Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Memoirs of William John Wills

"Burke Couldn't Organise a Piss-Up at a Brewery"

The following are extracts from the diary of William John Wills who tragically perished with his companion Robert O'Hara Burke while searching for an inland route from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria.


20 August 1860

And we're off. A long way to go still. Burke reckons it might take a year. Maybe even two. Wish he'd told me that before we left. I was hoping we'd be back by Friday. Probably going to miss the start of the cricket season. I've been working on my outswingers.

21 August 1860

Slow going. I suggested to Burke that we should jog. He said we'd be tired by lunch. Speaking of lunch, I'm looking forward to more of that salted beef. Delicious!

30 August 1860

Burke's been acting strangely. Last night he had an argument with his hat.

6 September 1860

We reached Swan Hill. I mentioned to Burke that it seems to be already well established. He said everywhere we'd been so far has already been settled. Annoying. I'd been making maps. I asked why we didn't start from here.

20 September 1860

Burke's really starting to annoy me. He's the worst bushman I've ever seen. Last night he accidentally set fire to a camel.

12 October 1860

We reached Menindee after nearly 2 months of travelling. Apparently the mail coach does it in a week. If I'd know that I could've posted myself some food. This salted beef seems rather high in sodium.

18 October 1860

Crossed a small creek today and Burke sunk. King pulled him out and Burke pretended he'd meant it. There was an eel in his pocket. We ate it for afternoon tea.

26 October 1860

I've been walking behind Burke for weeks and I conclude his pants are too high. No one wears them like that anymore. I wore them like that back in '53.

11 November 1860

We reach Coopers Creek. Still haven't set foot in territory unchartered by Europeans. Burke tripped over a horse and landed on a bullants' nest. He was badly stung and ran around shouting obscenities at King. King was brushing his teeth at the time and humming old show tunes. He didn't notice.

20 November 1860

Still at Coopers Creek. Burke is starting to move his neck like a camel.

5 December 1860

Burke has taken to drinking his own urine. King pointed out that we still have plenty of water.

16 December 1860

Burke decided just four of us would set off for the Gulf of Carpentaria. Him, me, King and another bloke who I only noticed for the first time this morning. And only because he shat on my boots. Pretty annoyed with that. I pushed him onto the fire and Burke immediately began roasting marshmallows. Don't now where he got them. What else is he harbouring?

3 January 1861

I swear I saw something moving in Burke's beard. I mentioned it and said he was was just readjusting his lips. A likely story. Whatever it was it had a tail.

11 January 1861

Burke's been complaining of sore feet. He's been wearing his shoes on the wrong feet since we left Essendon. King and I have been giggling about it for months.

18 January 1861

Burke's been randomly placing bits of cheese in his beard. Definitely something living in there. Fucking duplicitous Irish cunt. And where the fuck did he get the cheese?

29 January 1861

Burke claimed we were lost. I asked how we could be lost when all we were doing was heading north. King pointed out that we were always lost because nobody had been here before. Burke got confused and asked a swallow for directions.

9 February 1861

Reached the Gulf of Carpentaria. Yay! There was a swamp blocking the way to the ocean but, you know what, close enough. We'll just tell them we made it. King put a scorpion in Burke's trousers this morning. Hasn't been a reaction yet. Not sure why.

10 February 1861

Turns out the scorpion had died. I think Burke squashed it when he sat on a rock to eat his salted beef. Must find another one.

14 February 1861

Valentine's Day. King slipped a love letter into Burke's back pocket. Burke was furious and didn't let King use the shovel for the rest of the day.

15 February 1861

Fuck it's hot.

18 February 1861

Burke finally realised his shoes were on the wrong feet. Seriously, what a fucking nonce.

25 February 1861

I snuck a peek at Burke's diary. Every entry referred to his underpants and how well they fit. He has no fucking idea how to punctuate.

2 March 1861

Getting hungry. All I've eaten for the last 3 months is salted beef, snake and grubs the local aborigines gave us. Burke has supplemented his diet with dirt.

7 March 1861

I saw something move in Burke's beard again. Tomorrow I'm going to make a grab for it. Burke bumped into a small hill today while looking for firewood.

8 March 1861

King tackled Burke to the ground and held him down while I rummaged through his beard. Nothing. Burke didn't seem to notice.

25 March 1861

Burke gave the fourth bloke a terrible beating for stealing his porridge. He spent a lot of time lining up each slap and yelled 'rissole' with each blow. Where the fuck did that cunt find porridge?

30 March 1861

Burke squatted for a poo but forgot to pull his pants down. How King laughed. Burke was distressed and tied King to an emu.

10 April 1862

Burke shot the last horse. He'd been aiming at a cockatoo in a nearby tree. We ate it anyway. King did the butchering and distributed the meat. Burke had trouble cutting his piece before realising it was the saddle.

17 April 1861

The fourth bloke died today. I thought about eating him but didn't mention it. King suggested we dig a grave with Burke's dessert spoon. Burke ate a sock.

21 April 1861

Finally returned to Coopers Creek. The camp was abandoned. They'd left us some food buried under a tree. Fucking salted beef. Was that a joke? Turns out they'd left that morning. Burke finally ate his other sock.

4 May 1861

Nothing for it. Burke has gone mad. Tried to climb inside a camel to sleep. The camel was visibly shaken and refused to eat.

12 comments:

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Oh God Bob, that was brilliant.

Do you think you could write a quirky sit-com about zany twenty somethings living in inner city Melbourne?

Alex said...

In 1860.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

With camels.

Lewd Bob said...

I'm on it. I see a great scene where the twenty-somethings are buying a new horse and cart with 16" alloy wheels and an ipod dock.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Make sure you include a zany twenty something chick whose vagina kills people.

Alex said...

Given the state of venereal disease 150 years ago, I don't think that'd be too difficult.

And you should picture all your zany twenty-something characters being played by actors in their thirties and forties, too.

squib said...

Oh that is ace, Lewd

(although it brings back painful memories of the time I really, really wanted the Burke and Wills glass at Hungry Jacks and they said I couldn't have it cos I ordered an OJ instead of a coke)

Mr E Discharge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melba said...

Seriously Bob, that was fucking awesome. How long does it take for you to do something like that? Is it worked up or does it roll off your genius freaking fingers?

Seriously brilliant.

Melba said...

And by the way.

Thank you for sharing.

patchouligirl said...

You brought them to life for me Bob. I bet that's exactly how it happened.

Perseus said...

Gold.