In 1833, a Galicia-born Austrian naturalist named Johan Lhotsky arrived in Sydney. He was an author and artist, specializing in botany, geology, geography, zoology, and politics.
Lhotsky was born of Czech parents, and after studying in Munich, returned home to find his country under the rule of the Tsar of Russia.
Lhotsky escaped a bloody revolt against the Russian oppressors, and fled to Munich, where he excelled in biological and zoological research to the extent that he was awarded a grant by Ludwig I of Bavaria to explore and describe the ‘new world’.
After a period in South America, he landed in Australia.
Lhotsky arrived in Australia virtually broke, and after having no luck in applying for the job of Colonialist Zoologist, tried unsuccesfully to make a living by giving lectures.
Although Lhotsky was outspokenly critical of the Governor of the day, he managed to convince the Administration that be given a commission to explore and document the unknown lands to the south of Sydney. Four convicts were assigned to his party.
Lhotsky’s first stop was in what is now the Canberra region of New South Wales. He spent some time there staying at Limestone Cottage, the homestead of Robert Campbell.
During this time Lhotsky documented in detail the Kimberley Plains and the Molonglo River Valley. He befriended local Aboriginal tribes and compiled a dictionary of the language of the Monaro tribe.
This was the first time such a dictionary of the indigenous population had been done.
Heading further south and guided by local Aborigines, Lhotsky arrived at Cuma Hut, the present-day site of Cooma.
He then proceeded around Mt Kosciosko, to the present location of Jindabyne, where he crossed and named the Snowy River.
Although the end point of Lhotsky’s journey is unknown, he is credited with having reached the Livingstone Creek at the present location of Omeo.
Lhotsky’s convict companions refused to travel further south because of dwindling rations, and he was forced to retreat, and head back to Sydney.
At some point on the Livingstone Creek, Lhotsky found an ounce of gold, washed from the sand.
He returned to Sydney in 1834, where it is said he smelted the gold into buttons, and paraded the streets.
Lhotsky again tried in vain to apply for the vacant position of Colonial Zoologist after having brought back a comprehensive collection of botanical, zoological and mineral specimens.
He was eventually employed by a Sydney newspaper and began agitating the Governor and Administration, to the extent that the newspaper became unpopular, and his creditors began chasing him.
Lhotsky managed to escape his creditors, and in 1835, along with much of his specimens, left Sydney, only to appear in Hobart.
He again fell into financial difficulty, and with his fare paid for by friends, returned to London.
Lhotsky died at the Dalston German Hospital in London on 23 November 1866 in apparent dire poverty.
Ref. and further reading: Echoes From The Mountains by A.M.Pearson.