Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.

The Dig Tree : the story of bravery, insanity, and the race to discover Australia’s wild frontier New York : Broadway Books, 2002 Sarah Murgatroyd Australia Discovery and exploration, Burke and Wills Expedition, 1860-1861 Hardcover.  1st ed. and printing. viii, 355 p. : ill., maps ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 345-350) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In 1860, Australia remained the truly dark continent. Although there were European settlements in its south, much of the north remained unknown and dangerous. But things were changing. On the 20th of August, 1860 The Victorian Exploring Expedition left Melbourne to make the journey into the Gulf of Carpentaria in the northern coast.

The expedition was headed by an Irish policeman called Robert O’ Hara Burke – a charmer, gambler, and a man infamous for taking long baths in his back garden. Burke and his team of eighteen men made a confident start. After leaving most of the group behind in Cooper Creek (in central Australia), three of the party, including Burke, reached the Carpentaria. They were the first ever to do so.

But the journey back was riddled with mishap and bad luck. By the time the three had returned to Cooper Creek, exhausted and starving, they discovered that the rest of the party had retreated, leaving behind only a carved message on a coolibah tree…

THE DIG TREE is the tale of this tragic expedition. Murgatroyd brings the story vividly alive – the political events in the background, the colourful characters, the spectacular and, often, unforgiving landscape, and the awful desperation of the final days. It is an intelligent, evocative and above all, utterly gripping book.


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