The SANDS OF TIME Collection – 29. The Etheridge II

29. The Etheridge II
Augustus Charles Gregory, Francis Lascelles Jardine & Francis Thomas Gregory — 1060 x 780 mm
© Robert Morgan

SIR AUGUSTUS CHARLES GREGORY (1819-1905)
Explorer

Born in Farnsfield, Nottinghamshire, England, on 1st August 1819, he was the second son of a retired army officer and joined the Western Australia Survey Department in 1841.  In 1846, with his brothers Francis and Henry, he explored the area to the north of Perth, discovered and named Lake Moore and found coal in the River Irwin. Two years later, while examining the pastoral potential of the country inland from Shark Bay, he discovered lead in the Murchison River.

On his expedition of 1855-56 through Queensland and Northern Territory, he discovered and named Sturt’s Creek which he traced for 300 miles.  In March 1858, he led an expedition to search for Ludwig Leichardt’s party which had disappeared without trace in 1848.  The party set out from Euroomba Station on the Dawson Ranges. After travelling for four weeks he found the letter ‘L’ cut into a tree and thus encouraged, he followed the Barcoo River to its junction with the Thomson River, and then proceeded along Cooper’s and Strzelecki Creeks as far as Lake Blanche.  He arrived in Adelaide without finding the missing expedition.  The information recorded by Gregory on this journey was, however, of great value. Gregory demonstrated that many rivers drained into Lake Eyre and thus solved the puzzle of Australia’s inland drainage. It also revived South Australia’s interest in the country north of Lake Torrens.

Gregory became Surveyor-General of the newly established state of Queensland in 1859, serving in several official positions until his death in Brisbane in 1905. He was knighted in 1903 for his contribution to Australian exploration.  His journal was published in 1884, covering his journeys and those of his brother, Francis Thomas Gregory.

FRANCIS (FRANK) LASCELLES JARDINE (1841-1919)

Francis Lascelles Jardine, was born on 28 August 1841 at Orange and educated at The King’s School.  When his father was posted to Somerset, Frank and his brother Alexander overlanded the stock.  Accompanied by four Europeans and four Aboriginals they left Rockhampton on 14 May 1864 with 42 horses and 250 cattle.  On the ten months’ trek of 1200 miles (1931 km) they were constantly harassed by Aboriginals, forced their way through jungles, scrub and swamps and crossed at least six large rivers.  At the Mitchell River on 13 December they withstood a major Aboriginal attack. Clad in tatters, wearing hats of emu skin and living on turkey eggs, they reached Somerset on 2 March 1865 with 12 horses and 50 cattle.  Both brothers were elected fellows of the Royal Geographical Society and received the Murchison grant.  In 1866 Frank settled on a station near Somerset and was appointed police magistrate in 1868.  Confusion between his government and personal activities led to frequent complaints and in 1875 he was superseded by Henry Chester.

On 10 October 1873 at Somerset Jardine married the seventeen-year-old Sana Solia, niece of the King of Samoa; they had two sons and two daughters.  In 1884-86 he was in charge of transport for the construction of the Cape York telegraph line and in 1890 was prominent in searching for survivors from the wreck of the steamer Quetta.  After the government station was moved to Thursday Island in 1877, Jardine’s home at Somerset was the centre of civilization on Cape York. Elaborate dinners for visiting dignitaries were served on silver plate made from Spanish dollars found by Jardine on a reef in 1890.  He died of leprosy at Somerset on 18 March 1919 and was buried near the beach at Somerset.  He was survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters.

FRANCIS THOMAS GREGORY (1821-1888)

Francis Thomas Gregory was born on 19 October 1821, became a cadet in Western Australia, assistant in 1847 and a staff surveyor in 1849.  His field-work ranged wide and included the streets of Fremantle and the harbour at King George Sound.  Under Augustus in 1852 he supervised the road-building by convicts with tickets-of-leave but resented the time wasted on accounts, correspondence and inquiries, and claimed that hired labour was much less expensive.  On a routine survey of the Murchison River in 1857 he explored its upper reaches and for his initiative was given command of an expedition to the Gascoyne River in 1858.  After covering 2000 miles (3219 km) in 107 days he reported guardedly against settlement before a port was opened in Exmouth Gulf.  In 1859 he declined a lucrative post in Victoria because he had to visit England.  There he joined others in urging the government and the Royal Geographical Society to found a colony on the north-west coast of Australia with all the necessary equipment and ‘a large body of Asiatic labourers’.  A grant of £2000 was offered subject to an equal subsidy from the colonial chest.  Although Surveyor-General Roe modified the proposal and settlement was postponed, Gregory went to Nicol Bay in 1861 and traced many northern rivers.  For these explorations he was awarded the founder’s medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1863.  His report became a handbook for northern settlement by pastoralists and pearlers.  He also collected many botanical and geological specimens which were later housed in Charles Nicolay’s museum at Fremantle.  He moved to Queensland in 1862 where in 1864 he married Marion Scott, daughter of Alexander Hume; they had five sons and one daughter.  Gregory was appointed commissioner of crown lands in the Toowoomba district and to the Legislative Council in 1874.  He was postmaster-general in 1883 and led the opponents to payment of council members in 1886.  He died at Brisbane on 23 October 1888.

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