Burke and Wills

Burke and Wills 5

The Triumph and Tragedy of Australia's Most Famous Explorers

by Peter FitzSimons

Hardback Publication Date: 31/10/2017

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The iconic Australian exploration story brought to life by Peter FitzSimons, Australia's storyteller.

'They have left here today!' he calls to the others. When King puts his hand down above the ashes of the fire, it is to find it still hot. There is even a tiny flame flickering from the end of one log. They must have left just hours ago.

Melbourne, 20 August 1860. In an ambitious quest to be the first Europeans to cross the harsh Australian continent, the Victorian Exploring Expedition sets off, farewelled by 15,000 cheering well-wishers. Led by Robert O'Hara Burke, a brave man totally lacking in the bush skills necessary for his task; surveyor and meteorologist William Wills; and 17 others, the expedition took 20 tons of equipment carried on six wagons, 23 horses and 26 camels.

Almost immediately plagued by disputes and sackings, the expeditioners battled the extremes of the Australian landscape and weather: its deserts, the boggy mangrove swamps of the Gulf, the searing heat and flooding rains. Food ran short and, unable to live off the land, the men nevertheless mostly spurned the offers of help from the local Indigenous people.

In desperation, leaving the rest of the party at the expedition's depot on Coopers Creek, Burke, Wills, Charley Gray and John King made a dash for the Gulf in December 1860. Bad luck and bad management would see them miss by just hours a rendezvous back at Coopers Creek, leaving them stranded in the wilderness with practically no supplies. Only King survived to tell the tale.

Yet, despite their tragic fates, the names of Burke and Wills have become synonymous with perseverance and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. They live on in our nation's history - and their story remains immediate and compelling.

ISBN:
9780733634109
9780733634109
Category:
History
Format:
Hardback
Publication Date:
31-10-2017
Publisher:
Hachette Australia
Country of origin:
Australia
Pages:
704
Dimensions (mm):
243x160x61mm
Weight:
1.09kg
Peter FitzSimons

Peter FitzSimons is a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald and Sun-Herald, and a busy events and motivational speaker.

He is the author of over twenty-seven books, including Tobruk, Kokoda, Batavia, Eureka, Ned Kelly, Gallipoli and biographies of Douglas Mawson, Nancy Wake‚ Kim Beazley‚ Nick Farr-Jones‚ Les Darcy, Steve Waugh and John Eales, and is one of Australia's biggest selling non-fiction authors of the last fifteen years.

Peter was named a Member of the Order of Australia for service to literature as a biographer, sports journalist and commentator, and to the community through contributions to conservation, disability care, social welfare and sporting organisations. He lives with his wife, Lisa Wilkinson, and their three children in Sydney.

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Customer Reviews

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  • A tale of calamity.

    by on

    :: Spoiler Alert ::

    This book is brilliantly written, combining fact with a ripping yarn. During my schooling in the ‘60s not much detail was given about Australian explorers, in the case of Burke and Wills it is one disastrous decision after another and then they set off from Melbourne with it seems no one with any bush survival skills. Narcissistic and pompous fools making decisions against the warnings offered by experienced explorers and bushmen, the calamity of the dig-tree compound leaving on the same day as a starving Burke and Wills team return, the craziness of members from both parties returning to the compound and not noticing any sign of the other is astounding.

  • What a fascinating story

    by on

    I found this a fascinating story, in Peter Fitz's usual manner.
    Well up to his previous standards.
    Phenomenal research by his team and told in an enthralling story.
    Very hard to put down

  • Burke & Wills

    by on

    As usual with these books written by Peter Fitzsimons, the detail & background that goes into the book make it all the better for reading, he actually makes you feel that you are in some part there & helps you understand the hardships that they went through.

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