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The First Monument, 1860.

The first monument to commemorate the passage of the expedition was a sundial presented to the residents of Swan Hill by Professor Georg von Neumeyer of the Melbourne Observatory.

Neumeyer had travelled to the Darling with the Expedition and presented the sundial upon his return to Swan Hill on the 10th October 1860. (Burke and the VEE at that time were leaving Bilbarka for Menindee).

Neumeyer was already caught up in the controversy and debate over Burke's suitability as leader with the resignation of Ferguson and Bowman.

The residents of Swan Hill erected the sundial to commemorate the passage of the expedition from Victoria into NSW.

The people of Swan Hill had been so hospitable and welcoming to the expedition and after the expedition had departed the town, a committee of townspeople was formed to erect an obelisk. On this committee were Captain Pasco, Superintendent Forster and Dr Gummow.

Monday 29 October 1860
Page 5.

The Exploration Party.

On the 16th inst. the police magistrate, C A D Pasco Esq., in presence of the majority of the inhabitants of Swan Hill, laid the foundation stone of a pedestal for the support of a sun-dial presented to the district by Professor Neumayer.

The interest of the ceremony, so unusual in this retired spot, was enhanced by its associations with the exploring party. A jar, containing a piece of parchment and sundry coins, was placed ia a hollow in the centre of the pedestal. The parchment bore the following inscription:

This pedastal was erected on the 15th October 1860
by the residents of Swan Hill,
in commemoration of the departure of the exploring expedition
from Victoria for North Australia,
under the command of R O'Hara Burke, Esq.
on the 15th September 1860.

[Southern Courier, 26 October 1860]

6th November 1945

After the departure of the Burke and Wills Expedition, a committee of townspeople were formed to commemorate the event. The names of the people appointed were Captain Pasco, Superintendent Forster and Dr Gummow.

The obelisk was to be of brick stuccoed with cement. Mr Foster as treasurer of the project, and apparently without the full authority of the committee, instructed Mr Maddern to erect the obelisk with the materials available. The bricks, locally made were of inferior quality, but the work proceeded until a height of seven feet was reached when it had to cease for want of materials.

In the meantime Mr Foster had been severely censured by the Chief Commissioner for some breaches of the Service and was suspended form duty and shrtly afterwards resigned from the service. Inspector H M Chomley relieved Foster at Swan Hill, when Foster departed for Melbourne he took the subscription money with him and Maddern the builder returned to Adelaide in 1862 without getting one penny from the Memorial Committee.

Later, a memorial was built upon the same site.


The monument subsequently fell down and in 1914 the current monument was erected on the same site.

Subsequent Monuments

Notes for the responsible traveler :

Respecting Australia's heritage.
The sites listed above represent a significant stage in the development of our nation. It is important that we all treat these sites with respect to ensure they continue to retain their significance for future generations and do not become degraded or even destroyed by visitor pressure.

Legislation to protect sites.
Many of the sites are listed on the federal Register of the National Estate or various State Heritage Registers and are protected under State and Federal legislation, including the Australian Heritage Council Act 2003 and the Protection of Moveable Cultural Heritage Act 1986. Digging, excavation, searching for artifacts and use of metal detectors at historical sites associated with exploration history is prohibited under various State legislation including the the Heritage Act 1992 (Queensland), Heritage Places Act 1993 (South Australia), Heritage Act 1977 (New South Wales) and the Heritage Act 1995 (Victoria). Additional legislation associated with the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Heritage Protection Act 1994 (Federal), the Heritage Act 1977 (New South Wales), the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 1993 (Queensland), the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (South Australia) and the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Victoria) affords additional protection at a number of significant historical sites.

Respecting indigenous culture.
Wherever you travel in Australia, you are in the traditional land of Indigenous Australians. This is country that has been significant to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people for over 60,000 years.

Access to sites.
Some of the sites listed above may be on private property. The inclusion of these sites on Burke & Wills Web in no way grants access to any of the sites of locations shown. The traveler must obtain permission to visit any private land or protected or closed area.

Inclusion of sites on this list does not imply the authenticity of such places. Burke & Wills Web aims to catalogue memorials as sites of interest, rather than pass judgment as to their authenticity.

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