State Library of South Australia logoDownstream, the River Murray in South Australia
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European discovery of the River Murray system: Sturt and Gawler go up river to the North West Bend

The main purpose of this exploration was to explore the area north-west of present day Morgan. In the course of doing so the men suffered greatly from lack of water, and one of the men, Henry Bryan, became lost and died. The expedition included several women, who it was anticipated would derive 'much pleasure' from the river section of the journey. The party set out fromAdelaide on 22 November 1839, and returned on the 28 December 1839. Sturt's account of the expedition was published in the South Australian Register on 4 January 1840.

Governor Gawler reported on the country along the length of the lower Murray. This was described as

...not merely as a scientific description of that most interesting portion of our territories, but as a faithful account of the agricultural and pastoral capabilities of that district...

(South Australian Register, 4 January 1840)

Gawler also recorded his impressions of the Aboriginal people encountered in the expedition up to the North West Bend. These were published in South Australian Register on 18 January 1840.

Further reading

Sturt, Charles. The Mount Bryan expedition 1839, Adelaide: Sullivan's Cove, 1982. Includes Governor Gawler's letter and notes, Julia Gawler's narrative and Eliza Arbuckle's narrative.

Dawes, Sean. 'Towards identifying the first travellers overland from Adelaide to the North West Bend of the River Murray.' Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia. South Australian Branch, 81 (1980/81), pp. 79-85.


Australian Dictionary of Biography online edition  See: Gawler, George

Diary kept by Julia Gawler during Colonel Gawler's expedition to Mt. Bryan, 1839

The death of Henry Bryan: letter sent by Governor George Gawler to Henry Cox

Report Concerning Henry Bryan's Death. Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australia, (South Australia Branch) Supplement to the President's address. Col. Gawler's expedition to Mount Bryan, 1839

Colonel George Gawler
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Gawler's expedition up the Murray
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