Into the Unknown: The Tormented Life and Expeditions of Ludwig Leichhardt
by John Bailey
Macmillan, $34.99 pb, 381 pp, 9781742610450
In 1848 Ludwig Leichhardt and half a dozen companions set out from Queensland’s Darling Downs, intending to cross the continent to the Swan River Colony in Western Australia. The entire expedition disappeared, virtually without trace. Since then at least fifteen government and private expeditions have tried to determine what happened to them. Innumerable magazine and newspaper articles have appeared, and many theories have been proposed, yet the fate of the expedition remains as mysterious now as it was in 1850. It is this mystery that has enshrined Leichhardt in the Australian consciousness – how could an entire expedition disappear so utterly? Where in the great outback did it come to grief? Indeed, for many, Leichhardt and the outback have become mostly synonymous.