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John Oxley


John Oxley, Surveyor General of NSW, was sent north by Governor Brisbane in October 1823 to search for a suitable site for a penal settlement for repeat offenders.

John Oxley believed that there must be a major river that the other explorers had missed and because Bingle and Edwardson had not found a river in the Moreton Bay area he sailed north, as far as Port Curtis. Accompanying John Oxley on HM Cutter Mermaid was the master Charles Penson, Lieutenant Robert Stirling, John Fitzgerald Uniacke, a corporal and privates from the 3rd Regiment and Bongaree’s son Bowen.

Disappointed in the area around Port Curtis, he returned to Moreton Bay without any great hope until he sailed into the Pumicestone Passage and anchored at Skirmish Point and found castaway convict Thomas Pamphlet on Saturday, 29th November 1823 and John Finnegan the following day.

After Pamphlett and Finnegan recounted their journey and mentioning the large river they had crossed, Finnegan accompanied Oxley on his exploration to find the river, later called the Brisbane River after Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane.

Having left a message in a bottle for Richard Parsons on Bribie Island in 1823, Oxley returned nine months later, in May 1825 on the Brig Amity, with members of the 40th Regiment to establish a new penal colony at Redcliffe and found him waiting for him.

Compiled by Lynne Hooper from information in the public domain.

Further reading and Dictionary of Biography

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