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Burke and Wills

The Triumph and Tragedy of Australia's Most Famous Explorers
Narrated by: Michael Carman
Length: 23 hrs and 43 mins
Categories: History, World
4.5 out of 5 stars (267 ratings)

Non-member price: $39.95

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Publisher's Summary

The iconic Australian exploration story - brought to life by Peter FitzSimons, Australia's storyteller.

'They have left here today!' he calls to the others. When King puts his hand down above the ashes of the fire, it is to find it still hot. There is even a tiny flame flickering from the end of one log. They must have left just hours ago.

Melbourne, 20 August 1860. In an ambitious quest to be the first Europeans to cross the harsh Australian continent, the Victorian Exploring Expedition sets off, with 15,000 well-wishers cheering them on. Led by Robert O'Hara Burke, a brave man totally lacking in the bush skills necessary for his task; surveyor and meteorologist William Wills; and 17 others, the expedition took 20 tons of equipment carried on six wagons, 23 horses and 26 camels.

Almost immediately plagued by disputes and sackings, the expeditioners battled the extremes of the Australian landscape and weather: its deserts, the boggy mangrove swamps of the Gulf, the searing heat and flooding rains. Food ran short and, unable to live off the land, the men nevertheless mostly spurned the offers of help from the local indigenous people.

In desperation, leaving the rest of the party at the expedition's depot on Coopers Creek, Burke, Wills, Charley Gray and John King made a dash for the Gulf in December 1860. Bad luck and bad management would see them miss by just hours a rendezvous back at Coopers Creek, leaving them stranded in the wilderness with practically no supplies. Only King survived to tell the tale. Yet, despite their tragic fates, the names of Burke and Wills have become synonymous with perseverance and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. They live on in our nation's history - and their story remains immediate and compelling.

©2017 Peter FitzSimons (P)2017 Hachette Australia

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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<br />Fascinating Reading/Listening

Well narrated-kept listener engaged-loved it- travelling and living in Channel Country it was great to learn more about the History of the area

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A good book

Worth the download. Greatly read and a insight to our beautiful country. If you want a good aussie book... This is the one

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A remarkable Experience. Fantastic Performance.

Peter Fitzsimons has out done himself with this one. Perfectly researched. Fantastic storyline it was a joy. Michael Carman is a genius and possibly the best Australian Narrator I have listened to. He nailed the accents which gave perfect character to the players. Highly Recommended to everyone interested in the highs and lows of Australian history.

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Absolutely Brilliant

I enjoyed it immensely. Another brilliant effort by Peter FitzSimons. Michael Carmen's narration was excellent!

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slow start and prolonged end

a slow start to the story but very informative and historical, and the end was a bit prolonged but still very enjoyable.

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Wish it was 10 hours smaller

Not quite historical, it's full of hindsights and anachronisms. Frustrating as a narrative. Nicely narratted

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Great history lesson.

I loved the story. Very thorough . At times the details became heavy going but enjoyable.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Highly recommended

Very interesting listen, extremely detailed, perhaps bordering on too much detail in sections which slows the pace of the book.

The narrator is very easy to listen to and I enjoyed the life he gives to the characters.

A great Australian tale to which all Australians should be familiar with, I was surprised at how much I didn’t know about the expedition as I thought I was fairly familiar!

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Amazing story

This story sits high amongst the best of Australian stories. Peter and the team have clearly exhaustingly researched this story from many angles resulting in a book that provides clear insight into all details of this fascinating story! Would recommend this to anyone who wants to know about the heroics of early explorers in Australia.

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    4 out of 5 stars

good read

great book to listen to as you drive through the Australian outback. It gives good details of all aspects of the expedition, their personalities and major events.
However at times it was difficult to keep track of characters with similar names and to catch mention of what particular party was being spoken about while driving - rewinding the audio not being an option while at the wheel.
Overall a worthwhile way to spend driving time

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  • Diane Reppun
  • 25-01-2018

great book a little slow to begin with.

I found the earlier parts a little slow but then the overall story and how I was told was very engaging I would recommend this to anybody who wants to know about Australian history

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ramanda Brockett
  • 19-08-2019

Not my personal favorite

gave it a good try, dragged until half way through. I realized that this historical account had too much suffering and waiting around for me to be excited to hear what happened next.

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  • Than
  • 30-06-2019

The part about the photographs still makes me mad

I'm still stewing about the part about 3 hours from the end talking about the photographs. But aside from that the book itself is great, Interesting story I knew nothing about beforehand. The misconceptions by rescue parties searching for them about the aborigines really shows the flawed logic in a lot of the missing Leichhardt expedition theories of the same time. I feel bad for the horses and camels. I feel bad for the people. So many mistakes were made. I'm glad we have one witness to history in John King.

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  • Erick
  • 09-04-2019

Brilliant narration

This was an amazing book with an excellent narrator in Michael carman. He really brings the story to life.

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  • Adrian
  • 25-03-2018

Bravery and wisdom.

The story of Burke and Wills is an amazing account of a true expedition to journey through the centre of Australia in 1860. There are many characters involved but large degree Grey between the heroes and villians. Misfortune and mismanagement frequently hound the expedition. Add to this a touch of the exotic, with the young nation drawing upon different nationalities to accompany the expedition. Not to forget the somewhat novel use of camels, as well as the frequent interactions with the natives. Loved every word of this book, and was rewarded by the extensive coverage given to the Royall Commision afterwards, further analysing the many failures of communication and management, that led to Burke and Wills being abandoned. As for King, there's a character who clearly suffered depression following his rescue.
If you've never read about the story of Burke and Wills, then look no further than Peter FitzSimons version for a vivid and thorough account.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • 20-06-2019

Very political!

Disappointed. Ive read several of Peter FitzSimons previously & found them full of action and enjoyable reading. Burke and Wills although full of relevant facts its vey slow going and difficult to keep interested in. I found it somewhat boring as it took so long for the journey to start and all the detailed political commentary, although no doubt relevant and factual, didn't do it for me.
Although I learnt a lot from listening to this book, I wouldn't recommend it if you like exciting books.