Overland Exploration of the Discovery Coast


Sydney colonists had long complained about it being a convict dump so Governor Brisbane sent Oxley from Port Jackson in the cutter Mermaid to find some isolated, almost inaccessible place to build a new penal settlement. The worst felons were to be sent to Norfolk Island and the new location was required for the next worst.

Oxley sailed into Moreton Bay where he was lead to a river he named Brisbane River after the then Governor of New South Wales.



Commandant Logan started construction of a new penal settlement on the banks of the Brisbane River.

Governor Darling replaced Brisbane as Governor of New South Wales, and one of his first acts was to proclaim the separation of Tasmania from New South Wales and give Van Diemen’s Land a separate administration under a Lieutenant Governor.



Major Edmund Lockyer, was despatched from Sydney aboard the cutter Mermaid to explore the Brisbane River.



Governor Darling inspected the new penal settlement at Moreton bay.

Later that year he ordered Major Lockyer to form a settlement at King George's Sound (Albany WA). This was soon followed by a settlement on the Swan River (later to become Perth). Governor Darling officially claimed British Sovereignty over the entire continent of Australia.

Allan Cunningham wanted to explore the entire unknown country, lying on the western side of the dividing range, between Hunter's River in latitude 32° and Moreton Bay in latitude 27° S. On April 30, he departed from a station on an upper branch of Hunter's River. Skirting the Liverpool Plains that he had discovered on an earlier expedition, he pushed further north past the New England Tableland and on June 5, discovered the Darling Downs, west of Moreton Bay. He continued north to 28° 10' 45" south, where he could continue no further because of the state of his provisions and the low condition of the horses.



Cunningham found a pass over the mountains from Moreton Bay to the Darling Downs.

Settlers realised it would be possible to land flocks and supplies at Moreton Bay and ship their produce from there. Governor Darling would have none of that and would not permit any settlement outside the boundary of the “Nineteen Counties”.



Sir Richard Bourke replaced Governor Darling and abolished the Nineteen Counties policy, but not the policy forbidding settlement within 50 miles of the penal settlement at Moreton Bay, so the Darling Downs were still bottled up.



The Port Philip district was opened for settlement, giving birth to Melbourne.

The settlement of Adelaide was formed and a great area of New South Wales was now the Colony of South Australia with its Northern Territory.



There was talk of the penal settlement at Moreton Bay being closed. So Patrick Leslie who had reached the Cassilis district (upper Hunter Valley), decided to take the risk that it would close and push on with his stock and wagons, etc., to find the Darling Downs that Cunningham had discovered some 12 years before. After reaching the downs, Leslie chose a stretch from Toolburra to the Condamine’s head waters.

Leslie’s tracks were soon followed by Hodgson and Elliott, King and Sibley.



The penal settlement at Moreton Bay was finally to be abandoned and thown open to settlement.



New Zealand was proclaimed as a separate Crown Colony.


1842 to 1844

Northern settlement was at the fringes of Brisbane and the Downs, with all lands north unexplored.


Ludwig Leichhardt discovered the Western Downs on his expedition to the Gulf of Carpentaria.



Captain Perry and J.C. Burnett had made extensive surveys to reach Bustard Bay and Gladstone. In June Burnett discovered the Burnett River and traced it to its mouth in Hervey Bay.



Gayndah had been founded in the then new Burnett Pastoral District and became a Post Town in 1849.


On July 1, Port Phillip was separated from New South Wales and became the Colony of Victoria.



On February 26, Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands, Colonel Barney presented a report stating all available country in the Burnett district was occupied but there were only two or three squatters between Burnett and Port Curtis. As a result people wanting to select land started looking toward the Discovery Coast area.

In the early fifties Gin Gin was the furthest station out.



On December 10, the northern portion of New South Wales became the Colony of Queensland.


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