Friday 1 March 2013

Men of Yore: John Macdouall Stuart

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form.  Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards.  We, as men, are the frontiersmen/the vanguard, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity. 

It is also partly intended to show images, be they paintings, statues or photographs of the countenaces of men of yore.  Because, quite frankly, many men wear the countenances of women these days: smiling, smirking, cooing, rolling their eyes, looking smug etc.  It's a sign of the times, and by showing some images of men from the past, I hope to show some modern men why looking surly, frowning and giving hard-ball stares at people is something to do, something to practice.

John Macdouall Stuart, ca. 1860 (aged 35)

John McDouall Stuart (7 September 1815 – 5 June 1866) was one of the most accomplished and famous of all Australia's inland explorers.
Stuart led the first successful expedition to traverse the Australian mainland from south to north and return, and the first to do so from a starting point in South Australia, achieving this despite poor backing from the Government of South Australia. His experience and the care he showed for his team ensured he never lost a man, despite the harshness of the country he encountered.
The explorations of Stuart eventually resulted in the Australian Overland Telegraph Line being built and the main route from Port Augusta to Darwin being established, which is now known as the Stuart Highway in his honour.
Born in Dysart, Fife, Scotland, Stuart was the youngest of nine children. His father was a retired army captain serving as a customs officer. Stuart's parents died when he was in his early teens and he came under the care of relatives. He graduated from the Scottish Naval and Military Academy as a civil engineer before emigrating to Australia in 1838 at the age of 23. Stuart was a slight, delicately built young man, standing about 5' 6" tall (168 cm) and weighing less than 9 stone (about 55 kg).
In 1839 he arrived in the three-year-old frontier colony of South Australia, at that time little more than a single crowded outpost of tents and dirt floored wooden huts. Stuart soon found employment as a public surveyor, working in the semi-arid scrub of the newly settled districts marking out blocks for settlers and miners. In 1842 the committee he was working for reduced the number of employees and Stuart lost his job. Stuart became a private surveyor and kept working in the remote areas he loved. Life in the surveying camps was harsh but Stuart rapidly earned a reputation for extraordinary accuracy
His character and last days
Stuart was physically a small wiry man with a great fondness for strong drink, able to endure privations and possessing a fierce determination which overrode any thought of personal comfort. He has not gregarious; he had some good friends but was happiest away from crowds. He cared little for dress; he had a full dark beard and habitually wore grubby moleskin trousers and an unfashionable long-tailed blue coat with brass buttons and cabbage-tree hat.

Footnote: the date for the photograph was taken from the site:

Check out some of the other entries from the 'Men of Yore' series:
Richard Trevithick
Wyatt Earp
William 'Wild Bill' Cody
Andrew Carnegie
Duke of Viseu (Henry the Navigator)
Meriwether Lewis
Arthur Schopenhauer
Theodore Roosevelt
Rudolph Diesel
John Snow
Ludwig van Beethoven
Henry Ford
George Custer


1 comment:

  1. John McDouall Stuart’s great ambition in life was achieved in July 1862, nine months after leaving Adelaide. His party successfully crossed Australia from Adelaide to Van Diemen Gulf, passing through the Centre of the Continent, returning along the same route without loss of life.