|Original item held at the National Library of Australia, Canberra. NLA
Papers of Burke and Wills Expedition, National Library of Australia, MS 30.
Portion of diary kept by Robert O'Hara Burke on the expedition. 16 December 1860 – 20 Jan 1861.
Leather bound notebook with broken metal clasp.
Measures circa 9 x 16 cm, paged 1-55; writing on 26 pages (in pencil); pages 20-21 and 42-45 torn or cut out leaving only a scrap on which page numbers are written. Bought by the National Library in 1909.
No 69 Line of cour I ing on
16th December Left Depot 65; followed by the creek
20th Made a creek where we found a great many natives. They presented us with fish, and offered their women. Camp 70.
Splendid water, fine feed for the camels: would be a very good place for a station. Since we have left Cooper's Creek we have travelled over a fine sheep grazing country, well watered and
and in every respect well suited for occupation.
we supposed we were near water.
found it good water. The third day without it. Now for a retrospective glance: we started from Cooper's Creek, Camp 66 with the intention of going through to Eyre's Creek without water.
Loaded with 800 pints of water: four riding camels carried 130 pints, each horse 150, two pack camels 50 each and 5 pints each man.
a creek which appears to be as large as Cooper's Creek. At 2 pm Golah Sing gave some very decided hints about stopping by lying down
under the trees.
of the 30th of December
11 hours on the road
It is impossible to say the time we were up, for we had to load the camels, to pack and feed them, to watch them and the horse and to look for water: but I am satisfied that the frame
of man never was more severely taxed.
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Return party from Carpentaria arrived here last night and found that the D party had started on the same day. We proceed on slowly down the creek towards Adelaide by Mt Hopeless and shall endeavour to follow Gregory's track but we are very weak. The camels are done up and we shall not be able to travel faster than 5 miles
a day at most. Grey died on the road from hunger and fatigue. We all suffered much from hunger but the provisions left here will, I think, restore our strength. We have discovered a practicable route to Carpentaria the principal portion
of which lies on the 140th meridian of east longitude. There is some good country between this and the stony desert. From there to the Tropic the country is dry and stony between the
Tropic and Carpentaria a considerable portion is rangy but it is well watered and richly grassed
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2 oilcloths 3
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has succeeded well. The poor camels sweating and groaning but we gave them a hot bath in Turner's Creek, which seemed to relieve them very much. At last through - the camels bleeding, sweating and groaning.
bully or bounce us and were repulsed, although the leaders appeared to be in earnest, the followers and particularly the young ones, laughed heartily and seemed to be amused at
their leaders' repulse. The old fellow at King's Creek who stuck his spear into the ground and threw dust into the air, when I fired my pistol, ran off in the most
January 13th 1860 - As I find it impossible to keep a regular diary, I shall jot down my ideas when I have an opportunity and put the date. Upon two occasions at Cooper's Creek and at King's Creek on New Years Day, whenever the natives tried to
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Provenance: A note from Burke & Wills Web.
Burke's notes were written in a 55-page leather bound notebook. 13 pages were torn out and not every page is written on. Burke either gave this notebook to Wills to bury in the wooden camel-box cache at the Dig Tree on 30 May 1861 or he gave it to John King shortly before his (Burke's) death at the end of June or early in July 1861.
King gave this note-book to Alfred Howitt of the Victorian Contingent Party and Howitt sent it on to Melbourne with William Brahe and Weston Phillips. The Royal Society of Victoria's Exploration Committee received it on 3 November 1861. A 16 page transcript was made by William Henry Archer, Registrar General of Victoria on the evening of 5 November 1861.
|The transcription is held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2083/2b.|
Victorian Exploring Expedition Records, Journals and diaries of members of the VEE - Robert O'Hara Burke.
Transcription of the last pencillings of Robert O'Hara Burke in his notebook,
Depot 65 [Cooper's Creek], 16 December 1860 – [Cooper's Creek] 21 April 1861].
|The original field-book was subsequently lost until 1909 when the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library (now the National Library of Australia) purchased this note-book at auction from Mrs Grace Gavan Dufy, Archer's daughter, for £25. It is held at NLA: MS30/1.|
Burke's Dig Tree Note
Depot No2 Cooper Cr
The returned party from Carpentaria consisting of
April 22nd 1861.
Provenance: A note from the webmaster.
Burke wrote this note on five pages detached from a notebook on 22 April 1862 and buried it in the wooden camel-box cache at the Dig Tree. Alfred Howitt dug up and recovered the note on 28 September 1861 and returned it to Melbourne.
Burke's Last Note (The last pencillings of Burke)
I hope we shall be done justice by. We fulfilled our task but we were
For the Committee
Cooper's Creek 26th June 1861.
King has behaved nobly and I hope he will be properly cared for.
and he goes up the creek in accordance with my request
June 2[?]th 1861
Provenance: A note from the webmaster.
Burke's last notes are written on four pages detached from a notebook. Burke read these notes to John King shortly before Burke died. King looked after the notebook and gave it to Sir William Stawell, President of the Royal Society of Victoria, in Melbourne on 5 December 1861. Stawell read the three pages to a meeting of the Exploration Committee on the same day and it is possible this was when Stawell detached the pages from the notebook.
The Royal Society of Victoria donated the three pages to the State Library of Victoria in 1874, but the contents and whereabouts of the rest of the notebook in Stawell's possesion is unknown.