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» Menindie to Cooper's Creek

Menindie to Cooper's Creek

This was the most straightforward leg of the entire journey. The weather was good, and the recent rains provided plenty of water and lush grass. Having left the cumbersome wagons behind, the party began to make good progress. Leaving George Landells behind had also greatly improved Burke's frame of mind.

Determined to make the most of the favourable conditions, Burke set a brisk pace - he did not allow the customary rest days, and often did not order a halt until well into evening. Having left Menindie on 19 October, he arrived at Cooper's Creek little more than three weeks later, on 11 November.

So, how is it that Burke managed this part of the route so easily when it later utterly defeated the more experienced bushman William Wright, and even cost the lives of three men? The shortest answer is 'water'. Burke had the full benefit of recent rains, which had long since vanished when Wright attempted to follow him. Wright was constantly required to halt his men and animals at whatever source of water they could find. He would then have to wait while scouts looked for another source of water, often in vain. Disabling dietary illnesses such as scurvy and beriberi also set in more quickly and affected more people in Wright's party than in Burke's.