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Australian History

November 20, 1860 – Burke and Wills first reach Cooper Creek


Burke and Wills

Burke and Wills

Robert O’Hara Burke and William Wills led the expedition that was intended to bring fame and prestige to Victoria: being the first white people to cross Australia from south to north and back again.

They set out on Monday, 20 August 1860, leaving from Royal Park, Melbourne, and farewelled by around 15,000 people.

The exploration party was very well equipped, and the cost of the expedition almost 5,000 pounds.

Because of the size of the exploration party, it 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 which would serve to offer the necessary provisions for when the men returned from the Gulf.

On 20 November 1860, Burke and Wills first reached Cooper Creek.

From here, they made several shorter trips to the north, but were forced back each time by waterless country and extreme temperatures.

It was not until December 16 that Burke decided to push on ahead to the Gulf, regardless of the risks.

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