Burke and Wills:

The Scientific Legacy of the Victorian Exploring Expedition

Burke and Wills

This book challenges the common assumption that little or nothing of scientific value was achieved during the Burke and Wills expedition.

The Royal Society of Victoria initiated the Victorian Exploring Expedition as a serious scientific exploration of hitherto unexplored regions of inland and northern Australia. Members of the expedition were issued with detailed instructions on scientific measurements and observations to be carried out, covering about a dozen areas of science. The tragic ending of the expedition meant that most of the results of the scientific investigations were not reported or published. Burke and Wills: The Scientific Legacy of the Victorian Exploring Expedition rectifies this historic omission.

It includes the original instructions as well as numerous paintings and drawings, documents the actual science undertaken as recorded in notebooks and diaries, and analyses the outcomes. It reveals for the first time the true extent and limits of the scientific achievements of both the Burke and Wills expedition and the various relief expeditions which followed.

Importantly, this new book has led to a re-appraisal of the shortcomings and the successes of the journey. It will be a compelling read for all those interested in the history of exploration, science and natural history, as well as Australian history and heritage.

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