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31 December 1872 John McKinlay

31 December 1872     John McKinlay

The death of John McKinley, a tall and formerly robust man, on the last day of the year of 1872 at the age of 53 years, was attributed to the result of the privation and hardships he had undergone on his exploration to the north of the continent. In 1862 he survived a difficult expedition to the Gulf of Capentaria but in 1865 undertook another appointment to report on the best site for a settlement in the Northern Territory. He sailed from Port Adelaide in September 1865 and reached Adams Bay in November. Denouncing this place as worthless he set out on foot to search for a better area, but it was the rainy season and travel was difficult. On the Alligator River the party found itself cut off by water, and a horse was killed to eat as provisions were short. As a last resort McKinlay had the remaining horses killed and used the hides over a framework of saplings to make a raft to hold all the party and the scanty provisions supplemented with dried horseflesh. This way they voyaged down the river and along the coast through the open sea to Adams Bay. He returned to Adelaide but never fully recovered his health; he died in 1872 in Gawler and is buried in the Willaston cemetery. A monument to him was erected in Murray Street, Gawler in 1875.

George Loyau, The Representative Me of South Australia, Howell, Adel, 1883, pp.

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