John Forrest - easier version

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Sir John Forrest and his brother Alexander were two well known Western Australian explorers. Later, John forrest became premier of Western Australia.  Both brothers were surveyors and experienced bushmen. They made several journeys exploring the interior of Australia. They were both born is Western Australia where their father had been a miller and a farmer.

In 1869, John Forrest was asked to lead an expedition to check on a story that a party of white men had been murdered by aboriginals. It was thought that this could be the missing explorer Ludwig Leichhardt. The expedition was away for 113 days and travelled over 3200 kilometres of previously unknown and unmapped land. The party was also expected to carry home as many specimens of plants, rocks and animals as they could to add to the knowledge of inland Australia. They left in April, 1869.

The area they were exploring consisted of red sandy desert, dry salt lakes with no permanent rivers and few waterholes. They reached the furthermost sheep stations and arriving at Lake Brown, they travelled north. However, they found no trace of Leichhardt.

From time to time they were in serious trouble. Each day Forrest had to find water for his men and his horses. The horses became bogged in the salt mud and it took considerable effort to get them out.  As they reached their most easterly point on July 26, supplies began to run low and they were forced to turn back. They travelled southwards, living on damper, tea and whatever they could shoot. In August, the party arrived safely back in Perth.

Late in 1869, Governor Weld decided to send an expedition to travel from Western Australia to South Australia and Forrest was chosen as the leader. They were asked to find out if there were any areas for farming and to discover if there was a suitable land link between the two colonies.

The party left Perth in March 1870 and travelled 720 kilometres to Esperance where they collected more supplies from the supply ship Adur.

Leaving Esperance, they travelled on horseback and on foot. searching all the time for food and water. For three months, they slept in the open with only a blanket for cover. They reached Eucla on 2 July. At one stage they had had to make a 240 kilometre dash to a waterhole shown on John Eyre's map (he previously explored part of this area). If they had not found the waterhole,  they would have been in great danger. At Eucla, they again met the Adur and sent it back to Perth with news of the expedition.

Leaving Eucla, they made a dash to the head of the Great Australian Bight, reaching it on July 17, after the horses had had no water for three days. They were in poor condition and the men were very weak too. Following a cart track, they were overjoyed to arrive at Fowler's Bay. They then went overland to Adelaide where they were given a very warm welcome. They decided to sell the horses and return home by steamer.

Forrest did not give a very good report of the land through which they had travelled. Apart from a small area of land around Hampton Range, they had discovered no land suitable for farming and had been more or less retracing the tracks of Edward John Eyre's expedition in 1841.

In 1890, John Forrest became the first premier of Western Australia. He became Baron John Forrest in 1918.

On his way to England eight months later, he died at sea and was buried in Sierra Leone. His remains were later returned to Australia.

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