Burke and Wills became famous as a result of the Expedition, which was posthumously named in their honour. However most of the other Expedition members have been forgotten. Nineteen men left Melbourne along with three hired wagon drivers, but there were several personnel changes along the way and in all twenty-nine officers and men, eight sepoys, four hired wagon drivers and at least a dozen Aboriginal guides were employed during the Expedition.
Seven men died during the Expedition – the only expedition to suffer a greater loss of life was Edmund Kennedy’s 1848 expedition to Cape York, when ten men died. Leichhardt’s last expedition resulted in seven (or possibly eight) the deaths in 1848 as well.
Here are brief biographies of the officers and men involved with the VEE, listed in the order in which they were appointed.
Robert O'Hara Burke (1820-1861, died on the Expedition)
Burke was born in County Galway in Ireland to a wealthy Protestant family. The family home was St Clerans manor. He was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and then in Belgium. In 1841 he entered the Austrian army, where he was promoted to Second Lieutenant in the Prince Regent's 7th Reuss Regiment of the Hungarian Hussars. After returning to Ireland in 1848, he joined the Irish Constabulary, serving as 3rd Class Sub-Inspector in County Kildare and then Dublin.
Burke migrated to Hobart in 1853, but soon moved to Melbourne where he joined the newly formed Victoria Police. The colony’s first Chief Commissioner, William Henry Fancourt Mitchell, appointed Burke as Acting Inspector (one of only 26 officers in the force) and posted him to the Parish of Jika Jika in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. In November 1853 he was promoted to Police Inspector, made a magistrate and posted to Carlsruhe.
The next month he was promoted to District Inspector of the Ovens District and early in 1854 he moved to Beechworth to relieve Inspector John Giles Price. He returned to England to fight in the Crimean War, but peace was signed and the war ended before Burke got a chance to enlist. He returned to Victoria in December 1856, resuming his posting at Beechworth and from there attended the ‘Buckland Valley’ riots near Bright against the Chinese gold miners in 1857. In November 1858 he was transferred to Castlemaine and promoted to Police Superintendent.
He was appointed Expedition leader on 20 June 1860. After reaching the Gulf of Carpentaria in February 1861, Burke returned to Cooper Creek where he died. His date of death is uncertain, but was probably 1 July 861. Burke was buried at Cooper Creek by Howitt on 21 September 1861, exhumed in 1862 and reinterred at Melbourne General Cemetery on 21 January 1863.
George James Landells (1825-1871)
Landells was born in Barbados and as a child lived in Barbados, Jamaica, Gambia and England. At the age of 17 he moved to India and in 1856 he migrated to Australia on the SS Havannah. He worked for Colonel W P Robbins of the East India Company transporting artillery horses to India.
In 1858 he offered to purchase camels for the Government of Victoria and was commissioned to buy 12 dromedaries and 12 Bactrians. He sailed from Australia with his wife Elizabeth on the SS Gertrude in October 1858. In December 1859 he purchased 15 dromedaries at Bikaner in Rajasthan then travelled to the Bolan Pass in Baluchistan where he bought ten Khorosan camels. On the way to the port of Karachi he purchased an additional camel at Multan in the Punjab.
Landells employed nine sepoys and three Europeans, John King, John Drakeford and John Dickson, to supervise the camels. He chartered the SS Chinsurah and arrived back in Melbourne in June 1860. After protracted negotiations he was appointed second in command of the VEE on 13 July 1860 on a salary of £600 per annum, which was £100 more than Burke was paid.
As the VEE travelled through New South Wales, Landells argued with Burke over the use, care and handling of the camels. He resigned on 15 October at Menindee and returned to Melbourne, where his resignation caused much debate over Burke’s competence. He appeared before the Commission of Enquiry but refused to give evidence. Landells died in Rawalpindi, India in 1871.
William John Wills (1834-1861, died on the Expedition)
Wills was born in Totnes, Devon and was educated at St Andrews Grammar School, Ashburton. He was then articled to his father’s surgical practice and in 1852 he studied practical chemistry under Dr John Stenhouse at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London.
He migrated to Melbourne at the age of 18 with his younger brother Thomas and found work as a shepherd near Deniliquin. Between 1856 and July 1858 he worked around Ballarat as a foreman on a surveying party under Frederick Byerley. In August 1858 he returned to Melbourne and worked under Neumayer at the Flagstaff Hill Magnetic Observatory.
Wills was appointed ‘Surveyor, Astronomical and Meteorological Observer’ and third in command of the Expedition on 13 July 1860. He was promoted to second in command in October 1860 after Landells resigned. He remained loyal to Burke, navigating successfully to the Gulf and back to Cooper Creek, keeping meticulous diaries and field-books all the way. He died alone at the end of June 1861 at Cooper Creek and was buried by Howitt on 18 September 1861, exhumed in April 1862 and reinterred at Melbourne General Cemetery on 21 January 1863.
Dr Hermann Beckler (1828-1914)
Beckler was born in Höchstädt an der Donau in Bavaria. He studied medicine in Munich and migrated to Australia on the Johann Cesar shortly after graduating, arriving at Moreton Bay in 1856. He had hoped to raise sufficient funds working as a doctor to allow him to travel inland to work as a botanist. However after a frustrating and financially difficult period practicing in Ipswich and Tenterfield, followed by a spell running a pharmacy in Warwick, Beckler packed up in February 1859 and travelled overland with a droving party through New South Wales to Deniliquin. He arrived in Melbourne in July 1859 where he intended to spend a few weeks before leaving Australia.
Upon arrival in Melbourne he sought out Mueller, who promptly offered him a position cataloguing his botanical collection. This was followed by a ten month collecting trip to New England and further cataloguing work upon his return to Melbourne in June 1860.
Beckler became a member of Melbourne’s Deutscher Verein, and after meeting Neumayer, was encouraged to apply to the Exploration Committee for the position of botanical collector. On 1 August 1860, after some discussions over his medical qualifications, he was finally accepted as ‘Scientific Observers' Botanical Observer’ on a salary of £300 per annum.
Initially Burke and Beckler got along well. Beckler was looking forward to collecting in the inland and although he saw shortcomings in Burke’s abilities, the men shared lodgings in Melbourne while the expedition was being assembled. After Landells resigned from the expedition, Beckler also tendered his resignation. However he stayed with the party while awaiting a replacement and travelled as far north as the Bulloo River. Beckler kept a journal of his travels, which despite the terrible conditions and privations, recorded his delight and wonder at the landscape and scenery he experienced.
On his return to Melbourne he worked briefly as an assistant to Neumayer, but after giving evidence at the Commission of Enquiry he returned home to Germany. Here he resumed his medical training and spent the rest of his life working as a doctor, first in the country town of Bad Hindelang and later in the alpine village of Fischen, where he died in 1914.
Dr Ludwig Becker (1808-1861, died on the Expedition)
Becker was born in Offenbach-am-Main, Germany and attended the Ludwig Georg Gymnasium in nearby Darmstadt. He was often referred to as Dr Becker, but how or where he was awarded his doctorate is unknown, although he may have attended university at either Gieβen or Heidelberg.
In June 1850 he left Germany for London, where he exhibited a miniature death mask of Shakespeare which he had purchased and which he hoped, unsuccessfully as it transpired, to sell for £5,000. He left London at the end of the year and travelled to Tasmania on the Hannah. After travelling around the colony for several months, sketching and painting miniatures to pay his way, he met Governor Denison who invited him to stay at Government House in Hobart. Lady Denison wrote of Becker:
he is a most amusing person, talks English badly, but very energetically — he is one of those universal geniuses who can do anything … a very good naturalist, geologist.
He moved to Melbourne at the height of the gold-rush and spent time on the diggings at Bendigo, where he met Neumayer. Over the next few years Becker took meteorological observations for Neumayer as well as working as an illustrator for Mueller and Professor Frederick McCoy. Tipping wrote:
he was a diligent observer of nature’s treasures. Probably no one in Australia equalled him in his capacity to study and enjoy, with an almost child-like simplicity, the fruits of collecting. He was astonished and delighted with everything he found in the new world and freely gave of his time and knowledge to the organisations to which he belonged to extend the boundaries of knowledge.
Becker submitted an application to join the Expedition in April 1860. Mueller recommended him and, despite Burke’s objections and the fact that at 52 Becker was the oldest member of the party, he was appointed as ‘Geological, Mineralogical and Natural History Observer’ on 13 July 1860.
Burke forced Becker to work as a general hand, but he continued to make scientific observations nevertheless. He stayed behind at Menindee when Burke split the party, taking the opportunity to sketch and draw and make scientific observations. In January 1861 he went north with Wright’s supply party. His health deteriorated and he became severely ill with scurvy. Becker died on 29 April 1861 at Bulloo and was buried with Purcell and Stone.
Charles Derius Ferguson (1832-1925)
Ferguson was born in Ohio, USA and migrated to Sydney on the Don Juan in 1852. He made his way to Melbourne and then the Bendigo diggings, and was involved at the Eureka uprising in 1854. He gained a reputation as a competent coach and wagon driver and horse-breaker.In 1860 he was at Kiandra in the Snowy Mountains and, according to his own account, received letters from Burke and the Exploration Committee pleading with him to accept the position of Expedition Foreman, and that ‘salary was a second consideration.’ His memoirs claimed he was paid £400 per annum, but the Exploration Committee’s accounts show he was a petty officer and was paid £200.Burke dismissed Ferguson at Balranald. In 1863 Ferguson successfully sued the Exploration Committee for wrongful dismissal. He died in California in 1925.
Thomas Francis McDonough (1834-1904)
McDonough was born in Ireland and claimed to have known Burke’s family in Ireland and had become a friend of Burke in Castlemaine. He was appointed as an Expedition Assistant on a salary of £120 per annum and travelled with Burke as far as Cooper Creek. While on a reconnaissance trip north of the Cooper with Wills in November 1860, the camels escaped and McDonough suffered greatly on the desperate walk back to the Depot Camp.Burke left McDonough at Depot Camp 65 as one of the four men of the Depot Party. He returned to Melbourne and gave evidence at the Commission of Enquiry.He went to New Zealand in 1869, but returned to Australia and died at the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum in 1904.
William Patten (?-1861, died on the Expedition)
Born in Loughriscouse in County Down, he was a blacksmith and armourer. Burke recommended him and he was employed on 13 July 1860 to help assemble stores.Patten travelled to Cooper Creek where he was one of the Depot party under Brahe. He became ill after a fall from a horse and then developed scurvy. Patten’s illness was one of the reasons Brahe decided to leave the Depot to return to Menindee.Patten died on 5 June 1861 near the Rat Point Camp in New South Wales. His remains have never been located.
Born in Ireland, he was described as a sawyer, cook and butcher. He claimed he knew Burke from Castlemaine. Langan was employed on 13 July 1860 along with Patten and Creber to assemble stores at Royal Park.
Burke discharged Langan on 14 September 1860 at Balranald in New South Wales, along with Ferguson and McIlwaine.
Cowen was born in Ballymore, County Armagh and migrated to Sydney in 1842 aboard the SS Agnes. In 1846 he was a border policeman in Gippsland and in 1849 he was a member of C J Tyler’s coastal survey. He continued to serve in the Native Police Corps as a Sergeant and then a Senior Constable in Victoria Police at Mansfield.
He submitted an application to join the Expedition in March 1860 and he was employed in July 1860. Cowen was one of the few married men on the Expedition, having been married since 1851. At the time of the Expedition he had at least four children.
Burke dismissed him ‘for drunkenness’ on 20 August 1860, the day of the departure, as he was ‘a little too hilarious through excess of beer.’ Cowan went to New Zealand and died in Napier.
Fletcher was born in England, claimed to be a gentleman by birth and had studied medicine. Burke recommended him and he was employed in July 1860, initially as Burke’s ‘attendant going messages’ and then as storekeeper. Burke reprimanded him for not providing sufficient rations to the men while at Royal Park and then, after Fletcher had a dispute with Landells, Burke discharged him for incompetence on 19 August 1860, the day before the expedition departed. In a letter to The Age in August 1860 Fletcher described Burke as ‘too hasty’ and ‘likely to prove tyrannical’ and he predicted that ‘all the efforts of the [Royal] Society [of Victoria] will be a failure.’
Brahe was born in Paderborn in Prussia. He came to the Victorian goldfields in 1852, worked as a digger, carrier and stockman. His brother was a prominent Melbourne solicitor and a friend of Neumayer. Brahe submitted an application to join the Expedition on 2 July 1860, citing Neumayer as a character reference, and he was employed later that month.
Brahe was one of the eight men that went from Menindee to Cooper Creek. At the Cooper he was promoted an officer and was placed in charge of the Depot Party. After waiting four months he buried supplies at the Dig Tree and returned to Menindee. On the way they met Wright’s supply party at Bulloo. Wright and Brahe then returned to Depot Camp 65, but found no sign of Burke.
Brahe joined Howitt’s Victorian Contingent Expedition and returned to Cooper Creek. He gave evidence at the Commission of Enquiry and wrote several letters to the press in an attempt to clear his name.
He went to New Zealand, but returned to Australia and died in Melbourne in 1912. He is buried in Brighton Cemetery.
John King (1838-1872)
King was born in Moy, County Tyrone. He was educated at the Royal Hibernian School at Phoenix Park in Dublin before joining the 70th Regiment in 1853. He was posted to India and stationed in Cawnpore in the Northern Province where he worked as an assistant teacher in the Regimental School. He was later stationed in Peshawar in the North West Frontier Province.
He suffered a severe illness and spent sixteen months convalescing in the Rawalpindi District, where he met Landells. King obtained his army discharge and then travelled to Karachi where he was engaged by Landells to supervise the sepoys who had charge of the camels.
King arrived in Melbourne with the camels aboard the SS Chinsurah in June 1860. Landells selected him to go on the Expedition.
King stayed with the Expedition after Landells resigned and was placed in charge of the camels. He was the sole survivor of the four men that reached the Gulf and lived with the Yandruwandha on Cooper Creek until he was found by Welch and Howitt in September 1861.
King returned to Melbourne a hero, the first person to cross Australia from south to north and return. He gave evidence at the Commission of Enquiry and the Royal Geographical Society of London presented him with a gold watch for his services.
King never fully recovered from the privations suffered while on the Expedition and he died prematurely of pulmonary tuberculosis on 15 January 1872 aged 33. He is buried in Melbourne General Cemetery.
Henry Creber (1834-1874?)
Creber was born in Liverpool and was a sailor and sail-maker. He submitted an application to join the Expedition in February 1860 and was appointed on 13 July 1860 to help assemble stores at Royal Park.
Landells accused him of being drunk and disorderly and Burke dismissed him on 19 August 1860, the day before the Expedition departed Melbourne. He died at sea off New Zealand in 1874.
Drakeford was born in England and had served in the Cape Mounted Police in South Africa. He met Landells in India and was engaged to supervise the sepoys who had charge of the camels. He arrived in Melbourne with the camels aboard the SS Chinsurah in June 1860. Landells selected him to go on the Expedition as camel-handler and cook.
Drakeford stayed with the Expedition after Landells resigned and Burke selected him to go to Cooper Creek. However on the morning they were due to depart from Menindee, Burke claimed Drakeford was drunk and dismissed him.
In 1863 Drakeford successfully sued the Exploration Committee for the balance of his wages and was awarded £16 10s 3d.
Dost Mahomet (c. 1815-1880?)
Mahomet (also called Botan by some of the Expedition members, which may have been a reference to his tribal group, Pathan/Pashtun) was a Muslim from Ghazni in Afghanistan. He was the oldest of the eight camel-handlers who came to Melbourne in June 1860 on the SS Chinsurah and one of the four sepoys Landells selected to go on the Expedition.
Mahomet travelled with Burke as far as Cooper Creek, where he looked after the camels that were left there with Brahe’s Depot Party. He returned to Menindee where he cared for the sick camels that had survived the Expedition.
In January 1862 he was severely injured by ‘Nero’, the largest of the male camels, and lost the use of his right arm. He returned to Melbourne to seek medical treatment for his injuries and the Exploration Committee paid for his return to ‘Kurrachee via Bombay.’ However there are also claims that he returned to Menindee and died there in 1880.
Esau Khan (c.1840-?)
Khan was a Baloch Muslim from Qalat in Balochistan. He was one of the youngest of the eight camel-handlers who came to Melbourne in June 1860 on the SS Chinsurah and one of the four sepoys Landells selected to go on the Expedition.
He became ill on the journey across Victoria and left the Expedition at Swan Hill. After returning to Melbourne he was employed by the Acclimatization Society of Victoria to care for the six camels that had been left behind at Royal Park. In 1862 he took the camels to Longerenong station in the Wimmera and worked there until March 1864. The following month he sailed to Mumbai aboard the RMSS Bombay.
Baluch (Belooch) Khan
Baluch (also called Belooch or Beludge by some of the Expedition members) was a Parsi born in Cawn Poor (Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, India), but was living at Mahadpoor in the Punjab (Mahadpur in Madhya Pradesh, India). He was one of the eight camel-handlers who came to Melbourne in June 1860 on the SS Chinsurah and one of the four sepoys Landells selected to go on the Expedition.
Burke dismissed him at his own request in Balranald, but he re-joined the Expedition and travelled to the Pamamaroo Depot Camp at Menindee. In December 1860 he went with Beckler to rescue Lyons and Macpherson, and in 1861 he went to Bulloo as part of Wright’s supply party.
In 1861 Howitt employed him to look after the pregnant and sick camels in Menindee. He returned to India, but came back to Australia and worked at Longerenong station with the expedition’s camels. He went on Duncan McIntyre’s camel expedition in 1865 and spent many years in north Queensland. In 1886 he claimed to have found traces of the Leichhardt expedition.
Samla was one of the eight camel-handlers who came to Melbourne in June 1860 on the SS Chinsurah and one of the four sepoys Landells selected to go on the Expedition. However he left the Expedition on the third day at Bulla because his Hindu religion prevented him from eating the rations.
He returned to Royal Park and returned to India in September 1860 with the four other sepoys who had been left behind.
James Robert Lane (1822-1907)
Lane came to Melbourne to join the Victoria Police, but ended up seeking his fortune on the diggings. He submitted an application to join the Expedition in February 1860, but was not selected at the time. He was appointed to the Expedition as a wagon driver at Royal Park on the day of departure, 20 August 1860. Although Burke thought his conduct was good, Lane was discharged without notice at Swan Hill on 7 September 1860. He died in Melbourne in 1907.
Very little is known of Brooks. He was appointed at Royal Park on the day of departure and was discharged at Swan Hill on 7 September 1860.
James McIlwaine (1834-?)
McIlwaine arrived in Victoria in 1855. He was a carpenter, but had also worked with horses and claimed to have ‘a slight knowledge of surveying.’ He submitted an application to join the Expedition in June 1860, but was not selected at the time. However Burke appointed him at Royal Park on the day of departure. He was discharged at Balranald in September 1860, along with Ferguson and Langan.
Jean Prolongeau (1838-1915)
Prolongeau was born in Bordeaux, French. He migrated to Victoria in 1854 and worked on the diggings at Bendigo where he was reputed to be a good bushman, wagon-driver and cook. Burke hired him at Mia Mia on 26 August 1860. He was discharged at Swan Hill on 7 September 1860, along with Lane and Brooks. He died in Mildura in 1915.
Bowman was an experienced explorer who had been the farrier on two expeditions under Augustus Charles Gregory. During the 1855 North Australian Expedition he had visited the Gulf of Carpentaria and on the 1858 Leichhardt Search Expedition he had been to Cooper Creek and Mount Hopeless. He submitted an application to join the Expedition in February 1860, and even though Mueller stated he was one of Gregory’s ‘very best men’, he was not accepted.
He was working at Tragowel station when the Expedition camped there in September 1860, and Burke hired him. He stayed with the Expedition for just three weeks before resigning.
Charley Gray (?-1861, died on the Expedition)
Gray was born in Scotland and came to Australia as a sailor. He worked as a digger on the Bendigo goldfields and then as an ostler for Cobb & Co. In 1860 he was working at the Lower Murray Inn in Swan Hill. His employer, publican Thomas Dick described him as ‘the best bushman in the region.’
He was appointed to the VEE in September 1860 while the Expedition was at Swan Hill and Burke chose Gray as one of the party of four to go to the Gulf. On the return trip Gray became ill, but the others thought he was shamming. Wills caught him taking rations without leave and Burke thrashed him for the misdemeanour. Gray died at the Lignum Lake on 17 April 1861, just four day’s walk from the Depot Camp 65. Gray’s remains have never been found.
Alexander Macpherson (1835-1896)
Macpherson was born in Newtonmore, Scotland and migrated to Melbourne in 1855. In 1860 he was supposedly working as a saddler in Epsom near Bendigo.
Burke needed a saddler and Macpherson ‘presented himself’ while the Expedition was at Terrick Terrick station. Macpherson joined the party at Swan Hill on 6 September 1860 and travelled with Burke as far as the Pamamaroo Depot Camp on the Darling. In November 1860 he accompanied Lyons as they went north to deliver despatches to Burke. However their horses died and they had to be rescued by Beckler. Macpherson suffered greatly during this time and was discharged from the Expedition on medical grounds.
IN 1865 he moved to New Zealand and died at Greymouth in 1896.
William Oswald Hodgkinson (1835-1900)
Hodgkinson was born in Handsworth, England and was educated at Birmingham Grammar School. He came to Australia in 1851 as a midshipman and by 1853 he was working for the government service on the Tarnagulla and Forest Creek goldfields. He returned to England and was a clerk in the War Office until 1859, when he came to Melbourne and took up a job as a reporter for The Age.
Burke sent a telegram to the Exploration Committee from Sandhurst informing them he required Hodgkinson to join the Expedition immediately. Hodgkinson caught up with the Expedition on 5 September 1860 when they were between Lake Boga and Swan Hill.
Hodgkinson travelled with Burke as far as the Pamamaroo Depot Camp on the Darling. In December 1860 he returned to Melbourne with despatches and then went north to the Bulloo River with Wright’s supply party. Upon returning to Menindee, he went to South Australia searching for missing camels and then joined John McKinlay’s South Australian Burke Relief Expedition as second-in-command.
He led the North-West Queensland Expedition in 1876, was editor of several newspapers, a mining warden and member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly. He died in Brisbane in 1900.
Little is known of Wright, whose appointment as third in command had such significant influence on the outcome of the Expedition and who was subsequently used as a scapegoat for many of the organisational short-comings of Burke and the Royal Society of Victoria.
He was manager of John Baker’s Meninda Plains cattle station between 1857 and 1860 and lived at Kinchega. In 1859 he went searching for gold in the Barrier Ranges with Captain James Field Crawford.
He met Burke at Bothinjee station and showed him the best place to cross the Darling. Meninda Plains had just been sold and the new owner, Peter McGregor, was just about to take possession. Wright was looking for new employment and volunteered to show Burke the way north from Menindee to Torowoto. Wright had ‘been out twice about twenty miles beyond Torowoto’ and claimed to know the country better than any other man on the Darling. After travelling with Wright for two weeks, Burke was impressed with his knowledge an bush skills and appointed him third in command.
Wright returned to Menindee to take charge of the supply party at the Pamamaroo Depot Camp and bring them up to Cooper Creek. He was delayed by transport and money issues and did not leave until January 1861.
His party suffered on the journey north from Menindee. It was very hot, water was scarce, and they made slow progress. By early April they were in the Bulloo area, but three of his men were ill with scurvy and they had to rest there. All three had died by the end of April.
Brahe’s depot party joined them in early May. Brahe and Wright went back to Depot Camp 65 at the Cooper but found no trace of Burke. They did not dig up the cache of food as the ground appeared undisturbed. They returned to Bulloo and re-joined the rest of their combined parties. From there, Wright returned to Menindee and then took the PS Aldinga to Adelaide to see his wife.
In December 1860 he went to Melbourne and gave evidence at the Commission of Enquiry. In the mid-1860s he took up land around Wonnaminta and Noonthorangee, north of Menindee.
Dick was one of more than a dozen Aborigines who guided the Expedition between Balranald and the Grey Range. In 1860 he was in the Menindee area and known to Wright before the VEE arrived, so he was possibly a Paakantyi man.
In October 1860, accompanied by Wright and Mountain, he travelled with the VEE from Menindee to Torowoto. The following month he guided Lyons and Macpherson from Menindee to the Grey Range. When their horses died and their food ran out, his gallant solo walk from Torowoto to Menindee raised the alarm and saved the two men’s lives. He went to Melbourne where the Royal Society of Victoria awarded him a brass breastplate and five guineas. Becker memorialised him in a painting.In January 1861 Dick started north with Wright and the supply party, but left on the second day.
Note: There was another Aborigine whom the Europeans called Dick, who was employed for a short time to guide the VEE from Paika station near Balranald. Between Paika and Tarcoola the VEE used the following Aboriginal guides: Dick, Martin, Simon Benton, Watpipa and an unnamed young man. North of Torowoto the VEE used other Aboriginal guides, but none of their names were recorded.
Mountain was an Aboriginal guide from the Menindee area. In October 1860, accompanied by Wright and Dick, he travelled with the VEE from Menindee to Torowoto.
Peter was an Aboriginal guide from the Menindee area. In November 1860 he went with Beckler and Hodgkinson on a field trip to the Scropes Range. The following month he travelled from Menindee to Torowoto with Beckler and Baluch to rescue Lyons and Macpherson.
Trooper Myles A Lyons (1825-1899)
Lyons was born in Dublin, Ireland. He was a mounted police trooper in the Victoria Police and in September 1860 he was stationed in Swan Hill when the VEE passed through. On 25 October 1860 he was sent after Burke with despatches. He left Menindee on 10 November, accompanied by Macpherson and guided by Dick, and they reached as far north as the Grey Range in Queensland, but their horses died and they became trapped at Torowoto. They were rescued by Beckler at the end of December 1860.
Lyons returned to his police duties in Swan Hill. In 1862 he married and subsequently had thirteen children. He became a senior police constable in charge of the Eltham police station and died in Eltham in 1899.
William Purcell (?-1861, died on the Expedition)
Purcell was appointed by Wright at Menindee, probably in early December 1860, as the supply party’s cook on a salary of £130 per annum.
In January 1861 he went with the supply party to Bulloo. He became ill during the journey and died on 23 April 1861. He was buried at Bulloo along with Becker and Stone.
Charles Stone (?-1861, died on the Expedition)
Stone had migrated to Australia, leaving his brothers and sisters in England. In 1857 he made a trip to the Barrier Ranges and then was employed as overseer on one of McLeod’s Darling River properties. At the end of 1860 the property was sold, and although Stone had been offered alternative employment, he decided to ‘take a trip to the interior with an exploration party’ and face the hardships rather than lead ‘the quiet life.’ In mid-January 1861 he was appointed by Wright in Menindee to replace Macpherson, and he went with the supply party to Bulloo. By the time they reached Torowoto Stone was ill, suffering symptoms of a pre-existing infection of syphilis. He contracted scurvy and died on 22 April 1861. He was buried at Bulloo along with Becker and Purcell.
Smith was a part Aboriginal bushman who arrived in Menindee from the Murray. On 7 December 1860 he was appointed by Wright at Menindee at the rate of £90 per annum to watch the camels.
In January 1861 he went with the supply party to Bulloo. Between Torowoto and Bulloo, Smith and Wright made several long reconnaissance trips looking for water. Smith suffered from scurvy, but survived to return to Menindee. In December 1861 he gave evidence at the Commission of Enquiry.
Georg Balthasar von Neumayer (1826-1909)
Although Neumayer was not strictly a member of the Expedition, he did accompany the VEE from Swan Hill to Bilbarka.
Neumayer was a 34 year old scientist, already prominent both in his native Germany and in Melbourne, where he had been appointed Government Meteorologist. He was a member of the Royal Society of Victoria and the Exploration Committee, and was instrumental in appointing Wills, who was one of his employees at the Flagstaff Hill Magnetic Observatory, as the Expedition’s surveyor. Although not a member of the Expedition himself, Neumayer had undertaken many private expeditions of his own. He wanted to oversee and contribute to the scientific investigations that were carried and so he took his own spring cart and his valet and joined the VEE in Swan Hill. Neumayer stayed with the Expedition for three weeks and travelled with them as far as Bilbarka on the Darling River.