The casual explorer: mapping unknown and lesser-known expeditions of the 1830s – 1850s
Dr Ray Kerkhove, Harry Gentle Resource Centre Visiting Fellow 2018

Conclusions and Recommendations

This study demonstrated that enough evidence exists to conclude that there were far more explorers in early southern Queensland than usually assumed. The ‘ordinary’ nature of these explorers (many being runaways, whalers or other types of entrepreneurs) and scholarly focus on government funded or more renowned explorers (e.g. Flinders, Leichhardt) may have precluded thorough investigation into their contributions. However, the study found that these figures are mostly mentioned in passing – often just a single sentence. Thus details of their journeys are currently too few and vague to offer room for reconstructing entire expeditions, let alone establishing the importance of their discoveries.

However, this study found merit in research that targeted just one or two specific individuals, and limiting research to that individual. It was found (e.g. in the case of ‘JW’) that even reconstructing a single identity and biography is pioneering and time-consuming work. Similar problems surround the places the explorers refer to, which are often vague or rely on names no longer current. Without such preliminary work, the reliability of this data remains suspect. However, this study – as an ‘initial step’ – finds that there are plenty of worthy candidates, if sufficient can be determined about their reality and the reality of their discoveries.