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This Day in History

Australian Explorers

Saturday, June 14, 1823. :   The Brisbane River is discovered by three ticket-of-leave convicts, Parsons, Pamphlett and Finnegan. Oxley is later credited with the discovery.

     Richard Parsons, Thomas Pamphlett and John Finnegan were three ticket-of-leave convicts, and timber-getters. They had been blown off course in a wild storm off the Illawarra coast of NSW, and, believing they were south of Port Jackson, headed north. They had a fourth companion, Thompson, who became delirious from lack of water and eventually died. His body was dropped overboard. The three remaining men became shipwrecked on the southern tip of Moreton Island. They made their way across the Moreton Bay islands to the mainland, then north where they came across the Brisbane River.

Aborigines assisted the men with food and shelter. During the course of their ventures, on 14 June 1823, they came across a "large river": they were the first white men to sight this river. John Oxley, meanwhile, was surveying the area as the site for a possible penal settlement. He came across Pamphlett and Finnegan on Bribie Island, and Parsons later rejoined them, having travelled further north. The men showed Oxley the large river, which he later named the Brisbane River, after Governor Brisbane. Because of Oxley's position as surveyor-general, he became the one credited with the discovery.

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