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SUMMARY OF CHARLES NAPIER STURT.
THE "GRANGE" - CENTRAL AUSTRALIA EXPEDITION
CHARLES NAPIER STURT ... click here to see oil on canvas portrait of Sturt, courtesy Art Gallery S. A..
Directly or indirectly, Charles Napier Sturt, more than any other, was a principal proponent in locating a colony on the plain at the foot of the Mount Lofty Ranges, beside Gulf Saint Vincent. - For that alone he deserves the title "Father of South Australia". - His exploration of the inland rivers of Australia, discovery and exploration of the River Murray, and his published account of those discoveries. Positively influenced the British Colonial Office in the establishment of that colony which, in time, was to become known as the City of Adelaide, Capital of the State of South Australia.
Born 1795, in India, and educated in England: Captain Charles Sturt departed England in December 1826, aboard the "Mariner", and arrived in Botany Bay NSW on 25th May 1827. -a professional soldier in charge of a troop of the 39th Regiment of Foot, assigned to convict duties.
Governor Darling, the governor of NSW, appointed Sturt as his Military Secretary and, as such, Sturt became acquainted with such notable explorers as John Oxley and Hamilton Hume. - In 1828, Sturt himself was put in charge of an expedition to ascertain the course of the Laughlin and Macquarie Rivers. - This led to him discovering the River Darling, which in turn, led to him being given the command of his most famous expedition, to trace the courses of the Murrumbidgee and Darling Rivers, ostensibly, to an Inland Sea. - That expedition took Sturt, in a whaleboat, with a small band of soldiers and convicts, down the Murrumbidgee, into the Murray to Lake Alexandrina and the Murray Mouth at Encounter Bay. A journey of great privations and, at times, menaced by Aborigines. After traversing 3,200 kilometres of navigable waterways, he was then faced with the fatiguing task of the return journey upstream, against the current, followed by a long trek back to Sydney.
Ill health, blamed on the privations he experienced during his exploratory expeditions, caused Sturt to return to England where, during 1833/4, he published his two volume work entitled, "Two Expeditions into the Interior of Southern Australia". - These volumes influenced Wakefield and others, in their deliberation on the colonisation of South Australia. Invited to express his views own, Sturt suggested the region surrounding Barker Inlet as a likely site to establish a Colony; i.e. the inlet discovered by Captain Collet Barker, a fellow officer of the 39th Regiment, petitioned by Sturt to search for possible alternate outlets from lake Alexandrina within Gulf Saint Vincent.
While in England Sturt married a Miss Charlotte Greene and, after selling his commission, a common practice at the time, he and his wife returned to New South Wales as settlers, arriving in 1835. Sturt took up a property at Mittagong and began raising cattle. - In 1838, four months after Hawden and Bonney's inaugural overland cattle trek to Adelaide, Sturt himself overlanded 400 cattle to Adelaide and got his first glimpse of the colony he helped to foster. He was much pleased at what he saw and, before returning to NSW, purchased a plot of land in an area known as "The Reed Beds", located between the Patawalonga inlet and the Port River. The later being a branch of Barker Inlet. - The following year, 1839, Sturt moved his family, which now included two sons, to Adelaide.
Shortly after his arrival, and on the retirement of Colonel William Light, the residing SA Governor appointed Sturt to the position of Surveyor General. However, within a few months, the Surveyor General appointed by the Colonial Office in London, arrived, and Sturt was reappointed as the Assistant Commissioner of Lands.
In 1840 Sturt built a home at his "Reed Beds" property, and named it The Grange. Except for trips abroad, Sturt and his family occupied The Grange until 1853 and, from time to time, increased the estate with purchases of adjoining acres. ... By 1842, Sturt had become Registrar General of South Australia, was active in public affairs, Chairman of the Bench of Magistrates and first President of the Agricultural Society.
"The Grange" Historic Adelaide Home of Capt. Charles Sturt;
Picture left is of a watercolour of The Grange, c. 1849; ---
(Watercolour, No. 45, in the General Frome Collection)
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In August 1844 Sturt departed The Grange on his epic Central Australia Expedition. The expedition party assembled on the,then vacant, land at the corner of King William and Currie streets, Adelaide. From whence, in August 1844, the party of sixteen set-off, carting yet another boat to navigate the fabled "Inland Sea". The site is memorialised with a bronze plaque mounted on the wall adjacent to the Currie Street footpath. - The party trekked along the old "Sydney Road" to the "Darling Country", then headed North passed what is now "Broken Hill". However, the extreme aridity they experienced in the far north/west 'Corner Country' of NSW., trapped the party at the "Depot Glen" water hole from January to July 1845. Sturt's deputy, James Poole, succumbed to the effects of heat and scurvy during that time, and the rest of the party came close to perishing. -- With the fortuitous arrival of winter rains in mid-July 1845, Sturt sent the weaker members of his party ‘home’. Himself, with the remainder of the party, then pressed on a further 95Km into the interior, to where they established a base-camp named as “Fort Grey”, where the men strove to grow vegetables and otherwise helped to pass the time by blazing a tree [which some contemporary traveller has re-blazed on account of the bark regrowth over the original ], while Sturt conducted further forays into “a million hectares of waterless gibber plains, red sand hills and eroded ranges” before, in Nov 1845, he gave-up in despair. - The entire party was now in a very emaciated state and the risk of man & beast perishing in the desert was very real. Sturt was so paralysed from scurvy, himself, that he was forced to travel in the cart. So in order to ‘travel light’ he directed that much of the equipment & supplies be abandoned, en-route, as it became redundant to his survival strategy. Paralysed as he was, Sturt directed that some of the bullocks were to be killed and their skin be stitched-up and used as water bags, in a manner he’d observed the natives used opossum skins. He then supervised a 400Km /24-day forced march back to the Darling, where a relief party awaited. En-route Sturt was fed a diet of local native berries that afforded him some relief from the scurvy. On the 22nd & 23rd December the men of the "Desert Party" straggled into the "Relief Party's" camp on the Darling River, where they rested for 2-days and celebrated Christmas. They then continued down the Darling and, at about 20Km north of the Murray/Darling junction, crossed over to the Great Anabranch, and so-on to Adelaide. During this time, all that remained of the expedition's fishhooks & fishnets, Sturt gave away to the natives who they met along the way; as he also did with the-odd sheep or two.
It had indeed been an epic but disappointing journey. There was no "Inland Sea", as such. - We now know that, from time to time, immense areas of inland Australia are inundated with floodwater, hence the migration of birds to the vast lakes so formed, which so misled the early settlers. But nothing resembling a "Sea" exists anywhere in Central Australia. However, in the 1840's this fact defied all prevailing knowledge regarding Continents.
Although the expedition failed to find any 'sea' or even any good grazing country. Sturt did discover Cooper Creek which was later to become an oasis in an otherwise arid land. He had penetrated to within 240 kilometres of the centre of Australia, and, without realising its significance, had noted what appeared to be metal bearing rocks at Broken Hill. - The tonnages of silver, lead and zinc subsequently mined at Broken Hill, defies calculation.
A well illustrated article entitled "In Sturt's Footsteps" appears in Australian Geographic journal No.7, July - Sept 1987; - another relevant article, "Corner Country", appears in Australian Geographic journal No.27, April - June 1992. -- Both these publications may be viewed at the State Library of South Australia, North Terrace ADELAIDE S.A.. - In addition, the 'State Library' & 'Royal Geographic Society' maintain a large archival collection on Charles Napier Sturt.
John McDouall Stuart, a very close friend and confidant of Charles Sturt, built on the knowledge gained through Sturt's expeditions and, in 1860, went-on to become the first white-man to successfully cross the Australian Continent from South to North. Bourke & Wills having perished in their attempt. It took Stuart 3 years of progressive exploration to reach the North coastline and the country he opened-up earned him the title "Australia's Greatest Inland Explorer"; a title he justifiable deserved. And! In so doing, John McDouall Stuart, finally laid to rest the remnants of that die-hard notion of an, as yet, undiscovered "Inland Sea", when he proved there was NO! 'Inland Sea' existing anywhere in Central Australia; but we digress, do we not? - This page is supposed to be about Sturt.
Sturt and his family returned to England in 1847. Sturt seeking treatment for his eyes, which had suffered from the deprivations he endured during his exploration; and to personally present claims to the Colonial Office for recognition of his service to the Crown Colonies. - Also! It was during this time in England that Sturt completed his "Narrative of an Expedition into Central Australia", which was published in 1849.
The family returned to South Australia during 1849, and Sturt was appointed to the position of Colonial Secretary, with a seat on the Legislative Council, which he held until he resigned from that office in December 1851. In later years Sturt's eyesight worsened and he became anxious about his sons' schooling, or rather the lack of it. - So, in 1853, the family departed SA for England, never to return.
In recognition of his services, Sturt, in 1869, was recommended for the Order of St Michael and St George. Although his knighthood was approved and Sturt was made aware of the honour. He never lived to receive it. He died, quite suddenly, at his home at Cheltenham on 16th June, 1869. - By approval of the Queen, however, Charlotte was permitted to use the title "Lady Sturt". We can but speculate that Charles would have been much pleased.
Persons interested can request the total "Sturt" text via return e-mail attachment; click here to receive.
© Peter J REILLY 1997 ... E-mail Inquiries.
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NOTE: 2001: The University of Sydney Library Has made available online, a *.pdf of Sturt's 1833 two volume work " Two Expeditions into the Interior of Southern Australia". - It is Sturt's own account of his 1828 "Darling Expedition", and of his 1829/30 "Murray Expedition".
Over the years there has been a huge amount of literature published in regards to Charles Napier Sturt. The State Library of South Australia holds a large collection of published material, as well as other archival, and reference informative on Sturt, stored both interstate and abroad. - In regards to Sturt's 1844\1846 "Expedition to Central Australia", a well illustrated article titled "In Sturt's Footsteps" appeared in the Australian Geographic Journal No.7; July\Sept 1987: - Another relevant article titled "Corner Country" appeared in Australian Geographic Journal No.27; April\June 1992: - If these journals are no longer available from the Society. They would be available for viewing at State Library of South Australia.
ADDITIONAL PUBLICATIONS PERTAINING TO CHARLES NAPIER STURT.