exp_eastwardThe Expedition Eastward from Northam

by the Dempster brothers, Clarkson, Harper and Correll, July-August, 1861

by Lesley Brooker

ISBN 0 85905 390 3, (2006 New), Soft Cover, 92pp, A4, 285g, full colour, 43 sketch maps, 59 colour photos, a total of 162 illustrations

$35.00*  + POST

It was idle curiosity that first led Lesley Brooker, an ex-CSIRO scientist, to find out who might have been the first Europeans to visit a bush property near Sandford Rocks, Westonia, recently purchased by Lesley and her husband Michael from the National Trust under the BushBank scheme. Her initial enquiries eventually led to many months of research among the archives of the State Records Office and the Battye Library, as well as hundreds of kilometres travel in the Central Wheatbelt searching for long-forgotten landmarks.

The subject of her investigations became Edward and Andrew Dempster, Barnard Clarkson and Charles Harper, four young farmers’ sons, who with their Aboriginal guide, Correll, had travelled east from Northam in 1861, with no financial or any other assistance from the Colonial Government, to search for new grazing lands. The expedition has since been largely forgotten in the annuls of Western Australian history, overshadowed by the later, official journeys of Charles Cooke Hunt. All four young farmers later became prominent members of the West Australian community – an outcome that could have been very different if some local Aborigines from the Lake Julia area had not come to the explorers’ rescue at a time when they were short of water and some 300 km from home.

The author has identified, and in most cases visited, 41 locations thought to have been where the explorers camped during their two month journey. The account is annotated and illustrated with respect to the course that the explorers must have taken, and the flora and fauna they encountered en route.