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16 August 1861 John McKinlay

 16 August 1861 John McKinlay

John McKinlay, who was appointed leader of a party to look for the ill-fated Burke and Wills, set out from Adelaide on 16 August 1861 with a team of bullocks, pack horses, 100 sheep and four camels. They were also to look at the country between Eyre’s Creek and Central Mount Stuart and the western shore of Lake Eyre. At Cooper’s Creek an Aborigine showed them the grave of Gray and they later learned the fate of Burke and Wills, whose remains were found by the Howitt Expedition. McKinlay carried on across the stony desert, but this year much of the country was flooded and it was only with great difficulty that the party managed to reach the Gulf of Carpentaria. There they faced further problems as the vessel which was supposed to meet them had not arrived. The situation was critical as they only had a little food left, but after another two months of hard travelling they reached a station in the Burdekin Valley, 70 miles from Port Denison (now Bowen Qld). On his return to Adelaide McKinlay was presented with £1000 by the Governor Sir Dominic Daly. McKinlay was the second to cross the continent from south to north, after Stuart, and never lost a man.

George Loyau, The Representative Men of South Australia, Howell, Adelaide, 1883, pp.168-72.

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