The Burke and Wills Expedition – Part 7 – The Mount Hopeless Gamble

Burke, Wills and King on the way to Mount Hopeless

In Part 7 of our series, Burke, Wills and King make a desperate stab at making for Mount Hopeless. While much closer than Menindee, the three men do not know the way or have accurate directions. Meanwhile, Wright and Brahe meet up, and make for the depot at Cooper’s Creek. In Melbourne, the calls for a search party grown louder and louder with each passing week.


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.
  • Hermann Beckler – German doctor and botanist.
  • Ludwig Becker – German geologist and naturalist.
  • William Wright – Bushman who joined the VEE at Menindee. Now leading the relief column to Cooper’s Creek.
  • John King – 22-year old ex-soldier. Selected by Burke to be part of the contingent going to the north coast.
  • 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.
  • Mount Hopeless – a cattle station about 150 miles southwest of the depot at Cooper’s Creek.
  • Alfred Howitt – English explorer and naturalist who will be hired by the Royal Society of Victoria to head north and find out what has happened to Robert Burke and his men.

Select Resources

The following are some good books and links regarding the Burke and Wills Expedition.

The Dig Tree: A True Story of Bravery, Insanity, and the Race to Discover Australia’s Wild Frontier by Sarah Murgatroyd – Excellent book on the expedition.

Burke and Wills: The Triumph and Tragedy of Australia’s Most Famous by Peter FitzSimons – Another well done book on the expedition.

Burke and Wills Digital Archive – Online collection of all the original source material – as well as links to other resources – for the expedition.

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