Stuart referred to his men as his Companions. There were 33 Companions over the six expeditions:

Expedition One – May to September 1858

Only two Companions travelled with Stuart; George Forster, (sometimes referred to as William), and a person referred to as ‘our black’ by Stuart in his journal. It is believed the person was an aboriginal youth.

Expedition Two – April to July 1859

There were three Companions on the second expedition. David Hergott was a botanist and naturalist who had travelled with BH Babbage in 1858 on his exploration west and north of Lake Torrens, 1858. Hergott found springs which Stuart named after him. The name of the springs was changed at the time of World War 1 from Hergott Springs to Marree.

Two Stockmen; Louis Muller, and Campbell (no initial) also accompanied Stuart. Louis Muller was 24 years old when he joined the expedition. Arriving in S.A. as an eleven year old, he had been a bullock driver, shepherd and a stock rider before he departed for the Victorian goldfields, where he also conducted a produce business. Arriving back in Adelaide in 1858, he was included in Stuarts party because he had mining experience. The search for minerals was a major objective of Stuarts 2nd and 3rd expeditions. Muller was recognised as a competent amateur botanist and an excellent horseman. After leaving Stuart, Louis Muller was engaged to pilot cattle to the most distant run in the Colony – The Peake, where he remained for a couple of years. This was the same country he had twice traversed with Stuart. In later life Muller became the proprietor of the well known Maid and Magpie Hotel in Adelaide, until his death in 1891, aged 56 years.

Of Campbell nothing is known.

Expedition Three – November 1859 to January 1860

This expedition left Oratunga, Chambers head station with four men and twelve horses fully equipped for three months. It was on this expedition that William Kekwick first joined Stuart.

William Kekwick

W.D. Kekwick. Second-in-command on the last four of Stuart's trips. A reliable, loyal and capable bushman.

He died while on the very early stages of a trip led by William Christie Gosse, which was attempting to cross the continent to the west coast, departing from Beltana, Flinders Ranges, South Australia. He is buried in the Blinman Cemetery, South Australia.

Kekwick was second in command for all the subsequent expeditions. Louis Muller was again with Stuart. H. Strong and Smith (no initial) were the other members.

Expedition Four – March 1860 to September 1860

Kekwick was now on his second expedition with Stuart. Benjamin Head was the only other person who could be found to accompany this expedition.

Kekwick's grave

Rick Moore, president of the John McDouall Stuart Society, at Kekwick's grave.

Kekwick died at Nuccaleena, near Blinman, while third in command and botanist on an expedition led by W.C. Gosse, which aimed to travel acroos to the west coast of the continent. His grave at Blinman, pictured here, has been restored.

Expedition Five – November 1860 to September 1861

Benjamin Head, John Woodforde, David Thompson, Albert James Lawrence, WilliamMasters and John A. Thomas were the advance party who left Adelaide on 10th October .

The remainder of the party left Adelaide on 31 October in Kekwick‘s charge; these were Edward E. Bayliffe, John Wall, Joseph H. Ewart and Francis Thring. Stuart left Adelaide on 1st November. From the terminus of the railway, then Kapunda, he travelled by mail coach to Clare, where he overtook Kekwick’s party. Head did not travel past Moolooloo, where he was replaced by Sullivan, a shoeing smith.

The party was soon after reduced to ten – Bayliffe and Thomas were sent back with unfit horses.

Expedition Six – The South Australian Great Northern Exploring Expedition. December 1861 to December 1862.

Members of Stuart's sixth expedition

Members of Stuart's sixth expedition: Rear - W.P. Auld, J. Billiatt, F. Thring; Front: J. Frew, W. Kekwick, F. Waterhouse, S. King. Absent: J.McD. Stuart, H. Nash, J. McGorrery.

Kekwick, Thring and Woodforde were re-engaged. The Government employed F.G. Waterhouse as a scientific companion. Frederick George Waterhouse was the first curator of the South Australian Museum. The new members of the party were Stephen King Jnr, W.P. Auld, James Frew Jnr, John Billiatt, Heath Nash, John McGorrery and Jeffries (no first name given), making twelve in all, the same number as had started on the fifth expedition.

Jeffries was dismissed early in the expedition for insubordination. Woodforde deserted the expedition.The ten successful members of the party are listed here with their age on the day of the expeditions departure form North Adelaide.

  • John William Billiatt
    19 years, 1 month
  • Stephen King Jnr
    19 years, 10 months
  • James Frew Jnr
    21 years, 4 days
  • William Patrick Auld, Assistant
    21 years, 5 months
  • John McGorrery, Shoeing Smith
    21 years, 9 months
  • Heath Nash
    23 years, 1 month
  • Francis William Thring, Third Officer
    24 years, 5 months
  • William Darton Kekwick, Second in Command
    38 years, 10 months
  • John McDouall Stuart, Commander
    46 years, 1 month
  • Frederick George Waterhouse, Naturalist
    46 years, 2 months

Several authors named James Frew as the youngest member of the expedition, and the story is told that Stuart delayed the start of the expedition so that Frew might celebrate his 18th birthday. That story is not correct – Billiatt was the youngest member. If the expedition was delayed, it was to celebrate Frew’s 21st birthday.

Members Place and Date of Birth

The members of the South Australian Great Northern Exploring Expedition (the sixth, and successful expedition) are listed here with their place and date of birth gleaned from records held by the John McDouall Stuart Society Inc.

  • John McDouall Stuart
    07/09/1815- Dysart, Fifeshire, Scotland
  • William Darton Kekwick
    03/12/1822 – East Ham, Essex, England
  • Francis William Thring
    01/05/1837 – Netherhampton, Wiltshire, England
  • William Patrick Auld
    27/05/1840 – Stalybridge, near Manchester, England
  • Stephen King Jnr
    15/12/1841 – Kingsford (near Gawler) South Australia
  • John William Billiatt
    11/09/1842 – Honington, Lincolnshire, England
  • James Frew Jnr
    21/10/1840 – Adelaide, South Australia
  • Heath Nash
    02/10/1838 – Adelaide, South Australia
  • John McGorrery
    ?/01/1840 – County Tyrone, Ireland  (McGorrerys d.o.b. is an estimation based on his age and date of death recorded on his headstone)
  • Frederick George Waterhouse
    25/08/1815 – London, England

Members Date of Death, Age and Place of Internment

  • John McDouall Stuart
    05/06/1866 – 50 years; Kensal Green Cemetery, London
  • William Darton Kekwick
    16/10/1872 – 49 years; Blinman Cemetery, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
  • Francis William Thring
    17/07/1908 – 71 years; West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide, South Australia
  • William Patrick Auld
    02/09/1912 – 72 years; West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide, South Australia
  • Stephen King Jnr
    07/10/1915 – 74 years; North Road Cemetery, Nailsworth, South Australia
  • John William Billiatt
    06/04/1919 – 76 years; St Michael The Archangel Church, West Hill, Ottery St Mary, Devon, England
  • James Frew Jn
    08/09/1877 – 36 years; West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide, South Australia
  • Heath Nash
    10/12/1913 – 75 years; Payneham Cemetery, Payneham, Adelaide, South Australia
  • John McGorrery
    09/01/1914 – 74 years; West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide, South Australia
  • Frederick George Waterhouse
    07/09/1898 – 83 years; St Georges Cemetery, Magill, South Australia

Stuart’s Sponsors

James Chambers, Stuart’s best friend and sponsor.

James Chambers

James Chambers. Friend and sponsor of John McDouall Stuart, he was affectionately known as 'Jemmy'.

With strong interests in horses, transport, mining and pastoralism, he was also referred to as Greenhide Chambers because of his toughness. He died just before Stuart and his Companions returned from their final and successful Expedition.
John Chambers, younger brother to James, and co-sponsor.

John Chambers

John Chambers. Younger brother of James; also a friend and sponsor of Stuart.

His eye patch was always made from green material of a former dress belonging to his wife.

Unfortunately, no images exist of William Finke.