Collection Online

Arrival of Burke, Wills and King at the deserted camp at Cooper's Creek, Sunday evening, 21st April 1861

oil on canvas
285.7 × 433.0 cm
Place/s of Execution
London, England
Accession Number
Australian Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gilbee Bequest, 1907
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
Not on display
About the work

Burke and Wills led the expedition from Melbourne through Central Australia to the Gulf of Carpentaria. The explorers arrived at Cooper’s Creek to discover from an inscription on a tree that the relief party had left seven hours before. Only King survived.

Forty years later, in 1901, John Longstaff was commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria to paint this famous historical scene. Payment was made from a bequest by former Gallery trustee Dr William Gilbee, which somewhat curiously required the work to be done in England. The vast canvas was finally completed in London in 1907.