Leichhardt's first expedition | State Library of New South Wales

Leichhardt's first expedition

Leichhardt and his party covered nearly 5000 miles, discovering a number of major rivers including the Burdekin, Lynd and Mitchell. They lost valuable equipment at the Roper River, and tragically naturalist John Gilbert was killed by Aborigines.

Leichhardt is credited as one of the few Australian explorers to watch what the Indigenous people ate and copy them by living off the land. His success in opening up a great deal of previously unknown country suitable for settlement brought him considerable fame both locally and internationally.

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Like other explorers, Leichhardt understood that the lasting work of his expedition would lie in the information provided for future European settlement. In carefully drafted fieldbooks, he recorded the botany, geology and the lie of the land through which he travelled. He noted the presence of useful natural resources such as water, timber and minerals and recognised the support of friends and benefactors by naming geographical features in their honour.