Burke and Wills: Then and Now
Join us on a fascinating real-time journey across Australia.
On 20 August 2010, the Burke and Wills Environmental Expedition (BWEE) sets out to retrace the steps of the 1860 Burke and Wills expedition. As the BWEE progresses along the route of the track, from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria, Dr Jonathan King and cinematographer Michael Dillon will interview Indigenous elders, local farmers, and scientists about current environmental issues.
The 1860 expedition, organised by the Royal Society of Victoria, set out with various objectives: to collect scientific data about Australia’s flora and fauna, to survey the land and identify good pasture, and to be the first complete crossing of the continent from south to north.
Whilst the 1860 expedition has been mythologised as a tragic disaster, its members, including William Wills and Ludwig Becker, documented the people, land, and weather that they encountered in often beautiful, and occasionally startling, ways.
We’ll be presenting a selection of the 1860 records alongside contemporary experiences recorded and uploaded as the BWEE progresses along the track, enabling you to time travel between the then and now, across the intervening 150 years, and compare changes in approaches to land, ecology, culture, and science.
A series of related stories will be available on the right hand side of this page. The content in these themes will continue to grow over the coming months, so make sure to check back in.
The site also includes Burke and Wills Education Resourcesincluding VELS standards and prompts for lesson plans.
We have set up Burke and Wills Blog for teachers and students so you can interact with Dr Jonathan King, Michael Dillon, artists Ben Beeton and Les Sprague, and environmental scientists.
Please stay tuned and if you have any specific queries please Contact Us.
The Burke and Wills expedition has been written about extensively, and a broad range of activities are being undertaken as part of the 150th Anniversary. For a detailed list of resources regarding the 1860 expedition, we recommend you visit the State Library of Victoria’s DIG: The Burke and Wills Research Gateway website, and Burke and Wills Web.
Further environmental and historical issues are raised in the State Library of Victoria’s Ergo site: - Burke and Wills and Aboriginal guides
Application of Robert O’Hara Burke
Crossing an ancient crater
Crossing the Terrick-Terrick Plains
View from Mt. Hope. Pyramid Hill bearing S. 30W. Sep. 1. 60
Near our camp at Spewah, Sep. 12. 60
Sketch of route from Balranald to Scot's Station, roughly drawn by dead reckoning.
Nord. end of the Pass through the Muntanie Ranges
Small cavity in Mutwanji Gorge with native drawings and impressions
What does it mean to be an explorer?
Camp on the edge of the earthy or mud plains
Jack Thompson farewells the Burke and Wills Environmental Expedition
Dr Paul Sinclair farewells the Burke and Wills Environmental Expedition
Re-Crossing Terrick-Terrick Plains
Re-crossing Mount Hope
The Arumpo Station region, then and now.
Menindee Then and Now
Jack Thompson talks about nardoo
Burke's Tree Then and Now
Wills’s map from Coopers Creek to the Gulf of Carpentaria
Crocodiles Then and Now
Story education resources
Education Public Record Office: Burke and Wills Graphic Exercise
A close look at the Burke and Wills monument reveals much about the way that Burke and Wills were remembered. Images and questions are provided to produce a short essay on the Burke and Wills statue in central Melbourne. VELS History Standard – Level 6
Education State Library of Victoria: Dig, The Burke and Wills Research Gateway
This website provides two education packages allowing learners to engage with a major event in a way that crosses many areas of the curriculum.
The first package provides lesson plans across five major curriculum areas: science, history, English, geography and art. The second package provides lesson plans for VELS Level 4 (Years 5 and 6), designed as an integrated unit across the curriculum.
Education State Library of Victoria: Deforestation in Victoria
Activities, worksheets and resources are provided to explore environmental issues such as deforestation and introduced species. Historical and contemporary maps show the changes in Victoria's forest coverage between 1969 and 1987. VELS Level 5