State Library of Victoria \ Dig: the Burke & Wills research gateway
Skip to main content
» Ludwig Leichhardt (1813-48)

Ludwig Leichhardt (1813-48)

Born in Prussia, Leichhardt arrived in Sydney in 1842. After years of aimless drifting, he discovered a kind of vocation in exploration. Although no bushman and seemingly ill-qualified, he made an impressive overland journey in 1843, from the Newcastle district of New South Wales to Moreton Bay.

He then proposed a trek through unexplored Northern Queensland and set out in 1844. After great hardships, and the death of one of his men, he reappeared in 1846 when he had long been given up for dead. This apparent return from the grave caused a national sensation, and the fame that Leichhardt won was undoubtedly the kind that Burke also hoped to attain.

Leichhardt set out again in late 1846 to cross the continent from east to west. After a final communication from southern Queensland in April 1847, he was never heard from again. No conclusive trace was ever found of him, or of his men or any of their numerous horses and bullocks.

Many hoped that the Victorian Exploring Expedition might find some trace of Leichhardt, but this was never a serious goal of Burke or the Exploration Committee.