Robert O'Hara Burke

Born in St Clerans, County Galway, Ireland in 1821, Burke would become one of the most well-known explorers of Australia. He was educated at Woolwich Academy before joining the Belgian and Austrian armies. In 1848 he joined the Irish Mounted Constabulary, which he maintained in high positioning until 1853 when he migrated to Australia. He became an inspector of police to Melbourne that same year in which he met a young 15-year old named Julia. He became captivated with her even leaving all his possessions to her in a will before he ventured on his exploration in 1860. His career in the police department grew leading him to the position of superintendent of police in 1858. Then in 1860, with William John Wills and with 15 other men, he left Menindee, on the Darling River, to cross the continent from south to north. Dissensions broke up the party, but the leaders reached the estuary of the Flinders River, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. On the return journey both Burke and Wills died from famine and exposure despite the help and instruction of the native aboriginals. Before his death Burke wrote a final letter to his sister cancelling his will he had made before his departure promising all his belongings to the young Julia.

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