COOPER'S CREEK by Alan Moorehead
Kirkus Star


Email this review


We have our Lewis and Clark, Australia its Burke and Wills. Along with some other stalwarts they attempted to travel from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpenteria; it was 1860 and from North to South lay an incredible uncharted bush country of sand, swamp and scrub; in it odd animals and an even odder fate waited. Alan Moorehead, the celebrated journalist-historian, plays upon the austere, agonizing trek as upon an accordion; he makes it whimper and whir, expand and excite at will. Drawing upon the explorers' letters and diaries, the report of the Royal Commission, and retraversing the original route in a land Rover, Moorehead presents a phase-by-phase recapitulation that is both sad and stirring. It is also ironical, for when Burke, Wills and King, another member, returned to the base camp at Cooper's Creek, after penetrating within reach of the sound of the sea if not the Gulf itself, they found the party proper, due to a mismanaged chain of communication, had struck off the very morning that they staggered in. Eventually Wills died from starvation, the sickened Burke shot himself, and King straggled on, saved at the last moment by natives. Moorehead's research digs deep and deftly into geographical descriptions and considers the development of the Continent prior to and after the adventure. A hit.

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 1963
Publisher: Harper & Row