Author's note: In 1848 Ludwig Leichhardt, a young German interested in botany and geology, who had already made a sensationally successful journey overland from Southern Queensland to the Gulf of Carpentaria, set out with a small party to cross Australia from east to west. After leaving the Cogoon River nothing more was heard of the expedition.
The typical Leichhardt hut discovered on the Elsey (N.T.) by Gregory in 1856; the mark 'L' seen on a tree at the head of the Cloncurry River by McIntyre in 1859; and two old saddle-marked horses found not far from there, are the only material clues to give any sort of authenticity to the story told by old Silver, a native of the upper Wills River, with whom I rode after cattle in those ranges thirty years ago.
When but a growing boy he himself had been left on the field for dead in the massacre by whites of the tribe at Suliman Creek as a reprisal for the spearing of two white men taken unarmed while bathing in the waterhole. Embittered by his experience, he was perhaps more conversant with the true history of earlier penetrations than he cared to admit so that he could cynically spin a yarn to fit a few circumstances when a white man set him going by supposedly judicious inquiries. Yet he assured me that this was the story of the disappearance of Leichhardt, as told to him by the old warriors of the tribe.
Even the wealth of detail might make it suspect, but I hand it on for exactly what it is worth.