Charles Sturt

From ArticleWorld

Charles Sturt was born in British India in 1795. Joining the British Army in 1813, he fought in Spain and Waterloo rising to the rank of Captain. In 1827, his regiment escorted convicts to Australia.

Australia’s rivers

Sturt was particularly interested in exploring the rivers of Australia. He went on to solve the mystery of the western-flowing rivers, which some assumed to be flowing into an inland sea. This was disproven by Sturt and his partner Hamilton Hume in their charting of the Macquarie River and the discovery of what they named the Darling River in 1828.

In 1830, keen to solve the mystery, Sturt’s party came across a very large river they named the Murray River. Following it downstream, he reached the confluence of the Murray with the Darling. In so doing, he proved that all the western-flowing rivers eventually reached the Murray. Pressing on further, they reached a large lake, Lake Alexandrina, and then a few days later, they reached the sea.

After the discovery that the mouth of the Murray was impassable to shipping, the trip homeward began. In the heat of summer, the party had to row back up the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers against the current. Once their supplies ran out, two of Sturt’s men were sent overland to search for help. They returned just in time to save the men from starvation, but Sturt’s health never fully recovered from the trip and he was blind for several months after. After rowing nearly 2,900 kilometres of the river system, they returned to Sydney.

More expeditions

Upon leaving the army, he turned to farming and cattle herding but eventually, he settled in South Australia where he was appointed Surveyor-General. He wasn’t quite done with exploring, however. Sturt was still curious as to whether there was an inland sea and so set out in 1844 with a party of 15 men to explore the unknown centre of Australia. After months of difficulties, they eventually reached the Simpson Desert, at which point conditions prevented them from going any further.

A second expedition affected his health to such a degree as to necessitate his return to England in 1851, where he died in 1869.