Ludwig Leichhardt was a German explorer and scientist who studied at the University of Berlin, and came to Australia in 1842 to study its rocks and wildlife. Leichhardt explored parts of Queensland and the Northern Territory, leading two expeditions in 1844 and 1846. While attempting to travel from Moreton Bay (Brisbane) to Perth in 1848, his party disappeared. He was last known to have reached McPherson's station, Cogoon, on the Darling Downs on 3rd April and moved inland from there.
Subsequently, nine major expeditions tried to solve the mystery of Leichhardt's disappearance, and there were a number of smaller expeditions. Various artefacts such as skeletons, a coin, tomahawk and some bones were found, but nothing to link them conclusively with Leichhardt's party.
An assessment of Leichhardt's work credits him with achieving one of the longest journeys of exploration by land in Australia, and he was responsible for locating much land suitable for pastoral purposes. Leichhardt left records of his observations in Australia from 1842 to 1848 in manuscript diaries, letters, notebooks, sketch-books, maps, and in his many published works.
Leichhardt's fate is an enduring mystery that has continued to fascinate, and has inspired many literary works, the most famous being Patrick White's Voss.