Book lifts lid on Leichhardt mystery 


A book retracing the path of legendary 19th Century explorer Ludwig Leichhardt has been published by a Northern Territory academic.

Lecturer in Social Work and Humanitarian Studies at Charles Darwin University Dan Baschiera has released “On Leichhardt’s Path Kakadu 1845”, which describes in detail Leichhardt’s trek through Kakadu in the 1840s.

Mr Baschiera also reflects on the mystery of what happened to Australia’s first scientist when he disappeared in the Outback in 1848.

In 2007, during an off-track bushwalk near Jim Jim Falls, Mr Baschiera and his wife Dr Annie Whybourne used Leichhardt's original hand written daily journal notes made during his epic journey from the Darling Downs in southern Queensland to Port Essington in the NT to locate a blaze (tree marking) in the area of one of the explorer’s camp sites.

"Leichhardt and his party were nearly a year overdue at Port Essington and were considered dead," Mr Baschiera said.

“On 17 November 1845, when he sees the Alligator catchment from atop the Arnhem Land escarpment for the first time, he must have known that the 1845 expedition was going to succeed.

"On 18-19 November 1845, the party and their livestock made their way down the 300 metre high Jim Jim Falls escarpment into the Alligator River catchment, an incredible feat in itself, making the German explorer probably the first European to walk in what we now know as Kakadu.”

Mr Baschiera said the book was aimed at the emerging historical tourism market.

“In Leichhardt’s own words, I touch on the pain of colonial Australia’s ‘ethnic cleansing’ and strengthen the hypothesis that as a result Leichhardt was ‘flour bagged’ – assassinated using a bag of poisoned flour, which other than the rifle was the main weapon used in the dark era of the massacres,” he said.

 “On Leichhardt’s Path Kakadu 1845” is available from the CDU and Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory book shops.