Darrell Lewis reviews 'Into the Unknown: The Tormented Life and Expeditions of Ludwig Leichhardt' by John Bailey

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.

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Darrell Lewis

Darrell Lewis

Darrell Lewis is an historian and archaeologist who for the past forty years has worked with Aboriginal and white Australians in the Northern Territory. He has written books on Aboriginal rock art, settler history, and environmental history. Among his publications are The Rock Paintings of Arnhem Land, Australia (1988), Beyond the Big Run (1995), Slower than the Eye Can See (2002, and The Murranji Track (2007). He is currently employed at the National Museum of Australia, where he is writing a history of the search for Ludwig Leichhardt.

Published in November 2011 no. 336

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