Australian explorer who suggested the
existence of an inland sea to solve the "riddle of the
rivers." Oxley was born in Yorkshire around 1784 and joined the
Royal Navy in 1799. He first arrived in Sydney in 1802 aboard the HMS
Buffalo and was involved in coastal surveying until 1806. He became the
first officer of the HMS Porpoise and escorted the deposed governor
Bligh to England in 1809.
Oxley returned to Sydney after leaving
the navy in 1911; he was granted a large tract of land near Camden and
appointed surveyor-general by Macquarie's administration. In 1817 he
attempted to trace the mouth of the Lachlan River, despairing of the
inhospitable tracts and swampland the river led him into. The following
year he attempted to trace the mouth of the Macquarie River, again
encountering swamps and arid plains. On his return journey he noted the
beautiful setting of what is now Port Macquarie. He wrote Journals of
Two Expeditions into the Interior of New South Wales, in which he
suggested that the marshes he had encountered on both rivers were the
edges of a great inland sea.
In 1819 Oxley charted Port Macquarie and
recommended it as a penal settlement. In 1823 he sailed north as far as
Port Curtis and explored the Brisbane River many miles inland before
recommending settlement. Oxley died in 1828 at Camden.