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A Romance of Burke and Wills Expedition of 1860

A Romance of Burke and Wills Expedition of 1860
Directed by Charles Byers Coates
Produced by A.C. Tinsdale
Written by A.C. Tinsdale[1]
Starring Charles Clarke
Cinematography Franklyn Barrett
A.O. Segerberg
Walter Sully
Distributed by Kookaburra Films
Release dates
7 September 1918
Running time
6 reels[2]
Country Australia
Language Silent film
English intertitles
Budget over £2,000[3]

A Romance of Burke and Wills Expedition of 1860 is a 1918 Australian silent film. The plot is fictional and is loosely based around the Burke and Wills expedition.


Robert O'Hara Burke leads an expedition from Melbourne to the north of Australia, including William John Wills, John King, Gray, Dandells and Brahe. Although he reaches the Gulf of Carpenteria along with Wills and King when they return to their base at Cooper Creek they discover their comrades have left without them. Burke and Wills both die but King is rescued by aborigines and survives.[4] A fictitious romance was added to the story.[5]

Chapter headings included:

  • a love romance
  • a minuet of 1857
  • expedition leaves Melbourne
  • scenes along the route
  • customs and habits of natives
  • gorgeous desert sunsets
  • historic landmarks
  • there is no death.[6]


  • Charles Clarke as Robert O'Hara Burke
  • George Patterson as William John Wills
  • Chris Olsen as John King
  • G. Gould as W. Grey
  • Bias Kotes as William Brahe
  • David Edelsten as Mayor of Melbourne
  • Vera Chamberlain as Mina Doyle
  • Ona Landers as Stella McDonald
  • Madame Carbasse as Mrs Doyle
  • Melville Stevenson as Dost Mahommed
  • Astor Lewis as Bridget
  • Yvonne Blight as maid
  • Dorothy Beer and Evelyn Hooper as Mina's sisters
  • Clayre St Start and Ida Hooper


The film was completed in November 1917 and originally ran for three reels. Director Charles Coates then spent another month in central Australia shooting additional footage. Filming took over 12 months all up and involved more than 300 people. Reportedly shooting some scenes involved a risk to the cinematographer's life.[3]

The cast included Madam Carbasse, the French mother of Louise Lovely.


The movie was previewed to the trade in May 1918 and submitted for censorship in June 1918.[7]


  1. ^ "No title.". Sunday Times (Perth: National Library of Australia). 31 July 1921. p. 2. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "A ROMANCE OF BURKE AND WILLS.". The Advertiser (Adelaide: National Library of Australia). 14 September 1918. p. 11. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "BURKE AND WILLS.". The Register (Adelaide: National Library of Australia). 14 September 1918. p. 10. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  4. ^ "BURKE AND WILLS EXPEDITION.". The Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia). 24 September 1918. p. 2. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  5. ^ "Advertising.". The Mirror (Perth: National Library of Australia). 13 August 1921. p. 4 Section: SECOND SECTION. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  6. ^ "Advertising.". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 6 August 1921. p. 2. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 82

External links

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