We Did What Burke & Wills Didn’t: We Survived! (And Found A Geocache. . .)

On 20 August 1860 about 15,000 people watched as the Burke and Will expedition set off from Melbourne.  The expedition’s goal was to cross Australia from south to north for the first time.  It is famous in Australia more for its poor planning (the tonnes of equipment they started out with includes a cedar-topped oak camp table, Chinese gong, and other things most wouldn’t consider essential for such an undertaking) and its disastrous ending (not only were they not really able to reach the Gulf of Carpenteria because of mangrove swamps but 7 of the 19 expeditioners died; Burke and Wills arrived at a rendezvous point only a few hours after others of their party had left). 

Geocaching Australia had to commemorate this, so on 20 August 2010 a series of caches set by members of the community were published.  Now unless you’re shamefully unaware of Australian geography you’ll know that Tasmania certainly isn’t on the route Burke and Wills took.  No were near it.  But SG-3 is brilliant: first he took this as being no excuse for us to not join into the fun – and then he actually found a real connection between Tasmania and Burke and Will!  I’ll let you read about it in his cache description.   

All the caches were set to go live on 20 August, so as I hadn’t been sleeping well I checked out the cache description in the early hours of the morning.  Drat – cache needs two hours of daylight for sane people to do.  :-/  So I went to work and between various things found the info I’d need.  Despite it being a really unsettled day weather-wise, the FTF went to someone else.  But that meant maybe SamCarter, who was just in town for a couple days, might be willing to team up since there was no FTF at stake.  A bit of twitter activity and soon she, SG-3 and the oldest member of The Marines were all in.  And bonus – the husband was coming too!

We woke up to one of those days that could go either way weather-wise.  I didn’t really care; I just wanted to get to the cache.  It wasn’t just any cache; it’s an SG-3 cache.  So you know it’s going to be quality!  As I had my shiny new Garmin – Asus nuvifone with me (oooohhhhhh – shiny!), I was rude and sent a few messages out on twitter during the trip.  I interspersed these with other commentary when I logged my find, so here’s my log on the cache:

** Day 1: Supplies packed and off to designated meeting area to meet up with other expeditioners. Weather unsettled. **

Plans had been finalised the day before to meet up with Dr SamCarter, the eldest Marine, and someone who was either a psychic or a charlatan who said he’d been to the place we were headed before.

** Day 2: at designated meeting area with full party. About to leave known world behind. **

The going was easy at first, and members of the expedition were in high spirits, convinced we could take on the challenges ahead. However a bit of chat regarding the supplies we hadn’t brought soon tarnished our initial enthusiasm; would we really be able to make it without having packed a dandruff brush for the camels? And were the camels essential – it’s not my fault I didn’t bring them; I thought SamCarter was.

We reached a hidden sea with noisy natives whooping it up. Obviously startled by our menacing aspect, they soon pushed off in their odd out-rigger canoes in a swirl of white water.

After crossing the water-filled chasm, the terrain took a turn for the worse despite our taking what appeared to be a clear track obviously created by natives. Half-way up the mountain the expedition paused to remove velvet waist-coats and ties.

** Day 3: Batteries being changed in one of the compasses. **

We headed up, over, around, and down. The compasses showed ghost tracks that appeared and disappeared. We reached our initial destination and fell to the ground in wonder. After touching the XXXXXXXX in awe and whispering ‘is it real?’, we headed off for the northernmost part of the journey.

** Day 4: Reached our destination but as we learned from B&W it’s the return journey that can kill you! **

Our mission accomplished, we shared around refreshments. French patisseries seem to have forgotten the lost art of packing for a journey of this magnitude, however the level of nourishment remained the same. Reluctant to say good bye to our destination but hoping we wouldn’t have too much trouble finding the known world, we retraced our steps.

No sign of the native humans seen upon our return, but oddly shaped small camels were spotted. They seemed to like being scratched behind the ears.

** Day 18: Party has fractured and gone their separate ways. We fear we may never see our colleagues again. **

(THANK YOU for this cache and for finding a B&W connection for us here in Tassie! This was truly outstanding – and an experience made even better for sharing it. Very Happy

It’s sort of hard to know what to share with this.  It’s a puzzle/mystery cache, so I can’t reveal the locations it takes you to or what you find without ruining it for you.  Just trust me: it was awesome.  Really, truly.  If you don’t believe me, do it yourself!  And again, I can’t show you photos of the best bits of the journey and what we discovered, but I will share a few photos (with the geocoding locked of course!):

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