From the Cartography Desk.
While most I'm Melbourne wouldn’t have a clue about what the Victorian Exploring Expedition of 1860-1861 was, the names of Burke and Wills would probably ring bells. For the who want a brief background read here.
The desire behind expedition was successful south to north crossing of the continent. What happened in the end was an exploration tragedy that gripped the nation, but Melbourne in particular.
The death of Burke and Wills were a field day for stonemasons and artists alike for the next forty years. As well the cairn in Royal Park, which marked the start of the expedition and the monolithic Burke and Wills memorial in the Melbourne General Cemetery,
There was also William Strutt’s, Death of Burke, which hangs in the Cowen Gallery of the State Library of Victoria.
However, the recognition of the names Burke & Wills by current Melbournians, probably has more to do with the peripatetic statue of the explorers with has graced the Hoddle’s Grid and its environs in a number of locations since 1865.
Four years after there deaths the Charles Summers statue of Burke and Wills was unveiled in the middle of the Collins Street / Russell Street intersection.
Ugo Catani, Collins Street, rainy weather. https://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/282511
Now it seems that wherever that statue is placed, it is a predictor of the next phase of Melbourne’s transport system, being moved for a cable tram line and two station entrances to Melbourne underground railways lines.
So in 1886 the statue was moved to allow the laying of cables for Melbourne’s second cable tram route to North Fitzroy.
It was then opposite Parliament House [above] and stayed there until 1973, when again it was moved, this time to make room for the an entry to Parliament Station as part of Melbourne's new underground railway.
Next stop was Carlton Gardens for six years. until it was incorporated in Melbourne’s [in my opinion], ill fated City Square. The incorporation of a water feature into the base of the statue wasn’t an improvement either.
In 1994 after restoration, Burke and Wills moved to the corner of Swanston and Collins Streets. https://www.burkeandwills.net.au/Memorials/summers.htm https://www.emelbourne.net.au/biogs/EM00264b.htm
And there the statue remained until earlier this year, until Melbourne's elephant in the china shop, the Metro Tunnel Project came along
So, here is the journey of the statue around Melbourne,
And where has the statue gone now? To a secret location apparently. And for a number of years.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-10/burke-and-wills-statue-in-melbourne-relocated-for-metro-tunnel/8428766 https://www.theage.com.au/victoria/burke-and-wills-statue-goes-into-hiding-20170407-gvgd7m.html https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/burke-and-wills-statue-dismantled-put-in-storage-to-make-way-for-rail-tunnel/news-story/6ee3928ece23f40a4aecc58edab97425
Last days of the Burke & Wills statue on the Collins / Swanston Streets corner.
You do wonder why the statue and the reliefs couldn’t be relocated temporarily to somewhere like the Treasury Museum, or the Melbourne Museum, Carlton.
After all, the statue has been located close to both those institutions during its tour of Melbourne.
And ironically, that tragic expedition of 1860-1861, with its many wrong turns, inconsistent planning and bad luck has been mimicked by the statue of the expedition leaders.