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John Joseph William Molesworth Oxley
John Oxley
John Oxley
Born 1785
Kirkham Abbey, Yorkshire, England
Died 1828 (1829) (aged 44)
Occupation British Explorer

John Joseph William Molesworth Oxley (January 1, 1785, Kirkham, Yorkshire - May 26, 1828) was an early English explorer of Australia.

Oxley joined the navy and travelled to Australia on the Buffalo, arriving in October in 1802 and carried out coastal surveying including at Western Port in 1804-05. In 1805 New South Wales Governor Philip Gidley King appointed him acting lieutenant in charge of the Buffalo, and in 1806 he commanded the Estramina on a trip to Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania). In 1808 he was put in charge of the Porpoise and he visited Van Diemen's Land again in 1809.

He was appointed New South Wales Surveyor-General of in 1812.

In 1817, Oxley and George Evans followed the Lachlan River Oxley and discovered good grazing land west of Bathurst. When swamps blocked his way, he turned north and returned to Bathurst, following the Macquarie River.

He travelled to Dubbo on June 12, 1818. Later in 1818 Oxley and his men explored the Macquarie River at length before turning east. On August 26 they climbed a hill and saw before them rich, fertile plains, which they named the Liverpool Plains. Continuing east, they discovered the Peel River, near the present site of Tamworth. Continuing further east they crossed the Great Dividing Range and came upon the Hastings River. Following it to its mouth, they discovered that it flowed into the sea at a spot which they named Port Macquarie.

John Oxley memorial - panoramio
John Oxley memorial

In 1819 Oxley sailed to Jervis Bay but found it unsuitable for settlement.

In 1823 Oxley set out northwards along the coastline, in the cutter Mermaid to explore Port Curtis (the site of Gladstone) and Moreton Bay. He continued to explore the region, which is now known as South East Queensland.

In 1824 Oxley, accompanied by Allan Cunningham, discovered the Brisbane River and Bremer River on Moreton Bay, which has since developed into the city of Brisbane.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie granted him 600 acres (243 ha) near Camden in 1810, which he increased to 1000 acres (405 ha) in 1815. He named this property Kirkam and raised and bred sheep. He was also briefly a director of the Bank of New South Wales. He was one of five members of the original New South Wales Legislative Council in 1824.

Oxley had two sons with Emma Norton (1798-1885), whom he married in 1821 and earlier two daughters by Charlotte Thorpe and one by Elizabeth Marnon.

The Oxley Highway in New South Wales, the Federal electorate of Oxley (Queensland), the New South Wales Electoral district of Oxley, the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park and the suburbs of Oxley in Brisbane and Canberra are named after Oxley.

The John Oxley Library, part of the State Library of Queensland, is dedicated to preserving and making available Queensland's documentary history.

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