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Sunday 21 October 2018

Henri Gilbert walking Australia - 1898

One of the treasures in the State Library collection is a diary unearthed by French language scholar Dr Colin Dyer some years ago. The diary is the work of French journalist Henri Gilbert who set off in 1895 on an ambitious attempt to walk around the world. This difficult and dangerous adventure was as the result of a wager of £10,000 between six wealthy acquaintances of the adventurer, three of them backing Henri to succeed and the other three betting on failure. There was also the prospect of publishing a book of his adventures from which he expected to make no less than £20,000. The diary belonging to the John Oxley Library covers Gilbert’s trek across Australia, in detail, from Albany in Western Australia to Yacka in South Australia. At that point the detailed diary entries cease, perhaps once continuing in another volume, but the remainder of the book contains certificates of visits, cuttings from newspapers and photographs which outline the rest of his journey as far as Brisbane where he arrived on Christmas Eve 1898. Henri Gilbert’s diary has been digitised by the library and Colin Dyer has translated the text as A Frenchman’s walk across the Nullarborwhich was published by Melbourne University Press in 2000.

French Pedestrian walking across Australia

Gilbert in Fowlers Bay

Gilbert in Gawler

Gilbert in Adelaide

Gilbert arrives in Melbourne

Gilbert Impersonator - June 1898

Gilbert collapses in Nhill

Gilbert near Ballarat - 1898

Gilbert in Albury - 1898

Gilbert arrives in Wagga - 1898

Gilbert in Moss Vale - 1898

Gilbert in Campbelltown - 1898 (local library link )

Gilbert in Queensland - 1900

Gilbert arrives in Darwin - 1901

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