Celebrate the Galwegian who crossed the outback

The poster for the 1985 movie.

The poster for the 1985 movie.

The first man to cross the Australian outback was a Galwegian who lived in Dominick Street - Robert O’Hara Burke - and he will be remembered in his native city this weekend.

The first Trans Australian Expedition was led by Burke in 1860 and to mark its 150th Anniversary, the Galway City Council will screen the 1985 film Burke and Wills in the Town Hall Theatre on Saturday at 4pm. The film stars Jack Thomspon (as Burke ), Nigel Havers, and Greta Scacchi. Admission is free.

Burke led the expedition from Melbourne which was the first successful crossing of Australia from south to north by Europeans. He was born either in St Clerans or Galway city in 1821. He was baptised in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church and lived for part of his childhood in Dominick Street.

His varied career took him from the British army to the Imperial Austrian army to the Mounted Irish Constabulary to the Melbourne police. The expedition was ultimately ill-fated with seven of the 19 explorers dying over the course of the nine months it took before Burke himself died sometime around the end of June 1861 in Coopers Creek.

The Galway connection to the Burke & Wills Expedition was celebrated last month when Mayor Michael J Crowe joined with the Australian Ambassador Bruce Davis to honour Robert O’Hara Burke at a ceremony in City Hall in August.


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