William John Wills

Born in Totnes, County of Devon, England in 1834. His family migrated to Australia in 1853 where his father started a respected medical practice. He worked as a shepherd while he studied surveying and became an assistant to Professor Georg Neumayer at the magnetic and astronomical observatories in Melbourne. With this background it was easy for Wills to obtained the position as surveyor for the expedition to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Robert Burke dismissed his second in command, George Landells, making Wills his new lieutenant. Though Wills disagreed with many of Burke’s decision he was loyal to his commander and the expedition. He maintained a series of journal entries even when the expedition was focused on survival. These journal entries were received as a wonderful contribution to the exploration of Australia despite the death of the team members.

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