Burke & Wills Web
The online digital research archive of expedition records
© 2020

Tarcoola, 26 September 1860.

Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2082/1a, Item 9.
Victorian Exploring Expedition Records, Dispatches sent by members of the VEE to the EC.
Robert O'Hara Burke's dispatch, Darling River, 26 September 1860. 4 pages.


Burke gave this dispatch to Neumeyer as he was returning to Melbourne, and Neumayer delivered it to the EC.

Blue Background

Tarcoola, Phelps Station,
On the Darling
26th September 1860


I have the honor to report that the Expedition arrived here last night and we proceed today to encamp three miles higher up the river where the feed is better.

The wagons are some thirty miles behind, but it is my intention to return with the horses and camels in order to relieve them of part of their loading, there will then be no difficulty in bringing them on and I shall not take the hired wagons any further on, the Expeditions wagons either, if I find that they obstruct my progress in any way.

The horses and camels are all well, the camels owing to their not having been loaded have greatly improved in condition. They are now upon a soil and in a climate where their capabilities can be fairly tested and notwithstanding the expense attending the movement of the stores by hired conveyance. I believe and hope the Committee will have no reason to regret it as we are now in a position to try the experiment fairly which might not have been the case otherwise.

Professor Neumeyer accompanied us from Swan Hill at my urgent request and his services have been of great advantage to the Expedition: he proceeds to town immediately and he will give the Committee

The Secretary,
Exploration Committee,



all the particulars of our journey. I have supplied him with a horse to return which is the only one in fit condition for the service. It is my intention to purchase another to replace it, and two more, three horses in all in order to complete the number (25) authorized by the Committee and urgently required by me.

I have discharged Robert Bowman at his own request and paid him by cheque £7:10. being the accruement of three weeks wages due to him. The strength of the Expedition is now reduced to thirteen Europeans and two Indians, names as per margin, a reduction which could not have been effected too early and which it would have been very difficult to make later if the animals had required daily to be loaded and unloaded, but now men and animals work well together.

I enclose a list of the stores left at Balranald to the care of Messrs Sparkes and Crawsie. I recommend that the provisions may be sold by auction and the other articles handed over to the care of Mr Foster, Superintendant of Police at Swan Hill to dispose of as he may think best: and I have no doubt but that Mr Foster would kindly undertake the charge and Captain Standish would authorize it if requested to do so.

As the River Darling is very rapidly rising I request that the camel...

In margin :

1 Burke
2 Landells
3 Wills
4 Beckler
5 Becker
6 McDonagh
7 King
8 McPherson
9 Hodgkinson
10 Brahe
11 Patten
12 Drakeford
13 Gray
1 Blooch
2 Dost Mahommet




packsaddles ordered at McFarlanes may be sent to the nearest point for taking supplies to the junction as they might possibly still reach us in time and I beg leave to repeat this request in order to impress upon you the importance of complying with it if possible. As the camel packsaddles in question are urgently required and the want of these in crossing the continent might be most severely felt by us. To have packsaddles stuffed with hair not with straw as those already issued to me would also be of great use.

I shall proceed to Menindie a hundred miles higher up the river with as little delay as possible and report to you again immediately upon my arrival there.

I forward an account of money expended for some trifling services, I have not been able to obtain receipts, but the names of the persons who supplied the articles purchased and their employers addresses and expense can be made to them if necessary.

In conclusion I beg leave to state that the best possible spirit accompanies both officers and men and that we shall do everything in our power to bring this enterprise as speedily as possible to a successful conclusion.

I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
R O"Hara Burke


Blue Background


Two receipts enclosed, one for £40 paid to Captain Johnson for freight and the other for £10 paid to Mr Landells who requested me to advance him that amount as he said he had not the means of returning to Town.

R O'Hara Burke

Mr Landells' receipt for advance of £10 has been sent on by mistake with Mr Burke's luggage to Cooper's Creek.

The Honorary Secretary,
Exploration Committee,


www.burkeandwills.net.au Burke & Wills Web The digital research archive of expedition records
© 2020, Dave Phoenix