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1857 Warburton and Gregory

By 1857 the government had become impatient for results, prompted by the sudden arrival of Augustus Gregory from south-western Queensland where he had been searching for the long lost Ludwig Leichhardt. Gregory had seemingly breezed down the Cooper and Strzlecki Creeks, passing through the eastern arm of the horseshoe. Later again Warburton was sent out to replace Babbage, but not before he had discovered the first of the artesian mound springs that are an important feature of this region. When Warburton caught up with Babbage at last, he was told about the gap between the west arm of Lake Torrens and a lake to the north (named Lake Gregory by Babbage, but now Lake Eyre South). Babbage was not the first to cross the gap - this was done by Corporal Alfred Burtt and Police Trooper Mole on 6 November 1858, as they travelled west to meet Warburton.

An official enquiry followed, despite Babbage following his instructions, and became a scapegoat for lack of results. However, in the end it was the effort of all three - Babbage, Warburton and Gregory who dispelled the myth of the horseshoe lake, paving the way for a pioneering expedition to find a route to the north coast of Australia by John McDouall Stuart. Later, the overland telegraph and railway line, would provide the permanent roadway to the far north.

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


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