Sydney News: Richard Cunningham disappears in the Australian Bush

1st April 1835

Tombstone of Richard Cunningham on Burolenda Station
Bogan River 60 miles from Nyngan
from the Mitchell Library Collection. Call Number:
Government Printing Office 1 – 13696 IE1803968

Sometime in April 1835 Allan Cunningham’s brother Richard disappeared in the Australian bush while on an expedition with Major Thomas Mitchell. After a prolonged search, the story of his demise was told by the people of the Bogan. It was thought he was hit over the head by a native who believed Richard may be a danger to his people. ((Australian Dictionary of Biography – Richard Cunningham))

The image of Richard Cunningham’s grave can be found at: State Library of NSW Mitchell Collection File Number: FL1803978 ((Image of Richard Cunningham’s Grave – State Library of NSW))


In 1835 Richard Cunningham, New South Wales Government Botanist, in search of N.S.W: flora and fauna, travelled from Sydney to the Bogan River district, a little-known country at that remote period. … He was attached to an exploring expedition under the command of Major Mitchell.

To mark the spot where he was killed, which is out in the scrubland near Burbenda, about a mile from the river, a tablet was placed, but this tablet is now broken, and in a short time will be unrecognisable. Thoughtless persons have carved their names all over it till the inscription is hardly decipherable.

The tablet reads:-

Richard Cunningham, Government Botanist, of this, colony, attached to an exploring expedition under command of Major Mitchell, Surveyor-General, wandered in his enthusiasm for botanical investigations from his companions, and losing himself in this locality of the Bogan River … about the 25th. April, 1835, in the 42nd year of his age.

This tablet is erected in his memory by a vote of the Parliament of N.S.W., through the C.C,C. Lands, by S.R. Daniel, C.O.L., Wellington district.

Muswellbrook Chronicle (NSW : 1898 – 1955), Tuesday 7 July 1925, page 8 ((Muswellbrook Chronicle 7 July 1925, page 8))