Open main menu

Giles, Ernest, F.R.G.S., the well-known explorer, son of William Giles and Jane Elizabeth his wife, was born at Bristol, educated at Christ's Hospital, London, and after leaving school joined his father and family in South Australia, to which colony they had preceded him. In 1852 he went to the Victorian goldfields, and subsequently became a clerk in the Post-office, Melbourne, and afterwards in the county court. Resigning his clerkship, he joined an exploring party in Queensland, and after several expeditions made his first memorable journey on his own account in the year 1872. In August of that year, with the assistance of his steadfast friend Baron von Mueller and his own slender resources, he managed to equip a light party, and penetrated into some fine country about 250 miles west of the great overland telegraph line between Adelaide and Port Darwin. The qualities shown on this expedition brought him friends. On a second appeal by Baron von Mueller a fund was raised by the liberality of some wealthy Victorians and some assistance from the South Australian Government, and Mr. Giles again set out with a party of four white men and twenty-four horses. He remained in the field constantly endeavouring to reach the western coast for one year, when, his provisions having given out and the party reduced to living on their horses, he made his way back to the settled districts of South Australia through great hardships, having added some 700 miles to previous knowledge of the interior. In 1875 he was fitted out by that munificent patron of exploration Sir Thomas Elder, of Adelaide, with nineteen camels and provisions for eighteen months. Through desert after desert for a distance of nearly 1500 miles he made his way. For one fearful stretch of 325 miles the party found no water for seventeen days. After a struggle of six months, during which they had traversed some 2400 miles, they made the outlying settlements of Western Australia. Mr. Giles departed on his return journey several hundred miles to the north of his former route in Jan. 1876, and arrived at the telegraph line in August. In 1889 Mr. Giles, who is a gold medallist of the Royal Geographical Society, published a narrative of his explorations in two volumes entitled "Australia Twice Traversed."