Ludwig Leichhardt (1813 – 1848?)

Ludwig Leichhardt (1813 – 1848?) was a German scientist who had studied at the University of Berlin. He came to Australia to study rocks and the flora and fauna of Australia. He arrived in Sydney on 14 February 1842.  


Leichhardt 's First expedition

In 1844 Leichhardt left Darling Downs in Queensland for Port Essington near Darwin with nine men, seventeen horses, sixteen bullocks and supplies. Because of Leichhardt’s poor bush skills, the expedition frequently got lost. Food was always in short supply and they ate native animals of all kinds. One man left the expedition and another was killed by some Aboriginal people. The rest finally reached their destination after a journey of 15 months and 5,000 kms. Along the way, the expedition named the Dawson, Mackenzie, Isaacs, Suttor, Burdekin, Lynd and Mitchell Rivers.

They named Expedition Range and Peak Range. The party then travelled along the coastline of the Gulf of Carpentaria before returning home by sea.

Leichhardt 's Second expedition

In 1846, Leichhardt attempted to cross Australia from the Darling Downs to the Swan River in Western Australia. Because of bad weather, lack of food and sickness, he turned back.

Leichhardt 's Third expedition

In 1848, he tried again and his expedition set out from Moreton Bay near Brisbane, bound for Perth, and simply disappeared. He had with him a party of seven men, including two Aboriginal people. Leichhardt thought they would be able to find food as they went along, so he took very inadequate supplies. He took only seven horses.

A mysterious disappearance

What became of the expedition remains a mystery. Some believe that the group were killed by Aboriginal people, or that they may have been caught by sudden floods or bushfires. They may have died of thirst, or of starvation because of the poor supplies they took. Many other expeditions have tried to solve the mystery. None have found any evidence or clue about what happened to Ludwig Leichhardt and his expedition.

How is he remembered?

Leichhardt grasshopper, named after the explorer.

Leichhardt grasshopper, named after the explorer.

  • Leichhardt is a suburb of Sydney.
  • There is a Leichhardt Highway and a Leichardt River in Queensland
  • A species of Eucalyptus tree is named for him and there is a grasshopper commonly known as Leichhardt’s grasshopper!

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