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Hann, Frank Hugh (1846–1921)

Frank Hugh Hann, aged 75, the well-known explorer, died at a private hospital at Cottesloe (W.A.). He was born at Dorsetshire, and came to Australia 70 years ago, travelling over land from the Gulf of Carpentaria to Hall's Creek, thence to Mount Dockerell, where he found good gold. Later he travelled all over West Australia, and was the first white man who went to the top of Mount Broome. He named Mount Ord, Mount Clifton, Mount Smith, Mount Elizabeth, Synnot Range, and other places now well known. He also put on the map Isadell, Charley, and Sprigs Rivers, and he reported the first rabbit at Southern Cross, which led eventually to the erection of rabbit-proof fences.

He located the good mineral country on the Phillips River and at Ravensthorpe. In 1901, near Brummer Range, he was four days without water. He found a good track through the desert to Warburton Range, and came upon many minerals, including agates. One of these he presented to Sir Joseph Ward, who had it made into a brooch for Lady Ward. In addition he located the copper lodes at Warburton Ranges, and found the stock route to Oodnadatta.

In 1918 he broke his hip in two places at his camp eight miles from Lavender. He complained that for all his work he only received £600 from the West Australian Mines Department.

"Notable Among Notables."—Possibly no other man knew more about the Back of Beyond than this modest but splendidly practical explorer, whose name will not be found in any book of Australian notabilities, though he was a notable amongst notables. For half a century and more he pioneered in the spacious distances of Central Australia, searching its potentialities from the Gulf country to the mouth of the Murray, and from Lake Torrens to the arid hinterland of the West. A magnificent stockman and tireless toiler, he studied the aboriginals of the interior, and earning their goodwill, learned some of their strange secrets. In physique small and frail of body, but with the heart of a lion and a big soul, nothing daunted him. "Ginger for pluck"—for he was red-headed, with bushy eyebrows—had full value of his compressed energy.

Many times effort was made to persuade him to settle in the big cities after his traffic in the wilderness, but always the stock routes and the trackless plains called him. At intervals of months or years he would breeze in from Over There, be inveigled into a yarn of thrilling adventure, and then disappear as quietly as he arrived, and remain beyond reach, until a wire from some forlorn desert station would disclose that he was again immersed in his pursuit of knowledge. Frank Hann, almost unknown, always shunning, the limelight, was one of Australia's most fruitful explorers.

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'Hann, Frank Hugh (1846–1921)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 29 October 2020.

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