The first white explorer to traverse through the Ravensthorpe Shire was Edward John Eyre who had previously taken cattle by ship from the Eastern States to King George's Sound (now Albany). This voyage motivated Eyre to explore an overland route which he did in 1841, aged 25. He set out from Fowler's Bay in South Australia with Baxter and Indigenous men Wylie, Joey and Young, seven horses, a Timor pony and ten sheep to attempt the 1,237 km jurney. Baxter was murdred on the way and all but Wylie had forsaken him. Eyre successfully reached King George's Sound and returned to Adelaide.
In 1870 at the tender age of 22 John Forrest (later Sir John Forrest and WA's first premier) led an expedition to survey the East West Telegraph Line from Albany to Adelaide. His brother Alexander, also a surveyor and two years his junior accompanied John. The arduous journey to survey Eyre's route in reverse and to investigate suitable pastures was accomplished in five months.
Although not very active in the Ravensthorpe Shire Frank Hann is worthy of a mention as a National Park in the NE of the Shire bears his name. Frank's activities were mostly confined to Northern Australia. He is however buried in Perth.
John Septimus Roe was a hydrographer and Surveyor General of the Swan River Colony from 1828 to 1870. His 1848/49 overland expedition took him to Fraser Range via Mt. Madden. On his return he travelled closer to the coast naming many local landmarks in the Ravensthorpe Shire: Culham Inlet, Phillips River, Ravensthorpe Range, Eyre Range and Mt. Desmond.
No list of explorers would be complete without Matthew Flinders, a contemporary of John septimus Roe. Flinders was a navigator, hydrographer and scientist. He was 27 when he commenced his circumnavigation of Australia in the virtually unseaworthy Investigator. His brief was to chart the coastal waters in an easterly diretion from the SW corner at Cape Leeuwin in December 1801. He sailed along the Shire's shores in January 1802 and named landmarks such as West Mt Barren, Mid Mt Barren and East Mt Barren as well as Seal Rock.Back to History