National Geographic : 1979 Feb
T HE ROYAL PARK is there today, a greensward still, an adornment in a city of parks. Nor has Melbourne changed all that much. It is thought of as "English" and conservative, proper repute for a financial center. Much of the skyline is still Victorian. From the park Joe and I headed a Toyota Land Cruiser northward. It would be ever north for us, as it was for Burke. His track ran out through settled country, the home steads giving way to rough towns, like gold mad Bendigo. Civilization has smoothed out these first stages of the route with roads of bitumen (in Australia: BITCH-amin) and comfortable motels. The rough-and-ready towns and crossroads have become commercial centers already conscious of preserving a way of life that has barely expired. Bendigo, a set piece of grand Victorian architecture, is carefully restoring the glorious former City Hall and the old Shamrock Hotel; it mines now for the tourist dollar. As Burke neared Bendigo, a crowd came out to enjoy the brave sight. In retrospect, that very bravery displayed the inherent weakness: overloaded with supplies, over staffed with personnel, a grand march rather than a lean band of explorers. By September 6, after they had crossed a hundred miles of plains to Swan Hill, Burke had decided to lighten the load and held a public auction of supplies. The town, a few shanties in the shade of big gums along the Murray River, was a steamboat landing for sheep stations like Reedy Lake, (Continuedon page 168) partly because they didn't know how to handle camels. Inspired by the same 19th century saga of incredible endurance, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC's Joseph Judge and Joseph J. Scherschel simultaneously retraced the expedition's route by jeep and plane.