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Burke and Wills Monument

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Wills Street, Castlemaine VIC 3450

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Features

  • Historical monument
  • Lookout over Castlemaine
The Burke and Wills Monument stands atop a beautifully landscaped hill and overlooks the historic township of Castlemaine. This impressive stone obelisk was the first monument erected in Victoria to commemorate the achievements of Burke and Wills, the famed adventurers who tragically lost their lives returning from their famed expedition across the Australian continent. 

Burke's last place of residence was Castlemaine where he was Superintendent of Police. After his death, residents of Castlemaine were quick to raise funds and construct the lavish memorial.

The monument includes several inscriptions and a plaque in the shape of Australia (added to the memorial in 2010) which outlines the route the expedition took across the continent. 

The plaque of Australia displays the following text:

Exactly 150 years ago on 20 August 1860 the Victorian exploring expedition departed from Royal Park, Melbourne.

Robert O'Hara Burke had been Superintendent of Police at Castlemaine 1858-1860.

The inscriptions on the monument display the following text:

To commemorate the Victorian Exploring Expedition
The first to cross the continent of Australia

Robert O`Hara Burke of Castlemaine
Leader
Died at Coopers Creek
1st July 1861

Erected by public subscription
A D 1862

Melbourne to Carpentaria
Burke
Wills
Gray
King  survivor


VICTORIAN EXPLORATION.  
THE CONTINENT CROSSED.
DEATH OF BURKE AND TWO OF HIS PARTY.

Late on Saturday night information reached Melbourne from Sandhurst of the arrival there of a messenger - Mr. Brahe - from Mr. Howitt's searching expedition, with a despatch from that leader, conveying the melancholy intelligence that Burke and Wills had perished at Cooper's Creek, in the month of June last, of exhaustion, from fatigue and want of proper food, and that a third member of the party, Gray, had died some time previously. The fourth, King, was found on the Creek, living with the natives, by whom he was treated kindly, and, we are happy to say, he is now restored to health.  In his possession were the journals of the leader of the expedition and Mr. Wills's maps and notes (which are now in possession of the Royal Society), which show that Burke and his companions successfully accomplished the crossing of the continent to the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria, which they reached on the 12th February.

The chart kept by Mr. Wills shows that the party followed Sturt's track to its farthest point, in lat. 24, when, finding the country to the north utterly impracticable, a course was struck direct east to the 140th parallel of longitude, which they followed north, almost in a straight line to Albert River. They rested three days at a point on the river, in lat. 17 deg. 53 min. south, within the tidal influence, thus accomplishing the great feat of crossing the continent from sea to sea; and then turned back, almost by the same route, travelling for the most part of the way on foot, killing their horses and some of their camels for food, and suffering much from hunger.

They reached Cooper's Creek on the evening of the 21st April, - the very day on which  Brahe and the depot party under his charge left the Creek to return to Menindie. A small quantity of provisions hidden by the depot party was found by Burke and his companions who, feeling themselves too weak to travel to Menindie (about 400 miles), made two successive attempts to reach the South Australian settlements, and were driven back on both occasions by want of  water. In these attempts, the month of May was spent ; the provisions that remained were rapidly becoming exhausted, the food which they were able to prepare from a native plant which they discovered was insufficient in quantity to recruit their failing strength and late in the month of June - just as Mr. Howitt's party began its journey in search of the missing party - poor Burke died while in the act of making a last attempt to obtain succour for himself and Wills from the blacks and Wills, alone in his hut, and about the same time as his friend Burke breathed his last.

From June till the 15th September, when he was found by Howitt, King, the last survivor of the party, lived amongst the natives of Cooper's Creek, by whom he was kindly treated. He was originally a soldier, and is a young strong man. His narrative will be found extremely interesting. Melancholy interest attaches to the last despatch written by Mr. Burke, briefly but comprehensively announcing the success he had achieved, and to the last few lines traced despairingly by the hand of poor Wills.

SEE ALSO


DID YOU KNOW...

  • There are many great places throughout the Goldfields that offer gorgeous, panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
 

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