top of page
Across_The_Centre 2 c.jpg

Photographer and Author: Edward Stokes

Publisher: Allen & Unwin (Sydney), 1996    

Format: Hardback, 280mm x 250mm, 168pp.

Photos: Colour  

ISBN: 1-86448-038-6

Across The Centre is Edward Stokes’ book on the explorer John McDouall Stuart. Created from McDouall Stuart’s journal quotes, and Stokes’ photos of the terrain that Stuart crossed, the book recounts an historic saga. Stuart’s final success, reaching the northern coast near the future Darwin, greatly assisted Australia’s later national development.


Described in his times as “the king of Australian explorers”, McDouall Stuart travelled with Charles Sturt (see To The Inland Sea) in 1844 – 45. By the 1850s he was a superlative bushman. During rapid horse journeys in the 1850s, he surveyed and mapped much of the country north of Adelaide.

Then, from 1860 – 62, Stuart committed to finding a practicable – if arid – route “across the centre”. His three expeditions in those years were marvels of horse-back traverse, using small parties that could travel rapidly between scarce watering places. During Stuart’s three expeditions, and three grim retreats, he rode over 14,000 kilometres. Yet, amidst forbidding terrain, across vast distances, Stuart never lost a single man.


Stuart’s tenacity of purpose, his repeated journeys into the interior, hardships, and privations – these, ending with his crowning success of 1862, marked the greatest achievement in the European exploration of Australia.


Stuart’s final victory in reaching the north coast came at a bitter cost. His health had been shattered by cumulative privations. He died soon afterwards, virtually unknown – and little recognized. In this gripping, visual account, Edward Stokes shows that although Burke, Eyre, and Sturt are today better known – John McDouall Stuart was by far the greater explorer.

BOOK 12.jpg

Low sand hills in northern South Australia. Retracing Stuart’s line-of-march, Ed Stokes and his co-driver pause for lunch. Their four-wheel drive is sheltered from the extreme heat by shade from a sparse clump of mulga trees.  

Look Inside The Book 


bottom of page