[2014] Mark Cuskelly (5/6 Russell): Burke and Wills

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by Flossy
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Social Studies
Explorers and Discovers

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[2014] Mark Cuskelly (5/6 Russell): Burke and Wills

The ExpoditionIn around the 1850s to the 1870s, Australia was avery popular place to explore because it was recently discovered and hadn't been explored as much the other continents and islands.Robert Burke, and William Wills gathered a team of 19 men to join them on their journey to explore Australia, and of course they also had their three camels and burke's horse Billy. The expodition started in Melbourne at the bottom of Australia and then went up to the gulf of Carpentaria at the top of Australia, on that journey they would go through all Victoria, New South, and Queensland to travel a total distance of approximately 3,250 kilometers.On 20 August 1860, at around 4pm, the expedition set out from Melbourne's Royal Park. They were farewelled by many people there, almost 15,000 in fact, a band played songs, and even speaches were made. As they left, they thought they were going to come back with glory and that they would come back and pass down stories of their great adventure, but what they did not know is that they would not be coming back.They spent their first night at Essendon, and seventeen days later they arrived at swan hill. The wether was kind to them but the terrain was still extremly challenging, many of their wagons had broken down, in fact one of their wagons broke down befor it had even left Melbourne. But the two explorers keept going.On the 11 of November they reached Coopers's Creek, and they set camp by a big tree. This was the 65th time they had set camp so they carved into the tree the number 65 in roman numerals (LXV) with an axe. And a couple of days later they finaly made it to carentaria and started to make their way back home to Melbourne, even though they did not have enogh food. On 16 December, Burke, Wills, King and Gray set out from Camp LXV. Than it started to rain, the rain was good, and fresh water was abundant. They pressed on, and around 9 February they found themselves on the Flinders River. The water was salty, and showed a strong tidal rise and fall which told the explorers that they were near the sea. Leaving King and Gray with the camels, which could not be got through the swampy mangrove country, Burke and Wills took three days' supplies and set out to break through to the coast.They advanced another 15 miles before admitting defeat. As Burke wrote in his notebook during the return, 'It would be well to say that we reached the sea but we could not obtain a view of the open ocean, although we made every endeavour to do so'.Burke and Wills made their way back to camp LXV and not soon after that thet ran out of food and on 4 March 1861, they shot one of their camels and 'feasted' on the meat. Within 26 days they had shot two more. On 10 April, Burke shot his horse Billy. :( Gray continued to weaken and died on 17 April. His companions, despite their weakness, spent a day burying him.On the evening of 21 April, Burke, Wills and King entered Camp LXV, which was deserted. Cut into a tree was the message DIG 3FT NW APR 21 1861. They did so and found a cache of suppliesWasting no time Burke, Wills and King set out from Camp LXV on 22 April 1861, hoping to reach settled outposts in South Australia which were much closer than Menindie. They filled in the cache-pit, but left notes of their own in case someone returned to examine it. The notes stated that they had moved down the Creek and were badly in need of food and clothing.After their return to the Cooper, the men became increasingly dependent on the generosity of the local Yantruwanta people, who brought them fish and cakes of nardoo, an edible seed. Burke, apparently galled by this dependence on 'inferiors', had jeopardised the relationship by rudely refusing a gift of fish. Left to fend for themselves, the explorers finally found banks of nardoo fern and confined all their efforts to gathering the seed. They failed to understand, however, that nardoo seed, if not correctly prepared, is toxic and robs the body of vitamin B1. The nardoo quelled their hunger, but Wills was puzzled by their inability to derive any real nourishment from it. By late June, Burke could no longer move. He asked King to place a pistol in his hand and leave him unburied, and died where he lay. King set out to get help from the Aborigines but was unsuccessful, and by the time he returned to camp, Wills was also dead. King buried Wills and set out again to join the Yantruwanta. As he later described it, they treated him as 'one of their own' for two and a half months, until a relief party sent from Melbourne discovered him on 15 September 1861.

This is a portrait of Burke and Wills, with burke on the right, and Wills on the left.

WillsHis full name is William John Wills. He was born at Totnes, Devonshire, England, on 5 January 1834, the son of William Wills a surgeon. He was educated at a grammar school at Ashburton. Early in 1852 he began studying medicine but later in the year sailed with a brother to Australia.

Burke and Wills

Burke and Wills traveled across Australia with a man named King and there two camels.

This is what Burke and Wills attempted to journey through on their exhibit across the east of Australia.

Burke and Wills are starting to run out of options and are starving to death.

BurkeHis full name is Robert O'hara Burke. He was the third son of James Hardiman Burke, an officer in the British army. He was born at St Clerans, County Galway, Ireland, in 1821 and was educated partly at home and partly in Belgium. He entered the Austrian army as a cadet and reached the rank of captain.


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