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Expedition Recreation

Submitted by: Burke and Wills
20 Aug 2010
Location: Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria (0) Comments
Expedition Recreation

Historian and author Jonathan King is organising the Burke and Wills 150th-anniversary Environmental Expedition. With help of actor and environmentalist Jack Thompson, the trekking team will be undertaking a two-stage expedition, with specialist environmentalists using detailed maps, to follow the infamous 1860 route (this time aided by Pajero four-wheel-drives).
 
The journey is being made under the auspices of the Royal Society of Victoria, which organised the original 1860 trek. The expedition aims to assess the damage that has been caused across the route throughout 150 years of exploitation, and find ways to repair it. Many rivers Burke had to swim across in 1860 are now bone dry.
 
Following the same timetable and route, the Environmental Expedition is to leave Melbourne's Royal Park on August 20th this year, aiming to reach the Gulf by late November - just over three months later.
 
On the first stage of the expedition, team members will work with locals to log major environmental issues including: drought-induced soil erosion, feral rabbits, goats, camels and cane toads. In the second stage, environmentalists will study the most pressing of these issues at a more leisurely pace, using camels in areas, as Burke did, and seeking possible solutions such as revegetation. A journal documenting the environmental changes and issues, along with the documentary film record of interviews and problems, will be presented to the Royal Society and passed on as a report to federal and state governments.
 
The fundamental difference from the original trek will lie in the fact that this year’s expedition will be using local indigenous guides throughout the trip, an oversight that proved fatal upon the original journey. Expedition adviser and Reconciliation Australia co-chairman Professor Mick Dodson said this expedition will fare well if it "seeks the expertise, leadership and assistance of the many indigenous groups already working on environmental issues along the track".
 
By all reports, the locals are again welcoming the adventurers with open arms. "Oh, we have so many environmental problems,'' Aboriginal elder Beryl Carmichael says. ''The water is disappearing from the rivers down here, as greedy people take it out further upstream. Our Menindee lakes are drying up. Mining companies are destroying the topsoil with their growing network of roads, undermining the vegetation and desecrating our spiritual connections with our land... We've got a lot of environmental problems up here, and if you are coming to help us repair the damage, we will work shoulder to shoulder with you because we have a lot of work to do."
 
Hopefully with the broad partnerships being utilised for the 2010 trek recreation, there will be more positive outcomes across the board for the expedition.

With thanks to The Age, Jonathan King and www.burkeandwills.net.au
 

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Burke and Wills

Mitsubishi Pajero Historian and author Jonathan King is organising the Burke and Wills 150th-anniversary Environmental Expedition. With help of actor and environmentalist Jack Thompson, the trekking team will be undertaking a two-stage expedition, with specialist environmentalists using detailed maps, to follow the infamous 1860 route (this time aided by Pajero four-wheel-drives). Throughout the journey they will be posting updates from the road; providing a running commentary, stories, video blogs, artwork and other findings as they retrace the legendary steps, beginning in late August. Keep track of 4WD4Life to keep abreast of this epic journey!

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