- from Explorers
In the 1850s, the desire to explore Australia’s unknown heartland was growing. What could be found in that huge uncharted place? Was there gold or fertile land? Could a telegraph link be laid from the south to the north coasts? Politicians, farmers, and businesses were all eager to find out.
Irishman Robert O’Hara Burke, 40, and Englishman William John Wills, 26, set out to cross the continent. On August 20, 1860, they left Melbourne with 18 others. For six hard months, they trekked through hot deserts and mosquito-filled swamps. At times they were near death. They were starving and worn out. Finally, they did it. They opened up the continent for others. But they paid a huge and tragic price.