Ernest Giles - Perth, WA

Ernest Giles (1835 to 1897)

Ernest Giles arrived in New South Wales in 1851. His first expedition in 1865 explored the country west of Darling River. In 1872 he led his second expedition to explore central Australia west of the overland telegraph line.

In 1875 on his third expedition Giles arrived in Perth after successfully completing the crossing of central Australia from Beltana Station in South Australia which he departed on 6 May 1875 to reach the West Australian coast. Giles used camels for crossing the harsh Australian deserts instead of horses. When speaking about his camels in Perth he said: "When I say the personnel of the expedition behaved as well as the camels, I cannot formulate greater praise".

The lush, oasis like quality of Palm Valley now makes it one of the most visited sites of the centre. The valley was discovered by explorer Ernest Giles who must have found it paradise after the country he had traversed. The tall stands of palms, livistona mariae found here, grow nowhere else in the world, and are estimated to be over 5,000 years old. The palms are survivors from the days when central Australia was much less arid than it is today.

In earlier expeditions he sited and named Mount Olga but not Ayers Rock (Uluru) which was named by explorer William Gosse on an expedition that crossed paths with Giles the same year. Gosse named Ayers Rock after the former Premier of South Australia Sir Henry Ayers.

Coolgardie in Western Australia, 40 kilometres to the west of Kambalda is the final resting place of Ernest Giles who after his magnificent explorations of Australia became a mere mortal like us all; joining the gold rush to this town. He spent the last years of his life as a clerk in the Mine Warden’s Office. He died here of bronchial pneumonia in 1897 aged 62. His grave may be found in the local cemetery.

Location

Perth, WA, 6000