1902 Encyclopedia > Robert O'Hara Burke

Robert O'Hara Burke
Australian explorer

ROBERT O'HARA BURKE (1821-1861), one of the great explorers of the continent of Australia, was born in 1821 at St Clerans in Galway, Ireland. He left the Belgian college where he had been educated to enter the military service of Austria, but in 1848 returned to Ireland, and obtained a post in the mounted police. He next went to Australia, and served for some time as police-inspector, first in Melbourne and then in the district of Beechworth, till the outbreak of the Crimean War induced him to return to Europe to take part in the campaign. Peace was restored, however, before he arrived, and he accordingly went back to Australia and resumed his connection with the police force. In 1860 he was appointed one of the leaders of a Government exploring expedition, and in this capacity had the honour of being one of the first Europeans to traverse the continent from south to north. A short account of the enterprise—so brilliantly successful in its achievements and so disastrous in its termination—is given in the article AUSTRALIA, vol. iii. p. 106; and fuller details will be found in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society for 1862. The remains of the explorer were interred by Hewitt's relief party in 28° 20' S. lat. and 141" E. long.

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