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Burke + Wills Memorial
Burke + Wills Memorial

Photographs supplied by Kent Watson / Sandra Brown

The monument commemorates Australian explorers, Burke and Wills and their party who first crossed the Australian continent from south to north in 1861. 

The monument erected mainly through the efforts of Thomas Pope Besnard, a childhood friend of Burke`s and sexton of the local Back Creek Cemetery.  He pushed to raise the money for a monument through public subscription - every one was asked to pay a shilling - no person could pay more and therefore nobody could claim to have given more than anybody else.

Besnard selected a site for the monument in the cemetery which was on a grass knoll well clear of any other graves. It was to be landscaped and have path and garden beds that provided dignified access. Stawell inspected and approved the site. The address he gave, along with the diaries of members of the expedition, the Sandhurst Almanac, the Bendigo Advertiser, the Bendigo Independent Evening News, photographs of the deceased, photographs of Public Buildings in Bendigo, a Sydney half sovereign and all the silver coins of the Realm were wrapped in a Union Jack and placed in a niche in the foundation stone.

It was another 15 months before the column was erected on the foundation stone and Besnard openly criticised the Memorial Committee for their lack of action. The Bendigo Advertiser was disappointed at the location of the monument preferring a more central location and in 1893 an attempt was made to move the monument to Rosalind Park.

On the 19th May 1893, Mr Minto, the City Surveyor reported that it would cost £25. Nothing became of this attempted move, but there have been three further attempts at moving the memorial.


Address:Carpenter Street, Back Street Cemetery, Bendigo, 3550
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -36.777733
Long: 144.283547
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Landscape
Actual Event Start Date:24-August-1860
Actual Event End Date:30-June-1861
Designer:Adam Duncan


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:July-1863
Front Inscription

Erected by the people of Bendigo in honour of the Victorian explorers, Burke, Wills, Gray and King who first crossed the continent of Australia, King alone surviving the privation and suffering under which his three brave ill- fated companions sank.

A.D. 1862

Left Side Inscription

Robert O`Hara Burke, leader of the Victorian Expedition, left Melbourne 24th August 1860 reached Carpentaria 12th Feby 1861, died on his return at Coopers Creek 30th June 1861.

Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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