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» Wagon driver, Alfred George Price.

Wagon driver, Alfred George Price.

Question: 

My great, great grandfather who drove one of the wagons, Alfred George Price was probably the surviving member of the expedition.
He passed away aged 75 in 1904, is this true?
Like to know more.
I have an old three page letter stating this, any knowledge will be appreciated.

Trevor Horne
Answer: 

Dear Trevor,

Hired wagons
The expedition had three of their own 'American style' wagons which had been built at Pentridge Goal. However Burke was unable to fit all the equipment into these wagons, and so two days prior to departure he hired an additional two wagons. On the day of departure the second-in-command, George James Landells, objected to the camels being too heavily laden and so, faced with even more stores to transport, Burke hired a third additional wagon. This meant the expedition departed from Melbourne with a total of six wagons.

Initially the hired wagons were only contracted to go as far as Swan Hill. Two days out of Melbourne (somewhere between Tullamarine and Sunbury) two of the hired wagons got bogged on the wet, muddy roads. The expedition went on ahead without these two wagons and waited at Swan Hill for them to catch up. The hired wagons took a different route to the expedition and followed the highways, turning up in Swan Hill two days after Burke had arrived. Burke then contracted the wagons to stay with the expedition as far as the Darling River.

The hired wagons arrived at Tarcoola Station on the Darling (which is just south of Pooncarie) on 3 October 1860 and then the stores were loaded onto a streamer, the PS Moolgewanke, to be taken to Menindee. The hired wagons then returned to Melbourne and the expedition's wagons were abandoned. At Swan Hill on the return, one of the wagons picked up, Hissan Khan, a sepoy camel handler who had left the expedition, and returned him to Melbourne.

Payments for the hire of these three additional wagons and the carriage of stores were made to George Price, William Cole and M O’ Brien. The cost of the extra wagons was around £38 per week each, which was a considerable additional cost and almost double the wages bill for all 19 of the men on the expedition. The State Library of Victoria has eight vouchers which were drawn up by Robert O'Hara Burke as payment for "carriage of stores." Three of these vouchers are made out to George Price who either owned or drove one of the three hired wagons which travelled with the expedition from Royal Park, Melbourne to Tarcoola Station on the Darling River. The vouchers are in the State Library of Victoria at MS 13071, Box 2083, Folder 6, VEE vouchers 7 July–10 September 1860 (29 pages), and Box 2084, Folder 1, VEE vouchers 11 September–30 December 1860 (34 pages).


Crossing the Terrick Terrick Plain by Ludwig Becker.
29 August 1860
H16486, Pictures Collection, State Library of Victoria.
(Becker's famous painting of the expedition crossing the Terrick Terrick Plains north of Bendigo shows four wagons with the expedition. Three of these are the expedition's own wagons and one is a hired wagon. The other two hired wagons took a different route through Victoria and caught up with the expedition at Swan Hill).

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Longest surviving / Oldest surviving expedition member.
If you were asking whether Alfred George Price was the oldest surviving member of the expedition at the time of his death in 1904, then there were several expedition members who were still alive in 1904. William Brahe who was in charge of the Depot Party at the Dig Tree died in 1910; the expedition’s surgeon Dr Hermann Beckler died in 1914; and the expedition’s foreman, Charles David Ferguson, appears to be the oldest surviving member of the expedition, dying in 1925 at the age of 93.

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