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Taking it to the edge: Land: David Lindsay - Elder Expedition dissent

Elder Scientific Exploring Expedition: dissent in the expedition

The party were told of good water supplies some distance to the north-east that they could use, and were also given four sacks of flour, and as many sheep as they wanted.  Finally the camels were able to have as much water as they needed.  The expedition remained here for a month, while Lindsay went to Esperance Bay and sent a report on the expedition to that date, to the manager of the expedition, the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (South Australian Branch), in Adelaide.  He also arranged for the natural history collections to be sent to Adelaide with Gwynne and Hadji.  It was from this camp in the Fraser Range that Dr Elliott sent a private letter to AT Magarey at the Society in which he explained some of the difficulties the men were experiencing with their leader.  This was the first intimation from the men to those back in Adelaide that all was not well with the expedition.

'That men who had so little sense of their duty to their leader and to their generous employer should have been the primary cause of the break up of such a splendidly-equipped expedition … is a matter that not only those intimately associated with the expedition, but geographers throughout the world, must ever regret.'
South Australian Parliamentary Paper no. 45 1893; Journal of the Elder Exploring Expedition, 1891 p. 4

The expedition set out again on 2 November heading for the Murchison River.  Water was still scarce as the drought persisted. They were now in the Yilgarn goldfields and additional supplies were obtained.  The expedition headed directly for the Murchison River, as the drought conditions gave little freedom for other movement.  The dissension within the party became more evident, with Lindsay confronting Leech, the second-in-command, who resented the fact that Wells, a trained surveyor, led the flying trips rather than him.  Leech resigned from the expedition several days later, to take effect when they reached the Murchison.  The scientific officers resigned on 31 December (Elliott, Streich and Helms), and by mid-January Lindsay had been recalled to Adelaide where he faced an enquiry into the management of the expedition.  Ultimately he was exonerated, when Larry Wells and Alfred Warren returned and gave supporting evidence.

Meanwhile from the Murchison, Larry Wells had led the remainder of the expedition party out and some exploration was done.  Lake Wells was discovered - a salt lake.  Gold traces were discovered at Lake Way; this led to the working of the Wiluna goldfield.  However Sir Thomas Elder decided that the expedition should be terminated and this was affected on 14 March 1892.  Little of use had been discovered in the way of permanent water and good grazing, but some 80,000 square miles of previously unknown land had been charted.

Vocabulary of the Pidong Tribe, Murchison River
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Vocabulary of Wallawe Tribe
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Wells continues his report of his side trip
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