The SANDS OF TIME Collection – 30. Deep North

30. Deep North
Edmund Kennedy, Richard Daintree & Ludwig Leichhardt — 1050 x 820 mm
© Robert Morgan


Born on Guernsey in the Channel Islands into an English family of comfortable means, Kennedy qualified as a surveyor and decided to leave for Australia, arriving in Sydney in 1840.  He was appointed to the Surveyor-General’s department and assisted in explorations of the area and river systems around Port Phillip.  He was appointed Second-in-Command to Thomas Mitchell on an expedition which aimed to open up south-western Queensland and find an overland route to the north.  This expedition was in the main unsuccessful and Kennedy played a minor role, being put in charge of the base camp.  However, after its return to Sydney, Kennedy was sent back to continue the search for a river which might flow to the Gulf.  He returned to Sydney at the beginning of 1848 without having found a river but with a reputation for dealing well with problems of morale, drought and hostile Aborigines.  As a  result, it was decided that the search for an overland route to the Gulf should start from the coast and Kennedy was appointed to lead a party that was to be landed at Rockingham Bay and attempt to travel overland to the top of Cape York.  The expedition was well organised but doomed to failure, it can now be seen, because of the unforeseen ruggedness of the unknown terrain, the near impenetrability of the mangrove swamps of the Peninsula, the vast distances involved and the hostility of local Aborigines, who had been treated aggressively by previous explorers.  Of eight men left at a base camp, only two survived after supplies ran out.  Another three who were left at a camp site further on were never found again.  Kennedy went on, loyally accompanied by an Aborigine known as Jackey Jackey, in an attempt to reach the coast and get supplies from the ship waiting for them.  He died after being speared by Aborigines, but Jackey Jackey managed to find a way to the coast where he was rescued by the waiting schooner.  A detailed account was given by botanist William Carron, one of the two survivors from the base camp, in Narrative of an Expedition Undertaken under the Direction of the Late Mr. Assistant Surveyor E. B. Kennedy (1849).

Geologist and Photographer

Richard Daintree was born on 13 December 1832 at Hemingford Abbots, Huntingdonshire, England.  Daintree as a geologist contributed greatly to opening up the mineral resources of North Queensland.  But for Daintree’s pioneering work, the gold resources of this area would probably not have been developed so early.  His discoveries apart from gold, also included copper and coal deposits.  Daintree had a great passion and flair for photography.  He has left us with a superb collection of historical photographs that present a vivid picture of early settlement in Queensland.

Daintree’s task in life was to promote Queensland and further its settlement and prosperity.  In his work as a geologist, photographer, propagandist and immigration official he contributed immensely to doing just this.  At the 1871 Exhibition of Art and Industry in London, Daintree’s collection of photographs and geological specimens formed the mainstay of Queensland’s contribution, and he was sent to England as commissioner in charge of this display, although much of it was lost when the ship carrying Daintree and his family was wrecked.

Afterwards in England he was given the task of stimulating assisted immigration to Queensland.  Although personally hardworking and honest, it was later revealed that his clerks engaged in various malpractices.  The offenders were dismissed and Daintree, whose health had deteriorated, resigned in 1876.  Daintree succumbed to tuberculosis and other ailments at Beckenham, Kent, on 20 June 1878, soon after his appointment as C.M.G., and was survived by his wife,  Lettice Agnes, two sons and six daughters.


Ludwig Leichhardt was born in Trebatsch, Prussia on 23 October 1813.  Leichhardt emigrated to New South Wales to follow up his interests in exploration and natural history, arriving in Sydney on 14 February 1842.  When his letter of introduction to Surveyor-General Thomas Mitchell did not lead to a definite appointment to an expedition, Leichhardt raised funds privately and in 1844 led his first expedition, from Brisbane to Port Essington near present-day Darwin, where he arrived in 1845 after having lost one member of the group, killed by Aborigines.  The 4800 kilometre journey had taken fifteen months and led to the recording of many areas for new European settlement.  It also made Leichhardt a celebrity in Sydney when he arrived there after having been given up for lost.

In 1846 he began a second expedition across the top of Australia, leaving from the Darling Downs, but was forced back the next year.  His third expedition left in February 1848 from near the present site of Roma, Queensland, and aimed to cross the continent from east to west.  Leichhardt and his six companions disappeared and were never seen again in spite of numerous searches, including those of A. C. Gregory in 1855 and 1858.

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