William John Wills, the Wills of Burke & Wills

A prize of 2000 pounds had been set for the first person to succeed in crossing Australia from south to north. Although this was a large sum at the time, only two men set out to try and receive it. One of them was Robert O'Hara Burke. His navigator was William John Wills.

Links telling the story of the Burke & Wills expedition.

Diaries, sketches, paintings, photos and books.

Pioneer of the Australian Outback Pioneer of the Australian Outback

For the first time, William John Wills' short life is examined in its entirety.

In doing so, Van der Kiste details the character and motivations behind the man whose meticulous diaries secured the Wills name for posterity.

Now 150 years on, Wills' biography is a gripping tale of human endeavour.

ISBN: 9780752458557     Published: 11-05-2011

In the main street of Totnes, Devon
stands a monument to William John Wills inscribed.

In honour of William John Wills. Native of Totnes the first with Burke to cross the Australian continent he perished in returning 28th June 1861.     Erected by public subscription August 1866.
Memorial Inscription

A medal inscribed :-
Issued by City of Melbourne to commemorate the centenary of the Burke & Wills expedition 20th August 1860.
On the reverse:-
Robert O'Hara Burke - Wm John Wills - Charles Grey - John King 1860 - 1960 Melbourne - Menindie - Coopers Creek - Gulf of Carpentaria.
In the Tracks of Burke and Wills
A 4 wheel drive expedition from Melbourne to the Dig Tree in the year 2000.

A cool, clear $286,000 for Burke's flask

By Rachel Kleinman
November 30, 2005

It could not save the lives of Burke and Wills but the water bottle found near their bodies fetched $286,000 at auction in Melbourne last night.

The price for the brown leather flask with cow horn stopper far outshone the predicted $60,000 to $80,000.

Sotheby's spokeswoman Kate Dezarnaulds said seven people had entered a "very fierce" bidding war for the 34-centimetre-long vessel, which sold at Sotheby's Armadale gallery.

Ms Dezarnaulds could not reveal the new owner's identity but said it was an Australian who bid by phone and the flask would stay here.

Burke's great-great-grand nephew, Major John William Burke Cole, auctioned the bottle, which had been in the family for 144 years. Burke and Wills starved to death in central Australia in June 1861