BURKE & WILLS

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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.

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