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European discovery of the River Murray system: Who discovered Lake Alexandrina?

Charles Sturt, in his navigation of the River Murray in 1830, named the lake into which the river emptied, Alexandrina after the heiress to the English throne (later crowned as Queen Victoria). However, Sturt was not the first European to see the lake. It was 'discovered' in 1828 by sealers based on Kangaroo Island and a letter about the discovery, addressed to the Colonial Secretary, Sydney, was written by Captain Forbes of the schooner Prince of Denmark in January 1829. Unfortunately this letter did not reach Sydney until May 1830, shortly before Sturt returned from his journey down the river. Meanwhile the cutter Dart, under the charge of John Nicholson, had been sent from Sydney to look for Sturt, and in the logbook for 9 April he reported that a sealing party had sighted a lake about three days' journey from Cape Jervis, that they could not see how large it was, and that the water was part fresh, part salt.

Neither the Dart's logbook, or Captain Forbes' letter were published until 1906 when Thomas Gill wrote about these events in the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (South Australian Branch).

Further reading

Gill, Thomas. 'Who discovered Lake Alexandrina?' Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia. South Australian Branch, 8 (Sessions 1904-05 - 1905-06), pp. 48-54.

Who discovered Lake Alexandrina
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