Tracking and Mapping the Explorers
by John Whitehead

Australian Colonial History

Six degrees of separation – fascinating

The history of early Australian colonial history is fascinating. Fascinating because it began as an ugly British experiment and resulted in a unique and beautiful democratic country. The lucky country! My country.

Tracking and Mapping the Explorers V1 by John Whitehead

Tracking and Mapping the Explorers V1 by John Whitehead

My fascination with Australia’s history evolved into The Allan Cunningham Project. The project is dedicated to documenting accurate information related to Allan Cunningham, botanist and explorer 1791-1839. I use his story as a “hub” (similar to six degrees of separation) from which stories emerge, stories about life, botany and the wilderness at the beginning of the 19th century in Colonial Australia.

There are so many paths I amble down, feeding my fascination. One of these paths found its way to the excellent work of the historian, John Whitehead.

When you study the coming and goings of geographical explorers you need a map. A very precise, detailed and readable map. A map clear enough to enable you to put a pin in Google Earth and say, hey, Allan Cunningham walked here, he camped there, he climbed this mountain, he saw this he did that. People want to know, I want to know. John Whitehead “got” this and in 2003, after four years of research, he published his amazing “Tracking and Mapping the Explorers Volume 1 The Lachlan River, Oxley, Evans and Cunningham 1817“. Well done Mr Whitehead!

The title is a bit of a mouthful but it describes the subject matter of the book perfectly. It describes 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.


Until tomorrow, best wishes for your work!

This blog was written by Diane Challenor 2010

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More books by John Whitehead

  • Tracking and Mapping the Explorers Volume 3 Gwydir & Invervell Shires 1827
  • Tracking and Mapping the Explorers Volume 4 Pandora’s Pass
  • History of the Warrumbungle National Park
  • The Warrumbungles : dead volcanoes, national parks,telescopes and scrub
  • The Warrumbungle Volcano: a geological guide to the Warrumbungle National Park
  • The Geology of the Warrumbungle Range
  • An investigation of John Oxley’s journey in the Coonabarabran district, 1818

Find out more about John Whitehead’s books via The Allan Cunningham Project.

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3 comments on “Tracking and Mapping the Explorers
by John Whitehead
  1. neil says:

    Thanks for the article, Cynthia.

    I’d be interested in finding out more about John Whitehead’s books. Where did get “Tracking and Mapping the Explorers” from?


    • Hi Neil, I managed to get John Whitehead’s book via an inter-library loan at the Stanton Library in North Sydney. The ISBN is: ISBN 0-646-43038-6. There is a 2nd Volume, I believe it covers Oxley’s 2nd journey along the Macquarie River. I haven’t got my hands on it yet. It’s waiting for me to pick up tomorrow.

      My focus at the moment isn’t on the Lachlan and Macquarie journeys, although they are certainly part of my research. I’m currently working on Cunningham’s journey to the Liverpool Plains in 1825. I came across a reference to John Whitehead’s work via an historian, Michael O’Rourke. Michael makes reference to Mr Whitehead’s work in his article (66 pages) related to Cunninghams 1825 journey, “Passages to the North-West Plains” which can be found on SCRIBD .

      Currently I’m creating geographic Google Earth links related to Cunningham’s 1825 journey, to illustrate an extract of Michael O’Rourkes article which he has generously allowed me to publish as part of The Allan Cunningham Project. I’ve always wanted to “fly” through the terrain Cunningham explored, via Google Earth, but I’m always struggling to find the precise co-ordinates. John Whitehead’s work interests me because he’s followed two of the journeys in such a dedicated and precise way. Eventually I hope to track the Lachlan & the Macquarie journeys on Google Earth. I hope to contact Mr Whitehead to thank him for his work and to ask if he has utislised his research within Google Earth. Here’s a place mark for Forbes:

      Best wishes for your work!

    • All John Whitehead’s books can be ordered via The Allan Cunningham Project’s contacts page. Just drop us a line and we will pass on your request to John.