At the time nobody knew what the centre of the western part of the continent was like. Waterholes were few and far between and had to be found by watching the behaviour of wildlife. The group survived two particularly severe Aboriginal attacks. It is now thought they may have camped on sacred ground to provoke such attacks. They suffered shortages of water and food and even scurvy.
Before he had even reached his 21st birthday, Forrest was appointed leader of an expedition to search for traces of Ludwig Leichhardt who had disappeared 21 years earlier.|
One year later, he led an expedition from Perth to Adelaide across the Great Australian Bight. Forrest had nothing good to say about the waterless country they travelled through and the expedition had few practical results. Only a small amount of arable land was found.
Then in March, 1874 he successfully led an expedition from Champion Bay across the Carnarvon Range and the Gibson Desert to the Overland Telegraph line.
At one stage, 1500 kilometres from the nearest settlement in Western Australia, they were saved from death by rain, an extremely rare event in the desert.
Finally they reached the Overland Telegraph line in September. Surprised telegraphists gave them food and clothing and they were able to send telegrams back home. They had filled in the gaps on one of the few remaining large blanks on the map of Australia.
Forrest's explorations were rewarded by a series of government positions, and in 1890, when Western Australia was granted responsible government, Forrest was elected Premier.
Source: Certificate accompanying the 1994 Masterpieces in Silver - The Explorers - Set.
Sir John Forrest is featured on the following Australian coins:
1994 Five Dollars
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Last modified: 05 December, 2007