Who knows where a story’s journey – formed out of a mix of fact & imagination – will lead us along its curious, unique life-time? From eye to eye, hand to hand, mind to mind p’rap? The Fethafoot chronicle ‘featuring’ the mysterious disappearance of said explorer; a man held to be as naturally loving, nay – living in worship of the holistic Sacred, as with an ‘indigenous’ child taught to listen, to hear, and see such wonderous lessons daily: a thoughtful humble representative of those oft, far-too-clever for themselves language-creatures.
Even my initial shallow research – to paint another vivid tale of our anc-Au [aboriginal/indigenous] people; enhanced by years of research in teaching: “Australian Aboriginal History & Culture #101” – found a unique, atypical individual, living outside his time & space: a human-being that put scientific curiosity and awe above and beyond everything & everyone.
I re-imagined the mystery because it is an incredible story, needing no garnish to fascinate historic mystery buffs. His story? A Prussian [later German] from a humble working-class family, is found to have the intellect and ability to become the first academic professional in his family line; perhaps an MD. Of course, his father wanted that more than anything, knowing it would raise his family and progeny up socially and financially.
Ludwig however, fell in love with Science: not any or all the sciences, but the natural Sciences. So much so, that he left University and began to practice his passion to such a degree that people around him began to call him ‘Dr’ anyway. The call of the wild in Australia, soon brought the energetic, ever-curious Dr Leichhardt to our fair lands. Wherein he was soon exploring from the bottom of east-coast of Queensland, north & north-west right up to the most northern point of the Northern Territory & parallel to the tip of Cape York in Qld; it was, & still is, quite an incredible achievement by men on foot most of the way.
Little did I know then that A/Prof. Andrew Wright Hurley, of UTS in Sydney, would one day write his own academic, non-fiction book (Ludwig Leichhardt’s Ghosts,
The Strange Career of a Traveling Myth). That Andrew would find my story in his research; That he would use my chronicle within his book to illustrate the various uses made of the mystery: that he would track the author of “The Vanishing” down to Cairns, FNQ, & invite him to Sydney – all expenses paid via the German Consulate – to be a guest within a trio of similar minds, speaking to a gathering of the Leichhardt curious in Leichhardt suburb, inner-west Sydney, within the impressive Leichhardt Town Hall. Nevertheless, on the 7th of May, 2019, that is exactly what happened.
I imagine some came to the event hoping for some answers to the long-standing mystery. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for us, there are no answers to give. Mystery reigns yet in his case. In 1848, the diarist/letter writer, explorer, naturalist, plant/seed and rock collector, along with four other Europeans, two Aboriginal guides, seven horses, 20 mules and 50 bullocks literally disappeared somewhere west of the young Brisbane town. Nary a bridle, wagon-wheel, pot, pan, body or bones have ever been found.
My wild imagination has the good ‘Dr’ meeting a powerful spirit of similar nature to himself. Of being made an offer that no one of such intellect & curiosity could ever pass up.
Ludwig’s spirit; of joy, curiosity & exploration lives on and, in my mind, he is walking ‘the silver path’ and yet influencing our mind’s eye to maintain the balance ‘tween the heavenly Spirit and our Mother…