William Landsborough ( 1825 - 1886)

William Landsborough (1825-1886) Landsborough was the first explorer to complete a north-south crossing of Australia. He arrived in Sydney on the Duke of Richmond, on 30 September 1842 and joined his brothers James and John on their property in the New England district of New South Wales until 1850, With a friend William Penson, they bought 30,000 acres nearby which they named Oak Ridge. When gold was discovered in Bathurst, New South Wales in 1851, he went to the diggings but had little success. In 1853 Landsborough decided to give up mining and rejoin his brothers, who had sold up their property and had driven their stock before them, to try their luck in the unsettled districts north of Brisbane. Landsborough sold his share in Oak Ridge to his partner, William Penson, and in 1853 took ship to Brisbane. When Landsborough arrived he learned that his brothers had taken up land at Tenningering, about fifty miles south-west of today’s city of Bundaberg. He joined them there for a while before in 1854 taking up land for himself a little further north in the Kolan River area.

At that time, this was the most northerly coastal settlement along the eastern seaboard of Australia and it was here that Landsborough began his career as an explorer. Between 1856 and 1861, each year when the shearing season was over, he explored north and west, each time deeper into unknown territory. He preferred to travel in a small group usually with one or two friends and an Aboriginal tracker. As Thomas Welsby later wrote, “A sequel to Landsborough’s expeditions was the race for the magnificent, pastoral country described by him.”[3]

In 1856 he explored north through present-day Gladstone to Broad Sound, Mt Pisgah and Mt Fort Cooper. He took up a selection of land at Fort Cooper soon after this.

In 1857 he explored the area where the town of Rockhampton now stands and to the north once more to Broad Sound. It was in this area that he took up some more land, which became his favourite property, Glen Prairie.

In 1858 he travelled west from Rockhampton to the Comet River, naming also Springsure Creek and Orion Creek. He sold his Kolan River land at this time to finance the development of his Fort Cooper and Glen Prairie holdings.

In 1859 he travelled north-west from Glen Prairie to the Leichhardt Range and the Burdekin and Cape rivers.

In 1860, in his longest and toughest journey of exploration, he travelled with Nat Buchanan due west from Glen Prairie and came across the rich pastures on the traditional tribal lands of the Iningai, which he renamed Bowen Downs, after the Queensland Governor, Sir George Bowen. He also gave English names to Towerhill Creek, Cornish Creek and Aramac Creek.

In 1860 the Bowen Downs was opened for settlement and Landsborough and Buchanan applied for and were granted a lease of land there, which became known as Bowen Downs Station. By 1860, at the age of 35 years, Landsborough now owned or part-owned over 1 million acres of land.

To finance the stocking of the station Landsborough and Buchanan formed a partnership, the Landsborough River Company, with Robert Morehead and Matthew Young, of the Scottish Australian Investment Company, and Edward Cornish, a friend of Landsborough. The Bowen Downs Station was established in 1862, with Nat Buchanan as the first manager of the property.

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