Burke and Wills: The Scientific Legacy of the Victorian Exploring Expedition
The Royal Society of Victoria initiated the Victorian Exploring Expedition in 1860 as a serious scientific exploration of the hitherto unexplored centre of Australia. Members of the expedition were sent 10 pages of 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 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.
- William John Wills as scientist
- Geology, soils and landscapes of the expedition route
- The botanical legacy of Ferdinand Mueller and Hermann Beckler
- Zoology: an encounter with the fauna of Australia's unique arid environment
- Hydrologic insights of inland Australia
- Meteorology: a remarkable set of early inland observations
- The space between: Aboriginal people, the Victorian Exploring Expedition and the relief parties
- Conclusion: rewriting history
Bernie Joyce is Honorary Principal Fellow at the School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne.
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