Explorer diary

With all the adventure stories there are in books and films, you might think a diary entry of one of the most famous explorers in Australian history would make for an amazing read. The reality is that William John Wills, of the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition, had a job to do! He was keeping track of the details of the journey, and many of those details can be dull if you’re expecting Indiana Jones-style action.

Wills' diary entry begins with an inventory – times, people and provisions, mostly. After that, he notes events – walking along a creek, a short-term companion, a description of the landscape. The writing is business-like, with only one emotion expressed in the whole snippet

Sunday, 16 December 1860.

The horse having been shod and our reports finished, we started at 6.40 AM. for Eyre's Creek, the party consisting of Mr Burke, myself, King, and Charley, having with us six camels, one horse, and three months' provisions. We followed down the creek to the point where the sandstone ranges cross the creek, and were accompanied to that place by Brahe, who would return to take charge of the depot. Down to this point the banks of the creek are very rugged and stony, but there is a tolerable supply of grass and salt bush in the vicinity.

The Burke and Wills expedition (1860–61), aimed to cross Australia from bottom to top and back again. This huge area of mostly desert was mostly unknown to European settlers at the time. 

Starting in Melbourne and travelling about 3,250 kilometres (2,020 miles), they actually made it to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the far north, although swampland stopped them from reaching the water.

The return journey was plagued by problems. When they finally reached an agreed meeting place at Cooper Creek (about halfway back to Melbourne), they found the rest of their party, after waiting months, had abandoned it just hours earlier. Burke and Wills died in the area from malnutrition around 30 June 1861.

Of course, this is a quick telling of the story. If you want to know more, here is a Wikipedia page about the expedition.

Monday, 16 December 2019.

The relevant authorities having been notified, I started at 6.40am for St Pauls Shoal, my equipment consisting of my wetsuit, breathing gear, dive computer, lights, regulators, gauges, and the necessary shark deterrent. Entering the sea at a secluded, but rocky point, I dived to find a forest of tall plant life that went on for 100 metres or so before the ocean floor dropped sharply. In the end I didn’t need to bring the lights – my path became clear once hitting the open ocean. In the end, it took only an hour to find the magnificence I sought.

Using the photo as a starting point, write a descriptive, business-like inventory and journal of your travels.