The Dig Tree by Sarah Murgatroyd
A True Story of Bravery, Insanity, and the Race to Discover Australia's Wild Frontier

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Synopsis

The harrowing true story of the Burke and Willis expedition team who took on the Australian wilds 150 years ago--and lost.

They departed Melbourne's Royal Park in the summer of 1860, a misfit party of eighteen amateur explorers cheered on by thousands of well-wishers. Their mission: to chart a course across the vast unmapped interior of Australia, from Melbourne to the northern coast. Months later, only one man returned alive--with tales of heroism, hardships, and lost opportunities that were by turns terrifying and darkly comic.

Drawing its title from one of the few remaining traces of the expedition, The Dig Tree combines the danger of Sebastian Junger with the irony of Bill Bryson to relive the tragic journey of these completely initiated adventurers. The cast of characters includes the expeditionleader; a reckless, charming Irish policeman known for getting lost on his way home from the pub; an eccentric nature enthusiast from Germany; an alcoholic camel handler; and a rogue American horse-breaker who is just in it for the money. For nine harrowing months, their quest for glory shifts from idiocy to perseverance and then inexorably toward tragedy. The nightmare culminates in a last haunting message left behind a group of desperate and dying men--the word DIG carved into what is now Australia's most famous tree.

The Dig Tree
follows this compelling journey through a forgotten corner of history to examine a daring expedition that came unbelievably close to success only to let it slip away.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Sarah Murgatroyd

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A journalist and adventure traveler, SARAH MURGATROYD has covered current affairs for the BBC and produced a variety of radio documentaries, including a special series on Aboriginal issues. Her recent travels took her across Australia, where she trekked the route taken by Burke and Wills. A native of England, she now lives in Sydney. This is her first book.
 
Published September 24, 2002 by Broadway. 378 pages
Genres: History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Dig Tree

Publishers Weekly

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While Murgatroyd does an exhaustive job of charting the group's movements and outlining the political machinations behind their quest, Burke's scant journal gives her little to draw on to make the story truly come alive.

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