State Library of Victoria \ Dig: the Burke & Wills research gateway
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» Telegrams and chequebooks

Telegrams and chequebooks

Burke was only out of touch with Melbourne once he left Cooper's Creek. In the early stages of the journey he could contact the Exploration Committee by telegram, and even at Menindie he could count on a regular postal service to Melbourne. Despatches from the camp at Cooper's Creek could be taken to Menindie by a rider when necessary.

Despite the copious stores and supplies taken from Melbourne, Burke expected to make further purchases along the way and, rather than carry cash, he asked the Exploration Committee to supply him with a chequebook. Having left personal debts in Melbourne, he was further embarrassed when some of his expedition cheques were dishonoured, the Committee having failed to lodge sufficient funds in the correct account.

Stubs from his chequebook record payments to Dick, the Aboriginal guide who saved the lives of two expedition members, Trooper Lyons and Alexander MacPherson, when the three of them had become lost in stony desert south of Cooper's Creek.

It was a telegram, from Brahe, that brought the first stunning news to Melbourne of the death of Burke and Wills.