FAVENC, Ernest (c. 1846-1908)


FAVENC, Ernest (c. 1846-1908)
explorer and author
was born in London in 1845 or 1846, and educated in Germany and England. Emigrating to Australia in 1863 he worked for a year in Sydney, and then had experience on a station in northern Queensland. He began to write for the press, under the name of "Dramingo" and in 1878 was asked by the proprietor of the Queenslander to organize a party to go out and report on the country between Blackall and Darwin. It had been proposed that the Queensland railways should be linked up with Darwin, but not much was known of the country to be traversed. In July 1878 Favenc with two other white men and an aborigine set out from Blackall, made their way to Cork station on the Diamantina, and then proceeded north-west through unexplored country between the Burke and Herbert Rivers to Buchanan's Creek, which was followed for some distance. Striking north the party came to Corella Lagoon. Still keeping north they came to Creswell Creek, which was followed for some distance west. The last permanent water found, named Adder waterholes, was only 90 miles from the telegraph line. But it was by now extremely hot and the first attempt to reach the line resulted in the loss of three horses from want of water. It was decided to wait for better weather and, though their rations were rapidly running out, the party succeeded in living on the country by shooting wild ducks and other birds, and using blue bush and pig-weed as vegetables. In January 1879 some thunderstorms brought them welcome water, and Powell Creek station and Darwin were quickly reached. Some good pastoral country was discovered which has since been stocked. Four years later Favenc did some useful exploring in the country to the south of the Gulf of Carpentaria, and he also explored country in the north-west of Western Australia.
Favenc was doing a fair amount of journalistic work at this time and by 1887 settled down to literary work. His first separate publication had been an interesting little pamphlet, The Great Austral Plain, which appeared in 1881, in which he discussed the future of the interior of Australia with much knowledge and good sense. In 1887 he published a short book on Western Australia and in 1888 appeared his excellent History of Australian Exploration. He collected some of his short stories from periodicals The Last of Six: Tales of the Austral Tropics in 1893, of which another edition under the title of Tales of the Austral Tropics appeared in 1894. The Secret of the Australian Desert, a short novel, was published in 1895, and was followed by Marooned on Australia and The Moccasins of Silence, both published in 1896. My Only Murder and other Tales another collection of short stories appeared in 1899, a pamphlet on the Physical Configuration of the Australian Continent in 1905, and in the same year a collection of his verse Voices of the Desert, dedicated to his wife. His last work, The Explorers of Australia and their Life-work, was published in 1908. He had been in broken health for some years and he died on 14 November of that year.
Favenc was an excellent explorer, resolute yet careful, a born bushman. His own experiences enabled him to speak with authority in his two books dealing with the exploration of Australia. He was a good journalist who did much work for the Bulletin, his verse is capable and vigorous, his three romances are still readable, and his short stories are always competent and interesting.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 November 1908; The Bulletin, 19 November 1908; E. Morris Miller, Australian Literature; E. Favenc, History of Australian Exploration, pp. 274-6 and 284.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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