Robert Dale

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For other uses, see Robert Dale (disambiguation).
Robert Dale
Born November 1810 (1810-11)
Winchester, England
Died 20 July 1853(1853-07-20) (aged 42)
Bath, England
Occupation Army officer, explorer of Western Australia, surveyor, timber merchant

Lieutenant Robert Dale [1] (1812–20 July 18531) was the first European explorer to cross the Darling Range in Western Australia.

Robert Dale was born in Winchester, England in November 1810. Through the influence of his great uncle General William Dyott, on 25 October 1827 he was appointed an ensign in the British Army's 63rd Regiment of Foot. In February 1829 Dale embarked for Western Australia on HMS Sulphur as part of a detachment of troops commanded by Captain Frederick Chidley Irwin.[2][3] On arrival at the colony, he was seconded as an assistant to Surveyor General John Septimus Roe, whose Survey Department was suffering under an extreme workload. Dale spent four years with the Survey Department, surveying, clearing roads and exploring. He was the first European to cross the Darling Range, where he discovered the fertile Avon Valley and helped establish the towns of Northam, Toodyay,[4] and York. He was also the first European to see and describe the numbat.

In November 1832 Dale purchased a vacated lieutenancy, but the following year returned to England. He took with him the smoked head of Yagan, a Noongar aborigine who had been ambushed and killed by a young settler. He remained on leave until he sold his commission in 1835. The sale of his commission, along with ₤500 inherited from his grandfather, who had died in January 1835, enabled Dale to set himself up as a timber merchant in Liverpool in November 1835. He became involved in promoting the use of the Western Australian timber jarrah. He died of tuberculosis in Bath on 20 July 1853.[2]

Mount Dale, one of the highest points in the Darling Range, to the south of Mundaring Weir, was named after him. The Dale River, a tributary of the Avon River, was also named after him.

A portion of Panoramic View of King George's Sound, Part of the Colony of Swan River, based on sketches by Robert Dale and published in 1834.

The Panoramic View of King George's Sound, Part of the Colony of Swan River, a nine-foot-long hand-coloured aquatint panorama of Albany after sketches by Dale, was published in 1834 by Robert Havell.[5]


  1. ^ Also found as Ensign Dale in some accounts
  2. ^ a b "The Army - Exchanges and Promotions". The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser. 24 March 1828. p. 3. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  3. ^ Cook, Karen Severud (2003). "The secret agenda of Western Australian explorer, Robert Dale (1809-1853)". The Globe (54): 23–34. ISSN 0311-3930. 
  4. ^ "Foundation.". The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950) (Perth, WA: National Library of Australia). 31 May 1939. p. 18 Edition: CITY FINAL. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  5. ^ Dale, Robert (1834). Descriptive Account of the Panoramic View &c. of King George's Sound and the Adjacent Country. London: J. Cross and R. Havell. 


Further reading[edit]

  • Cook, Karen Severud (2003). "The Secret Agenda of Western Australian Explorer, Robert Dale (1809–1853)". The Globe (54): 23–34.