Captain Charles Sturt
Soldier of 39th Regiment of Foot (Dorsetshire), early Australian Explorer and Servant of the People.
Born in India on April 28, 1795, Captain Charles Sturt is by any measure one of the most important figures in the history of the early European Exploration of Australia. His discovery of the ‘Darling’ river on February 2, 1829 and subsequent exploration of the ‘Murrumbidgee’ and ‘Murray’ rivers in 1829/30, must rank in importance with that of the historic crossing of the ‘Blue Mountains’ by Wentworth, Blaxland and Lawson in 1813.
Just as the discovery of that passage over the mountains opened the way for the settlement of the fertile lands of the ‘Bathurst Plains’ and beyond, so too Captain Sturt’s discovery of the Darling River in 1829 and his subsequent 1829-30 Murray River expedition was to unlock the riddle of the river system of south eastern Australia.
It was his 1833 publication of the story of that momentous event that resulted in the settlement of the ‘Murray/Darling’ Basin and ushered in the colourful era of the paddle steamers that were to ply their trade along that inland river system and bring prosperity to the fledgling colonies of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. It was also to prove the catalyst for the establishment in 1836 of the Province of South Australia, whose citizens were to be in the forefront of social change and the events that culminated in the Proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia on January 1, 1901.