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This Day in History

Australian Explorers

Saturday, June 13, 1874. :   Explorer John Forrest's party fires upon Aborigines during an attack in central Western Australia.

     John Forrest was born on 22 August 1847, near Bunbury in Western Australia. Between the years of 1869 to 1874, Forrest led three expeditions, two of them with his brother Alexander, to explore the uncharted areas of Western Australia. In 1869, he led the search for Ludwig Leichhardt's party which had gone missing on their trek across Australia from east to west, a search which was unsuccessful. In 1870, he surveyed the route which Edward Eyre had taken in 1840-41 from Adelaide to Albany, across the Great Australian Bight.

In April 1874, the brothers departed Geraldton with three experienced white men, two aborigines and enough supplies for eight months, in search of a stock route and pasture land to the east. During this expedition, on 13 June 1874, the exploration party was attacked by Aborigines. The Aborigines retreated only when two of them were badly wounded by rifle fire. It is thought that the Aborigines attacked because the Forrest party was camping on sacred ground.

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