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Australian painters – INSPIRED BY THE BUSHJohn McDouall Stuart TREK THROUGH THE CENTRE

Described as the “Napoleon of all explorers”, John McDouall Stuart opened up the centre of Australia with his transcontinental journey of 1861.

Story John Dunn
Photos John Kruger

Even though it’s almost a century and-a-half since John McDouall Stuart and his party completed their epic crossing of the continent from Adelaide through the centre to the northern coastline, the memory of that momentous journey is very much alive, particularly in South Australia. An active group of descendants of members of Stuart’s party, and others appreciative of his feat, have perpetuated it over the years in a variety of ways. Of course, memorials have been erected in the past but, in more recent times, a society of Stuart enthusiasts has ensured his name is unlikely to ever be forgotten.

Australian painters – INSPIRED BY THE BUSHMembers gather annually at his statue in Victoria Square, Adelaide, to honour him and those who travelled with him, and to celebrate their achievements. This was one of Australia’s most valuable explorations, paving the way for the vital overland telegraph linking Australia’s isolated colonies to the international network, proving the agricultural worth of the inland and opening up the Northern Territory for European settlement. Society members listen to discussion about Stuart and his men, commemorate significant occasions and receive a regular newsletter that publishes material about the great trek and its continuing connections that remains pertinent and informative.

This year, as for the past 40 years, Stuart and his colleagues were remembered with respect and feeling in Victoria Square, where the explorer, looking resolutely towards the direction he took in 1861, stands with rifle, sextant, quadrant, journal and the Union Jack. And, as in the past, the occasion was marked by a fully-fledged ceremony and wreath-laying, attended by the Lord Mayor, Mr Michael Harbison, followed by the society’s annual meeting at which vice-president Rick Moore delivered the memorial address that focused on the subsequent pastoral and mining benefits that resulted from Stuart’s journeys.Story end

Full story OUTBACK Issue 36 Aug/Sept 2004

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