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1856 Babbage

The findings of Swinden and Hack together with those of Babbage in 1856 were sufficient to encourage the South Australian government to fund a major expedition which would include 'a thorough exploration as far as practicable, of the country lying between the western shore of Lake Torrens and the eastern shore of Lake Gairdner, and thence northwards, to Lake Torrens and Lake Gairdner'.

Despite Babbage's instructions for a thorough survey of the country west of Lake Torrens, he was criticised for the slowness of his work and would later be replaced by Warburton. The Babbage expedition was provisioned for 18 months, so speedy results were hardly expected. The party consisted of WG Harris, Thomas Warriner, DD Hergott, J Dawson, S Thompson, H Kornoll, George Nason, H Lewis and J Stringer. Very soon after departing Port Augusta they found two of the survivors of a small exploratory party, William Scott and Henry Brooks. A search was undertaken for the third man William Coulthard, whose body was found some months later.  Coulthard was buried near Pernatty Creek. Babbage's expedition continued, but slowly, hampered by the heavy drays and poor feed for the draught animals. The western arm of the Lake Torrens horseshoe began to dissolve from mirage into a number of smaller lakes with gaps between - Lake Windabout, Pernatty Lagoon, Ironstone Lagoon and Lake Dutton. Further west again Island Lake, Red Lake, Lakes Hart, Hanson, Younghusband and Reynolds.  Babbage then pushed north to Stuart Creek, and then to the east to Hermit Hill from which he saw a lake to the north but only a few small lakes to the east - in effect a gap in the horseshoe.

For more information about northern exploration see Taking it to the edge: Land: To the north.


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