A new book about Benjamin Herschel Babbage will be launch in the Mortlock Chamber of the State Library of South Australia at 4:30 pm on Thursday 22 April. Speakers will include Colin Harris of the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia and Rod Tucker, the author. Paperback and hardback copies will be on sale. Refreshments will be provided. This is a free event, but bookings are essential. Please book online here.
About the book
On Hermit Hill: Benjamin Herschel Babbage and the Lake Torrens Myth is published by Australian Scholarly Publishing. Benjamin Herschel Babbage was a South Australian engineer, surveyor, geologist and explorer. In 1858, he stood on Hermit Hill, near Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre (South), and recognised that there was a gap in a mythical horseshoe-shaped Lake Torrens that the explorer Edward John Eyre had conceived sixteen years earlier. Babbage’s discovery was a crucial step in opening northern South Australia to European settlement and paved the way for John McDouall Stuart’s crossing of the continent Babbage achieved much under arduous conditions, but the Adelaide newspaper accused him of slow progress, and the South Australian Government summarily dismissed him as expedition leader.
Tucker’s book provides new perspectives on Babbage’s achievements and includes original maps, modern charts, and many sketches of Babbage’s 1858 expedition by Babbage and his expedition botanist, David Herrgott. Also included are sketches by Babbage’s son, Charley, and two unpublished watercolour landscapes by George Nason, a teamster on the expedition.
‘This is a carefully researched and finely crafted book which will be an important addition to our literature of the European exploration of inland Australia.’ — Colin Harris, Fellow and Past President of the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia.