Exploring the explorers

This is more travel tip than travel blog. But first, a question…do you know why the Stuart Highway which runs through the centre of Australia is called the Stuart Highway? Perhaps you’ve never really thought about it. Its just that road you travel on up to Darwin. What about Alice Springs….who the **** was Alice?

We’ve developed a new tactic while we travel. We always read a book relevant to the place we are in to help us understand the country we are travelling through better. From Darwin all the way down to Adelaide we’ve been reading the diaries and biography of John McDouall Stuart ( a fellow Scotsman). He made six epic journeys across the unknown inland of Australia …. giving his name to the Stuart Highway. He named most of what is found along the way as well after key Government people and their families. ‘Alice Springs’? Named after Alice Todd the wife of the instigator of the Overland Telegraph Charles Todd.

We stumbled across this Stuart memorial plaque at Moolooloo

We stumbled across this Stuart memorial plaque at Moolooloo

Our reading has taken us to places we’d never have thought of going before. I’m writing this from Moolooloo Station in the Flinders Ranges. Site of Stuart’s starting point for most of his inland expeditions. Its a bit off the beaten track but a good find. The buildings here date back to the time Stuart was here. And we’ve scored a great little camping spot as a result.

Building at Moolooloo Station date back to the 1860s when Stuart was here. There is still original thatch on parts of the roof

Building at Moolooloo Station date back to the 1860s when Stuart was here. There is still original thatch on parts of the roof

Here’s our recent reading list which we highly recommend:

1. Mary Durack – Kings in Grass Castles (An amazing tale of the Duracks in QLD and WA cattle stations)

2. John Bailey – Mr Stuart’s Track (get this one if you’re heading from Darwin to Alice and you’ll find yourself stopping at lots of random spots along the way)

3. Jill Bowen – Kidman (Sidney Kidman the cattle king)

4. David Carnegie – Spinifex and Sand (covering a lot of WA exploration in the 1890s. Good lively account of the goings on in the various goldfields).

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