Explorers of Australia
John Oxley (1785 - 1828)

John Oxley was born in England and sailed to Australia as a surveyor with the Royal Navy in 1801. He was appointed Surveyor-General of New South Wales in 1812.

John Oxley led three important expeditions.

First expedition
Ordered to do so by Governor Macquarie in 1817, Oxley, with explorer George Evans as second in command, led an expedition to follow the Lachlan River. Oxley surveyed and mapped the river and discovered good grazing land west of Bathurst. When swamps blocked his way Oxley led the explorers north and returned to Bathurst, following the Macquarie River.

Second expedition
In 1818, Oxley led another expedition to trace the course of the Macquarie River. As before on the Lachlan River he was blocked by swamps and marshes. Oxley led his men north-east and discovered the Castlereagh River and the fertile lands of the Liverpool Plains. Travelling east, the explorers crossed the Great Dividing Range, discovered the Hastings River and followed it to its mouth on the coast. Oxley named the coastal area Port Macquarie, after the governor, and then returned to Sydney.

An inland sea?
Because two of the rivers that he had explored had become blocked with swampy, marshy land, Oxley believed that they might have flowed into a great sea in the middle of Australia.

Third expedition
By the 1820s it was decided that a new place needed to be found to house convicts. In 1823, under orders from Governor Brisbane, Oxley sailed up the coast and into Moreton Bay. He was shown the mouth of a large river and guided upstream by some escaped convicts who had been shipwrecked earlier and who had been living with local Aborigines. Oxley explored the river for about 80 kilometres and named it the Brisbane River after the governor. One of the tributaries of this river is now called Oxley Creek after him, but John Oxley named it Canoe Creek originally. On his return to Sydney, Oxley recommended Moreton Bay as the place for a convict settlement. This happened in 1826. Later the area became the city of Brisbane.

Last days
Oxley became a farmer and sheep breeder. He was a director of the Bank of New South Wales and a member of parliament. He died in Sydney in 1828. There are several monuments to John Oxley, and Oxley Highway was named in commemmoration of his achievements.

If you use this in your work, acknowledge this source in your bibliography like this:
Sydenham, S. & Thomas, R. John Oxley [Online] www.kidcyber.com.au(2002).

Explorers of Australia
Burke & Wills ... Blaxland, Lawson, Wentworth ... Eyre ...Hume & Hovell ... Leichardt ... Mitchell ...

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updated July 2014