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The Dig Tree The Extraordinary Story of the Ill-Fated Burke and Wills Expedition
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The Dig Tree The Extraordinary Story of the Ill-Fated Burke and Wills Expedition

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  249 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Set in the 'dead heart' of Australia's central deserts, 'The Dig Tree' tells the compelling story of one of history's greatest adventure tragedies.

After nearly eighty years of European settlement, Australia's interior remained a dangerous untamed wilderness. But on August 20th, 1860 the Victorian Exploring Expedition left Melbourne to unlock the secrets of the 'ghastly bla
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published March 1st 2002 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
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I 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 th
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
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 ...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
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
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
Fantastic. Every Australian should read it.
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
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
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
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
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!
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
Alex Mcgrath
Magnificently Researched and written. Good balance of historical, personal, geographic, and political-economic contextual. Makes me want to go on a camel trip to the outback.
This was such an amazing account of one man's bravery, some may say foolishness, to discover a route across Australia in the early days.
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.
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An interesting history of the fearless explorers. Well researched.
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!
This continent never ceases to astonish - a young country working through wild-west attitudes illustrated in this particular story of exploration into the interior of a vast unknown. Great story, but what a mess.
Very Good. A History book written as a story rather than a list of facts.
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.
Cel Jel
This was a fairly convoluted book, but with some amazing insights. Hard to believe the choice of a police officer over experienced explorers, but it shows that history repeats itself.
A most fascinating tale of flawed planning and leadership, combined with misfortune. Yet the determination of Burke, and the expediency of Wills, almost made it a success.
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
I am so glad I had the chance to read this book. Every bit of knowledge about the history of Australia makes me want to find out more. So well written.
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
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..
Zuzu Burford
Well researched, well written. The story of pride, arrogance, and ignorance concerning the ill fated Burke and Wills expedition.
Michael Waugh
Wow...can't even imagine crossing that desert! Can't get the image of the horses out of my mind.
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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 about Sarah Murgatroyd...
The Dig Tree: Text Classics: The Story of Burke and Wills

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