Our Sales and Marketing Director, Ron Currie, has just had the pleasure of meeting Ludwig Leichhardt in Berlin. The occasion was the launch of a special 2oz silver tribute to his famous ancestor and namesake, who is remembered as one of the most famous explorers in colonial Australia.
The original Ludwig Leichhardt was born 200 years ago in Trebatsch, Germany. A student of languages and natural sciences, he travelled to Australia in 1842 to study the continent’s native wildlife and geological specimens.
(Left to right) Ludwig Leichhardt, a descendant of the famous explorer, with Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr, and Ron Currie at the launch of our Ludwig Leichhardt 2013 2oz Silver Proof Coin. (Image courtesy of Australian Embassy photographer, Katrina James.)
In 1844, Leichhardt commenced a 3,000 mile expedition from the Darling Downs in southern Queensland to Port Essington near present-day Darwin, trekking across land previously unexplored by Europeans. Long considered to have perished, he and his party caused a sensation when they unexpectedly returned to Sydney in December 1845.
In April 1847, the aptly named Prince of Explorers received recognition from the Paris Geographical Society, and was soon afterwards awarded a Patron’s Medal by the Royal Geographical Society, London, for ‘the increased knowledge of the great continent of Australia’.
Early the following year, Leichhardt set out from Queensland bound for Western Australia’s Swan River Colony. The whole trekking party vanished and, despite many searches, no trace of the expedition was ever found. It remains one of the great mysteries of Australian exploration.
But there’s no doubting Leichhardt’s scientific legacy. He achieved one of the longest exploratory journeys in Australian colonial history, and one of the most useful in the discovery of ‘excellent country available … for pastoral purposes’. The information he collected helped create the earliest map of the country covered by his route. He also named several species of native plants.
Leichhardt remains a household name in Australia and is commemorated through the use of his name in several places, including the well-known inner Sydney suburb.