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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Ludwig Leichhardt

In their own words

Ludwig Leichhardt
Audio: 2 minutes

The morning of Easter Sunday was very clear and hot; the wind from east-north-east.

As soon as we had celebrated the day with a luncheon of fat damper and sweetened tea, I rode with Charley about seven or eight miles down the river, and found abundance of water, not only in the bed of the river, but in lines of lagoons parallel to it. Charley shot several ducks, which were very numerous upon the water. Whilst riding along the bank of the river, we saw an old woman before us, walking slowly and thoughtfully through the forest, supporting her slender and apparently exhausted frame with one of those long sticks which the women use for digging roots; a child was running before her.

Fearing she would be much alarmed if we came too suddenly upon her — as neither our voices in conversation, nor the footfall of our horses, attracted her attention — I cooeed gently. After repeating the call two or three times, she turned her head; in sudden fright she lifted her arms, and began to beat the air, as if to take wing, then seizing the child, and shrieking most pitifully, she rapidly crossed the creek, and escaped to the opposite ridges.

What could she think, but that we were some of those imaginary beings, with legends of which the wise men of her people frighten the children into obedience, and whose strange forms and stranger doings are the favourite topics of conversation amongst the natives at night when seated round their fires?

Acknowledgements

Leichhardt, Ludwig (1845) Journal of an Overland Expedition in Australia, 23 March 1845, published 1847, London, T. and W. Boone

Attribution

Voiced by Joel Horwood

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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