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Robert O`Hara BurkePrint Page Print this page

Robert OHara Burke
Robert OHara Burke

Photographs supplied by Kay Pamment / Glenn Powell

Monument commemorates the site where Robert O`Hara Burke`s body was found by John McKinlay following the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition. The site was also the temporary grave for the body until 1862 when Burke`s remains were taken to Melbourne. McKinlay blazed a Coolibah tree at the site in 1861 when the body was found.

The tragic death of explorers Burke and Wills on the banks of the Cooper Creek near present day Innamincka is the region`s most famous incident. In 1861 the South Australian government offered 2000 pounds to the first explorer to reach the top end of the continent. The Victorians at that time were brashly rich and with much pomp and ceremony Robert O`Hara Burke left Melbourne with his team of 20 men to reach the Gulf of Carpentaria. Unfortunately, Burke was not a bushman, had absolutely no tracking or surveying experience and was extremely hot tempered.

After he sacked his original second-in- command he appointed William John Wills to the position. Their race to be the first to reach the top of Australia was fraught with incident but amazingly three of them actually made it to the top and returned to their supply depot at Cooper Creek. They were Burke, Wills and King. The tragedy is that they were over a month overdue and the supply team had retreated south only nine hours before their arrival. The supply team had left supplies buried beneath a tree which bore the markings "Dig 3ft NW" and various other markings.

The tree is now called the Dig Tree and is protected by the Queensland Pastoral Commission. Burke and Wills died of a combination of starvation and poisoning from eating berries after the supplies ran out and they couldn`t make their way south. Only King survived - he had the sense to befriend the aborigines and when Burke and Wills died they cared for him until he was rescued in 1861.

Location

Address:Burke`s Waterhole, Cooper Creek, Innamincka, 5731
State:SA
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -27.723135
Long: 140.778732
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Discovery
Actual Event STart Date:28-June-1861
Approx. Event Start Date:
Actual Event End Date:28-June-1861
Approx. Event End Date:

Dedication

Approx. Monument Dedication Date:
Front Inscription

Robert O`Hara Burke died here 28 June 1861

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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