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Prospecting for munition minerals in the Kimberley

In 1915 a South Australian mining syndicate commissioned Herbert Basedow to investigate a possible ore deposit in the Napier Ranges in the western Kimberley region.

For Basedow the trip presented an opportunity to explore a little-known area of Western Australia. The Australian Museum gave him £50 to extend his travels in the region. In return, Basedow would provide the museum with natural history and geological specimens and Aboriginal artefacts.

Map outlining the expedition in 1916. The stylised map shows the expedition routes between Wyndham and Derby in north west Western Australia. White lines show the overland and water routes taken to places such as Sunday Island, Forrest River and Kimberley Downs. A small map of Australia in the top left hand corner shows the main map area covered.
Map outlining the 1916 expedition route through the Napier Ranges and the Western Kimberley region in Western Australia

Basedow reached Derby in March 1916, stopping on the way to photograph Aboriginal rock engravings at Port Hedland. From Napier Downs station he inspected the deposit but no minerals of value were found. From Derby he made journeys to Port George IV, and to the Forrest River Mission via Wyndham.

While in the Kimberley, Basedow used a glass negative camera and two film cameras. He took many photographs of Aboriginal people as well as the pastoral and mission stations where he stayed.

Read more on the 1916 expedition

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