Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
In 1845, Mr. Leichardt, a German botanist, set out from Brisbane to cut across the back country of Queensland to reach Port Essington in the north-east of Australia. Everybody told him it was a hopeless job and tried to persuade him not to go, but he started and marched and struggled on, through most difficult country and among dangerous natives, suffering heat and hunger and thirst.
For two years this brave and cheerful man struggled on – and he got there in the end. Then he took a sailing vessel and got back to Sydney, where he startled his friends by suddenly turning up. They had long ago given him up as dead, and when he put his head in at the window they went out at the door thinking they had seen a ghost.
When, however, he had reassured them, they took him down to theatre in Pitt Street, where at that moment a solemn anthem was being sung in honour of the dead explorer!
Poor fellow! He went off later on another exploring expedition with seven white men and two natives, and a number of carts, oxen, and sheep; and nothing was ever heard of any of them again. They went into the desert, and not a sign was afterwards found to show which way they had gone or what became of them.
In 1860 an expedition under Burke and Wills set forth from Melbourne to cross the centre of the continent northward. They took camels with them in order to get over the thirst land, and a number of men and a large-outfit.
But soon they found that travelling with so large a number meant going very slowly. So Burke and Wills with two other men and the strongest camels pushed on into the desert.
Week after week they stuck to it, till after three months they at last came in sight of the sea on the north.
But they were running out of supplies, there were no settlements there, so they had to start back as fast as they were able. Their hardships were terrible; Gray, one of the men, died; they had to kill their camels one after another for food. At last they struggled into the camp-ground where their expedition had been told to await them, only to find a note on a tree to say that they had gone back home on the day before. Fortunately they had left some food for them in case they came. This they took, and pushed on to try to reach Melbourne – but got lost.
Played out, they still struggled on, till Wills fell out to die. Soon after Burke also died, and King, the only survivor, was luckily found by some friendly natives just as he was at his last gasp. They nursed him and brought him round, and a search party shortly after rescued him, and buried the bodies of his brave companions.
A fine statue now stands in Melbourne to the memory of Burke and Wills.
In 1862, John McDowell Stuart, very shortly after the death. of Burke and Wills, succeeded in crossing the central country from Adelaide to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north. He did this without the loss of a single man or animal. He died in 1866.
At one time some men who were jealous of him spread a report that he had never got to the sea coast. But lately a tree was found with his initials cut deeply into it. Later a tree was reported by the natives near Point Stuart as having some strange marks on its bark. A party which went to examine it found it marked with his initials as he had said, “J. M. D. S.”
In 1840, Edward Eyre started out from Adelaide with one white man and three natives to walk to Perth round the Australian Bight and to explore the country between those two points. They soon found the bush inland so difficult to get through, and the country so waterless, that they could not get along.