Burke and Wills' funeral

Join this Vicfix campaign to exhume historic articles on Burke and Wills' funeral

Vicfix is improving the searchability of digitised newspaper articles and making the hidden details of Victoria's rich history available for everyone.

About Burke and Wills' funeral

Ill-fated explorers Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills were buried in Australia's first state funeral on 21 January 1863. The processional route to the Melbourne General Cemetery, where the men were interred, stretched for four city blocks and was 'lined with human beings almost as far as the eye could see', including cavalry, a brass band and five mourning cars of dignitaries.

Historic newspapers from 1863 describe the coffining of the men's remains and their lying-in-state for three weeks before the funeral; detail the politicised and contested preparations for the funeral procession; and offer keenly observed accounts of the procession, including the morning's weather ('a cloudless sky and magnificent sunshine').

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The Burke and Wills funeral procession, wood engraving by Charles Frederick Somerton, published in The Illustrated Melbourne Post, January 1, 1863.

Burke and Wills' funeral

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