|With thanks to Dr Isolde Neugart, our German visitors can read a translation of this article here.|
This 'Down Under' website was set up in the Bicentenary year of the explorer's birth (2013), and in October 2014 we commemorate the 170th anniversary of the start of his epic expedition across Queensland and northern Australia.
This site has fast become a 'gathering place' (as the traditional custodians of our land might say) or a 'Treffpunkt' ('meeting point') for all things Leichhardt. There is a vast range of pieces published, in books and on the web, but little collected under one roof. It seems a case of advancing slowly, alert to the unusual things you may encounter 'out there' ... rather like the missing explorer himself.
That's good, in its own way, but unnecessarily frustrating in the 21st century. Much about Leichhardt has passed into myth, legend ~ and the educational syllabus ~ bearing the inaccuracies and politics of the 19th century. For 170 years, students and writers have pondered the question of the man, as much as his fate.
Was he an egomaniacal fool, lucky by accident but fumblingly predestined for tragedy? ... whose efforts towards the discovery of inland Australia were almost in spite of himself, rather than due to any planning, skill or talent?
Or was he a misunderstood and misrepresented foreigner, in a harsh young colony built by prisoners and visionaries? ... whose curiosity about the land and its indigenous inhabitants ~ peoples, flora and fauna ~ was innate, undimmed, and answerable, perhaps, only to his backers and believers?
The truth, of course, is likely to include elements of both.
One aim of this website has been to gather together as many of these diverse opinions and resources as we can. We hope you will assist with your suggestions for links to books, academic journals, artwork, events, conferences and much more!
Another aim was to establish a web presence to complement that of the TEG (Tourism Development Office) in the Lieberose / Oberspreewald region. Over the course of 2013, this 'sister website' has carefully and progressively compiled a diverse program of community, educational and business events in memory of Ludwig Leichhardt.
As the 2013 program peaked with birthday events in October in both countries, the baton now passes Down Under, from Brandenburg to Brisbane, for the upcoming anniversaries of the great 'Overland Expedition'. In doing so, this website hopes to engage with Germans, Queenslanders, Australians, and others from around the world, and encourage you to visit some part of LeichhardtLand Down Under.