ACROSS the CONTINENT
Just to the north of here is Mt Hope, which young Wills and the artist Becker (both in the Burke & Wills party) climbed for a view of the surrounding country. We set up a pleasant camp at the base of the mount via an access track that leads off the dirt road on the west side of the peak.
While nearly every Victorian town has a monument to Burke & Wills, supposedly only one town in NSW has bothered and that town is small ... very small - Kyalite, which sits beside the Edward River. The local pub is the centre of activity and there's a good boat ramp to access the river; the plaque here commemorates Burke & Wills crossing of the river here on a small ferry.
There are a lot of choices around Menindee for camping. The town has a couple of camp grounds/caravan parks, and a few kilometres west on the road to Broken Hill is Copi Hollow, a favoured spot for many. The nearby Kinchega National Park has a variety of camps spots along the river and there is a lot of history here as well, from Burke & Wills time to the pastoralists where the shearing shed is the greatest reminder of those days, 'when Australia rode on the sheep's back.' Of course, the town has a couple of pubs, the most famous of which is the Maiden's Hotel, where ol' Burke ensconced himself for a few days while splitting his expedition. The rest of Burke's party were camped at Pamamaroo Creek, near the lake of the same name, well away from the attractions and vice of the hotel.
We left ol' Burke & Wills tracks at Menindee and headed for Broken Hill to see some of our family before heading to the Dog Fence at Smithville to catch up with some friends.
Now there also seems to be a bit of confusion with which tree is actually the 'Dig Tree'! Helping solve this dilemma is an informative shelter shed and display, along with a reasonable camping area down along the creek, not far from where Burke & Wills set up their major depot for their expedition.
You probably know the story of what happened here - if you don't, have a read of the book by the late Sarah Murgatroyd, The Dig Tree. In amongst the plethora of books by numerous people over the 150 odd years since the expedition, this is one of the best and the most readable.
Charlie Grey, who was the fourth member of the small party that crossed the continent to the Gulf, lies buried somewhere near or at Lake Massacre, west of Innamincka and south of the track that leads to Coongie Lakes. There's quite a bit of conjecture about Charlie's final resting spot but there is a plaque on a steel post at Lake Massacre, near where a tree blazed by the explorer John McKinlay was discovered. McKinlay was searching for the Burke & Wills party in late October 1861 and found the grave of a European here; hence the Lake Massacre name. You need special permission of the local station to get to here and while there are no obvious tracks a fence line will get you close.
We headed for Julia Creek, for no other reason than we had never been there - we had always somehow bypassed this small outback town. And from Julia we headed north to the Burke & Wills Roadhouse, not surprisingly crossing ol' Burke & Wills tracks a few times along the way. We camped that night not far north of the roadhouse, but should have opted for the wayside stop further on where the road drops down from the escarpment to the flat, very flat, Gulf Plains.