Compass Expeditions’ Burke & Wills Karumba-bound 16-day 4WD adventure

EFKM8F BURKE AND WILLS EXPEDITION  Contemporary engraving by Nicholas Chevalier showing Burke, Wills and King returning from the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia,  in 1861

Compass Expeditions has announced its new Burke & Wills four-wheel drive adventure departing Melbourne in July next year and arriving in Karumba 16 days later.

The itinerary follows as closely as possible the path of Robert O’Hara Burke, William John Wills, John King and Charles Gray when they departed Melbourne on 20 August, 1860 bound for the Gulf of Carpentaria through the vast interior.

They and their 27-strong camel train became the first Europeans to cross Australia south to north when they reached the Gulf of Carpentaria in February 1861. Guests will travel a similar distance in the comfort of modern 4WDs.

The death of Burke, Wills and Charles Gray during their return led the expedition to be mythologised in Australian culture as a heroic failure. It ultimately prompted the discovery of vast grazing lands, enabling further European settlement of the interior.

Burke and Wills. Image: National Museum Australia. MA68647518

I hope we shall be done justice by. We fulfilled our task but we were … not followed up as I expected and the Depot party abandoned their post … King has behaved nobly and I hope he will be properly cared for.

Robert O’Hara Burke, Cooper Creek, 26 June 1861

The expedition, one of the most expensive in Australian history, was led by Burke, an Irishman with no exploration experience or skills in surveying or navigation. According to the National Museum Australia, it was lavishly equipped with items including 50 gallons of rum to revive tired, and an oak table.

The expedition’s departure from Royal Park, Melbourne on 20 August 1860 was a public spectacle watched by about 15,000 people.

This iconic yet ultimately doomed expedition is now forever etched into the folklore of Australia and Compass Expeditions are thrilled to offer this 4WD expedition to both Australians and overseas clients who want to experience the legendary outback from the comfort of a 4WD and hotel accommodation each night.

“The expedition is a journey through the pages of Australian history,” Compass director Jerry Cook said. “It’s possibly the most iconic Australian journey there is.”

Any agents who would like training on Compass Expeditions can contact Evolution Travel Collective that provides tailored B2B services that specialise in cost-effective representation for travel brands.

The doomed Burke and Wills expedition sets off from Melbourne. Image: National Museum Australia. MA68647629

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