BURKE & WILLS
WHILE the creek had been “discovered” by Sturt, it was the doomed expedition of Burke and Wills, 15 years later, that welded the stream into the Australian psyche. Here along this verdant waterway, where hundreds of Aboriginal people lived and thrived for hundreds of years, Burke and Wills died, after they crossed Australia from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. It was a dazzling and bungling expedition right from the start, but to visit the places where their bodies were discovered is still a right of passage many Australians feel they should do. A little farther east of Innamincka at the famed Dig Tree, where the Burke and Wills expedition had set up a major depot on the north bank of the Cooper, the tree that marks the spot is visited by hundreds of travellers each winter tourist season. We did the same and wondered how these brave men died and the circumstances that saw them come so close to success. With a salute to their courage and a doff of the hat to their memory, we turned eastward and headed to another great pub on the banks of yet another waterhole... but that’s another story.