To The Inland Sea was Edward Stokes’ first book on Australian exploration. It records the inland expedition of Charles Sturt in 1844 – 45. Like the two publications that followed, the book combines the explorer’s writings with Stokes’ photographs of the country explored.In August 1844 Charles Sturt, who as a younger man had discovered the Murray River, left Adelaide with heavily equipped bullock wagons to search for an ‘inland sea’. Evidence already indicated that no such feature could possibly exist. Yet Sturt was buoyed by deep if misguided hopes; and, to some extent, deluded and driven by obsessions. Far from discovering an ‘inland sea’, his journey led Sturt and his men directly into the forbidding wastes of the Simpson Desert, Australia’s most arid region.The expedition was the first large attempt to penetrate the continent’s heart. Desolate and waterless country was the norm, isolated watering places the exceptions. Hunger and thirst soon became daily ordeals. On one occasion the expedition was trapped by a water hole for six months. After fifteen months Sturt, his hopes of discovering the ‘inland sea’ totally crushed, was forced to retreat. Yet, despite often being desperate to survive, he had maintained considerate (though sometimes misunderstood) relations with the region’s Aborigines.A poor old black woman, shrivelled and emaciated, came down to our pool to water. She was all but exhausted and drank deeply at the water’s edge. The men gave her something to eat, and made a bed for her by their fire.


To the Inland Sea by Edward Stokes