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1857 Goyder

Edward Eyre's supposed horseshoe of salt lakes had hindered exploration in the north of the state for some 15 years. Finally in the late 1850s the puzzle would be resolved - the continuous horseshoe was in fact a number of lakes, and there were ways through them, to the north-east and the north-west.  Access to the centre of the continent was found.

Amongst the many who contributed to discovering a pathway through, the four primary pathfinders were Benjamin Herschel Babbage, John McDouall Stuart, Peter Egerton Warburton and Augustus Charles Gregory. In 1856 Babbage was employed by the South Australian government to search for gold in the area that Eyre had explored in the 1840s.  Babbage named Mount Hopeful which Goyder would later rename Mount Babbage. Gregory would be the first European to use this route when he approached it from the north-east, coming down Cooper and Strzelecki Creeks, between Lakes Blanche and Callabonna and onto Adelaide.

In May 1857 the Assistant Surveyor-General GW Goyder explored the country north of Mount Serle. Where Eyre had found parched country and dry creek beds, Goyder found flowing water and luxuriant grasses. This was enough to again fill the minds of officials with thoughts of an inland sea. However, the fortuitous heavy rains of March had deceived Goyder. He was not the first, nor the last explorer to be deceived in this way by the spontaneous response of the desert to rain.

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


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