Monday, July 21, 2014

Strzelecki Desert Trip - Part 6. Burke's Grave and Dig Tree.

I have been reading (again) Allan Mooreheads]'s book 'Cooper's Creek', the true story of the crossing of the continent by Burke, Wills and King. This book was one of the reasons I wanted to do this trip. 
I could never imagine having to suffer what these men suffered, but I did want to see more of the country they walked over and to see where it all ended. I wanted to eat basic food, wear the same clothes every day, not wash, shave, or comb my hair.......I wanted to go without some of the niceties we enjoy every day. 
I did miss the comforts of home but a trip and conditions like this brings you back down to earth.

(still) Day 10, Tuesday 8th.  Drive to Where Burke Died and The Dig Tree.

The breeze and traffic were raising the dust levels.

Dusty Innamincka.

Someone leaving Innaminck behind.

Try to imagine walking across this land, after already riding/walking  4200 km's (2610 miles), with only 14 kg's (30 lbs) of provisions and a billycan full of water to get you back to home.

It's a bit like Pitt St up here

There are some big trees along the Cooper.

There are some big trees along the Cooper.

There are some big trees along the Cooper.

Looks pleasant enough.

But not in June 1861.
28 JUNE 1861
Burke was the leader of the expedition and was determined to become the first explorer to cross the continent from coast to coast.       He pushed his animals beyond their limits and reduced his party's ability to hunt for fresh food.      He found it difficult to understand Aboriginal people impossible to embrace their generosity.     Burke starved to death in an area where traditional Aboriginal people had thrived for thousands of years.

Burke's body was found by a rescue party who buried him here, wrapped in a Union Jack flag.
When they saw Burke's body, some local Aboriginal people cried and then covered his body with bushes.

The monument where Burke died.

The monument, and landscape, where Burke died.

'I will cross Australia or perish in the attempt.....'  Sadly this sentiment came true for Robert O'Hara Burke. By the time
Burke and King arrived here they had nothing but a pistol and a few scraps of blanket. Burke did not have the strength
to go any further.
On 29 June 1861, King settled Burke under this shady coolibah tree and shot a crow for supper. Burke ate a little but he knew he was dying. He wrote a last letter to his sister and handed King his notebook and pocket watch. He whispered: 'I hope you will remain with me until I am quite dead - it is a comfort to know that someone is by; but, when I am dead ,it is my wish that you leave me unburied as I lie'. Burke died the following day.
On 19 September 1861, a rescue party arrived to find Burke's body, still clutching his rusting, unfired pistol. .....Months later a retrieval party exhumed the bodies of Burke and Wills and returned them to Melbourne where they were honoured by a state funeral on 21 January 1863.

Witnesses to his death.

Burke's Memorial (where he died).

All these visitors, and we are too late to help.

Hawkmoth on a Queensland Bean Tree - Lysiphyllum gilvum. Near Innamincka SA.

Hawk Moth on a Queensland Bean Tree  ( Lysiphyllum gilvum)   at Burke's Memorial.
Life goes on.

Regal Birdflower   (Crotalaria cunninghamii).

I think this could be Bluebush Pea, Desert Rattlepod  (Crotalaria eremaea) 

Crossing over into Queensland on my way to the "Dig Tree'.

Not quite the Gold Coast, is it.

Crossing into Queensland.

...........the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended

'Burke and Wills' Bridge.

Entry to the Dig Tree site.

Was this the 'camping' area or the area to camp ins? It also says 300 meters, I didn't see any.
It was a 1 km walk back to the loo (1 toilet only, at the entrance) so I made my own, between the car and the trailer, very handy.

1000's of Little Corellas put on a good, but noisy, show.

They were like snow on the ground.

Little Corellas on the Cooper, at the Dig Tree.

It looked like I was in for a noisy night as they started to roost on the dead tree close to the trailer. Just before dark they all silently flew away.

On time, dinner walked in.

Flat ground and water views, what more could you want.

This is the site of the Burke and Wills expedition depot Camp 65 from which Burke, Wills, King and Grey journeyed
to the Gulf Of Carpentaria in 1861. The depot party remained at this camp for 17 weeks and returned to the Darling River
after burying supplies near the 'Dig Tree'. Burke, Wills and King returned to this depot during the evening of the day that the depot party departed.
Both Burke and Wills perished some weeks later near Innamincka.

The three blazes on the 'Dig Tree' were:
B LXV:          (on trunk, creek side)
DIG 3FT NW         (on trunk, land side)
DEC 6 60 - APR 21 61:       (on limb, upstream)
There remains some uncertainty about the 'Dig' inscription. The depot party and King recalled the distance as 3 ft while the early settlers record it as 40 ft.
The face of Burke on the other tree was carved by John Dick in 1898.
The cairn was erected in 1937 by the Conrick family, the first settlers of the area.

Blazes on the Dig Tree.

The carving by John Dick.

The Dig Tree and monument.

Cooper Creek behind the Dig Tree.

The pelican finally gets a morsel.

My noisy neighbours.

The Dig Tree.

End of Part 6

Scroll to bottom of page, Click on 'Older Posts' to go to Part 7.

Camera:  Canon PowerShot SX10 IS

No comments:

Post a Comment