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Australian Explorers

Sunday, June 30, 1861. :   Explorer Robert O'Hara Burke dies on the banks of Cooper Creek.

     Robert O'Hara Burke, with William Wills later appointed second-in-command, led the expedition to try to cross Australia from south to north and back again. They set out from Melbourne in August 1860, farewelled by around 15,000 people. The exploration party was very well equipped, and subsequently very large. Because of its size, the exploration party was split at Menindee so that Burke could push ahead to the Gulf of Carpentaria with a smaller party. The smaller group went on ahead to establish the depot at Cooper Creek which would serve to offer the necessary provisions for when the men returned from the Gulf. After several unsuccessful forays into the northern dry country from Cooper Creek, Burke decided to push on ahead to the Gulf in December 1860, regardless of the risks. He took with him Wills, Charles Gray and John King.

The expedition to the Gulf took longer than Burke anticipated: upon his return to Cooper Creek, he found that the relief party had left just seven hours earlier, less than the amount of time it had taken to bury Gray, who had died on the return journey. Through poor judgement, lack of observation and a series of miscommunications, Burke and Wills never met up with the relief party. They perished on the banks of Cooper Creek. Burke died on or around 30 June 1861. King alone survived to lead the rescue party to the remains of Burke and Wills, and the failure of one of the most elaborately planned expeditions in Australia's history.


Today in History

Thought For Today
When I am afraid, O Lord Almighty, I put my trust in you.
Psalms 56:3 (c) GNB
Never doubt that your Heavenly Father has your eternal care in mind.

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