Caravan World — 7 April 2016

The extraordinary story of the 19th century Burke and Wills expedition, and the crucial role of the Yandruwandha Aboriginal people who tried to help them, has been formally recognised as a defining moment in Australia’s history.

The new Burke, Wills, King and Yandruwandha National Heritage listing comprises five sites along the banks of the Cooper Creek, near Innamincka, SA, that represent the key events of the Burke and Wills saga.

The 1860 expedition left Royal Park in August and, over the next 13 months, seven men – including Robert O’Hara Burke and William Wills - lost their lives. One expedition member, John King, was saved when the Yandruwandha taught him their methods of food-gathering and shelter.

These listed sites include the famous Dig Tree, where expedition members buried supplies and left markings and messages for each other, is one such site. Burke and Wills arrived at the tree from their trek to the Gulf just hours after their comrades, who had waited for them for four months, had given up hope and left.

Other heritage-listed sites include Fort Wills, Wills’ site, Howitt’s site and King’s site.

Federal environment minister Greg Hunt said the story was significant.

The Burke, Wills, King and Yandruwandha National Heritage Place is the 104th place included on the National Heritage List.


Burke and Wills Innamincka Dig Tree outback Cooper Creek


David Cook