This article lists the main achievements of the key explorers of the 19th Century. It includes references to their later life pursuits, and for each explorer you can find out where they are buried, plus obtain details for where you can find any legacy, monument, or namesake that honours them.

Overview of Australia's Land Exploration

The opening up of Australia’s interior occurred gradually throughout the colonial period. For many years, settlement had been confined to the coastal strip around Sydney as no one could find a way over the Blue Mountains to the west. The pivotal moment came in 1813, when Gregory Blaxland successfully led an expedition that found a passage to the western plains. Blaxland was accompanied by William Lawson, William Wentworth and four servants. The discovery of a way across the mountains soon led to the establishment of a new town at Bathurst to support pastoralists and the various exploratory inland expeditions that would follow for more than half a century.

Expeditions were costly and initially most was done under Government orders to find more fertile lands to increase the production of food for the colonies. Next, was the need to expand the number of penitentiaries to accommodate the growing number of convicts arriving in Australia from Britain.

By the time of the mid 1850s men of captial also set out on, or sponsored, expeditions to discover new lands for agriculture or answer scientific enquiries. Surveyors also acted as explorers and the colonies sent out expeditions to discover the best routes for lines of communication.

Blaxland, Wentworth, & Lawson

For many years, European settlement had been confined to the coastal strip around Sydney as no one could find a way over the Blue Mountains to the west. The pivotal moment came in 1813, when Gregory Blaxland successfully led an expedition with William Lawson, William Wentworth and four servants to discover a way across the mountains, leading to plains of grass that they reported would "support the stock of the colony for thirty years". The discovery of a way across the mountains enabled the various exploratory inland expeditions that would follow for more than half a century.

Later Life & Legacy

Blaxland devoted his colonial activities almost entirely to the pursuit of his agricultural and viticultural interests. The township of Blaxland in the Blue Mountains is named after him. He died by his own hand in 1 January 1853 in New South Wales no doubt suffering from depression after the death of his wife and two sons. He is buried in All Saints Cemetery in Parramatta.

Wentworth persued legal studies, founded the first newspaper, led an active and influential political life, and inherited his father's wealth enabling him to purchase land and build Vaucluse House. He never could shake the fact that his mother had been a convict however, and this would restrict his rise to the "respectable class" and interfere with his family connections. Numerous landmarks however bear his name, including the towns of Wentworth and Wentworth Falls, Wentworth Avenue in Kingston (Canberra), and Wentworth Building, hosing the University of Sydney Union. He died in England, but at his request his body was returned to Sydney for burial on his estate at Vaucluse.

Lawson held the post of Commandant of the new settlement of Bathurst and continued to be an influential explorer and wealthy land owner and grazier with merino, shorthorn cattle, and blood horses. His journeys contributed to the further expansion and development of pastoralisation of the western plains. He also made the first discovery of coal west of the Great Divide, at Hartley Vale. One of his estates lay in the area now covered by the Prospect reservoir. He died at Verteran Hall and is buried in the churchyard of St Bartholomew.

In 1963 a postage stamp depicting the Blue Mountains crossing honored the 3 explorers Blaxland, Wentworth & Lawson.

Hume and Hovell

In 1824, Hamilton Hume and William Hovell were asked by Governor Thomas Brisbane to find new grazing land in the south of the colony. The destination was originally set as Spencer Gulf but the explorers felt Western Port was more applicable, however they actually arrived to the west of it - at what is now Geelong. The journey was without Government funding and the two explorers funded it themselves with basic only basic essentials provided by the Government. Governor Brisbane also expected a report following the journey to explain where New South Wales's western rivers flowed.

Over a 16 week expedition with a party of 6 men, they journeyed to Port Phillip and back. It was a successful journey including the discoveries and crossings of the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers and good agricultural and grazing lands between Gunning, New South Wales and Corio Bay, Victoria.

Later Life & Legacy

Hume continued to persue opportunities to find new pathways for the Government, which included a line of road over the Blue Mountains, and accompanied Charles Sturt on his expedition in 1828 to the Darling River. Ill-health saw him retire from expedition work to take up grazing in the western plains. In later life, Hume had a number of pointless quarrels with friends and family, in particular with Hovell, who he believed was receiving more credit for the expedition than he deserved. His health rapidly declined, and he became both deaf and bitter. He died at his home in Yass on 19th April 1873, aged 76. He is buried at the Yass cemetery.

Hume was certainly the better and more experienced bushman, but was unable to make observations or calculate position, which was Hovell's task; and although Hume claimed to have known that they had arrived at Port Phillip and not at Westernport he did not make this public when they returned to Sydney.

Hovell led a quiet and undistinguished life as a settler following the expedition to Port Phillip. He died in Sydney on 9 November 1875, aged 90. He is buried at Goulburn in the St Saviour's cemetery.

Portraits of both Hume and Hovell are at the Mitchell Library, Sydney.

Charles Sturt

In 1827, when Charles Sturt arrived in Australia he was military Secretary to the Governor and Major of Brigade to the garrison. He became convinced he could solve the mystery of the much rumoured "inland sea" and put forward a proposal to the Governor to lead an expedition to find it. It was in 1828. He took Hamilton Hume with him, and discovered, and named the Darling River. This discovery posed more options for exploration and Sturt commenced a second expedition in 1829 to investigate the Lachlan-Murrimbidgee river system discovered by Oxley. After finding that the Murrumbidgee River joined another impressive river, he named it the Murray and continued his journey - hoping it would lead to the great inland sea. Instead, they came to Lake Alexandrina, which beyond the sandbank, flowed to the sea through a disappointing channel unsuitable for shipping. It was a depressing discovery and he had to led the party back upstream to return to Sydney with the news.

Over the following years, Charles Sturt became partially blind but this didn't quell his quest for exploration. Despite an ongoing life of journeys, much of his work revealed nothing but desolation. On his 1844 journey his party reached the sand dunes of the Simpson Desert, which dispelled the notion of an inland sea. Serious illness forced him to abandon further explorations.

Later Life & Legacy

Sturt was determined never to return to England, but the need to secure the future of his children forced his return in 1853. He spent his last years peacefully at Cheltenham and enjoyed being a consultant for the preparations for the North Australian expedition of 1854. He died on 16 June 1869. His grave is located in Cheltenham Cemetery & Crematorium, Gloucestershire, England. Grave Section T 3767.

Thomas Mitchell

Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, succeeded John Oxley as Surveyor-General of New South Wales in 1828 aged 36. He held this position throughout his entire life. His technical competence was a boon for the colony with his detailed surveys and recommendation for an improvement and extension of the road system resulting in the construction of all the major routes leading out of Sydney in all directions. He surveyed the routes for The Great North Road, the Great Southern Road (now Hume Highway), and a new route for a western descent from the Blue Mountains - now known as the Great Western Highway.

Mitchell later conducted 3 expeditions (1831, 1835, 1836) into the Eastern interior, focussing on tracing the inland river systems and hopefully disprove Charles Sturt's previous expedition report that the Murray-Darling was the main river system of NSW. His first expedition set out to find a river that was said to flow from the Liverpool Ranges northward to the sea, but whilst finding smaller rivers leading to a large river, he decided this was still the Darling. The 1835 expedition’s focus was specifically to chart the Darling River and survey its junction with the Murray. Early in the 1836 expedition Mitchell conceeded that the Darling did indeed flow into the Murray, just as Sturt had reported earlier. He then commenced exploring the land to the south east, discovering the Grampians, and then a river that surprisingly led to the sea (Glenelg). He explored the coastline until finding the Henty brothers (freemen previously from Tasmania) had established a sustainable farm in a rich, fertile region on the Portland coast. He returned favourable reports to the colony of new farming opportunities in south-west Victoria in an area he named Australia Felix. This was a pivotal moment in the development of the Victorian farming region, with flocks of settlers arriving en-mass from Van Diemen's Land and from the New South Wales colony. Mitchell's work was of such high quality and accuracy that he was Knighted and became known as Sir Thomas Mitchell in 1839.

He then conducted a 4th expedition, this time into Queensland in 1845-46, exploring around the Narren, Balonne, and Culgoa Rivers, the townships of St George, Surat and Roma, as well as the catchments of the Warrego, Burdekin, Barcoo, and Maranoa Rivers

Whilst his journeys were meticulously recorded, Mitchell often ruffled the feathers of his superiors and gained an unsavory reputation as an insubordinate. However Mitchell was popular in the community. His appreciation and fostering of things peculiarly Australian, his unusual preference for including convicts, rather than officers in his exploring parties, and his retention of Aboriginal place names made him likeable. He also publicised his belief that land should be readily available to small settlers and not monopolized by large landowners or squatters.

Later Life & Legacy

Victoria Pass on the Blue Mountains is one of the oldest and most significant engineered works in Australia still in use today. It has been in almost continuous use since its construction, which is testamount to the quality of Mitchell's work.

Mitchell named many places on his expeditions including the Avoca River, Balonne River, Belyando River, Campaspe River, Cogoon River, Discovery Bay, Glenelg River, Grampians, Muranoa River, Mt Arapiles, Mt King, Mt Macedon, Mt Napier, Mt William, Nyngan, Pyramid Hills, St George, Swan Hill and Winnera River.

His contributions to the surveying of Australia have given good reason for his namesake being used for many places and objects throughout Australia such as: the town of Mitchell in Queensland, Mitchell College in Wodonga, the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, the Mitchell’s Hopping Mouse, Mitchell grass, Mitchell Falls, Mitchell Highway, Mitchell Park, Mitchell Plateau, Sir Thomas Mitchell Road in Bondi Beach, Mitchell’s Lookout and Mitchell River, and in the highest honour of the NSW Surveyors Awards, the Sir Thomas Mitchell Excellence in Surveying Award.

Mitchell died in Sydney in October 1855. He is bured at Camperdown Cemetery, Newtown.

Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki

Polish born Paul Edmund Strzelecki had no formal training in geology, but travelled widely after leaving Poland in 1834. He visited North America, South America and the Pacific islands. He analysed soils, examined minerals, investigated the gluten content of wheat, climbed mountains, and studied native languages. In 1839 he came to Australia, planning a geological survey of the country. His field work took him throughout New South Wales, to the Alps, into Gippsland, & Van Diemen's Land.

Before the Gold rush, Strzelecki had discovered gold & silver in his rock specimens collected from the Bathurst area and claimed in a later book "Gold & Silver' that he had not enough "time and men to trace them to their proper source". Upon his report of this, he was told by Governor Gipps not to reveal the gold discovery.

Whilst in the Australian Alps in 1839, he climbed Australia's highest peak - Mount Kosciuszko, becoming the first European to do so. Strzelecki named the peak in honour of the Polish democratic leader Tadeusz Kosciuszko.

In 1841 whilst in Tasmania, Strzelecki discovered coal deposits on the slopes of Ben Lomond.

Later life & Legacy

After leaving Australia in 1843, he became a British citizen, and published an awarding winning book documenting a description of Australia's geology. The book laid the basis of Australian palaeontology.

Strzelecki always stated that the reason for his book was to encourage emigration to Australia through the knowledge of great natural resources and opportunities available there. He believed that the country was worthy of further development of the colonies and that men of capital should be encouraged. He pointed out how this would inturn improve the welfare and economy of the British Empire.

Whilst John Hargraves is credited as the finder of the first payable gold nugget in Australia, which starts the Gold Rush era, Strzelecki is later awarded the title of Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael & St George in 1869. It is stated as being given for his: "five years explorations in Australia, the discovery of gold, the discovery of new territory accessible to colonization, and finally for the construction of topographical and geological maps, based on astronomical observations”.

Strzelecki died in London on 6 October probably due to liver cancer. He was buried at the Kensal Greens Cemetery, however in 1997 his grave was moved to the Crypt of Eminent Poles, at the Church of St Adalbert (Wojciech) in Poland. A monument in his likeness stands in Jindabyne.

Many places, businesses, and groups honour Strzelecki with his namesake. The Strzelecki Ranges in South Gippsland, The Strzelecki Track and Strzelecki Desert in outback South Australia, Strzelecki National Park on Flinders Island, with Mount Strzelecki the highest point on Flinders Island, Tasmania, Strzelecki Metals (a minerals exploration and development company with offices in Australia and Poland), and the Strzelecki Awards which recognises the commitment of resources operators to sustainable development.

Ludwig Leichhardt

German-born, Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt is most famous for his "lost expedition", in 1848 in which he had planned to traverse the continent from east to west but vanished soon after he started. However, whilst not as news-worthy, his first journey in 1842 was both successful and worthwhile to the expanding colonies.

More a naturalist than an explorer, Leichhardt was considered unqualifed and therefore simply lucky, when he organised a privately funded expedition in 1844-45 sucessfully travelling overland from the Moreton Bay settlement in Queensland, reaching the Victoria Settlement at Port Essington on December 17 1845, on what we now call the Cobourg Penninsula. On this journey, he discovered and named one of the main tributaries of the Fitzroy River, the Dawson, along with Peak Downs - a lush pastoral area, Planet Creek, Comet Creek, Zamia Creek, the Mackenzie River, the Isaacs Rivers, and the Burdekin River. They reached the Gulf of Carpentaria in June 1845 but the expeditions naturalist, John Gilbert was fatally speared by aborigines that attacked their camped on June 28. The River alongside which they had camped was named the Gilbert in his honour. The expedition party named all the rivers they crossed as they scoured the coastline of the Gulf of Carpentaria, with most names still in use, including the Roper River near the Qld/NT border.

After the success of this expedition, Leichhardt planned an even more ambitious journey, to traverse the continent from east to west, and then south to the Swan River Colony. He made two attempts, one in 1846-47 and another in early 1848. Despite this, Leichhardt put together another 1848 expedition, which was to become his ill-fated journey when all trace of the party simply disappeared. Very little is known of the exact party particulars although he is known to have started out with 12 horses, 13 mules, 50 bullocks, 270 goats, 6 white men, and two blacks.

His last letter is dated April 3, 1848 and was written at McPherson's station on the Cogoon (now Muckadilla Creek). No documents or discussions have been known to have contained information about the intended route from here and so no clue has ever come to light about their fate. All the men, stock and equipment simply vanished.


The mystery of the missing Leichhardt's expedition team became the incentive for a number of search parties including the Leichhardt Search Expedition in 1858, led by Augustus (A.C.) Gregory. Up until 2006, the only re-occuring evidence that these parties could find were the blaze marks that Leichhardt left on trees - the letter L carved into a trunk. The discovery of a brass plate marked "Ludwig Leichhardt 1848" was made by an Aboriginal stockman near Sturt Creek in the Tanami desert in 1900 and due to its location, has given us a much better idea of how far, and by which route, the expedition had indeed travelled. In 2006, this brass plate was authenticated and is now part of the National Museum of Australia collection.

Leichhardt's name appears in an inner western Sydney suburb, the Leichhardt Highway, and the Leichhardt River, the Leichhardt Eucalyptus tree and Leichhardt's grasshopper. His fated expedition is also the theme for the Patrick White novel "Voss".

Burke & Wills

Perhaps the most "famous" Australian explorers were Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills, who in 1860 led a well-equipped expedition from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. Whilst their expedition was an impressive feat of navigation, and they did indeed become the first to make this journey, it was an organisational disaster and they failed to return alive. They earned a place in Australian folklore due to the tragedy of their journey. Their journey is also interwoven with that of John McDouall Stuart (detailed below), who also shared the same expedition goal and was eventually successful by taking a more inland route.


The Royal Society of Victoria was a private association formed to encourage scientific research and the dissemination of new information. It was from within this group in 1857, that the suggestion was made that Victoria should organise an exploring expedition. At the time most of inland Australia had still not been explored, nor were there any inland settlements. Meanwhie, the South Australian government had come up with an incentive to get an expedition team to do a survey across the continent from south to north. They wanted to host the Australian terminus of the telegraph on South Australian soil so offered a reward of £2000 to the first successful person to make a successful overland journey to the Gulf of Carpentaria. When the Victorian's heard about the South Australian's goal to make the first crossing of the continent they felt challenged. The incentive of claiming Victoria to be the first to cross the continent from south to north drove a bid to get their expedition together before the South Australians and before long they sent off a 19-man expedition led by Robert O'Hara Burke complete with 23 horses, 6 wagons, and 26 camels on August 20, 1860. The experienced South Australian explorer & surveyor, John McDouall Stuart, took up the challenge too, however his first attempt failed and he returned to re-plan the journey.

The Race North

The first stage of the Burke & Wills journey was undertaken between August - December 1860. After departing Melbourne, they moved north and reached Menindee. Along the way, the expedition struggled to carry their loads and so they began to offload supplies. It took much longer than expected and the delay was intolerable to Burke. In Menindee, the party had a major hiccup resulting in an organisational restructure and the group was split to create separate supply depots.

Burke's took a smaller party swiftly onto Cooper Creek and arrived on November 11, 1860. The plan was to wait for Wright and supplies to arrive and regroup before forging ahead further north, however news of John Macdouall Stuart's upcoming departure from Adelaide sparked Burke on to head off before he arrived. Another organisational restructure put William Brahe in command of this base camp, whilst Burke setoff with William Wills, John King, and Charlie Grey in a race to be the first to reach the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Only 4 men were left at the depot at Cooper Creek, whilst the 4 intrepid explorers headed off. In hindsight, the lack of written orders to the waiting camp by Burke was a critical error. The journey to Gulf of Carpentaria coincided with the breaking of the wet season and once again progress was hampened by the size of the load. At their final camp (119 days into the journey), Burke and Wills left King & Grey with 5 camels, whilst they took just 1 horse and 3 days provisions to make a final dash to the coast. Covering a final 15 miles on February 11 1861, Burke & Wills reached the Gulf of Carpentaria through through slippery, boggy and almost impassable wet season conditions. They knew they were going to struggle to make it back alive and offloaded all unnecessary supplies in an effort to reach King, Grey and the camels at camp. Meanwhile, John Macdouall Stuart was still in northern South Australia. They had achieved their goal but now it was a matter of survival.

The Tragedy of the Journey Home

Lack of supplies, ill-health and terrible conditions had sapped their strength. Some of the pack animals died and they were forced to offload the heavy navigation instruments. The expedition was struggling to survive. Gray was found dead in his swag on the morning of 17th April and despite their desperation, Burke, King and Wills spent a full day to give him a proper burial.

Tragically, their arrival back at the depot camp they'd left at Cooper Creek occurred just hours after the desperate departure of their waiting supply camp led by Brahe. But this was just the first in a series of ill-fated moments that ultimately, led to the death of both Burke & Wills before making it home. In a decision of desperation to save their own lives after waiting more than 4 months, Brahe's waiting party had left camp on the same morning that Buke & Wills had returned. Brahe had burried a cache of provisions under a tree marked with the word "Dig" carved into it's trunk. Upon finding the cache and a note confirming how close they had been, Burke & Wills chose to head in what they felt was the quickest way to a known settlement, rather than attempt to catch up with Brahe.

Meanwhile, Brahe led his return party back towards Menindee and within 7 days, he met up with William Wright. Wright's party had faced a number of extreme obstacles too and had not made a progressive journey towards Cooper Creek. The second ill-fated moment came when Brahe and Wright agreed to return together to the Dig Tree, hoping to find Burke & Wills. They arrived on May 8, 1861 but they found no sign that Burke & Wills had already passed through, yet both groups were only within 35 miles of one another!

In a final stroke of bad luck, Burke sent Wills back to the dig tree one more time on May 30. Lacking the skills of bushcraft and unwilling to learn from the local Aboriginal people, Burke and Wills died in 1861 near the Cooper Creek. Their deaths were due to eating ill-prepared nardoo seeds. King spent nearly three months with the Aborigines until a rescue party found him on September 15 1861.

Later Life & Legacy

The State Library of Victoria holds a wonderful archive of documents, artworks and artefacts on the Burke & Wills expedition which were donated by the Royal Society of Victoria. Other documents can be found in the National Library of Australia, and Hermann Beckler's plant specimens from the journey were deposited with the National Herbarium of Victoria. A monument depicting Burke and Wills, by Charles Summers, stands outside Parliament House, Melbourne, and a portrait of Burke in oils by William Strutt is in the Melbourne Club.

The Dig Tree was marked by Burke with the roman numerals LXV (being the 65th camp of the trip) by cutting into the truck with an axe. This site is now part of Nappa Merrie Station, Queensland and is a popular 4WD expedition tourist site as it marks the site of the tragedy. Nearby, are the graves of both Burke and Wills, and Kings Tree within the Innamincka Regional Reserve of South Australia. The Dig Tree Circuit and the Innamincka Memorials and Markers are both Trek Notes that will enable you to research how you can access and visit these sites.

John McDouall Stuart

(see sections above in Burke & Wills)

John McDouall Stuart was one of the most accomplished and famous of all Australia's inland explorers.Stuart was the first European to see Chambers Pillar, reaching the site in April 1860, and naming it after James Chambers, one of his South Australian sponsors. This striking sandstone formation is easily accessible by 4WD from Maryvale, which is reached off the Old South Road, south of Alice Springs. (See our Trek Note - Chambers Pillar).

Like the Burke & Wills expedition, Stuart also traversed the Australian mainland from south to north however, he is credited with being the first to do so successfully. Unlike the tragic Burke & Wills expedition, Stuart returned from his 1862 journey and no men died in the expedition. However, it wasn't until Stuart's 6th expedition attempt to the top end that he was successful in the fully reaching Chambers Bay (Darwin) on July 24, 1862. Burke & Wills had reached the north quite some time earlier.

The explorations of Stuart were detailed in his reports and eventually resulted in the construction of the Australian Overland Telegraph Line, and the Stuart Highway from Port Augusta to Darwin.

Later Life & Legacy

In Stuart's final expedition he was almost completely blind and was carried by stretcher for the greater part of the return journey. He died in England on June 5 1866 and is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, one of London's oldest and most distinguished public burial grounds.

Places named after John McDouall Stuart include: Stuart Street in the Canberra suburb of Griffith, the Stuart Highway, Stuart Park, an inner Darwin suburb, Central Mount Stuart, and the town of Stuart, although it changed to Alice Springs in 1933.

Statues honouring Stuart can be found in Adelaide and Darwin. The house where he once lived can be visited in Dysart, Scotland. It has now been turned into a museum dedicated to honoring his life's work and expeditions.

William Christie Gosse

In 1873, William Gosse, like Ernest Giles before him, was exploring the land around central Australia. In fact, both explorers recorded seeing one another's tracks as well as those of Major P.E. Warburton. However unlike Giles who self-funded his expeditions, Gosse was appointed by the South Australian Government and was in charge of the Central & Western Exploring Expedition. His party consisted of his brother Henry (Harry), Edwin Berry, Henry Winnell, Patrick Nilen, 3 Afghan camel drivers (Kamran, Jemma Khan, and Allanah) and an aboriginal boy named Moses.

Gosse was the first European to have observed Uluru and he gave it the name Ayers Rock, in honor of the Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers. He first sighted it from a distance but made the journey to its base and together with Kamran, they climbed it. Gosse also named the Warburton Creek, which was running at the time and he used as a depot camp, Musgrave Range after the Governor, Agnes River, Harry's Reservoir and Mount Hay in the MacDonnell Ranges. Whilst the intention of the expedition was to reach Perth, Gosse decided for the safety of his party to turn back to the east, after passing the western boundary of South Australia and struggling through spinifex and sand. They then explored the Musgrave Ranges.

Later Life & Legacy

After completing his exploring expedition, Gosse was appointed Deputy Surveyor-General. Gosse died of a heart attack on August 1881, aged 38 at his home in Adelaide. His grave is located at the North Road Cemetery.

NOTE: The large impact crater near the western MacDonnell Ranges named Gosses Bluff is NOT named after William but after his brother Henry (Harry), who worked on the construction of the overland telegraph line. Henry also accompanied William on his expedition into Western Australia.
Visitors can travel by 4WD to reach the crater off Larapinta and Namatjira Drives in the Tnorala Conservation Reserve.

Ernest Giles

Ernest Giles came to Australia with his family in 1850 aged 15. Like most men of his era, he tried his luck on the goldfields of Victoria, but it wasn't long before he developed a taste for exploration and he soon developed into an experienced expedition leader. His life's ambition became a quest to find a route from the overland telegraph line to the West Australian coast, which he achieved in 1875. Although he was not the first to make the journey west, he went ahead and achieve a double crossing of the western-half of the country by completing a circuit back from the coast to the Rawlinson Ranges.

Later Life & Legacy

Giles discovered and named a large number of landmarks in remote regions during his travels including, Lake Amadeus, Mount Olga (now Kata Tjuta), Queen Victoria Springs, Opthalmia Range, Rawlinson Range, Victoria Desert, and the Gibson Desert (Gibson was one of his men that died during an expedition from the Rawlinson Range). In addition, Mount Giles NT, and the Giles Weather Station in Warburton WA are named after him.

His widespread journeys throughout the desert county of outback Western Australia added substantially to the knowledge of Australia's inland. His written works are Geographic Travels in Central Australia from 1872 to 1874, The Journal of a Forgotten Expedition, and undoubtedly his most popular work, Australia Twice Traversed.

After spending his final years as a clerk in the office in Coolgardie, where he gave advice to propectors, he died of pneumonia in 1897. His magnificent grave with headstone is located in the Coolgardie Cemetery. A plaque summaring his achievements as an explorer was added to his grave 100 years after his death. He is credited for his feats of endurance and was one of the last Explorers to journey across Australia.

Giles was honoured on a postage stamp issued by Australia Post in 1976.

Edward John Eyre

Eyre arrived in Adelaide, young and wealthy after selling the stock he had raised and herded from NSW to SA. Lured by the mystery of the inland sea, he self-funded his two expeditions of 1839 into the interior of South Australia, taking John Baxter. His first South Australian expedition went north into what we now call the Flinders Ranges. He named the Broughten River, Baxter Range, saw Lake Torrens and was the first European to observe Wilpena Pound from a hill top that the Governor later named Mount Eyre. He then traversed the coast of what is now called the Eyre Penninsula, and went on to discover and name the Gawler Ranges and went back to explore further north of Mount Eyre not far from the Leigh Creek area before turning back. His reports described of the lack of water in these regions. However he did promote the rich fertility of the Clare Valley region.

In 1840, Eyre and two companions travelled overland from King George Sound to the Swan River settlement in Western Australia. He returned to Adelaide with an aborigine Wylie, who was to accompany him on future expeditions. Later that year, he successfully traversed the coastline from Fowlers Bay to King George Sound, becoming the first Europen to explore and journey the land along the coastline of the Great Australian Bight and the Nullabor Plain.

Later Life & Legacy

After this momentous journey, Eyre settled on land near the Murray and become a magistrate. He became a peacemaker between white settlers and Aborigines along the Murray River and went on to write "Journals of Expeditions of Discovery into Central Australia and Overland from Adelaide to King George's Sound". He later spent time in New Zealand and several Caribbean island colonies as Colonial Governor.

Various places are named in his honor: Lake Eyre, Eyre Peninsula, Eyre Creek, Eyre Highway, The Edward John Eyre High School and the Eyre Hotel in Whyalla , and the villages of Eyreton and West Eyreton in Canterbury, New Zealand.

Eyre died on 30 November, 1901 in Yorkshire, England at the age of 85. He was buried in St Andrew's Churchyard, Whitechurch. In 1970 he was honoured on a postage stamp bearing his portrait issued by Australia Post.

Other Explorers

A few other explorers might have been mentioned in this list but weren't for reasons of the either not being the "first", or for the lack of results that could benefit the developing colony. The search for pastoral country, gold, understanding the inland river system and solving the mystery of the inland sea, and surveying overland routes that could be used for transport and communication were the critical aims of ensuring the success of a growing nation.

John Forrest did not make any noteworthy discoveries, however his explorations were still important. He was made a CMG by Queen Victoria for his services in exploring the interior. His 1870 expedition, which closely followed Edward John Eyre's route across the Great Australia Bight, was not a new discovery, however it was significant because it was due to his survey that the main route from eastern Australia overland to the west could be constructed.

Peter Egerton Warburton, can be noted for succeeding in crossing Australia from Adelaide to the Roebourne on the NW coast of WA in 1874, however his whole party nearly perished but for the good bushmanship of J.W. Lewis and their aboriginal guide. Warburton's route however provided another source of information about the vast interior and was inspiration for others after him.

David Wynford Carnegie, was undoubtedly a professional explorer however despite his epic journey in 1896 traversing some of the harshest country any explorer has had to endure through the Gibson Desert, Great Sandy Desert and reaching Halls Creek, plus a return trip to Coolgardie, his results were disappointing. He had hoped to find a stock route between Coolgardie and the Kimberley, but lack of water made his route considered unviable for that purpose and no other "useful" discoveries were made. Carnegie had however been the first to explore the unknown land that lay between the east-west routes made by Warburton & Forrest but only find it was useless land.


Aboriginal guides and assistance in the European exploration of the colony were common and often vital.


Bungaree was an aboriginal explorer from the Sydney district who accompanied Matthew Flinders in 1801-2 when they circumnavigated Australia.


In 1792, the aboriginal Bennelong, was taken by Governor Phillip to England and was presented to King George III. This made him the first native born in the area of New South Wales to sail to Europe.

Jackey Jackey (aka Galmahra)

accompanied Kennedy's expedition to Cape York

Tommy Windich

accompanied John Forrest in the search for Ludwig Leichhardt


accompanied Eyre on his expedition across the Nullarbor

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