Peach's Explorers

Bill Peach retraces the steps of the Australian Explorers in a ten part documentary series with re-enactments, the difficult feats and the proudest moments of these famous early Australians.

The Prison Walls - Blue Mountains barrier, Blaxland, Wentworth & Lawson

After Matthew Flinders' circumnavigation of Australia, the next barrier to face our expanding colony was the Blue Mountains. Bill Peach retraces the steps of Wentworth, Blaxland and Lawson in their epic journey to discover the lush pastures west of the mountains.

Across the Great Divide - Evans, Oxley and Cunningham

This episode reproduces the early journeys of Evans, Oxley and Cunningham, as they cross the Great Dividing Range and move west and north, discovering vast areas of good grazing land and many western- flowing rivers. It was Oxley who suggested the existence of an "inland sea" - a myth that haunted Australian explorers for decades.

Overland To Port Phillip - Hume and Hovell, Hume Highway, overland route from Sydney

Bill Peach follows the tracks of Hume and Hovell, who established the overland route from Sydney to Melbourne which survives in today's Hume Highway. In 1824 their partnership seemed highly successful but it emerged in later years that there was bitter rivalry between them.

The Secret Of The Rivers - Captain Charles Sturt , Murray River

The most baffling question facing the early explorers was the destination of the inland rivers of NSW. They seemed to flow into the centre of the continent, perhaps to an inland sea. Bill Peach traces the career of the Captain Charles Sturt who solved this great mystery in an epic whaleboat journey to the mouth of the Murray River and back again.

Australia Felix - Sir Thomas Mitchell, Western Victoria

Sir Thomas Mitchell was the stormy petrel of Australian exploration. Surveyor-General of NSW for nearly thirty years, Mitchell would brook no rivals and fought duels with men who have criticised him. His aggressive military style expeditions created havoc amongst the Aborigines. He invariably disobeyed his exploring instructions and it was while doing so that he discovered "Australia Felix" or Western Victoria.

The Pinnacle Of Fame - Dr John Lhotsky and Paul Strzelecki , Kosciusko

The conquest of Australia's high country. The first European to climb the Snowy Mountains was Polish Dr John Lhotsky. Another Pole Paul Strzelecki, climbed the pinnacle of fame, Australia's Highest mountain and named it for the patriot of his country, Koscuisko. Strzelecki went on to explore Gippsland but his claim to be its discoverer was hotly disputed by Scotsman Angus McMillan.

East To West - Edward John Eyre, Nullarbor Plain

Half a century after the European settlement in Australia, no European had crossed by land from the east coast to the west coast. Bill Peach tells the story of John Eyre, the young explorer who set off with four companions to make a westward journey across the Nullabor Plain. After a saga of horror, Eyre and one companion reach Albany, but their terrible trek had only revealed a wasteland.

East To North - Prussian Ludwig Leichhardt, North to Port Essington, Edmund Kennedy, Cape York

The first attempts to open an overland track from the eastern settlements to the coast of northern Australia. It was an unknown Prussian, Ludwig Leichhardt, who succeeded in leading an expedition north to Port Essington. Leichhardt was hailed as a Prince of explorers. Three years later, Leichhardt's expedition north to the Gulf rivers then to Western Australia, vanished without a trace. About the same time Englishman Edmund Kennedy volunteered to find an inland track north to the Gulf of Carpenteria. However the Governor and Colonial Secretary had a plunged Kennedy into some of the most difficult terrain - the tropical rainforest of North Queensland. His party met with their demise only 30kms out from their destination, and only Jacky Jacky, the Aboriginal tracker, survived.

South To North, Burke and Wills, John McDouall Stuart

The race to cross Australia from south to north was inspired by inter-colonial rivalry. Both South Australia and Victoria wanted the glory of launching the first expedition from sea to sea. The Victorian expedition of Burke and Wills was lavishly equipped but poorly led, resulting in its tragic fate at Coopers Creek. South Australia's John McDougall Stuart finally broke through the centre to the north coast.

The Desert Explorers - Western Desert, Warburton, Gosse Forrest and Giles

The conquest of the Western Desert was the last epic adventure in Australian exploration. The overland telegraph line from Adelaide to Darwin, built along Stuart's track, established a series of frontier camps from which the explorers battled to reach the West Coast. Warburton, Gosse, Forrest and Giles forced their way through the Great Sandy Desert, the Gibson Desert and the Great Victorian Desert and filled in the last great blanks in the map of Australia.

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5 x 60 mins
Series Episode
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