Part 5 Chapter 1

16. Part 5 Chapter 2

17. Part 5 Chapter 3

18. Part 5 Chapter 4

19. Part 5 Chapter 5

20. Part 5 Chapter 6

21. Part 5 Chapter 7

22. Part 5 Chapter 8

23. Part 5 Chapter 9

24. Part 5 Chapter 10

25. Part 5 Chapter 11

26. Part 5 Chapter 12

27. Part 5 Chapter 13

28. Part 5 Chapter 14

29. Part 5 Chapter 15

30. Part 5 Chapter 16

31. Part 5 Chapter 17

32. Part 5 Chapter 18

33. Part 5 Appendix

34. Part 6 Chapter 1

35. Part 6 Chapter 2

36. Part 6 Chapter 3

37. Part 6 Chapter 4

38. Part 6 Chapter 5

39. Part 6 Chapter 6

40. Part 6 Chapter 7

41. Part 6 Chapter 8

42. Part 6 Chapter 9

43. Part 6 Chapter 10

44. Appendix



At this point I must ask pardon of the courteous reader for a seeming
digression, and interpolate a short account of Dr. Leichardt's lost
expedition--as to the fate of which nothing is known; and although no
apparent connection exists between it and this narrative, it may be that
in our journey we have happened on traces, and that the pieces of iron
mentioned in the last chapter may serve as some clue to its fate. On
arrival in civilisation I sent these iron relics, with some native
curios, to Mr. Panton, Police Magistrate, of Melbourne, Victoria, a
gentleman whose knowledge, and ability to speak with authority on matters
concerning Australian exploration is recognised as the highest.

When, therefore, Mr. Panton expresses the opinion that the tent-peg was
the property of Dr. Leichardt, one may be sure that he has good grounds
for his supposition. Whether Leichardt lost his life in the heart of this
wilderness or not, the complete mystery hiding his fate makes his history
sufficiently remarkable; and though I consider that there is little to
show that he ever reached a point so far across the continent, there is
no reason that he should not have done so, and I leave it for my readers
to form their own opinion.

Ludwig Leichardt, after carrying out successfully several journeys in
Queensland and the Northern Territory, undertook the gigantic task of
crossing Australia from East to West, viz., from Moreton Bay to the Swan
River Settlements.

Towards the end of 1847, accompanied by eight white men, two black-boys,
and provisions to last two years, he started, taking with him one hundred
and eighty sheep, two hundred and seventy goats, forty bullocks, fifteen
horses, and thirty mules. After travelling with little or no progress for
seven months, during which time the whole stock of cattle and sheep were
lost, the party returned. Not discouraged by this disastrous termination
to his scheme, Leichardt resolved on another expedition with the same
object in view.

Before many months he, with the same number of companions but with fewer
animals, set out again. On the 3rd of April, 1848, he wrote from
Fitzroy Downs, expressing hope and confidence as to the ultimate
success of the expedition. Since that date, neither tidings nor traces
have been found of the lost explorer, nor of any of his men or
belongings. Several search-parties were organised and a large reward
offered, but all in vain--and the scene of his disaster remains
undiscovered to this day. Many and various are the theories propounded
with regard to his fate. It is held by some that the whole party were
caught in the floods of the Cooper. This creek is now known to spread
out, after heavy rains at its source, to a width of between forty and
fifty miles. So heavy and sudden is the rain in semi-tropical Australia,
that a traveller may be surrounded by flood-waters, while not a drop of
local rain may fall. Leichardt, in those early days, would labour under
the disadvantage of knowing neither the seasons, nor the rainfall, and in
all likelihood would choose the valley of a creek to travel along, since
it would afford feed for his stock. It seems reasonable to suppose that a
flood alone could make so clean a sweep of men, cattle, and equipment
that even keen-eyed aboriginals have failed (so far as is known) to
discover any relics.

Another theory, and that held by Mr. Panton, is that the deserts of
Central and Western Australia hold the secret of his death. This theory
is based, I believe, on the fact that Gregory, in the fifties, found on
the Elsey Creek (North Australia) what he supposed to be the camp of a
white man. This in conjunction with some vague reports by natives would
point to Leichardt having travelled for the first part of his journey
considerably further north than was his original intention, with a view
to making use of the northern rivers. Supposing that his was the camp
seen on the Elsey, a tributary of the Victoria River, it would have been
necessary for him to alter his course to nearly due South-West to enable
him to reach the Swan River. This course would have taken him through the
heart of the desert, through the very country we now were in. For my part
I think that trade from tribe to tribe sufficiently accounts for the
presence of such articles as tent-pegs and pieces of iron, though
strangely enough an iron tent-peg is not commonly used nowadays, stakes
of wood being as serviceable, and none but a large expedition would be
burdened with the unnecessary weight of iron pegs.

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