This book challenges the common assumption that little or thing of scientific value was achieved during the Burke and Wills expedition. The Royal Society of Victoria initiated the Victorian Exploring Expedition 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 t 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 tebooks 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. Importantly, this new book has led to a re-appraisal of the successes of the journey. It will be a compelling read for historians of science and natural history, and those interested in Australian history and heritage.
Doug McCann is Honorary Fellow at the School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne. Bernie Joyce is Honorary Principal Fellow at the School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne.