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Australian Explorers

Thursday, October 23, 1823. :   Oxley departs Sydney to search north for a site for a new settlement, leading to the discovery of the Brisbane River.

     John Joseph William Molesworth Oxley was born in Yorkshire, England, around 1784, although his actual date of birth is unknown. He joined the navy in 1799 as a midshipman in the 'Venerable', and two years later, sailed as master's mate in the 'Buffalo', arriving in Australia in 1802. Oxley became an avid explorer, by both land and sea, and was soon appointed Surveyor-General in New South Wales.

On 23 October 1823, Oxley set sail from Sydney to travel north along the coastline. His aim was to find a suitable settlement for convicts who had not been reformed, but continued to re-offend. Reaching Port Curtis (Gladstone), Oxley rejected the harbour as unsuitable, due to its many shoals and mangrove swamps. Oxley returned south and entered Moreton Bay, where he met up with the lost ticket-of-leave convicts Thomas Pamphlett and John Finnegan. Along with two other companions, John Thompson (who had died) and Richard Parsons, Pamphlett and Finnegan had been blown off-course from the Illawarra coast and disoriented by a storm many months earlier. Aborigines had helped sustain the men, who had then explored much of the area on foot.

Oxley identified Red Cliff Point, which had been discovered and named by Matthew Flinders in July 1799, as suitable for a penal settlement. Pamphlett and Finnegan showed Oxley a large river, which Oxley traced for about 80 km and later named the Brisbane River. Redcliffe was settled by a small group of officials, soldiers, their wives and children, and 29 convicts. After a year, the settlement at Redcliffe proved unsustainable as it was too far from the fresh water of the Brisbane River. The settlement was moved south to the banks of the Brisbane River. Although Oxley has long been credited with the discovery of the Brisbane River, he was not the first white man to see the river and the future site of Brisbane.


Today in History

Thought For Today
Enthusiasm without knowledge is not good; impatience will get you into trouble.
Proverbs 19:2 (c) GNB
It is better to err on the side of caution in major decisions. Why jeopardise your life, finances or family by rushing into things.

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