This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of German naturalist and explorer Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt (1813–c. 1848) whose mysterious disappearance in the Australian outback has become part of the nation's mythology. On this occasion Australian and German posts issued a joint stamp to commemorate this brilliant explorer.
Ludwig Leichhardt was born in Prussia, the sixth of eight children. Initially educated at the universities of Berlin and Göttingen, he also studied medical and natural sciences in London and Paris. He arrived in Sydney in February 1842 with the intention of exploring the inland of Australia.
Leichhardt subsequently undertook three major expeditions: an overland expedition from the Darling Downs to Port Essington (1844 to 1845); an unsuccessful attempt, in 1846, to cross Australia east to west; and a final east–west quest to cross the continent from the Condamine River to the Swan River. This last expedition, which set out in March 1848, resulted in the disappearance of Leichhardt and his entire party. No remains have ever been found.
Leichhardt's legacy includes his contribution to the natural sciences in Australia, detailed in his notebooks and diaries.