- News of the day
Leichhardt's happy return has set all the muses on fire in every quarter. Amongst others a poet in Pyrmont has sent us a specimen of a very long unfinished poem, some thousands of quotations at least, conceived (as he says) with the view of making the contents of the bold explorer's journal familiar to common folk, and intended to be executed (as he likewise modestly says) in a less ambitious style than most of the other elegies and salutations which have been published. Although we have not been able conscientiously to advise him (except in the absence of something better to do), to proceed with his verse, yet we think some of them contain considerable merit.
The opening is as follows :-
God prosper long our noble Queen!
To good deeds may we turn all!
Come listen to the glorious things,
in Dr. Leichhardt's journal
When Leichhardt left for Moreton Bay
Your best good will went with 'm -
For you I've done his prose account
into the rhyme and rhythm.
For you, and for the gen'rous souls
Who ready were and willing
When the Executive refused
To grant a single shilling
When Leichhardt came to Moreton Bay
He was received with welcome.
Quoth he "I can't at present stay,
But will, when back I shall come."
For hope was high in Leichhardt's breast,
And in his eye defiance,
And vigour in his healthy frame,
Sustained by love of science.
Notwithstanding his lack of formal qualifications, Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt devoted his life to the pursuit of science and exploration. Born in Prussia in 1813, Leichhardt arrived in Sydney in 1842 and amassed a large collection of natural history specimens during journeys into the hinterland and Hunter Valley. He later made a number of lone treks between Newcastle and the Moreton Bay district, before raising finance from private subscription to outfit a large expedition which successfully traversed northern Australia from Moreton Bay to Port Essington in 1844-1845.
During the course of this epic journey Leichhardt discovered lush grazing lands through the inland districts of Queensland, particularly on the Upper Burdekin River and southern Cape York, which were later to encourage pioneering pastoralists. In 1847 Leichhardt attempted to cross the Australian continent from the Darling Downs to the Swan River. Heavy rains and an outbreak of fever among members of his party soon terminated the expedition. In early 1846 Leichhardt and his men set out a second time to complete the crossing only to disappear without trace: their fate remains the most enduring mystery in the annals of Australian expedition.