Saturday, 31 July 2010

Dancing for Their Lives

I am reading a book called Dig 3ft NW by Sarah Murgatroyd, about the explorers Burke and Wills. In the book, Murgatroyd tells this charming anecdote, although maddeningly she does not provide her source:

In 1839 two men on a survey of the northern coastline of Australia were "sent ashore to fix their ship's compass. As they made their repairs, a party of Aborigines appeared, wielding their spears. With great presence of mind, the men folded their arms and began a vigorous demonstration of the sailor's hornpipe. The warriors threw down their weapons and roared with laughter while the sailors danced for their lives. The area, east of Darwin, was later named Escape Cliff."


  1. Its a good book! I love reading about burke and wills, my favourite re-telling is probably Coopers Creek by Moorehead

  2. I'm going to do a post on them - I've suddenly discovered them and now love reading about them too. The whole trip seems to have been a bungle from beginning to end (mainly because of Burke, don't you think?) Did you tell me that Voss is based on that expedition?