Cornhill Magazine,  5 (1862), 354–64.

Recent Discoveries in Australia

[Francis Galton]


Essay, Travelogue

Relevant illustrations:



Discovery, Exploration, Physical Geography, Mapping, Imperialism, Climatology, Biogeography, Darwinism, Ecology, Ethnography, Race

    Considers recent explorations of the Australian interior undertaken by Augustus C Gregory, John M Stuart and Robert O Burke which have yielded new information on the physical geography and climate of the vast continent. Comments that the inhospitable countryside being 'rapidly improved' by the establishment of 'a sheep-station' is 'a subject for Darwinian speculation'. The 'grazing is said to improve the grasses, and to introduce or foster new species. The mere cropping does something; the manuring and the stamping of the sheep's feet have an effect. [...] In this fashion, causes may be reacted on by their effects, until originally trifling influences produce considerable improvement'. (356) Also notes that during a time of 'wilful ignorance of our own territory', the Victoria River on the north-west coast was 'ascended for nearly 200 miles by officers of the Beagle' (357). Gives a long narrative of 'the greatest, and the most tragical of all Australian explorations—that of Burke', comparing it to the expedition of 'Franklin during the flourishing days of polar exploration' (359). After noting the widely different diets of the explorers and the indigenous peoples they encounter, concludes that it is 'still an open question how far to the northward the Anglo-Saxon race can thrive in the peculiar climate of Australia' (364).

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