The Dig Tree: The Story of Bravery, Insanity, and the Race to Discover Australia's Wild Frontier
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

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

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  178 ratings  ·  23 reviews
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 nort...more
Hardcover, 355 pages
Published September 24th 2002 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2002)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dig Tree, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Dig Tree

The Invention of Religion by Alexander DrakeIf I Should Die Before My Dog -- by Joe ConnollyThe Glass Castle by Jeannette WallsThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt
favorite non-fiction
249th out of 294 books — 290 voters
Into Thin Air by Jon KrakauerA Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerThe Call of the Wild by Jack LondonKon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl
Tales of Adventure
164th out of 283 books — 303 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 373)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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...more
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...more
Fantastic. Every Australian should read it.
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...more
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...more
Lorenzo Berardi
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...more
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...more
Caroline Gordon
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...more
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
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!
Jane Baker
Compulsory reading for all Victorians! She makes history come alive, the people so real. This expedition was a huge collection of one bad decision after another. I feel so sorry for Wills Senior.
Michael Lewis
Having travelled the outback of Australia myself, I can imagine what it would have been like. The book I found an outstanding read and one that was hard to put down
Ruby  Tombstone [Uncensored or Else]
This was a giveaway during National Book Shop Day. Not something I would have chosen for myself, but who knows? Maybe one day I'll give it a go..
Michael Waugh
Wow...can't even imagine crossing that desert! Can't get the image of the horses out of my mind.
Very well written. A fascinating topic and a great read.
I'm really liking this account of our bizarre history.
Brilliant but disturbing, I couldn't put it down.
Chris Walker
Found it a bit dry to be honest (no pun intended).
Crazy story. You should read it.

I am worn out.
Too dull for words.
Shane Dougall
Shane Dougall marked it as to-read
Aug 16, 2014
Peter Hanhart
Peter Hanhart marked it as to-read
Aug 14, 2014
Jeffrey marked it as to-read
Aug 09, 2014
Molly marked it as to-read
Aug 08, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 12 13 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Home Of The Blizzard: A True Story Of Antarctic Survival
  • Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia
  • Batavia's Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History's Bloodiest Mutiny
  • 1788: The Brutal Truth of the First Fleet
  • Barrow's Boys: The Original Extreme Adventurers: A Stirring Story of Daring Fortitude and Outright Lunacy
  • The Darkest Jungle: The True Story of the Darien Expedition and America's Ill-Fated Race to Connect the Seas
  • The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia's Convict Women
  • Fortunes Of Richard Mahony
  • Tirra Lirra by the River
  • Evolution's Captain: The Dark Fate of the Man Who Sailed Charles Darwin Around the World
  • The Shiralee
  • Captain James Cook: A Biography
  • The Girl from Botany Bay
  • The Plains
  • They're a Weird Mob
  • The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding
  • The Dragon Man (Inspector Challis, #1)
  • Death of a River Guide
Sarah Murgatroyd was born in England in 1967, and grew up on a farm in Sussex.

After a year spent wandering through 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.

Murgatroyd’s journalism career began with local radio in Bournemouth; it was interrupted by her diagnosis with br...more
More about Sarah Murgatroyd...
The Dig Tree: The Story of Burke and Wills Dig 3ft NW: The Legendary Journey of Burke & Wills The Dig Tree

Share This Book