Background

Portrait sketch of Ludwig Leichhardt 2017 will mark 173 years since Ludwig Leichhardt and his party of explorers passed through North Queensland, having departed Jimbour Station, on the Darling Downs in SE Queensland, on 1st October 1844. His journey to Port Victoria settlement on the Coburg Peninsular, North of modern Darwin, took 15 months of hardship and privation. Leichhardt's party were the first Europeans to travel overland in North Queensland.

This trek provides an opportunity to authentically retrace part of his route of exploration. The trek may be completed as one or more sections as described below:

Trek Overview

This trek is to retrace the route taken by Ludwig and his party from the headwaters of the mighty Burdekin River across the Great Dividing Range and down the rugged gorges of The Lynd River. He named both rivers for sponsors and benefactors of his expedition. Although some of the Lynd River has been worked for tin, much of the route will be similar to conditions in 1845. We will use many of his campsites, and where possible traverse his actual route. We plan to travel at a similar rate as the original party. Dates are a compromise of his original dates of exploration, as he spent a considerable number of days drying meat and conducting reconnaissance.


The trek has been organised into three sections each of which correspond to a chapter in Leichhardt's journal. Each section is discrete but may be combined with other sections to make a more comprehensive retrace of Leichhardt's journey.

We will carry a copy of his journal and his field notes from which we can compare his and our observations of the country.

Section One: "The Land of The Lotus Eaters" 

 
Looking Across Peican Lake from the Vicinity of Leichhardt's Calistemon Camp, May 2004Named for his description of Aborigines encountered in the vicinity of The Valley of Lagoons.
 
Summary.This section is 8 days duration that includes transfers from/to Ravenshoe and Cairns.
 
The Route is from Reedy Brook (Bobtail's Last Camp) to Wyoming Station (Camp in the Ranges).We use a stock route that essentially follows Leichhardt's route along the Burdekin River, then rediscover Big Anthill Creek and follow Leichhardt Creek through extensive basalt plains to the site of an " L" tree, marked on 1942 maps, but now missing. Then we continue around the bend to Wyoming Station and the site of "Camp in the Ranges". The Trek will pause here to reorganise and resupply before continuing on Section Two. 
 
A memorial plaque was unveiled on Wyoming Station during the trek in 2004, to mark the site of a LL engraved tree, believed to be the site of Leichhardt's camp but the tree burnt down many years ago.
 

Dates:

  • 07 - 14 May 2017
  • 06 - 13 May 2018

Section Two: "Search over the Range"  

Named for the chapter in Leichhardt's Journal that records his explorations and observations for this area.

Forest Red Gums in the vicinity of Mt SalternSummary.This section is  of 7 days duration, including transfers to/from Cairns and Ravenshoe.
This section will retrace Leichhardt's route from "Camp in the Ranges", Wyoming Station to "Separation Camp", on what Leichhardt named Separation Creek, but is now called Rudd Creek. Leichhardt's camp was in the vicinity of Rudds Pinnacles, which presumably he used as a navigation landmark. We then cross the watershed of the Great Dividing Range into the headwaters of The Lynd River  to camp on a spring which was the site of Leichhardt's Queens Birthday Camp

The original party saved their remaining sugar to celebrate Queen Victoria's Birthday with a "fat cake" in this camp. The route cuts through a well known freehold grazing property "Minnemolka" with extensive swamps and bird life.

 

Dates:

  • 2017: 14-21 May
  • 2018 13-20 May

Section Three: "Descent of the Lynd River"

This section is taken from the chapter of Leichhardt's Journal that describes this part of his journey.

Group with a large Termite Mound on (Big) Anthill Creek

Summary.This section is of 14 days duration.The route follows Leichhardt's descent of the Lynd River through rugged gorges and past paperbark tree ringed waterholes. These dates include two days for transfers to the start and return to Cairns.This section starts at Queens Birthday Camp and finishes at Pinnacle or Arrowroot Camp near Torwood Station.

We will descend the Lynd River through several gorges and pass large water holes. It is planned to meet the Savannahlander train at Lyndbrook (railway) Station,near Lion's Last Camp.How Leichhardt would have marvelled about train travel! Lion was the unfortunate bullock tasked to carry the unyielding load of ammunition and was killed and made into dried meat at this camp.

This section includes one night of cabin accommodation in Chillagoe, and an opportunity to visit some Chillagoe attractions as side trips as we stage back to civilisation via Chillagoe.

Notes:

  • Investigations are being made to combine part of this section with a trip on the Savannahlander. More to follow.
  • This section is rated as "challenging" due to the isolation and nature of the terrain.
  • This section may be completed with one of the preceeding sections or separately. Transfers can be arranged from Cairns to the start point at Queens Birthday Camp as required. 


Dates:

  • 21 May - 05 June 2017
  • 20 May - 03 June 2018

mapArrowsmith

Map by Arrowsmith of Leichhardt's expedition 1844-45 showing the part of his route that is followed by Wilderness Expeditions