In the Hands of Providence
The desert journeys of David Carnegie
by Bill Peasley. A4 size, illustrated, 246pp
In 1896 a little-known Scot, David Carnegie, set out from Coolgardie to cross some of the most inhospitable country in the world – Western Australia’s forbidding Gibson and Great Sandy deserts.
Armed with an abundance of youthful energy and faith, and a modicum of navigational skills, he succeeded not only in conquering those tractless wastes, but, after a short lay-up in Halls Creek, he repeated the journey from north to south.
While the Royal Geographic Society in London hailed the feat as ‘remarkable and important’, the young explorer felt – with some justification – short-changed by an officialdom that largely ignored him.
This examination of David Carnegie’s life and achievements seeks to put the record straight and place him firmly among that select band of truly great Australian explorers. Working with new material from the Carnegie family archives at Kinnaird Castle in Montrose, author William Peasley offers a fascinating profile of ambition and courage, and a rewarding glimpse into the rambunctious eastern goldfields and the compelling solitude of the desert.
Peasley highlights Carnegie’s great respect for the Aboriginal nomads he encountered, the desperate race to survive as water ran out, and the enormous camaraderie of the expedition, even in the face of personal tragedy.