Review: Into the Unknown

BOOK: Into the Unknown

AUTHOR: John Bailey

PUBLISHER: Pan MacMillan Aust

RRP: $34.99

REVIEWER: Mary Ann Elliott

FOLLOWING his two other intriguing books on early Australian exploration, Mr Stuart's Track and The White Divers of Broome, John Bailey here follows the footsteps of Ludwig Leichhardt.

Born in Prussia in the early 19th century into a highly regimented society, he was fascinated by the natural world and longed for a life of high adventure and exploration.

Almost completely uncharted at the time, Australia suited Leichhardt's ambitions entirely. The continent was virtually a blank canvas and a ripe challenge for amateur prospectors and naturalists.

Bailey's detailed research has resulted in a fascinating story about this strange, brilliant and obsessed man -a story that begins in triumph but ends in despair. In Australia for a mere six years, Dr Leichhardt was only 34 when he disappeared.

Asked where he was going, he pointed, "to the setting sun", and was not seen again.

In an earlier expedition to Port Essington he'd collected thousands of plant and animal specimens unknown at the time, and had he lived, there is no doubt he would have collected many more, working for the sake of science. Bailey reveals the essential Leichhardt in one of Australia's enduring mysteries.

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