State Library of South Australia logoThe Foundation of South Australia 1852 - 1883
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1885 Great Central Exploring Expedition

In 1873 David Lindsay joined the South Australian Survey Department, and by 1878 was a surveyor third class and serving in the Northern Territory.  In 1883 he was commissioned by the South Australian government to explore central and eastern Arnhem Land with a view to settlement.  Leaving Katherine on 23 July the party of six men including two Aboriginal men, with 32 horses, followed the Overland Telegraph Line for some 45 miles and then travelled along the Roper River to the Wilton which was followed to its source. The party then went east to the scrubby coast. The party travelled to Blue Mud Bay and the Walker River was then followed upstream.  Crossing a mountainous area the party then struck another river going north, the Goyder, and followed it down to the sea at Castlereagh Bay and continued to Liverpool River. Only 13 of the original 32 horses survived the expedition.

In 1885-86 Lindsay led a private expedition from Adelaide to Port Darwin. Members of the expedition included William Glyde, F Leech, George Lindsay and Arthur Warman. Lieutenant H Dittrich was assigned to the party as botanical collector and photographer. During this expedition the Central Australian ruby fields were discovered but were later identified as garnets. He surveyed Harts Range during December 1887 and the town of Stuart (now Alice Springs) 1888.



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