Day 14…bye, bye Victoria…

Friday, 15th August 2008.
I was off to Swan Hill today. I started out from Lake Boga with only 15 km to get to town. I stopped to chat to a local fellow who was exercising his trotting horses by running them along behind the ute. He reckoned it was too cold to exercise them on the track, so he preferred to sit in the warmth of the ute. It was cold, 1°C with a strong breeze blowing from the south-west. I knocked over the 15k pretty quickly and as I was walking into town I was met by Bruce, a local historian. Bruce walked the last few km’s along the riverbank with me.

Burke spent five day here at Swan Hill waiting for two of the he wagons to catch up and sorting out his stores. I spent a couple of hours here, first doing an interview with Hayley at the Swan Hill Guardian and then having a beer at the Commercial Hotel. The Commercial hads the big Moreton Bay Fig tree in the carpark, the one that was supposedly planted by Burke and Wills when this was the home of Dr Benjamin Gummow. Burke stayed at Gummow’s house while in Swan hill, but there is no evidence that he planted a tree here. Prue from the ABC had asked me about the tree, as did Hayley – ‘Did Burke and Wills plant the tree?’ and if not does it really matter that people think it is part of the expedition. I was ambivalent in my answer; it is good that people are still interested in the history of the expedition after almost 148 years, so things like the Swan Hill tree add layers of interest to the story, but equally it was important that people research their claims, particularly those people who make money from promoting such claims. I haven’t been to Swan Hill for four years and when I got to the tree I noticed there was a new sign there. The old sign proclaimed this as ‘The Burke & Wills Tree’. The new sign now state this is the big Moreton Bay Fig ‘known locally as the Burke & Wills tree’ and I was pleased that an effort had been made to present a more balenced view.

It was now time for me to leave Victoria and cross the bridge into New South Wales. I posed for a photo for the Guardian and walked across the old bridge having walked across Victoria. Burke went across on the punt as the bridge was a later addition. there were no boats around to bum a lift from, so the bridge was more than adequate for my purposes. Once on the other side I decided to pop into the Federal Hotel for another quick beer before wandering up the road towards Balranald.

Distance travelled today; 26.6 km.
Today Dave is at Speewah in New South Wales.
After fourteen days of travel, Burke was at the Clump.
Dave has had one day off so far. Burke and the expedition have had seven days off by this stage.

One Response to “Day 14…bye, bye Victoria…”

  1. fiona morgan (nee rodgers) says:

    fab to know a cousin doing so well, dad (uncle ken) put me onto the site to see what was happening

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