Three notable explorers: Gregory, Warburton, and Giles [chapter 37 of “The story of Australia” by Martin Hambleton]

[Editor: This is chapter 37 of “The story of Australia” by Martin Hambleton. Published in The Sunday Mail, 10 March 1935.]

The story of Australia. — XXXVII

Three notable explorers

Gregory, Warburton, and Giles

A. C. Gregory — X

Sir Augustus Charles Gregory was born at Farnsfield, in Nottinghamshire, in August, 1819, and was in 1839 brought to Western Australia by his father, who had received a grant of land in the Swan River settlement. In 1841 young Gregory entered the colony’s survey department, and from 1842 to 1854 was assistant surveyor.

In 1846 he made the first of a number of explorations in the interior. He discovered coal on the Irwin River and galena on the Murchison. In 1855-56 he headed one of the expeditions sent out to discover traces of the lost explorer, Leichhardt, and opened up the Victoria River to its source, thence travelling the Northern Territory to Burketown, in North Queensland, and reaching Brisbane via the Gilbert, Burdekin, Fitzroy, and Burnett.

In 1858 he made a second attempt to trace Leichhardt, on this occasion travelling through Central Australia via the Warrego and Barcoo (which he discovered to be identical with Cooper’s Creek), past Lake Torrens to Adelaide. He was then employed to mark the southern boundary of the new colony of Queensland, and on December 23, 1859, was made surveyor-general of that colony.

This ended his exploring periods, as for the next 20 years he was occupied with departmental and geological investigations. He was a trustee of the Queensland Museum (1876-99), a member of the Aborigines Commission (1876-83), and in 1895 president of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Science. He is said to have contributed more to the exact physical, geological, and geographical knowledge of Australia than any other man. He died in Brisbane on June 25, 1905.

Colonel Warburton

Colonel Peter Egerton Warburton was the leader in the expedition from Central Australia to the west coast. It was equipped by Sir Thomas Elder and Captain Hughes of Adelaide. It started from Alice Springs, April 15, 1873, and the party included R. Warburton (son of the leader), J. W. Lewis, D. White, two Afghans, and a black boy, with 17 camels and six months’ provisions.

They traversed the continent from the McDonnell Ranges to the coast north of Nickol Bay, passing over 800 or 900 miles of ground never before trodden by white man. When they reached Oakover the party was utterly exhausted, with only a few pounds of dried camel flesh left. They were rescued by Messrs. Grant, Harper, and Anderson, of the De Grey River, the farthest outlying station-holders, who sent the party down 150 miles to Roebourne.

Ernest Giles

Between the years 1872-1876 Ernest Giles made five expeditions west of the telegraph line. The first party, equipped at the expense of Baron von Mueller, and himself, included also Mr. Carmichael and A. Robinson, with 15 horses. They started from the telegraph line in August, 1872, reached Chamber’s Pillar, and departing thence travelled 40 miles through Glen Edith to Giles’s Range, a fine pastoral country. Lake Amadeus (named after the King of Spain) prevented Giles reaching Mount Olga. After being three months in the field, and exploring 250 miles of new country, Giles returned.

On his second expedition he had with him W. H. Tietkens, A. Gibson, and J. Andrews, with 24 horses. The funds were mostly found by Victorian subscriptions. They left the telegraph line at the junction of the Stevenson and Alberga Creeks, on August 4, 1873. On this expedition Giles penetrated 700 miles, discovered four distinct ranges, seven mountains, and extensive pastoral country, since occupied. They were nearly 32 months in the field.

In 1875 Giles was again fitted out, this time by Sir Thomas Elder, the well-known patron of exploration, who supplied him with 19 camels and provisions for 18 months. They started from Youldah, July 27, 1875. The party consisted of Mr. Tietkens, Mr. Young, A. Ross, P. Nicholls, Salch (an Afghan), and a black boy.

This remarkable journey carried them through desert after desert for some 1500 miles. One stretch of 325 miles from water to water occupied 17 days in travelling, and the little band was saved by a spring in the Great Victorian Desert, 600 miles from the West Australian settlement, which they reached on November 4, 1875.

Departing from Perth on January 13, 1876, Giles pushed north and struck the Ashburton, then passing through 150 miles of desert towards the Rawlinson Range. On August 23 they reached the Peak Telegraph Station and subsequently Adelaide.

The Sunday Mail (Brisbane, Qld.), 10 March 1935, p. 29

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