In the early part of eighteen hundred, little was known of the interior of Australia, as very few foreigners had ventured into the center of this enormous continent. Yet one man, Paweł Strzelecki, a Polish nobleman, geologist, and notable explorer, did just that, discovering the highest mountain in Australia in the process!
Paweł Strzelecki left Poland around 1829 due to Prussian – Russian occupation of his homeland. First, he settled in England and, in 1834 left for North America. Here he traveled widely, analyzing soil and examining minerals across the West Coast (from Chile to California and Canada). Around 1839, Strzelecki sailed for New Zealand and from there to Australia, where he discovered gold and silver. However, his passion lay in exploration, and in 1839 he and a small group of men (including two Aboriginal guides) set out on an expedition into the Australian Alps in New South Wales.
On that long expedition, in early March 1840, Strzelecki climbed and named the highest peak in Australia – Mount Kosciuszko. The name was given in honor of Polish freedom fighter Tadeusz Kosciuszko, one of the national heroes of Poland and the American Revolutionary War of Independence.
And if that wasn’t enough, Strzelecki then embarked on another expedition, this time to the little known island of the south coast of Australia called Van Diemen’s Land (the name was later dropped due to strong connotation to the word “demon” (from which Tasmanian Devil, a ferocious carnivorous marsupial is named after).
This is the history of the name – Mount Kosciuszko, but on our present trip (On holidays, 2023), we realized that we’ve been following in the footsteps of Paweł Strzelecki already since April! With that in mind, we also will head to Van Diemen’s Land next month – the island now known as Tasmania! Wish us luck, and see you next month… hopefully!
P.S. But I would also like to raise another point: before white explorers attempted to “discover” Australia, this ancient land and all its places had been named by the Aborigines of this continent for centuries. Mount Kosciuszko (as we know it today) was called Kunama Namadgi, meaning “snow and mountain.” Simple and to the point!
Excerpt from my journal, from our trip across Australia, 2023