Tracking and Mapping the Explorers by John Whitehead



Tracking and Mapping the Explorers by John Whitehead

When studying the coming and goings of geographical explorers you need a map, a very precise, detailed readable map along with clear geographic reference points. A map that shows where the explorers walked, where they camped, what they observed and what they reported in their journals. John Whitehead understood this when he walked in the footsteps of the explorers. He has taken the time to share his experience by recording geographic locations, providing maps and photos of a landscape that in some places still remains visually similar to what the explorers saw. Using the explorers’ original maps and journals, John found where they had been and with respect and dedication stood where these intrepid explorers once stood. His books are indispensable for those who take the time to walk in the footsteps of our early colonial adventurers.

These studies show where expedition routes are located in relation to the developed agricultural areas and the regional cities and towns of NSW. The details provided will be of interest to the people who live and work in those areas. It also provides information by way of indicating the routes on current topographic maps, together with supporting photographs to verify locations for the interested traveler.


Tracking and Mapping The Explorers Volume 1,
The Lachlan River
Oxley, Evans and Cunningham 1817

Tracking and Mapping Volume 1Tracking and Mapping the Explorers Vol 1Describes John Oxley’s 1817 Lachlan River journey when he and several men including George Evans and Allan Cunningham, explored beyond the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. It was the first time the British had explored so far inland.

Volume 1, First Published 2004, ISBN 978-0-6464303-8-6






Tracking and Mapping The Explorers Volume 2, Macquarie River 1818

Tracking and Mapping Volume 2 by John WhieheadTracking and Mapping the Explorers Vol 2Continues following Oxley and Evans in 1818 when they travelled down along the Macquarie River and finished their momentous journey at Port Macquarie. Along the way, they caught a glimpse of the Liverpool Range and Liverpool Plains from the Pilliga Scrub and proceeded past Gunnedah, Tamworth and Walcha across the Great Dividing Range.

Volume 2, First Published 2005. ISBN 978-0-9757163-0-1





The Warrumbungles : Dead Volcanoes, National Parks, Telescopes and Scrub

The WarrumbunglesThe WarrumbunglesJohn Whitehead has gathered the local history of the nationally known scientific establishments that have been located in the Warrumbungle Range, together with the many popular tourist attractions that have occurred as a result of these facilities.

At the same time, he explains why the natural and ecological features of the Warrumbungle Range including the Pilliga Forests and the surrounding National Parks were located in this area.

He provides us with a trip through the forests, plains and mountains of the Warrumbungle Range. The journey commences far away and long ago, and ends up in the awesome universe of the powerful telescopes, then, while contemplating these fascinating images and thoughts, you can sit back on a log and admire the magnificent scenery of our National Parks and Scrub.

Many areas of the Warrumbungle Mountains are renowned for their spectacularly shaped mountains, with volcanic scenery that contains towers, plugs and dykes of every imaginable appearance. This landscape eventually attracted humans for recreation and scenic pleasure, and, because of its unique landscape, its significance to Aboriginal people, its botanical and geological importance and its tourist potential, the mountain area was created as a National Park.

The heights of the peaks and the clear night skies proved advantageous to the establishment of astronomy sites. In 1959, the clear atmosphere and light free skies attracted the establishment of Siding Spring Observatory, 20 kilometres west of Coonabarabran.

First published in 2008, ISBN 978-0-9757163-3-5

History of the Warrumbungle National Park

Most National Parks in NSW have a history in which private persons have recognised the cultural, historic, scenic and environmental features of that particular area. This historical document relates how these people have persistently created a national park and pressured the local and State Governments into making one of the most dramatic Parks in Australia, the Warrumbungle National Park. Its establishment and development is described in detail together with noting all the people involved.

First Published in 2008, ISBN 978-0-9757163-5-9

The Geology of the Warrumbungle Range.

Warrumbungle by John WhiteheadThe Geology of the Warrumbungle RangeThe Warrumbungle Range extends from west of Baradine south through the National Park and then south-east through Purlewaugh to Deans Mountain finishing just east of Coolah Tops National Park. Past studies have been used to describe the geological processes that have occurred in the formation of this range and to then present them in one document.

First Published in 2010, ISBN 978-0-9757163-1-X




Cunningham’s Tracks Tracking and Mapping the Explorers Volume 3

Journey Through the Gwydir & Inverell Shires 1827

Cunningham's Tracks 1827 by Fay Cains and John WhiteheadCunningham’s Tracks 1827 by John White HeadIn 2009, Fay Cains of Warialda asked me if I would be interested in helping her carry out an investigation into the location of Cunningham’s exploration route from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales to the Darling Downs in Queensland in 1827, and more particularly, a close look at both of Cunningham’s north and south routes that passed near Bingara and Warialda. She indicated that she had some difficulty in trying to establish the location of the various sites.

After two trips to and around the area of study with Fay and Laurie and with many hours of interpretation using State Archives and Mitchell Library records, we pieced together a fairly accurate description of Cunningham’s route through the Gwydir and Inverell Shires.

Volume 3, First Published 2011. ISBN 978-0-975716373-7-3

The Warrumbungle Volcano: A Geological Guide to the Warrumbungle National Park

The handbook, ‘’The Warrumbungle Volcano’’ by M.B. Duggan and J. Knutson which was first published in 1993 is not now available. I have obtained permission from the authors to reproduce much of its content. Some of the original information, data and images from that booklet have been used in this publication.

The booklet describes volcanism in general and how these principles apply to the formation of an extremely complex shield volcano known as the Warrumbungle Volcano. Many examples of geological formations are described together with their locations on roads and walking tracks

First Published in 2011, ISBN 978-0-9757163-6-6

Cunnngham’s Pandora’s Pass: Tracking and Mapping the Explorers Volume 4

Pandoras Pass by John WhiteheadIn November and December 1822, Cunningham had carried out some botanical and exploration work north of Bathurst to the Cudgegong River. He then returned to his plant preparation duties in Sydney and by February, 1823, he was thinking of another expedition in the same direction, but further north of Bathurst to Oxley’s Liverpool Plains through the Liverpool Range. After discussing this with Governor Brisbane he obtained permission to proceed on 1st March 1823.

The expedition commenced of the 15th April 1823 from Bathurst, proceeded via Rylstone and Cassilis followed by a traverse of the southern slopes of the Liverpool Range, then a circuitous route through the Scone-Merriwa district and then back to the Pandora’s Pass, arriving there on the 6th June 1823. He then returned to Bathurst on 27th June 1823, the whole journey taking 73 days.

First published in 2013

Volume 5, ‘To the Liverpool Plains’ and Volume 6, ‘To the Darling Downs’, are in progress.



An investigation of John Oxley’s journey in the Coonabarabran district, 1818

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – John Whitehead

JOHN WHITEHEADAuthor, Geographical Archaeologist, Historian

Author, History Cartographer, Historian

In 1968, the local high school Headmaster asked me if I would be prepared to help him investigate explorer Oxley’s route through the Warrumbungle Coonabarabran Pilliga Scrub area. This request must have sparked an element of curiosity in me, as I agreed, and then instantly became involved in the preparation of a report on the matter. The curiosity must have been laying dormant for many years, as I also became interested in reading about other Australian explorers. Read more …

Posted in Articles