Burke & Wills Web
The online digital research archive of expedition records
© 2020

Edwin James Welch, The Tragedy of Cooper's Creek
ML:MSS 314/225 filed at A1928 (ML CY1115) n.d, c. 190-?, Angus & Robertson Collection.
State Library of New South Wales

The Tragedy of Cooper's Creek,
being the story of the Burke & Wills Exploring Expedition,
from its inception to its disastrous termination

by Edwin J Welch, Second-in-Command and Surveyor
of the Victorian Search party under A.W. Howitt

In the wide range of literature which deals with the subject of Australian Exploration and the opening up of the country to occupation by the white race, there is no story so full of pathetic tragedy as that which added the names of Burke and Wills to the long list of heroes who risked, and in many instances gave their lives, to the work of making this great island continent what it is today. The history of their gallant struggle to cross from sea to sea, from the southern to the northern coast, in 1860, has been frequently told, but in some cases with a measure of uncertainty in regard to important matters of detail, and in others with a seeming disregard of justice to the memory of two brave but unfortunate men.

The writer, who was personally acquainted with them both, and in the case of Wills intimately so, as an associate in the Meteorological Observatory under Professor George Neumayer, on the Flagstaff Hill, Melbourne, was necessarily deeply interested in the subject of the proposed expedition; and his subsequent connection Search Party which discovered their remains and rescued the only living survivor of the party, supplied the connecting links between many of the incidents of their adventurous effort to solve the problem of the but little known condition of the vast interior.

To simplify the work of telling the story in as clear a manner as possible, as well as to avoid the constant repetition of the personal pronoun, it has been deemed advisable to relate it as from the standpoint of an observant outsider in possession of all the facts and documentary evidence connected with it.

Edwin James Welch, Sydney, c.1905.

www.burkeandwills.net.au Burke & Wills Web The digital research archive of expedition records
© 2020, Dave Phoenix