Written by Chester Eagle with reference to Cooper’s Creek by Alan Moorehead, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1963
Cover design by Vane Lindesay
DTP by Karen Wilson
Circa 5,500 words
Published electronically 2014
It has exasperated me for a long time now that historical understandings get fixed early in the life of a person, event, or movement, and then these interpretations form the basis for almost all later discussion. The Burke and Wills expedition of 1860 – 61 is a good example. The expedition was badly conceived and badly led. In many respects the conduct of the expedition provided a How Not To guide for later exploration. Indeed, it calls into question the very idea of exploration. Burke, Wills et al were preceded into the areas they ‘discovered’ by many millennia by aboriginal people who lived successfully enough in an area that killed members of the now famous (to us) exploring party. The Burke and Wills expedition is now part of our history but our history is surely false if we accept the conventional rendering of the exploratory travels under the command of the Irish policeman Burke. I have long admired Alan Moorehead’s Cooper’s Creek but felt I simply had to show a few of the ways in which historical understanding needed to be recast in the light of a modern look at the famous journey. This is my attempt to do so; I’m sure that other writers could do the same thing in a variety of ways.