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At a meeting of the Exploration Committee of the Royal Society of Victoria, held on Wednesday, 13 November 1861, Dr Mueller moved that:

Mr Howitt be instructed to avail himself of that route which he considers the most available and safe for having brought to Melbourne the remains of the unfortunate explorers to which the public desires to pay their veneration by an honorable funeral.

The motion was seconded by Dr William Gilbee and carried, and just eleven days after the news of Burke and Wills' death arrived in Melbourne, Howitt was tasked with returning to Cooper Creek to exhume his remains for a State Funeral in Melbourne. Several of the members of Howitt's Victorian Contingent Party resigned, so Howitt employed replacements to make up the numbers of the Victorian Exploring Party.

The following members of the 1861 VCE resigned:
1 William Vining
2 N H Calcutt
3 James Knowles
4 John Smith

The following members of the 1861 VCE remained in Menindee:
1 Dr Wheeler
2 Alexander Aitkins
3 William Williams
4 George Tenniel
5 H M Sampson
6 Dost Mahomet
7 Belooch Khan

The 1862 VEP that left Melbourne was:
1 Alfred Howitt
2 Edwin J Welch
3 Dr James Patrick Murray
4 Weston Phillips
5 Charles Phillips
6 Henry Burrell
7 Henry Louis Galbraith
8 William J O'Donnell

Members of the 1862 VEP:
1 Alfred Howitt Leader  
2 Edwin J Welch Surveyor (replaced by Knowles and then McWilliams) ₤250 pa.
3 Dr James Patrick Murray Surgeon ₤250 pa
4 Weston Phillips had been sent on to Melbourne with King and rejoined Howitt there ₤120 pa.
5 Charles Phillips   ₤120 pa
6 Henry Burrell   ₤120 pa
7 Henry L Galbraith   ₤120 pa
8 William O'Donnell   ₤120 pa
9 Hugh McWilliams Eventual replacement for Welch ₤120 pa
10 Alexander Aitkins Storekeeper and in charge of camels
(remained in Menindee and rejoined party there).
₤200 pa.
11 William Williams (remained in Menindee and rejoined party there). ₤120 pa
12 George Tenniel (remained in Menindee and rejoined the party there). ₤120 pa
13 Dick Mountain Aboriginal guide, remained in Menindee.  

The VEP leaves Melbourne for Menindie.
Howitt left Melbourne on the 9 December 1861 and Swan Hill on the 14 December 1861.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Items 17 and 18).
Dispatch from Howitt to the Exploration Committee, Swan Hill, 14 December 1861. 3p.

He did not reach Balranald untill the 22 December as he was delayed at Talbot's punt at Kyalite on the Wakool when a pack-horse galloped off into the bush. Howitt spent three days searching the mallee before giving up on the horse.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Item 19).
Dispatch from Howitt to the Exploration Committee, Balranald, 22 December 1861. 3p.

He reached Menindee on 1 January 1862.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 9).
Dispatch from Dr Wheeler to Howitt, Pamamaro Creek, 24 December 1861.
Includes Dr Wheeler's medical report. 1p.

At Menindie Howitt drew up an agreement between himself and his men. On 3 January 1862 Dost Mahomet was attacked by the male camel, Nero. Howitt placed Dr Wheeler in charge of Dost Mahomet's recovery and he placed H M Sampson in charge of the Pamamaroo Depot, with two horses and five camels.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 10).
Dispatch from Dr Wheeler to Howitt (re: Dost Mahomet), Pamamaro Creek, 4 January 1862. 2p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Item 20).
Dispatch from Howitt to the Exploration Committee, Pamamaro Creek, 7 January 1862.
Also includes the agreement drawn up between Howitt and members of his 'second' contingent party. Signed by said members and dated 7 January 1862. 4p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 1).
Medical report from Dr Murray to Howitt, Pamamaro Creek, 8 January 1862. 1p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Item 21).
Dispatch from Howitt to the Exploration Committe, Pamamaro Creek, 8 January 1861.
Includes Howitt's instructions  to Dr Wheeler (with another copy of same) and Howitt's instructions to H M Samson. 6p.

Returned to Melbourne.
• William Vining had resigned and returned to Melbourne.
• N H Calcutt had resigned and returned to Melbourne.
• Dr Wheeler had been left in charge of the Depot at Pamamaroo and when the VEP departed he remained in Menindee to care for Dost Mahomet.
• Belooch Khan remained in Menindee and returned to Melbourne with Sampson.
• Dost Mahomet was severely injured by a camel and returned to Melbourne.
• H M Sampson was placed in charge of the stores and stock and took the unused camels to Melbourne.
• James Knowles resigned in November 1861.
• Edwin Welch became blind in one eye while taking sextant readings and returned to Melbourne.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5c (Item 2).
Dr Wheeler's letter of resignation dated Menindie 22 November 1861.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 11).
Dispatch from Dr Wheeler, Pamamaro Creek, 11 January 1862. 2p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 6).
Dispatch from Sampson, in charge of depot, Pamamaro Creek, 17 January 1862. 1p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 7).
Dispatch from Sampson, Menindie, 23rd January 1862. 2p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 12).
Dispatch from Dr Wheeler, Menindie, 4 February 1862. 3p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 13).
Dispatch from Dr Wheeler, Menindie, 11 February 1862. 3p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 8).
Dispatch from Sampson, Swan Hill, 20 February 1862. 2p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 14).
Dispatch from Dr Wheeler, Wentworth, 24 March 1862. 1p.

The VEP from Menindie to the Cooper.
The Victorian Exploring Party left Menindee on 8 January 1862 and followed the Darling to Mount Murchison. From Menindee the Victorian Exploring Party comprised of twelve men, 45 horses and nine camels.

• Alfred Howitt Leader
• Dr James Patrick Murray Surgeon
• Alexander Aitkins Second-in-command
• Hugh McWilliams
• William Williams
• Weston Phillips
• Charles Phillips
• Henry Burrell (1841-11 April 1910)
• Henry L Galbraith
• William O'Donnell
• George Tenniel
• Dick Mountain

Howitt arrived at Mt Murchison on the 15 January. Edwin Welch left the party here after suffering damage to his eyes taking sextant readings on leaving Menindee. Howitt initially wanted to replace him with Mr Knowles, who had experience as a surveyor, but Knowles was unable to join the party. Howitt appointed Hugh McWilliams as a replacement for Welch and took on the role of surveyor himself.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Item 22).
Dispatch from Howitt to the Exploration Committee, Mt Murchison, 18 January 1862. 1p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 2).
Medical report from Dr Murray to Howitt, Mt Murchison (re: Welch), 19 January 1862. 1p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Item 23).
Dispatch from Howitt to the Exploration Committee, Mt Murchison, 26 January 1862. 3p.
• SLV MS13971, Box 2085/6c (Item 6).
Inventory and weight of stores and equipment on leaving Mt Murchison for Cooper's Creek, 26 January 1862. 4p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Item 24).
Dispatch from Howitt to the Exploration Committee, Youngconga Water, 4 February 1862. 1p.

Howitt went out on a recce with Mr Myers of Mt Murchison Station for 85 miles, which took him to within 25 miles of Torowoto. He left Mt Murchison with the party on the 27 January 1862.

Howitt's excursions from the Cooper Depot.
The VEP arrived at Cullyamurra Waterhole on 25 February 1862, where they formed Depot Camp 25 on the northern bank of Cooper Creek. Howitt made several excursions from Depot Camp 25:

• Reconnaissance trip from the Cooper Depot to find water in Strzelecki Creek - 27 February to 2 March 1862.

Howitt, Galbraith, O'Donnoll, McWilliams and six horses.
Left at the Depot: Dr Murray, Aitkins, Williams, Weston Phillips, Charles Phillips, Burrell and Tenniel. Men putting the stores in order, establishing the depot, erecting a stockade and starting a garden.

• First trip from the Cooper Depot to Blanchewater via Strzelecki Creek - 5 March to 16 March 1862.

Howitt, Weston Phillips, Williams, Galbraith, six camels and four horses.
Howitt travelled to Mount Hopeless via Strzelecki Creek.
Left at the Depot: Dr Murray, Aitkins, McWilliams, Charles Phillips, Henry Burrell and O'Donnell.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 3).
Medical report from Dr Murray to Howitt, Cooper's Creek, 3rd March 1862. 1p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Item 25).
Dispatch from Howitt to the Exploration Committee, Blanchewater, 18 March 1862. 2p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Item 26).
Letter from Edwin Welch, Menindie 24 March 1862. 5p.

• Return from Blanchewater to the Cooper Depot via Lake Hope - 20 March to 2 April 1862.

Howitt returned to the Cooper on McKinlay's tracks via Lake Hope. The Dieri and Yandruwandha told him of a great flood due to come down the Cooper.

On the 5 April, Weston Phillips and Frank went upstream as far as the Fishpond (Nappa Merie) to ascertain the nature of the flood.
On the 10 April, Williams and O'Donnell went up to Fort Wills (Dig Tree) to retrieve the two camel trunks that had been left there.

• First trip to the north - 12 April to 1 May 1862.

Howitt, Burrell, Tenniel, O'Donnell, Charles Phillips, Frank and thirteen horses.
Dr Murray and Weston Phillips went as far as Breerily to exhume Wills' remains in case the flood waters covered the grave. Howitt had originally intended to send the remains of Burke and Wills back to the Darling by the end of May.
Sturt's roan mare was found on 1 May 1862.
Left at the Depot: Dr Murray, Aitkins, McWilliams, Williams, Weston Phillips and Galbraith.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 4).
Medical report from Dr Murray to Howitt, Cooper's Creek, 15 May 1862. 1p.

• Despatches from the Exploration Committee forwarded by the South Australian Government

Despatches to Cooper's Creek for Mr Howitt from the Victorian Exploration Committee were forwarded by this Government on Monday last. They will be conveyed from the out-stations by Corporal Wauchop and another police-trooper, who will take with them two pack-horses in addition to their own, and it is expected that they will not be more than three weeks in arriving at their destination.
South Australian Register, Wednesday 23 April 1862, page 2.

• Second trip to Blanchewater and Angepina - 17 May to 30 May (Blanchewater) and 3 June 1862 (Jacob's Station at Parrallanna / Angepina).

Howitt, Weston Phillips, Charles Phillips, Burrell, Tenniel, O'Donnell, Frank, nine horses and nine camels. Howitt was accompanied back to the settled districts by Corporal Wauchope and Trooper Poynter of the South Australian Mounted Police and an Aborignal guide who had arrived on the Cooper with despatches on 12 May.
Left at the Depot: Dr Murray, Aitkins, McWilliams, Williams, Galbraith. During this time Aitkens and Galbraith went to Fort Wills and marked Brha'e depot tree.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Item 27).
Dispatch from Howitt to the Exploration Committee, Jacob's Station, Parallana, 4 June 1862. Also includes a list of stores required after August 1862 prepared by Alexander Aitken. 7p. [See Box 2085/5b (1-6) for Dr James Wheeler's medical reports].
• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Item 28).
Dispatch from Howitt to the Exploration Committee, Jacob's Station, Parallana, 4 June 1862. Includes transcription of a note buried by John McKinlay at Burke's grave.
South Australian Register, Friday 20 June 1862, page 2.
'The Far North', a copy of the journal kept by Corporal James Wauchope during his recent expedition to and from Cooper's Creek.

• Return from Angepina to the Cooper via Lake Hope - 5-24 June 1862.

• Second trip to the north - 3 July to 2 August 1862.

Howitt, Dr Murray, Weston Phillips, Williams, McWilliams and Charlie (a Dieri man).
Left at the Depot: Aitkins, Charles Phillips, Burrell, Galbraith, O'Donnell and Tenniel.
Between the 4 and 11 August, Aitkin, Charles Phillips and Burrell went up the creek for a week to look for the missing camel.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5b (Item 5).
Medical report from Dr Murray to Howitt, Cooper's Creek, 15 August 1862. 1p.

• Third trip to Blanchewater and Angepina, via Lake Hope - 16 August to 27 August (Blanchewater) and 1 September 1862 (Angepena).

Howitt, Galbraith, Burrell, O'Donnell and Tenniel with twenty horses.
Aitkin, Charles Phillips and McWilliams with the camels.
Left at the Depot: Dr Murray, Williams and Weston Phillips.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Item 29).
Dispatch from Howitt to the Exploration Committee, Angipena Police Station, 2 September 1862. Also includes a report from Aitken to Howitt, Cooper's Creek, 14 August 1862. 9p.

• Return from Angepina to the Cooper Depot - 4 September to 19 September 1862.

• Final trip to Blanchewater - ? October to 22 October 1862.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Item 30).
Dispatch from Howitt to the Exploration Committee, Blanchewater, 22 October 1862. 3p.

• Journey from Blanchewater to the Grey Ranges and back - 28 October to 2 November 1862.

Howitt decided to rest the horses and camels at Blanchewater. He took the opportunity to try and to find a way through the Grey Ranges from Blanchewater to the Darling and Sturt's Depot at Providence Creek. However there was no water and he returned after six days. While at Angepina some of the horses were sold and others went missing. Howitt was delayed there while searching for them until the 22 November.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2085/5a (Item 31).
Dispatch from Howitt to the Exploration Committee, Angipena, 21 November 1862. 3p.

• Blanchewater to Clare - 22 November to 8 December 1862.

Howitt arrived at Clare at 3.30 pm on Monday, 8 December. The party remained there and Howitt went on ahead to Adelaide with Dr Murray, arriving on 9 December. The rest of the party arrived in Adelaide by train on 12 December 1862 with the remains of Burke and Wills.

• Clare to Adelaide - 8 December to 12 December 1862.

Howitt and Dr Murray arived in Adelaide on Tuesday, 9 December 1862, and were invited to the banquet dinner held that evening to honour John McKinlay. The rest of the party arrived in Adelaide by train on Friday, 12 December 1862 with the remains of Burke and Wills.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2080/5b (Item 23).
Telegram from Howitt, dated Clare, 6 December 1862.

• Adelaide to Melbourne - 18-29 December 1862.

Howitt and Dr Murray left Adelaide at 4.30 pm on Friday, 26 December on the Havilah and arrived at Port Melbourne at 5.00 am on Sunday, 29 December 1862.

• SLV MS13071, Box 2080/5b (Item 24).
Telegram from Howitt to the Exploration Committee, Adelaide, 9 December 1862. 1p.
• SLV MS13071, Box 2080/5b (Item 25).
Telegram from Howitt, Adelaide, 12 December 1862.

• Illuminated address, [18--]. [manuscript].

• SLV MS 9334, Illuminated address presented to Dr James Patrick Murray, Medical Officer of the Victorian Contingent Expedition, undated.

Exhuming Wills' remains.
Howitt wrote:

27 February 1862.
Camp 26 near Wills grave at Lat 27º 45' 45” Long 140º 36' 30”

Saturday, 12 April 1862.
Camp 26 Breerily.
Started today on a short trip to the north with Burrell, G Tenniel, W O'Donnell, C Phillips and Frank with thirteen horses. Dr Murray and Weston Phillips accompanied us this far for the purpose of taking back to the Depot the remains of the late Mr Wills. Any flood would cover the grave with many feet of water.

Sunday, 13 April 1862.
Disinterred the remains this morning and Dr Murray and Phillips returned home about two o'clock when we started down the creek. Day hot - flies very troublsome.

Saturday, 17 January 1863.
Page 5.

Address to Howitt, the explorer.

The following is the address which is to be presented by tho Exploration Committee of the Royal Society to Mr Alfred W Howitt, the successful commander of the Victorian Contingent Exploring Expedition, at a public meeting to be held on the evening of the day of the funeral of Burke and Wills:

To Alfred W Howitt, Esq., Leader of the Contingent Party of the Victorian Exploring Expedition.

Sir,
The Exploration Committee cannot suffer you to terminate the arduous and responsible duties in which you have engaged for so long a period, without testifying ¡n a permanent form their unqualified admiration of the exemplary manner in which you have executed the delicate and difficult trust reposed in you.

During a period of eighteen months you have been engaged in the fulfilment of various missions connected with the exploration of the continent, and have displayed qualities which, while they have commanded the respect and insured the safety of the parties under your control, have proved you to bo eminently fitted for the post to which you were elected, and to possess the courage, patience, foresight, zeal, and energy, so essential to the successful conduct of an expedition like that confided to your care.

Your labours havo benofited alike the cause of humanity and that of geographical science; and it is a source of sincere satisfaction to the committee to be able to congratulate you on the honour you have achieved, and to tender you their cordial thanks for the valuable services you have rendered.

[Here follow the signatures]

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