The Disastrous Burke and Wills Expedition of 1860.
Robert O’Hara Burke was born in Ireland in 1821. Because of the Victorian gold rush, there was a shortage of police and so he joined the Victorian police force.
William John Wills was born in England in 1834 and had come to Australia when he was eighteen. He was a surveyor, meteorologist and astronomer.
Wills would have made a much better leader than Burke, although he too, had no experience as an explorer.
Although the colony had grown, much of Australia was still undiscovered.
Also, a route for an overland telegraph line was needed and the Victorian government offered a prize for the first expedition to cross Australia from south to north.
Although Burke had no experience as an explorer or a bushman, he was chosen to lead the expedition together with a man called George Landells.
However, it was not long before Burke had an argument with Landells and replaced him with Wills. Their well-equipped expedition set off 1860.
Burke was afraid that he would be beaten by John Stuart to be the first to explore inland Australia, and so he set off on camel with his expedition. Meanwhile, unknown to Burke, John Stuart had turned back and so there was no need now for Burke to hurry or take risks.
Burke was very impatient and would not let the expedition slow down for any reason. In addition, he set off without his medical officer and 2 other important members of the expedition.
Unfortunately, there was no one in the group who was a good bushman. Burke was so impatient to reach the Gulf, that he left some of his party behind with supplies at Menindee and set off with a party of nine men.
Burke then decided to push on towards the Gulf, even though it meant travelling in the heat of a northern summer. He took with him, Wills, King and Grey. He left the rest of the party at the Cooper’s creek camp with orders that the party was to return to Menindee in three months if the explorers hadn’t returned by then.
After nearly two months the party reached the Gulf of Carpentaria, but were unable to see the waters of the Gulf because of the mangrove swamps.
Burke would not wait to rest, and after only one day set off on the return journey which was made worse by fierce storms which turned the ground to mud. There was also a lack of food.
Grey became ill and probably half mad when he stole food from their supplies. Burke was in a rage and gave him a severe thrashing from which he never recovered. Grey became ill and died of scurvy a week later.
In addition the party who were supposed to be waiting at Cooper’s Creek for Burke to return, had left that morning and the depot was deserted. Brahe had waited 4 months and only left then because his men were getting sick from scurvy.
Wills wanted to stay at Cooper’s Creek, feeling sure that help would arrive. Burke ignored his advice and decided to set off for a police station at Mt. Hopeless. As leader of the expedition, he ordered that they all go on.
Unfortunately, he did not leave a message at Cooper’s Creek, and when Brahe returned, he did not know that the party had been there. The camels were dying, there was no food and the water was all gone.
Both Burke and Wills were too weak by then to travel.
First Wills, and then Burke died.
For three months, friendly aboriginals cared for John King, who was the only survivor, until help arrived. He was rescued by a search party from Melbourne.
Although Burke and Wills died, they had proved that there was no inland sea and were the first to cross Australia from south to north, providing more valuable information on inland Australia.
via Burke & Wills
The 4th of July 1838 was a dreadful day in Silkstone’s history. It was when 26 children between the ages of 7 and 17, working as ‘hurriers’ and ‘trappers’, were drowned after the dayhole through which they were attempting to escape from the Husker (or Huskar) Pit at Moorend was flooded.
This happened during a summer thunderstorm when a clap of thunder was mistaken for an explosion. Forty-four children were working below ground and, ignoring instructions to stay where they were, they decided that, if there had been an explosion, the dayhole was a quick and safe way out.
A dayhole is an old mine seam which has been dug out and the hole left. No one had thought to shut down this potentially dangerous old working. Rather, as it zigzagged its way down three-quarters of a mile to the coalface, it was used as an alternative route.
However, as the children neared the surface, a nearby ditch flooded and the water poured into the dayhole. Twenty-six children died, their mangled bodies thrown together. Later, the bodies were brought back into the village in carts.
Silkstone was devastated, and the accident shocked the country. A report was published in The Times, and the wider British public learned for the first time that women and children worked in the mines.
There was a public outcry, led by politician and reformer Anthony Ashley Cooper, later Lord Shaftesbury. He called for a Royal Commission inquiry into the working conditions of children and women in Britain’s mines.
Eventually, after the report had become a bestseller, the law was changed.
On Saturday 27 November 2004, as part of the Woodland Trust’s children’s tree-planting campaign, Tree For All, a tree was planted in Nabs Wood for each of the 26 children who died. The trees were planted by local children whose ages and genders matched those of the victims.
In time, the trees will form an avenue near the memorial by the entrance to Nabs Wood.
Alan Gallop, Children of the Dark: Life and Death Underground in Victoria’s England (Sutton Publishing, 2003)
A full moon rises behind burning moorland as a large wildfire sweeps across the moors between Dovestone and Buckton Vale in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom on 26 June 2018
Image Credit: Photograph by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images
The happy couple planned the Perfect Wedding, at beautiful Sellicks Beach located South of Adelaide.
The weather forecaster said, ‘No bloody worries, it’s going to be a belter.’
So with hope in their heart and their wonderful relatives and friends in tow hey made their way down to the beach.
Everyone was just so excited for the beautiful couple and then they looked up and saw this on the horizon.
Oh! My goodness, A storm was gathering. It would be bringing buckets and buckets of rain
There was no alternative venue planned. Bugger that weather forecaster. So what to do?
Were these good people going to let a bit of water spoil the wedding?
No way, and then with classic cleverness those stupid enough to stay out in the rain made themselves some quite stylish and practical water hats using the council’s dog poo collection bags sold to them by Alex Riley at $10 each.
Three Cheers for Alex and Capitalism.