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Publisher's Summary

In 1860, an eccentric Irish police officer named Robert O'Hara Burke led a cavalcade of camels, wagons and men out of Melbourne. Accompanied by William Wills, a shy English scientist, he was prepared to risk everything to become the first European to cross the Australian continent. A few months later, an ancient coolibah tree at Cooper Creek bore a strange carving: 'Dig Under 3ft NW'. Burke, Wills and five other men were dead. The expedition had become an astonishing tragedy.

Sarah Murgatroyd reveals new historical and scientific evidence to tell the story of the disaster with all its heroism and romance, its discoveries, coincidences, and lost opportunities. This is a spell-binding book.

©2002 Sarah Murgatroyd; (P)2009 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Sarah Murgatroyd deftly captures the foolishness, suffering and hapless heroism of one of the 19th-century's least-known, but most epic, undertakings. I can almost guarantee that you will be biting your nails by the time you reach the Dig Tree of the title - and more than that I cannot say without spoiling this remarkable and addictive tale." (Bill Bryson)
"Conveys an experts grasp of her material. The Dig Tree is unlikely to be superseded...instinctive and convincing." (Times Literary Supplement)
"Sarah Murgatroyd was a splendid writer. This book is a masterpiece of exploration history - entertaining, trenchant, a marvel." (National Geographic)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Kent
  • Guildford, Australia
  • 03-20-10

The race to cross the Australian interior

This is a fascinating glimpse at early Australian history. The race to cross Australia and some of the characters and personalities involved. Extremely well written and narrated. Left one wondering about the pursuit of progress at any cost and the ego's of some of the early players in Australian history.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Essential Reading for Vistors to the Key Sites

I wish I had known about this book before my recent visit to many of the significant sites of the Burke and Wills saga; it would have made the journey much more enjoyable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Entertaining History

Murgatroyd has done a superb job depicting in graphic detail the disaster that was Burke and Wills. A fascinating piece of Australian history.

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Great History - the real truth!

Love learning about burke and wills - how amazing that they were basically jerks lol. It is incredible to think that not that long ago people were dying trying to find out what was in the centre of Australia. It is also amazing how ignorant they we were to our indigenous people. Had they valued their friendship and knowledge- they would have lived. Thanks to the theory of evolution that made white men think that they were inferior.

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  • Jon
  • 06-04-17

Good but not great

Good story but not amazingly great like others I have heard. Interesting facts within but very dry ( no pun intended)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Megan
  • 05-28-17

Loved it

Excellent and engaging. Far from boring. I couldn't wait to get back and listen further This was history that I didn't know all of the details of.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jennifer2
  • 08-15-16

Great Book.

Fascinating history which reads like a story. Heroic Pioneers of Australia and moving descriptions of the care local Indigenous people bestowed on explorers.
Catherine excels as the Narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan
  • 02-03-16

Very slow and not enough story

I returned this book as I could not stay engaged. I prefer my historical fiction to be a story using the facts. This story was told very factually, like a school textbook.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful