Johannes Menge (1788–1852) was born in Steinau, Germany, received little formal education but acquired much mineralogical expertise travelling throughout Europe.
Arriving at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island in January 1837 as the South Australian Company’s mine and quarry agent and geologist, Menge later encouraged George Fife Angas’s speculative land purchase and German settlement in the Barossa Valley.
A solitary eccentric, he experimented with various crops and discovered many rocks and minerals, including opal near Angaston. Leaving ‘Menge’s Island’ at the junction of Jacob’s Creek and the North Para River in 1842, he resumed his fossicking rambles and continued selling mineral specimens.
Teaching languages, Menge edited the first bi-lingual newspaper in Australia, Die Deutsche Post für die Australischen Colonien (The German-Australian Post) in 1848. He died at Castlemaine, Victoria, while seeking sufficient gold to establish a Christian mission to China.