William Landsborough

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William Landsborough
StateLibQld 1 52768 William Landsborough pictured with two of his daughters, ca. 1870.jpg
Member of the Queensland Legislative Council
In office
20 December 1862 – 11 May 1865
In office
17 May 1865 – 23 September 1865
Personal details
Born William Landsborough
(1825-02-21)21 February 1825
Ayrshire, Scotland
Died 16 March 1886(1886-03-16) (aged 61)
Caloundra, Queensland, Australia
Resting place Toowong Cemetery
Nationality Scottish Australian
Spouse(s) Caroline Hollingworth Raine (m.1862 d.1869), Maria Theresa Carr (m.1873 d.1921)
Relations David Landsborough (father)
Children Three sons, three daughters
Residence Loch Lamerough
Occupation Explorer, Public servant
Religion Church of England

William Landsborough (21 February 1825 – 16 March 1886)[1] was an explorer of Australia.

Early life[edit]

Landsborough was born in Stevenston, Ayrshire, Scotland, the son of Rev Dr David Landsborough (a clergyman, entomologist and artist) and his wife Margaret, née McLeish.[1] William Landsborough was educated in Irvine and migrated to Australia in 1842, several years after his brothers James and John.[1]

Life in Australia[edit]

He took up land in the New England district of New South Wales but had to abandon it because it was unproductive. When gold was discovered in 1851, he went to the diggings and had some success. He returned to the land again in 1853 in Queensland. With Nathaniel Buchanan he explored the tributaries of the Fitzroy River in Queensland in 1859. Bad seasons, however, resulted in his losing all his pastoral interests in 1860.

Exploration of Northern Australia[edit]

In August 1861 he was placed in charge of an expedition to search for Burke and Wills, starting from the Gulf of Carpentaria.

On 1 October the party of four whites and four aborigines arrived by ship at the mouth of the Albert River at the site of current Burketown with 25 horses. Landsborough started on 16 November south west in the direction of Central Mount Stuart. He discovered and traced the Gregory River to its source, then skirted the Barkly Tableland and found an inland river flowing south, which he named the Herbert, which was later renamed the Georgina River, little water could be found and no trace of Burke and Wills and, deciding to return, he arrived at his depot at the Albert River towards the end of January 1862.

On 10 February he started his journey to the south and was fortunate in finding well-grassed country. In the middle of March he was following the Flinders River, but finding he was getting too far to the east, struck south to the Thomson River and then the Barcoo River. Stores began to run short and had Landsborough known that Howitt had reserve stores at Burke's depot on Cooper Creek he would have made for it. He decided to go to the south and on 21 May arrived at the Messrs Williams' station (Coongoola homestead 50 km south of Wyandra) about 800 miles north of Melbourne. Obtaining provisions the party set out for the Darling River some 200 miles distant, arriving at Bunnawannah Station on the Darling near Fort Bourke on 2 June. From there they went to Menindee and thence to Melbourne. On 30 September 1862 a public meeting was held in Melbourne in honour of Landsborough and McKinley.

In the following November, Landsborough was presented with a service of plate valued at £500, and subsequently visited India and Europe. The Royal Geographical Society presented him with a gold watch for finding a practicable route from the north to the south of Australia.

Later life[edit]

William Landsborough and Mrs Landsborough, circa 1862

Landsborough returned to Australia and in 1865 became a Member of the Queensland Legislative Council for one session. Towards the end of that year he was appointed police magistrate for the district of Burke. Finding Burketown extremely unhealthy, he made Sweers Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria his headquarters and from there did much local exploring. In June 1872, he was made inspector of brands for the Moreton district and held this position for the remainder of his life.

A few years before his death the Queensland parliament voted Landsborough £2000 for his services as an explorer, and with this he purchased a pastoral property at Caloundra which he named Loch Lamerough.[1] He died and was buried there in 1886. In 1913, his widow had him reburied at Toowong Cemetery.[2]


Numerous places were named after William Landsborough, including:

as well as a number of creeks and mountains.

A number of heritage-listed sites are associated with William Landsborough's explorations, including:


  1. ^ a b c d Landsborough, William (1825 - 1886) Australian Dictionary of Biography
  2. ^ Landsborough William Brisbane City Council Grave Location Search
  3. ^ "Landsborough (county)". Place name details. Queensland Government. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "Landborough (town)". Place name details. Queensland Government. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "Landsborough (parish)". Place name details. Queensland Government. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "Landsborough Tree (entry 15149)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 2013-07-12. 
  7. ^ "Landsborough's Blazed Tree, Camp 67 (entry 30561)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  8. ^ "Landsborough's Blazed Tree, Camp 69 (entry 30560)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 

External links[edit]