Charles Sturt and the Heart of Australia

Michael Langley analyses the achievements of a great explorer of early colonial Australia.

Charles Sturt was not a typical pioneer of Australia, if, indeed, there was such a person. His tall, slender figure, Wellingtonian features and gracious manner gave the impression of an insular English gentleman; nor had he originally any idea of becoming an explorer.

This is not to say that Australia’s leading pioneers were necessarily uncouth, but they were rugged and extrovert; junior administrators, surveyors, doctors, scientists and policemen—they were men of no particular vocation.

Nevertheless, by their individual characters, they seemed to be more readily cast in the part. But Sturt was typical of many of the world’s great explorers—Scott, Livingstone and Mungo Park, for example—in that he was religious, inclined to be introspective, possessed of mental stamina that nourished his body under great strain, resourceful but not robust and, in the widest sense, magnanimous and civilized.

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