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William John Wills
William John Wills
Photographs supplied by Kay Pamment

The monument marks the site of the grave of William John Wills, a member of the Burke and Wills expedition. 

William John Wills (5 January 1834 – c.June/July 1861) was a British surveyor who also trained for a while as a surgeon. He achieved fame as the second-in-command of the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition, which was the first expedition to cross Australia from south to north, finding a route across the continent from the settled areas of Victoria to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
On their return journey they eventually reached the depot at Cooper Creek on 21 April 1861 to find the men had not arrived from Menindee, and ironically that Brahe and the Depot Party had given up waiting and left just 9 hours earlier.

Brahe had already waited 18 weeks for their return (he and Burke had agreed to 13 weeks) and had buried a note and some food underneath a tree which is now known as the Dig Tree. Burke, Wills and King attempted to reach Mount Hopeless, the furthest extent of settlement in South Australia, which was closer than Menindee (the route preferred by Wills), but failed and returned to Cooper Creek. While waiting for rescue Wills became exhausted and was unable to continue. He urged Burke and King to continue on, leaving him alone with food, water and shelter. Wills died alone at a place called Breerily Waterhole on Cooper Creek in South Australia. Burke died soon after. The exact date of their deaths is unknown, but has generally been accepted to be 28 June 1861.

Relieving expeditions under A.W. Howitt, Landsborough, McKinlay and others were searching for the party. Howitt found King with friendly Aboriginals on 15 September 1861, and buried Wills on 18 September; later he returned the remains of Burke and Wills to Melbourne and they were accorded a public funeral on 21 January 1863.



Address:Cooper Creek, Innamincka, 5731
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -27.754881
Long: 140.600311
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Link: http://adb.anu.edu.au/


Front Inscription

The Burke & Wills Expedition

Born Totnes, Devon, England 1834
Died Near Here About June 29, 1861.

Source: MA, ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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