Dig 3ft NW:The Legendary Journey of Burke and Wills by Murgatroyd, Sarah

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That Burke and Wills ever became a household phrase is beyond me after reading to this extraordinary story. Murgatroyd details in her book the appalling beginnings of this exploration, riddled with political machinations, jealousy of South Australia, patronage and jobs for the boys. Burke, by anyone's standards, one of the most incompetent of the applicants for the position of leader of this prestigious expedition, had no idea, no surveying ability, could not read a compass, and was well known in the district where he served as a police officer, for getting lost on his way home from the pub.
Leaving Melbourne took hours, when on the first day, they travelled 11 miles, camping at Essendon, close enough for Burke to return to his mistress in Melbourne for the night. By the time the caravan of horse, camels, 20 tons of equipment, and men, reached Medindie, they had taken nearly 60 days, had lost much equipment, paid out much of the money and no longer given credit at the small store, hired and fired a dozen or so men, and divided their party. The incompetence is overwhelming. Reading this story makes the reader gasp in amazement, as stupidity upon stupidity is piled high.
This is an entertaining and very informative book. That this expedition ever got off the ground is staggering, and the mistakes made from selecting the participants to deciding what they would carry, along with ludicrous decisions made reflecting the jealousy between SA and Victoria makes the readers shake their heads in bewilderment. A great read for people of all ages.
Fran Knight