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Welcome to 'the Fifth Continent' ~ the world's largest island, inhabited for more than 40,000 years ... explored and mapped only in the last 225 years. In these pages we aim to show you something of the land Down Under which awaited Leichhardt's eager scrutiny: how it looked then, and how it is today.
Australia is among the most urbanised countries on the planet: the majority of the population are coast-dwellers, or live in the southeast quarter of the continent. To some extent, this is mandated by the climate and the landscape. In that regard, little has changed over two centuries. Within a few decades of European settlement, the land's new explorers, farmers and graziers had learned the meaning of a 'good' season ... and that a 'dry' could parch the country far south of the tropics and the monsoonal 'wet'.
Leichhardt ~ and the many other explorers, pioneers and 'overlanders' enshrined in Australian history ~ had to trust the noses of their horses and livestock to find moisture, if none could be found by European eyes. Those who befriended the blacks, and learned from the eons of knowledge the indigenous tribes possessed, invariably fared better. That Ludwig Leichhardt was a keen student is universally agreed. What better way to bring history alive than travel in his very footsteps yourself!
Leichhardt in Kakadu, 1845
Charles Darwin University humanitarian lecturer Dan Baschiera is a social worker and bushwalker with a keen interest in the early European explorers' first encounters with Indigenous Australians. Nowhere, perhaps, is the interface with 'the Dreaming' more vivid than in the rugged escarpments of Kakadu, which Leichhardt and his exhausted party had to negotiate at the end of their long overland journey. Dan has developed his own theories about the ultimate fate of the missing German, and has very kindly made available the 3rd edition of his book, and you can read more here.
Leichhardt lands in ink and oils
Artist, historian and adventurer Bill Gannon is completing a 15-month journey of his own. He and a small team of collaborating creatives have trekked, traipsed and driven their way through the same dramatic and changing landscapes as the 1844-45 expedition. The resulting artworks are about to tour Australia and, with special thanks to Bill, you can read and see more here.
Auch bitte hier clicken.
"Looking into Leichhardt"
The full catalogue of this amazing collection of artwork by Bill Gannon, and friends Sarah Larsen, Maljah Cathy Snow and Jason Benjamin, can now be viewed as an online page-turning book, by clicking here.
Proposed Leichhardt Centre
Large parts of Queensland, and north and central Australia, can stake a claim to being part of LeichhardtLand. One town and district has been advancing plans to give the lost explorer a tangible 'home' and overdue meaningful recognition of his discoveries and achievements. Taroom, a six-hour drive northwest of Brisbane, stands above the banks of the Dawson River, in the footprints of the Expedition Range ~ both features named by the explorer. Read more.
Auch bitte hier clicken.
Almost as inaccessible today as it was in the 19th century, the vast inlet which once hosted a lonely outpost of the British Empire still holds dazzling surprises for intrepid visitors. Equipped with necessary permits, travellers can arrive overland by 4WD (in the Dry), 'yachties' can sail in ~ or, for a more refined experience, visitors can arrive by air at a secluded eco-wilderness resort! Find out more about the 'then and now' by clicking here.
Passage through the Shire
The exploration and naming of the Dawson River region was a trail-blazing foretaste of the journey to come, in 1844. But the discoveries of Leichhardt and Gilbert encompassed more than the geography: strange trees and fish caught their eye, and you can read more here.
Driving the Leichhardt
The 'inland route' north from Melbourne along the Newell Highway parts company at Goondiwindi on the Queensland / NSW border. You can head for Toowoomba and Brisbane, or continue north on national highway A5 through the heart of 'Leichhardt Land'. There is an excellent guide, with map and travel suggestions, on the Drive Australia website here.
A run out to Jimbour
In its early days Jimbour was one of the great properties of the Darling Downs, stretching over 300,000 acres from the Bunya Mountains to the Condamine River, and from the present site of Dalby to Jandowae. As the northern outpost of European settlement in the 1840s, Jimbour of course holds a special place in Leichhardt history. Today, heritage-listed Jimbour House ~ built in 1876, after Leichhardt's time ~ remains a private residence with its interior open only for special events. (The formal gardens and historical items are accessible by donation on entry.) In May 2013, the Gympie Branch of the Ulysses Club made a day of it, and you can read more, and see photos of the visit, on the club's website here.
Where IS Dr Leichhardt?
Do you want to get your own 'feel' for the immensity and harsh beauty of the land Down Under? Archeologist, historian and bushman Darrell Lewis's book Where is Dr Leichhardt?, released in May 2013, analyses 165 years of searches across this vast continent. Read a review of the book, or visit the Monash University Publishing website to order your own copy. To discover other works, please visit the CONNECT pages of this website to find all sorts of links and lists, and learn how you can add to the stock of knowledge!
In Australia's Top End a beguiling grasshopper is heralding the coming of the wet season by putting on its gaudiest outfit. Leichhardt's Grasshopper is out in full adult glory. It's Australia's most brightly coloured grasshopper and one of the most spectacular in the world. Leichhardt's Grasshopper is bright red, blue and orange. Its strong colours are a defence against predators which works so well that this little grasshopper has Attitude - often it doesn't even bother to fly away when predators approach. The ABC’s Janet Parker compiled a fascinating report, published on 2 November 2000. and you can read more here.
Dawson River Festival
LeichhardtLand came alive over several extremely hot days in September 2013. as activities rolled through the Dawson River towns of Taroom, Theodore, Moura and Baralaba. Taroom's turn was Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th. Art, photography, fashion, horseracing, golf, bowls and outdoor sports for kids of all ages complemented the festival markets on the Sunday. Read more, download the Festival flyer or visit the excellent Dawson River Towns website to discover accommodation and touring activities.