Leichhardt: A Scientist in a Strange Land

von Mueller’s impassioned plea

“There is no doubt, that Leichhardt’s fate will be discovered by this movement of the high minded ladies…”

Letter from Baron von Mueller to Justus von Liebig, 25 May 1865

The fate of Leichhardt and his party remained in the consciousness of the nation, despite the passage of time. In a speech given to the citizens of Melbourne in March 1865, Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, Director of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens, Victoria, spoke vehemently about not letting Leichhardt be “…buried in oblivion”. Echoing the suggestions of Reverend Docker who had funded an earlier search, he made an impassioned plea to church leaders to have their female parishioners raise the necessary finances to continue searching for Leichhardt. The Ladies Leichhardt Search Committee was soon formed and, after soliciting donations from schoolchildren and royalty alike, quickly raised £4000. The “Ladies” provided funding for two searches for Leichhardt, neither of which was successful.

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