Was he the greatest of Australian explorers? In 1862 John McDouall Stuart succeeded in crossing the continent from sea to sea. He took off his boots, dipped his feet in the Indian Ocean, and hoisted the Union Jack. When Stuart and his companions returned to Adelaide, they were celebrated as heroes of the age.
They had navigated their way on horseback through vast expanses of country unknown to Europeans, struggling from one water source to the next. Yet the country they travelled through was already home to thousands of people, celebrated in song and story, every feature of the landscape known and named. The intruders and their strange animals were observed, their tracks closely examined.
Stuart’s explorations were the catalyst for great changes, both for the new colonists and for the people who had been living on country for tens of thousands of years.