John Oxley Explorer 1783-1828
by Richard Johnson


John Oxley Surveyor-General of New South Wales ranks among the great explorers of Australia. His expeditions along the Lachlan and Macquarie Rivers were feats of dogged endurance and persistence, as he pursued his dream of finding the mysterious ‘inland sea’ that he firmly believed lay in the Australian interior.

His explorations were supported by officials including Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who was eager to find potential agricultural land for the growing colony.

Oxley discovered and named many landmarks-some of which still bear the names he gave them-and recorded them meticulously on charts and in his journals. His party often encountered groups of Aboriginal people; some were friendly, some terrified, others unexpectedly aggressive.

The explorers were also instrumental in rescuing three shipwrecked convicts who had been befriended by Aboriginal people near the coast.

During the years following these expeditions, Oxley traversed to Port Macquarie, to Hobart Town with Commissioner John Bigge, to parts of the wild coast of Van Diemen’s Land, to the site of today’s Gladstone, and to Moreton Bay where he discovered the Brisbane River and the site of the city of Brisbane, later Leading the first settlers to the area.

The hardships he suffered-at sea as a young man, and then on his arduous expeditions-eventually took their toll on his health and he painfully relinquished both his position as Surveyor-General and the hope of finding his elusive inland sea.

This is the first biography of an important figure in Australian colonial history. The Search for the Inland Sea fills a major gap in our historical literature.

The above text is quoted from the inside cover of the book.


For many years Richard Johnson was a Research Surveyor with the Central Mapping Authority in New South Wales.

While engaged in developing and producing modern maps he became intensely interested in the work of the early explorers and the development of the mapping of Australia from the earliest colonial days.

After realising how little was known about John Oxley and his contribution to the exploration and expansion of the colony of New South Wales, Richard spent ten years researching Oxley’s life.

He continues to write research and collect information on Australia’s early history, with particular emphasis on the exploration, mapping and surveying of the colonial period.

Richard Johnson holds a Bachelor of Survey from the University of New South Wales and a Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Studies from Charles Sturt University.

He is a member of the Mapping Sciences Institute of Australia and the Australian Map Circle.

Source : The above text is quoted from the inside back cover of the book.
© Richard Johnson 2001

Published by Melbourne University Press

PO Box 278 Carlton South Victoria 2053 Australia

ISBN-10: 0522849598 | ISBN-13: 978-0522849592