The Burke and Wills Expedition – Part 4 – Cooper’s Creek

Camp at Cooper’s Creek.

In part 4 of our series, Burke and Wills travel north to Cooper’s Creek, where they establish a supply depot. Burke will spend a month scouting the area, before finally departing for the north coast in mid-December. At Menindee, William Wright waits for money to buy more horses so he can haul all the supplies to Burke’s new camp. Meanwhile, a policeman, Trooper Myles Lyons, strikes out for Cooper’s Creek carrying dispatches for Burke.


People and Places

  • Robert O’Hara Burke – Leader of the Victorian Exploring Expedition (VEE)
  • William Wills – British surveyor and astronomer. 2nd-in-command of the expedition.
  • Victoria Exploring Expedition (VEE) – The official name of the expedition led by Robert Burke to cross the Australian continent.
  • John McDouall Stuart – Scottish explorer who was the chief competitor with the VEE to blaze a route across Australia.
  • Hermann Beckler – German doctor and botanist.
  • Ludwig Becker – German geologist and naturalist.
  • William Wright – Bushman who joined the VEE at Menindee.
  • John King – 22-year old ex-soldier. Selected by Burke to be part of the contingent going to the north coast.
  • Trooper Myles Lyons – Policeman from Swan Hill bringing dispatches to Robert Burke.
  • Alexander McPherson – Saddler who would join Lyons and Dick in an attempt to reach Burke at Cooper’s Creek.
  • William Hodgkinson – Journalist who joined the expedition at Swan Hill.
  • Dick – Aboriginal Guide who accompanied Burke – and then Lyons – to the north.
  • Peter – Aboriginal Guide who accompanied Hermann Beckler to rescue Lyons and MacPherson.
  • Thomas McDonough – VEE member who accompanied Burke and Wills to Cooper’s Creek.
  • Charley Gray – VEE member who was selected to go with Burke and Wills to the north coast of Australia.
  • Cooper’s Creek – River in central Australia. It is about halfway across the continent if someone is traveling between Melbourne and Gulf of Carpentaria in the north. About 750 miles from Melbourne.
  • Menindee – Most northerly outpost on the route of the VEE in their trek across Australia. About 400 miles from Melbourne.
  • Gulf of Carpentaria – The most direct route from Victoria to the northern coast of Australia – roughly a 1500 mile journey across the continent.

2 thoughts on “The Burke and Wills Expedition – Part 4 – Cooper’s Creek

  1. Enjoy the show thanks for good work.. could you include some reference materials and links in the future for further reading..


    • Pirate Tim,

      I usually wait to the end of all the episodes to cite all my sources, but I should probably just do that up front. For this one, I recommend the following books:

      “The Dig Tree: A True Story of Bravery, Insanity, and the Race to Discover Australia’s Wild Frontier” by Sarah Murgatroyd. And “Burke and Wills: The Triumph and Tragedy of Australia’s Most Famous Explorers” by Peter FitzSimons. Both are recent (within the last 20 years), so they are not dated and everything is up-to-date in them. Also, the Burke and Wills Digital Archive has an absolute ton of the original document from the expedition. It is found at

      I will include these in future episodes on the site. And link to them in the show notes.


      Matt B.
      The Explorers Podcast


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s