Disastrous Explorations

Ironically, although the aboriginals could not withstand the Europeans in safe territory, the Europeans could barely survive in areas the aboriginals considered home. Australian history is filled with tales of disastrous attempts to explore the interior. The most renowned of the Australian explorers was Ernest Giles, who led three major expeditions to explore these great inland deserts. He named the Gibson Desert after his friend Alfred Gibson. In the midst of a trek through that desert, Gibson grew weary and ill and pleaded with Giles to turn back. Instead, Giles gave Gibson the bulk of their supplies and water and told him to backtrack to civilization. After many harrowing adventures, Giles returned safely, only to discover Gibson had disappeared into the desert. Giles, an Olympic gold medalist, nearly died of starvation and thirst due to his efforts to explore the continent’s interior. Despite his courage, daring, and success, he was largely forgotten and died of pneumonia, an impoverished and unknown clerk.