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A bit on Burke & Wills


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The expedition of Burke and Wills was one of the largest to ever be undertaken in Australian history - and one of the most tragic.


Robert O'Hara Burke, with William Wills 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 mis-communications, Burke and Wills never met up with the relief party. They perished on the banks of Cooper Creek. 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.

Burke and Wills, whilst possibly the first to actually cross the continent, essentially lost the race to John MacDougall Stuart who crossed Australia on his third attempt and returned alive.

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The expedition of Burke and Wills was one of the largest to ever be undertaken in Australian history - and one of the most tragic.

They set out from Melbourne in August 1860.... .

Just back from a stunning holiday in a wonderful 5 star cottage on Skye. Among the local book and maps in the cottage was one called 'Across the Outback' created for the Readers Digest.

For you it was my after dinner read :-)

Basically a glossy version of the story of a camel expert who builds a team to retrace the foosteps of Burke and Wills in the 'winter' as his theory is the original expedition failed because it was in the summer. They chose summer to ensure drinking water (rain).

It has loads of unusual/nteresting detail (e.g. large population of wild camels) and a good idea of what climate advantages v problems in winter and summer.

I couldn't borrow the book, so suggest you get a copy of the Digest version or the original 'In the steps of Burke and Wills' 1981 Published by the Australian Broadcasting Commisson.




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Thanks for that, I will hunt it down. I don't think any fixed decision has been taken yet about the expedition. The way is open for all sorts of detail to change apart from the year - 2010. LOL

Here you will find a great Google Earth trail following Burke & Wills with text and photos. If you have GE loaded on your computer click the links at the top of the page.


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Just a little climatology



The northern third of Australia lies in the tropics and so is warm or hot the year around. The rest of the country lies south of the tropics and has warm summers and mild or cool winters.

In winter, many parts of the south have occasional frosts. But the Australian Alps and the interior of Tasmania are the only areas of the country where temperatures remain below freezing for more than a day or so at a time.

Australia receives most of its moisture as rain.

Snow falls only in Tasmania and the Australian Alps. About a third of the country is desert and receives less than 10 inches (25 centimetres) of rain a year. The deserts are too barren even for the grazing of livestock. Much of the rest of Australia has less than 20 inches (51 centimetres) of rainfall annually. Few crops can be grown in these regions without irrigation. The heaviest rainfall occurs along the north, east, southeast, and extreme southwest coasts.

The Seasons

Australia lies south of the equator, and so its seasons are opposite those in the Northern Hemisphere. The southern part of the continent has four distinct seasons. Winter, the wettest and coolest season in Australia, lasts from June through August. Summer, which is the hottest and driest season, lasts from December through February.

Tropical northern Australia has only two seasons--a wet season and a dry one. The wet season corresponds with summer and lasts from November through April. The dry season corresponds with winter and lasts from May through October.

The wet season brings heavy downpours and violent storms, especially on Australia's north coast. In 1974, for example, a cyclone almost levelled the northern coastal city of Darwin. Floods plague many parts of Australia during the wet season. However, droughts are usually a far more serious problem. Nearly every section of Australia has a drought during the country's annual dry season.

Water conservation measures prevent these droughts from doing serious harm in most cases. However, Australia also has periods when little or no rain falls even during the wet season. These droughts can cause severe water shortages.


Seasonal variations in wind patterns are controlled by shifts in the position of the high-pressure belt (which forms part of the global sub-tropical ridge), from the southern portions of the continent in summer to the latitudes of central Australia in winter. During the warmer half of the year (October – March), the ridge is located in the south of the area; most of the prevailing winds are from the southeast quadrant. During autumn the mean position of the ridge moves north and remains over the centre of the continent for the cooler months (April to September), and winds tend to be lighter. Gale force winds (in excess of 61kph) are uncommon, being most frequent from October to December when they are observed on average one day per month

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  • 4 months later...


I am just going over the route and looking at peoples you tube vids from driving on or close to the route.

Here are a couple.

close to Point 26 of the above (GE) route 'Broken Hill'

close to Point 47 of above route, 'Diamantima River'

And The Morning Glory! at the end of our trip. 'The Morning Glory, a spectacular roll cloud which occurs only in the outback of the southern Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia, is one of the world's most exotic and interesting meteorological phenomena.'


Bring it on!


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Hey chaps i wouldn't worry about the clouds so much, just all those things crawling around on the ground my recommendation to the itinerary would be some jolly well rolled up newspapers preferably splat (got the little blighter) lol :D Alan

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