1817 Oxley exploration of Wiradjuri country

John Oxley, surveyor and explorer, undertook a number of important journeys of exploration during the Macquarie era. In this particular journey to Wiradjuri country, from late April to July 1817, he followed the course of the Lachlan and Macquarie Rivers.

On 6 April Oxley and his deputy, George Evans, travelled from Sydney to Bathurst before setting off to follow the course of the Lachlan River. By July the party had become stuck in marshlands and had to turn northwards to follow the Macquarie River back to Bathurst. Oxley thought this land to be uninhabitable due to the swamps but it is now rich pasture and grazing land.

Chart of the journey

The chart below was drawn by the convict draftsman Thomas William Parr, who accompanied Oxley on this journey. Note that this plan has been drawn with west at the top.

An explorer's poem

This poem by Oxley was written in early July at one of the last camping places noted at the top of the map. The fragment of verse, on a small scrap of paper, was found in a journal of exploration by Allan Cunningham who was a fellow traveler on the expedition. It is an unusual document to be found within an official record and provides an insight into the trials of such a journey into inhospitable terrain.

On the basis of the latitude and longitude given, it would appear to have been written somewhere near present-day Booligal, which has a memorial to Oxley in the form of a giant theodolite.

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