State Library of Victoria \ Dig: the Burke & Wills research gateway
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When the idea of a major exploration was first suggested in late 1857, Victoria had only been a separate colony with its own government for six years. As the population and affluence of the colony increased in the first years of the gold rush, so too did intercolonial rivalry.

A transcontinental exploration, organised by the Royal Society of Victoria and funded by the Government would be a conspicuous display of newfound wealth. It was also an opportunity to be part of the race to document the interior of the country which was unknown to Europeans – terra incognita.