Are you wondering why a society, whose aim is to promote Science, is interested in a 150 year old historical event? It’s mostly about the science…

The Royal Society of Victoria (RSV) is the same organisation that sent Burke and Wills off on their journey in 1860, 150 years ago. The Victorian Exploring Expedition was planned as as a serious scientific exploration of the hitherto unexplored centre of Australia. The Expedition was sent to find out what was out there in Terra Incognita, and not only to explore this new environment, but to report back on their findings, to bring back samples of flora and fauna, to take measurements and make observations. The tragic ending has obscured the scientific nature of the expedition, and the amount of serious science that was carried out. The primary aim of the commemoration program was stated as follows:

  • Remind the public that the Burke and Wills Expedition was conceived as a scientific expedition, and use this to promote science and stimulate new scientific research relating to the expedition.

This has been done, through the publication of Burke and Wills: the Scientific Legacy of the Victorian Exploring Expedition.

Other stated aims were

  • Ensure that the involvement of indigenous peoples with the Expedition is recognised and to stimulate new research relating to their role.
  • Provide a boost to rural and outback communities by encouraging local and regional commemorative events
  • Leave a legacy of scientific publications, outback environmental research, on-going tourism benefits for country and outback Australia.
  • Develop a National Burke and Wills Heritage Track – Melbourne to the Gulf.
  • Promote interest and research in history and heritage
  • Raise the profile of the Society and build membership

All of these objectives have been met, or will be when projects currently underway are completed.