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from Menindie, 16 October 1860.

Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2082/1a, Item 10.
Victorian Exploring Expedition Records, Dispatches sent by members of the VEE to the EC.
Robert O'Hara Burke's dispatch, Menindie, 16 October 1860. 2p.

 

Read at a Special meeting of the Exploration Committee, held on 14 November 1860.

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Menindie
October 16th 1860.

Sir,

The postman having been delayed here by the loss of his horses, I have time to make a further report. The Expedition left McPherson's on the 11th instant having been delayed there five days by the loss of nine of the camels which have since been recovered. One camel was left behind at McLoeds Station having sprained its shoulder while en route from Scott's Station to McPhersons under the charge of Mr Landells. The remaining 25 camels crossed the river safely today and I do not anticipate much difficulty in their future management.

The principal part of our stores have arrived. They were brought up by Captain Johnson's steamer the Moolgewanke. It is my intention to form a Depot upon the river somewhere in this neighbourhood and proceed on towards Cooper's Creek with a small party by a route which proceed on towards Cooper's Creek with a small party by a route which will be shown to me by Mr Wright, manager for Mr Baker, and which I have every reason to believe is quite practicable, but I shall not incur any risk and I shall keep open the communication to the Darling.

 
     

 

     

I shall be obliged to leave the doctor in charge of the Depot until the Committee have decided with reference to his resignation and I would beg leave to suggest that Dr Stuart of Bendigo ­ a gentleman who has had considerable experience in exploring ­ would, I believe, accept the post of doctor to the expedition if it were offered to him.

I believe Dr Beckler to be an honest well intentioned man but very easily acted upon, and very unfit for his present position. I was in hopes that by attaching him to the camels he would be able to gain some knowledge of their habits and how to treat them; but he has only been able to discover that they cannot be managed without Mr Landells, and I think he is wrong. Mr Landells has as yet, had no difficulties to contend with and at the first station where I proposed to load the camels and begin the real work he tenders his resignation. I believe that the expedition is far better without him, as his sole object was gain and he told me distinctly that he understood that the stores were to be sent up to Cooper Creek by conveyance and that the camels were not to be loaded until they arrived there and that he had a...

 
     

 

     

...separate agreement which rendered him quite independent of me in the management of the camels.

The Committee will judge from the doctors own statement whether he had a just cause for tendering his resignation and I hope that they will perceive that it was absolutely impossible, consistently with the good discipline of the party, to continue on with Mr Landells.

When I read the report of Mr Landells' resignation to him today in the presence of Mr Wills, he again suggested that we should part without coming to any open breach, but I declined to make any compromise, and I now leave the matter in the hands of the Committee. I have always received great consideration from them. I am confident that they will act justly and I am quite content to abide by their decision, whatever it may be. In the meantime however, I shall endeavour to find a practicable route to Cooper Creek. I shall not allow the ­secession of the doctor or Mr Landells to retard the progress of the party a moment, and I still feel as confident as ever in the success of the main object of the expedition.

I have the honor to be,
Sir,
Your obedient servant.
R O'Hara Burke
Leader

 
     

Burke enclosed the letter of resignation written by Landells. To this Burke appended the following:

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Submitted October 16 1860.

This document was sent to me by Mr Landells this morning. Mr Landells conducted himself well up to the 9th inst. but since that time I believe that he has been doing everything in him power to obstruct my views.

 
     

 


Burke enclosed the letter of resignation written by Dr Beckler. To this Burke appended the following:

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Menindie, October 16.

Mr Wills and Mr Wright (manager for Mr Baker) were present upon the occasion referred to by Dr Beckler. I have informed him that I cannot accept his resignation until another person is appointed to succeed him. It is impossible for me to give all the details of the case referred to by Dr Beckler, but Mr Wright and Mr Wills who were present upon the occasion will, I think, certify that I could not well, as leader of a party, have acted otherwise. I requested Mr Wills be present while the camels were crossing the river and Mr Landells came up to me and asked me if it was my intention that Mr Wills should superintend him. I told him that he had no business to ask such a question, when he replied that he had and would insist upon knowing. In fact his manner was most impertinent and I only regret that I did not speak more strongly to him, telling him so, as all this took place in the presence of some of the men, Dr Beckler, Mr Wills and Mr Wright.

R O'Hara Burke, Leader

 
     

 

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