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Biographical entry Giles, William Ernest Powell (Ernest) (1835 - 1897)

20 July 1835
Bristol, England
13 November 1897
Coolgardie, Western Australia, Australia


Ernest Giles was an explorer who travelled through western New South Wales from 1861 to 1865 (to assess its pastoral uses) and across large tracts of central Australia from 1872 to 1876. His first trip to central Australia (1872) was as part of Dr Mueller's exploration team. Much to Giles' dismay the party turned back once they reached the inaccessible Missionaries' Plain. During his third attempt to go deeper into the desert, one of his co-explorers died and the Gibson's Desert was named in his memory. Finally in 1875, with camels for transport, Giles achieved his long-term goal of crossing from South Australia (Beltana) to Western Australia (Perth). He took a different route on the return trip and passed through Murchison, the Gibson's Desert and Rawlinson Ranges. Giles eventually returned to Victoria where he worked as a land classifier then moved to Coolgardie in Western Australia where he was a clerk in the warden's office. Ernest Giles published several works detailing his travels across Australia and was made a knight of the crown of Italy and an honorary member of many Continental societies. His biggest award was receiving a fellowship and gold medal from the Royal Geographical Society in London.



Life event - Migrated to Australia (Adelaide)
Career position - Moved to Victoria to work the goldfields
1861 - 1865
Career position - Pastoral land explorations of western New South Wales
1872 - 1874
Career position - Mueller expeditions in central Australia
1875 - 1876
Career position - Overland crossing from South Australia to Western Australia and back
Taxonomy event - Collector of the type Eucalyptus rameliana F. Muell.
1877 - 1879
Career position - Land Classifier in the Western District of Victoria
Award - Fellow and Gold Medallist of the Royal Geographical Society, London
Taxonomy event - Collector of the type Eucalyptus sessilis (Maiden) Blakely

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions


  • Dow, E. B., On the Burke and Wills Track: the Giles inscription (Broken Hill: 1937). Details
  • Giles, Ernest, Geographical Travels in Central Australia from 1872 to 1874 (Melbourne: M'Carron, Bird & Co., 1875), 223 pp. Details
  • Giles, Ernest, Australia twice traversed : the romance of exploration, being a narrative compiled from the journals of five exploring expeditions into and through Central South Australia, and Western Australia, from 1872 to 1876 (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1889). Details
  • Green, L., Ernest Giles (Melbourne: 1963). Details

Book Sections

Edited Books

  • Giles, Ernest ed., The journal of a forgotten expedition in 1875 (Adelaide: W.K. Thomas &‚Äč Co, 1880), 26 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Young, J., 'Recent Journey of Exploration Across the Continent of Australia', Journal of the American Geographical Society, 10 (1878). Details


McCarthy, G.J.