Leichhardt: A Scientist in a Strange Land

1001 Leichhardts

An Introduction

Lindsay Barrett, Lars Eckstein, Andrew Wright Hurley, and Anja Schwarz

The explorer Ludwig Leichhardt (1813 1848?) is one of the most well-known historical personalities shared by Germans and Australians. After a successful journey together with a party of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men, travelling north east from Moreton Bay (Brisbane) to Port Essington in 1844 and 1845, Leichhardt was hailed as hero in both his native Prussia and in the Australian colonies. His and his party’s subsequent disappearance in the Australian interior on a further expedition in 1848 bound for the west coast remains a mystery, and together with his controversial character and the mixed nature of his legacies, continues to fascinate, engage or trouble Australians, Germans and others.  

Today Leichhardt appears in multiple forms and in multiple places. He is a scientific hero, a cultural enquirer, an agent of colonial expansion. He has been portrayed through fiction and visual art, sung about, and cudgelled by opinion. He has been claimed by the Australian colonies, the British Empire and Prussia, by National Socialism and the East German state, as well as by contemporary Germany and Australia. Still missing, he is found in so many places.

This collection of short essays from researchers, cultural producers and family members within and beyond the Academy and from across the globe, treats Leichhardt not simply as an historical character, but as a dynamic figure enmeshed in the forces of memory. We take a cue from Scheherazade in 1001 Nights, and the idea there that telling stories has the power to defer the looming demise of the storyteller.  In a sense the eternally absent Leichhardt has also been kept alive by generations of storytellers, recounters, enthusiasts and scholars.  We wanted to create a snapshot of some of the present-day interest, and responded by sending out a call for papers.  Our initial idea was that contributors write texts of exactly 1001 words (or even characters).  Although that did not always occur in practice, brevity has been maintained.  Individual authors were responsible for the accuracy of their own papers.  The result, we hope, is a fragmented yet composite picture of the explorer, a little over 200 years after his birth and around 170 years after departing on the journey from which he never returned.

We would like to thank Queensland Museum, for their support of the project; Katrina Schlunke for her early enthusiasm; Farai von Pentz, Anke Bartels and Lina Fricke for their text editing and administrative assistance.  Thanks to the DAAD and Australian Technology Network of Universities for financial assistance.  Finally, thanks to all of those who responded to the call.  

Albert Calvert: An impostor to Leichhardt's Legacy

by Robert Wolff

“In “Albert Calvert: An impostor to Leichhardt's Legacy”, Wolf retells the story of an expedition organised and personally funded by Albert Calvert, with amongst others the goal of finding traces of Leichhardts party. Involuntarily, Calvert’s expedition results in being an emulation of Leichhardt’s last exploration.

“Barbara Baehr: Science as exploration and discovery”

by Robert Whyte

“Barbara Baehr: Science as exploration and discovery” introduces the reader to Dr. Barbara Baehr, an internationally recognised research scientist and spider taxonomist. She was one of the key players in the Leichhardt symposium in 2013.

‘Being Careful in this Country’: Leichhardt’s social anxieties

by Geoffrey A.C. Ginn

"Being Careful in this Country" reflects on Leichhardt’s personal diary entries in which he deals with his social anxieties, doubts and insecurities.

Colin Roderick / Ludwig Leichhardt the Dauntless Explorer - Two encounters in 1988

by Gerhard Stilz

In “Colin Roderick / Ludwig Leichhardt the Dauntless Explorer - Two encounters in 1988" Stilz describes his encounters with Colin Roderick, the first Leichhardt biographer in Australia.

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Crossing Myall Creek

by Lars Eckstein

Part I. of "Crossing Myall Creek", discusses the different layers of symbolic significance of Leichhardt crossing Myall Creek on his travels between Sydney and Moreton Bay. Part II. traces Leichhardt’s increasing awareness of his own conflicted position in the imperial project across three diary entries from 1843 to 1844.

"The Land of Milk and Honey": Migration guidebooks after Leichhardt?

by Rüdiger Hachtmann

In his essay "The Land of Milk and Honey", Rüdiger Hachtmann explores the role of Wilhelm Kirchner as immigration agent to Germans coming to Austrlia in the mid 19th century, and in sponsoring Leichhardt's expedition to Port Essington.

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Dreaming Leichhardt: Wim Wenders at the End of the World

by Gail Jones

In “Dreaming Leichhardt: Wim Wenders at the End of the World”, Gail Jones analyses how Wim Wenders is cinema-seancing Leichhardt in his movie “Until the End of the World” (1991).

Exploring Beef Jerky

by Felicity Jensz

"Exploring Beef Jerky" discusses Leichhardt’s meat consumption, and that of the people around him. In describing the form of the meat consumed, Leichardt described the social and religious formation of the various cultural groups he met.

Failure: The Curse of Leichhardt?

by Anna Haebich

In “Failure: The Curse of Leichhardt?”, Anna Haebich introduces the reader to the Australian politician Bill Grayden, who set out on an expedition to find Leichhardt and returned as a modern-day prophet with a new cause: to “help” the Ngaanyatjarra desert people.

How to spread the Enlightenment (with Ludwig Leichhardt)

by Lindsay Barrett

In "How to spread the Enlightenment (with Ludwig Leichhardt)", Lindsay Barrett formulates a list of instruments and devices Leichhardt used to "spread the enlightenment".

How to Write About Leichhardt? – Towards a Ficto/critical Manifesto –

by Gerrit Haas

Essay One, “How to Write About Leichhardt? – Towards a Ficto/critical Manifesto –”, is a declaration on how to write about Leichhardt in a ficto/critical way and why Leichhardt is a subject for ficto-critical writing. Essay Two “How to Write Like … Hard? – Manifestly Untoward: The Ficto/critical –”, is the performance of ficto-critical writing on Leichhardt.

In the footsteps of Ludwig Leichhardt (1813-48?): a psychogeographical walk along Berlin’s Leichhardtstraße and Sydney’s Leichhardt Street

by Hannah Lili Boettcher

In "The Footsteps of Ludwig Leichhardt", Hannah Lili Boettcher attempts to approach the character of Ludwig Leichhardt from a contemporary point of view. She applies a psychogeographical perspective by visiting two roads named after him.


by Lindsay Barrett

In "Leichhardt", Lindsay Barret describes a traumatic experience he had, living in the inner-Sydney suburb of Leichhardt. He explains how the suburb was named after Leichhardt and how he and Leichhardt actually share a few things in common, especially the urge to record, observe and make traces.


by Dan Sprod

“LEICHHARDT 1001” explains Ludwig Leichhardt’s relations with his fellow expeditioners and his characteristic ways of researching the outback of Australia.

Leichhardt and Voss

by Lindsay Barrett

"Leichhardt and Voss" is about the formation of the Australian cartoon figure Voss, who was conceptualized by Sidney Nolan and is a caricature of Ludwig Leichhardt. The character Voss is another element that contributes to the great Leichhardt myth.

Leichhardt in the Landscape

by Nicolas Rothwell

Author Nicolas Rothwell muses on how Leichhardt and others of the early explorers have propelled his writing career.

Looking for Leichhardt

by Susan K. Martin

In “Looking for Leichhardt”, Susan Martin describes her experience of reconstructing a poem by the poet Embling, which mourns the absence of monuments to Leichhardt. By doing so she makes clear that the poem creates a counter monument by being a monument to absence.

Looking for Leichhardt in Leichhardt

by Andrew W. Hurley.

In “Looking for Leichhardt in Leichhardt”, Andrew Hurley describes his visit to the Pioneer Memorial Park and Leichhardt Town Hall, in the quest of finding Ludwig Leichhardt.

Lost White Males

by Therese-M. Meyer

“Lost White Males” is a poem on Leichhardt in 1001 words.

Ludwig Leichhardt

by Mark Shelton

In “Ludwig Leichhardt”, Mark Shelton, a distant great nephew of Ludwig Leichhardt, shows how Leichhardt influenced and inspired him and his family. He also shares the lyrics of his song “Mysterium”, which is dedicated to Ludwig Leichhardt.

Ludwig Leichhardt – Better known in Australia than in his Homeland?

by Hans-Dieter Steinbach

“Ludwig Leichhardt – Better known in Australia than in his Homeland?”, compares the impact Ludwig Leichhardt had in Germany and Australia.

Ludwig Leichhardt in the Valley of the Lagoons: The discovery of a Leichhardt Tree in North Queensland

by Bernd Marx

In "Ludwig Leichhardt in the Valley of the Lagoons“, author Bernd Marx describes the first Ludwig Leichhardt expedition in 1844/45.

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‘M. le Dr Leichardt, savant allemand’: 19th-century French Perspectives on his Scientific Contributions

by Hilary Howes

In her text, Hilary Howes reflects 19th-century french perspectives on Ludwig Leichhardts scientific contributions.

Mount Royal: Leichhardt’s Liebe - A Leichhardt love affair

by Martin Fallding

"Mount Royal: Leichhardt’s Liebe - A Leichhardt love affair" recounts the story of Ludwig Leichhardt’s journey to Mt. Royal in the summer of 1843, and highlights his scientific legacy, the context to his later explorations and his contemporary relevance.

My Greatest Regret

by Glen McLaren

In “My Greatest Regret”, Glen McLaren describes how he retraced Leichhardt’s route from Moreton Bay to Port Essington by horseback as the focus of his PhD. His goal was to redress the inaccurate and intemperate criticisms of Leichhardt and to reflect his outstanding achievements in Australian exploration history, field science and the development of bushmanship.

Natural history, names, nomenclature. The significance of name giving exemplified by the discoveries of Ludwig Leichhardt and Adelbert von Chamisso

by Yvonne Maaß

In “Natural history, names, nomenclature. The significance of name giving exemplified by the discoveries of Ludwig Leichhardt and Adelbert von Chamisso”, Yvonne Maaß compares some of Ludwig Leichhardt’s and Adalbert von Chamisso’s discoveries, how these were named and what significance the naming has, from her white European perspective.

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Prelude to Leichhardt and the Nymphæa, or Longing to Let 1001 Blue Flowers Bloom

by Jayson Althofer

Art curator Jayson Althofer experiments with form in his piece, thereby sounding out, in a loosely-linked chain of propositions and statements, some of the resonances which he detects between Leichhardt and German Romanticism, especially as those resonances coalesce around the botanical.

Re-writing ‘Leichhardt’ in Recent Australian Fiction

by Geoff Rodoreda

“Re-writing ‘Leichhardt’ in Recent Australian Fiction” discusses how the fictional character Voss, who was primarily modelled on Ludwig Leichhardt by Patrick White, has been reconfigured and deconstructed in two phases.

Schoolbook Leichhardts: Discovering Ludwig Leichhardt in Historical Narratives for Children

by Stefanie Land-Hilbert

In “Schoolbook Leichhardts: Discovering Ludwig Leichhardt in Historical Narratives for Children”, Stefanie Land-Hilbert reflects on her discoveries on Leichhardt in Australian and German textbooks.

Singing Leichhardt

by Monica Haagen-Wulff

“Singing Leichhardt” deals with Leichhardt’s endeavours into the wilderness, the process of gift exchanges and the implications of these connections between him and the indigenous society.

Social and Political aspects of Leichhardt's European travel journal

by Rolf Striegler

In "Social and Political aspects of Leichhardt's European travel journal", Striegler explores the social and political aspects Leichhardt's encoutered in his European travels. The essay focuses in particular on the soial conditions of the lower and middle classes of the countries visited.

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The Addressee of Ludwig Leichhardt’s Journal of an Overland Expedition

by Helmut Peitsch

“The Addressee of Ludwig Leichhardt’s Journal of an Overland Expedition” discusses what addressee Leichhardt’s journal was written for: the scientist, the colonist or the general reader?

The beard. A lecture performance with Ludwig Leichhardt and Wilhelm von Blandowski, 1860|2013 re-enactment

by Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll

"The beard" is a lecture performance with Ludwig Leichhardt and Wilhelm von Blandowski.

The Disappearing Discoverer: Leichhardt and Enlightenment

by Dennis Mischke

“The Disappearing Discoverer: Leichhardt and Enlightenment” discusses how Leichhardt represents and embodies the European Enlightenment.

The Gift: Dancing Leichhardt

by Monica Haagen-Wulff

“The Gift: Dancing Leichhardt” is a staged performance that negotiates between the agents of empire and Indigenous Australia.

The Inspiring Milieu of Leichhardt’s Homeland

by Tim Müller

“The Inspiring Milieu of Leichhardt’s Homeland” gives insight into the region in which Leichhardt was raised and how it influenced him as a future explorer.

The Old Dead Tree in the Borroloola Museum, Northern Territory

by Richard J. Martin

“The Old Dead Tree in the Borroloola Museum, Northern Territory” interprets the symbolic meaning of an old, dead ironwood tree that was blazed by Ludwig Leichhardt during his first expedition, from Moreton Bay to Port Essington in 1844 and 1845, and which stands in the middle of the main display room of Borroloola’s Police Station Museum.

The Scientific and Cultural Legacy of Leichhardt’s Botanical Collections

byTom Darragh

"The Scientific and Cultural Legacy of Leichhardt’s Botanical Collections" describes how Ludwig Leichhardt collected and named plants. During his travels in Australia he came in contact with local Aboriginal people, from whose languages he adopted names for the plants he found. Leichhardt’s botanical collections and his naming are a contribution to our knowledge of Aboriginal languages.

The Truth of Fiction: Leichhardt and Voss

by Glenn Nicholls

“The Truth of Fiction: Leichhardt and Voss” by Glenn Nicholls, analyses how the author Patrick White uses the Leichhardt story to develop his own artistic mission and to vindicate his return to Australia.

The Two Doctors

by Andrew Hurley.

In “The Two Doctors”, Hurley describes how Hans Finger, a Bavarian economic consultant, sought to migrate to Australia to translate Leichhardt’s pre-Sydney diaries. Finger encountered some difficulties, but with the support of other Leichhardt experts in Australia he managed to carry out his plan and make a substantial contribution to the field of “Leichhardt Studies” in Australia.

Too many Ludwig Leichhardts

by Anja Schwarz

“Too many Ludwig Leichhardts” compares Ludwig Leichhardt with eighteenth-century explorer James Cook in Indigenous storytelling. The text reflects on the function of explorers such as Cook and Leichhardt in these stories as figures who serve to make important statements on the experience of Aboriginal people.

Whatever happened to Ludwig Leichhardt?

by Louise Gorman

“Whatever happened to Ludwig Leichhardt?” introduces the reader to Ludwig Leichhardt III, the great-great-grandnephew of the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt.


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