Wills knew that he was fading fastest. On 26 June, he decided the only honourable thing to do was to sacrifice himself to save his companions. 'Without some change,' he wrote, 'I see little chance for any of us.'
In 1860, an eccentric Irish policeman and a shy English scientist led a cavalcade of men and camels out of Melbourne to cross the continent south to north. Less than a year later seven men were dead.
Sarah Murgatroyd's classic account of an ill-fated expedition is a tragic tale of courage, love, suffering and madness.
About the Author
Sarah Murgatroyd was born in England in 1967 and grew up on a farm in Sussex. After a year in China, India and the Himalayas, she gained an honours degree in Philosophy and Literature at Warwick University, and then studied broadcast journalism at Cardiff University. In 1993 she came to Australia where she travelled extensively, providing news and current affairs coverage for the BBC. To research The Dig Tree she retraced the footsteps of Burke and Wills across Australia. Sarah died of cancer in March 2002, a few weeks after The Dig Tree was first published.
`Sarah Murgatroyd deftly captures the foolishness, suffering and hapless heroism of one of the 19th-century's least-known, but most epic, undertakings. I can almost guarantee that you will be biting your nails by the time you reach The Dig Tree of the title-and more than that I cannot say without spoiling this remarkable and addictive tale.' -- Bill Bryson
`No one has told the tale of Burke and Wills better than Sarah Murgatroyd. And she has the best gift of all; she knows how to craft a story in prose as clear as a country creek.' * Les Carlyon *
`Sarah Murgatroyd was a splendid writer. This book is a masterpiece of exploration history-entertaining, trenchant, a marvel.' * National Geographic *
`Perhaps the best book on Burke & Wills, The Dig Tree...is haunting, ominous and grand. This is a book anyone with the slightest sense of history will relish. Worth every cent.' * Landline, ABCTV *
`Readers will be totally enmeshed by Murgatroyd's story, so engaging and vivid is the writing...her evocation of the landscape and the perils faced by the explorers is luminous.' * Age *
`It is the delicious tales of the political machinations...the competing reputations of statehood and the interests of 19th-century big business which make such gripping reading.' * Herald Sun *
`The narrative is fast-paced, and historical facts are presented as vivid and engrossing detail.' * Bookseller & Publisher *
`one of the most compelling histories of exploration yet to appear in Australia, and certainly the finest book dealing with the alternatively comic and desperately tragic journey of Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills in 1860 and 1861...an Australian classic' * Bulletin *
`It has been told many times before, but Murgatroyd brings new themes to the story of the Burke and Wills expedition to the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1860 and makes a good read of the tragedy and scandal surrounding the heroic legend that persists to this day.' * Australian *
`All Australian history should be this good...Readers will be totally enmeshed by Murgatroyd's story, so engaging and vivid is the writing...her evocation of the landscape and the perils faced by the explorers is luminous.' * Age *
`The Dig Tree is a beautifully told story which manages to get beneath the skins of an addictive bunch of egotistical, generous, mutinous, pig-headed and brave characters.' * Sunday Telegraph *
`Murgatroyd demonstrates a profound understanding of topography and climate in this gripping tale, and writes with compassion about the explorers' foibles.' * Sunday Times *
`unflinching in portraying a campaign that, despite being elaborately equipped, was so shockingly unprepared and misguided that its account borders on black comedy.' * Publishers Weekly *
`Conveys an experts grasp of her material. The Dig Tree is unlikely to be superseded...instinctive and convincing.' * Times Literary Supplement *
`For a great read, for a history lesson you didn't know you needed and for a fascinating probe of what can come of greed, idiocy, valor, good luck and bad timing in the middle of a large, empty and unfriendly continent, step this way...' * Los Angeles Times *
`A shimmering reconstruction of the 1860 Victorian Exploring Expedition, which sought to traverse Australia south to north and needed no clairvoyance to predict its end in disaster.' * Kirkus Reviews *