The Dig Tree: The Story of Bravery, Insanity, and the Race to Discover Australia's Wild Frontier

The Dig Tree The Story of Bravery Insanity and the Race to Discover Australia s Wild Frontier The harrowing true story of the Burke and Willis expedition team who took on the Australian wilds years ago and lost They departed Melbourne s Royal Park in the summer of a misfit party of e

  • Title: The Dig Tree: The Story of Bravery, Insanity, and the Race to Discover Australia's Wild Frontier
  • Author: Sarah Murgatroyd
  • ISBN: 9780767908283
  • Page: 398
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The harrowing true story of the Burke and Willis expedition team who took on the Australian wilds 150 years ago and lost.They departed Melbourne s Royal Park in the summer of 1860, a misfit party of eighteen amateur explorers cheered on by thousands of well wishers Their mission to chart a course across the vast unmapped interior of Australia, from Melbourne to the nortThe harrowing true story of the Burke and Willis expedition team who took on the Australian wilds 150 years ago and lost.They departed Melbourne s Royal Park in the summer of 1860, a misfit party of eighteen amateur explorers cheered on by thousands of well wishers Their mission to chart a course across the vast unmapped interior of Australia, from Melbourne to the northern coast Months later, only one man returned alive with tales of heroism, hardships, and lost opportunities that were by turns terrifying and darkly comic.Drawing its title from one of the few remaining traces of the expedition, The Dig Tree combines the danger of Sebastian Junger with the irony of Bill Bryson to relive the tragic journey of these completely initiated adventurers The cast of characters includes the expeditionleader a reckless, charming Irish policeman known for getting lost on his way home from the pub an eccentric nature enthusiast from Germany an alcoholic camel handler and a rogue American horse breaker who is just in it for the money For nine harrowing months, their quest for glory shifts from idiocy to perseverance and then inexorably toward tragedy The nightmare culminates in a last haunting message left behind a group of desperate and dying men the word DIG carved into what is now Australia s most famous tree.The Dig Tree follows this compelling journey through a forgotten corner of history to examine a daring expedition that came unbelievably close to success only to let it slip away.

    One thought on “The Dig Tree: The Story of Bravery, Insanity, and the Race to Discover Australia's Wild Frontier”

    1. 4.5★sI picked up The Dig Tree: The Story of Bravery, Insanity, and the Race to Discover Australia's Wild Frontier by Sarah Murgatroyd on the spur of the moment at my local library, when I was looking for a non-fiction genre title to add to my 2015 Australian Authors challenge. This is a book of factual history, written not by an academic but by a journalist. The writing style flows easily and the language is plain English and accessible to all readers. I was surprised at how quickly I consumed [...]

    2. DIG. What a pity that some of the men who returned to the area of the DIG Tree did not act on the verb because it may have saved some lives. What they thought the word had been carved into the tree for is beyond me, especially when the added legend read '3 feet under'. There were supplies buried there that might have done some good to the travellers. However, it was not to be.This book tells the story of the expedition to cross Australia from south to north, through the dangerous untamed wildern [...]

    3. Take a committee that needs a committee to form another committee to assign a committee to decide if it needs another committee to look into the matter of funding an expedition from Melbourne, Victoria, to the North coast of Australia. Then add an ambitious, inexperienced, media hungry, hubristic expedition leader, a "team" that has no cohesion, an unclear mission direction, a naturalist who thinks the expedition has a scientific aspect and he's to document new species of Australian flora and fa [...]

    4. Thoroughly researched story of Burke and Wills. In 1860 an eccentric Irish police officer Robert O'Hara Burke led a cavalcade of camels, wagons and men out of Melbourne accompanied by William Wills, a shy English scientist. Burke was prepared to risk everything to become the first European to cross the Australian continent. A few months later the expedition had become an astonishing tragedy. Sarah Murgatroyd retraced these ill fated steps and reveals new evidence both historical and scientific t [...]

    5. This story of Burke and Wills is much different to the one we as teachers portrayed to the children in the 1960’s Social Studies Curriculum.Another English disaster created because of the social class in England.

    6. It all started with a BBC documentary about what is either known as the "Dead Heart" or the "Red Heart" of Australia: an extension of mountain ranges, deserts, salt lakes and bushland stretching out for thousands of miles between Perth and Sydney (West-East) and Melbourne and Darwin (South-North).The documentary mentioned the golden age of explorations which in the 19th century helped in mapping out inner Australia, a part of the country bigger than continental Europe. An enormous mass of land w [...]

    7. Wow, Robert O'Hara Burke and Dr. William Wills were quite possibly the unluckiest explorers ever. If this story weren't nonfiction, it would be hard to believe the big twist at the end.When I was twelve, I read Cooper's Creek by Alan Moorehead, a novelized middle grade version of the story of Burke and Wills, the first men to nearly succeed in crossing the continent of Australia across the Outback, from South to North. I was recently reminded of this and wanted to revisit the story, and when I s [...]

    8. This. Was. Faaaantastic. A stunningly beautiful piece of narrative that pulled together the incredible story of Burke and Wills and their expedition across Australia.

    9. OK, there are some basic errors in this (like getting date Queensland founded wrong), but this is history as it should be written. Constantly engaging - I enjoyed it just as much on this read as I did six years ago.

    10. The Burke and Wills Expedition.What a story.Setting off unto the unknown interior of Australia, led by a meglomaniac Burke with no bush skills out to impress a young lady seeking fame and glory and a young intelligent Wills. Flogged by malnutrition, exhaustion, giant rats, starving horses, dehydration, extreme heat, thick sand, bogged down wagons, mud stuck camels, diminishing food, illness, conflict and ignorance of the blessings that a relationship with the Aboriginal people could have bought, [...]

    11. As a kid I looked up at the statue of Burke and Wills in Melbourne City Square in awe. Reading this account brought so well to life left me feeling more of the tragicness of the whole expedition. I still loved following them from their first night on the Maribynong River to their last on Coopers Creek.

    12. As a child interested in history, I remember noticing a stone cairn near Royal Park in Parkville, Melbourne as we drove past. I was told this was where the Burke & Wills expedition began its epic journey to discover the northern parts of Australia. There was also a huge statue of Burke and Wills on the corner of Collins & Russell Street that we admired. It has since been moved to Swanston Street. This wonderful book explains in excellent detail exactly why after successfully making their [...]

    13. This is a long book. It was a purchase during a trip to Australia, and the book added to the enjoyment of the experience.Burke and Wills were attempting to explore some of the out-lying portions of this wonderful chunk of land. Unfortunately, the expedition started out not quite on the right foot, and ultimately, things went downhill from there.At one point, supplies were cached under a large tree, and the Word "dig" was carved into this tree. This became the famous "Dig Tree" which people repea [...]

    14. I have no interest in reading anything about all the famous polar explorations, yet the desert journeys appeal to me for some reason. Maybe its the varied landscape and geology,unusual flora and fauna, and the indigenous people who are somehow able to survive and thrive in this harsh environment. Sarah Murgatroyd's book on the Burke Wills expedition through Australia provides plenty of detail about the expedition itself, as well as information on the desert landscape. Considering that there is a [...]

    15. An excellent book debunking the myth about the ill fated explorers Burke and Wills in their attempt to cross the continent of Australia. Sarah Murgatroyd's research is excellent and it seems a pretty comprehensive covereage of all the elements that lead to the tragic ending of this expidition - including the poor leadership and the antics of the Royal Exploration Society in Melbourne, who funded the expidition, and then covered their backsides when it all went pear shaped. Sarah Murgatroyd taps [...]

    16. I so enjoyed this account of the famous Burke and Wills Expedition that I wonder it wasn't more widely lauded, how it ended up in the bargain bin at Borders for $7.50 (hard cover) I'll never know. Perhaps Sarah Murgatroyd is not a good interview subject, Peter Fitzsimons manages to get plenty of press for his tomes on similar topics. [return]Putting that aside I just thoroughly enjoyed this book. The suspense, the comedy of errors and ineptitude and the slice of life of Australia in the 1860's i [...]

    17. Sarah Murgatroyd's "The Dig Tree: A True Story of Bravery, Insanity and the Race to Discover Australia's Wild Frontier" is really an excellent book. The book tells the story of the Burke and Wills expedition, which aimed to cross the Australian desert and fill in the wide, blank spaces on the map. Burke is portrayed as supremely bungling, which taints the successful completion of his goal, as does the fact he managed to kill both himself and eight other men.The book really succeeds on Murgatroyd [...]

    18. I thought this was going to be a real struggle for me. Australian history is not my favourite, and I don't much care for bleak tales of hardship, but by the end I raced through this book. It is a thoroughly researched account of Burke and Wills' expedition to the top of Australia. It didn't start well, and was hardly the sort of trip to bring out the best in people, so few come across as likeable, but it was interesting to consider how we, as a society, have changed, and how we haven't. A great [...]

    19. The story of the ill fated expedition of Burke and Wills is something that I was only vaguely familiar with from primary school so to read this account was eye opening and extremely interesting.The depiction of a young Australia and the details surrounding the planning of the expedition were great. The narrative moves along very well and evidently a lot of research has been undertaken to accurately portray the journey.The only bad thing about this book was that I felt that the section at the end [...]

    20. Really engaging narrative cataloguing the various disasters that befell the Burke and Wills exploration. In a strange way it reminds me of Imperial Life in the Emerald City and its treatment of the Iraq invasion: it just keeps layering on more and greater errors and bad calls until you're quite shocked at the amateur nature of the whole affair. An engrossing read by a brave woman suffering from cancer while she researched and wrote the book.

    21. "A subcommittee was appointed," explains Sarah Murgatroyd in her amazing book "The Dig Tree," which tells the often farcical but somehow still moving story of the Burke-Wills Expedition which attempted to cross Australia (S to N) in the 1860s. A tale of bravery, mismanagement, egos run amok, and human dignity in the most degrading situations, Murgatroyd's book is heavy on facts, but also includes some delightfully welcome speculations.

    22. Well written and engaging book. It is a great topic made all the more interesting by the author's approach, at times using the explorers' own words, newspaper articles and letters and at other times providing comment and interpretation. The Burke and Wills story would make a interesting case study to reflect on leadership, team responsibility and project management!

    23. A good depiction of the exploration of Australia by a team that failed dramatically. Burke and Wills are famous icons today and the dig tree is visited by many who travel around and through the outback of Australia. Food was buried there, but the worn out and hungry Burke failed to find the food, thus the whole expedition ended in all dying but one who was befriended by the aborigines.

    24. The brilliantly written story of a truly tragic 19th century expedition to cross Australia with exotic camels and rather too many supplies. Well researched and packed with fascinating insight, I was immersed in it from the outset and enthralled by the conclusion. A superb and heroic story, engagingly told.

    25. Pretty interesting. This is, as my friend from Australia puts it, "Lewis and Clark, but with morons". Sounds like a pretty solid assessment to me.(view spoiler)[I think it's interesting that most of the expedition managed to die right near an aboriginal tribe that was doing just fine. It just goes to show, no matter how incompetent you are, if you die doing your job, you're a hero. (hide spoiler)]

    26. If there's one thing I learned from this book, it's that it's no small miracle that Australia came to be settled at all. The exploration of the inner continent was so fraught with poorly prepared expeditions, inexperienced adventurers, and other misfortunes that it's no wonder that only one man from the Burke and Wills party made it back alive. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

    27. Gave up on this. Probably just strung together too many exploration of the outback/wilderness/frozen tundra style books at the same time. I'm sure it's well written and interesting, for those who like Australia. Smiiiiii-le!

    28. If you are interested in Australian history, this extensively researched book on the story of Burke and Wills is well worth a read. Interestingly, it was written by an Englishwoman who died just before the publication of the book.

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