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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Stuart, John M'Douall

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Stuart, John M'Douall, the celebrated explorer, arrived in South Australia in 1839. In 1844 he acquired bush experience by going with Captain Sturt's expedition to the northern parts of the colony as draughtsman. In 1858-9 he commenced a series of explorations in the far north, and discovered a passage between Lake Eyre and Lake Torrens, finding a splendid pastoral territory beyond the desert country which Mr. (afterwards Governor) Eyre had failed to penetrate. In the meantime the South Australian Government offered a reward of £2000 to the first man who should traverse the Continent from south to north. In 1860 he resolved to attempt the feat, and accompanied by two men, travelled to within 400 miles of Van Diemen's Gulf on the north coast. Forced to return by the hostility of the natives, he planted the British flag in the centre of the continent on April 22nd, 1860, on a hill which he named Central Mount Stuart. In Jan. 1861 Stuart again started with a party of twelve men, but was again compelled by shortness of provisions to return without accomplishing his object, though this time ho reached within 250 miles of the coast, to which, in the meantime, Burke and Wills, who had started almost simultaneously, had penetrated by a more easterly route. In 1862 Stuart again started with an excellent party, equipped at the expense of the South Australian Government, and succeeded in reaching Van Diemen's Gulf on July 24th, 1862. Though he had not strictly complied with the conditions laid down as to priority, the Government paid him the £2000 bonus, and gave him a lease of 1000 square miles of grazing land in the interior free of rent for seven years. In consequence of Stuart's discoveries, the Northern Territory was granted to South Australia by the Home Government. His triumphal entry into Adelaide took place on the very day on which Howitt's rescue party reached the city with the remains of the explorers Burke and Wills en route for Melbourne. Stuart, who contributed enormously to the pastoral development of South Australia, and paved the way for the construction of the overland telegraph line from Adelaide to Port Darwin, was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society, who also presented him with a watch. Returning to England, he died there on June 16th, 1869.