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Burke's Grave - Innamincka Regional Reserve

Home > Adelaide > Camping | Escape the City | National Parks | Outdoor | Walks
by Meg Forbes (subscribe)
Meg Forbes is a mum, freelance writer, and photographer living in the Redlands, South of Brisbane. https://www.instagram.com/megforbesphotography/
Published July 28th 2020
Visit an outback heritage site in spectacular natural beauty
Roadtrips across Australia's Outback are often characterised by long distances of stark, beautiful scenery that is punctuated by fascinating environmental or heritage oases.

Driving across the Strzelecki Desert to Burke's Grave campsite
Driving across the Strzelecki Desert to Burke's Grave campsite


The campsite and walking trails at Burke's Grave in Innamincka Regional Reserve, which is surrounded by the Strzelecki Desert, provides both of these, sitting as it does along Cooper Creek, with its memorial to the place at which Robert O'Hara Burke (of Burke & Wills fame) died of starvation in 1861. Additionally, the Yandruwandha and Yawarrawarrka nations called this region home for thousands of years and retain a strong presence in the area today.

Beautiful Cooper Creek at Burke's Grave
Beautiful Cooper Creek at Burke's Grave


Although the Burke & Wills expedition was successful in traversing Australia from Victoria in the south to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north, few of those who embarked on the expedition were experienced in bushcraft, and their return journey was made even more difficult by the monsoonal rains of the wet season. A number of their party had elected to wait at Cooper Creek while Burke, Wills, King, and Gray went on to reach the mangroves before attempting to return to the rest of their party at Cooper Creek. Gray died on the way back to Cooper Creek, while Burke, Wills, and King discovered that the party who had been waiting for them at Cooper Creek had given up and departed only 9 hours earlier on the 21 April 1861. While waiting to be rescued, Wills died of starvation and exhaustion, and Burke died soon afterward on approximately 28 June 1861. Aboriginal people in the region helped King survive until he was rescued that September.

One of the interpretive signs to the heritage along this section of Cooper Creek
An interpretive sign explaining some of the heritage along this section of Cooper Creek


Although Burke and Wills' bodies were disinterred from their original graves and taken to Melbourne for a State Funeral, Burke's original resting place is still marked beneath a large tree along Cooper Creek in Innamincka Regional Reserve.

Robert O'Hara Burke's original resting place is still marked today
Robert O'Hara Burke's original resting place is still marked today


There is a peaceful campsite nearby (the night we stayed, we were the only people there, although another couple arrived the following morning) that allows a maximum of 8 vehicles and is suitable for tents, camper trailers, and caravans.

Camping at Burke's Grave wasn't as spooky as we'd anticipated. In fact, the environment was peaceful and lovely
Camping at Burke's Grave wasn't as spooky as we'd anticipated. In fact, the environment was peaceful and lovely


The short walk along Cooper Creek to Burke's Grave leaves from a small parking area adjacent to the campsite and is partially shaded by huge gum trees.

Walking along Cooper Creek to visit Burke's Grave
Walking along Cooper Creek to visit Burke's Grave


Surrounded by the Strzelecki Desert, Cooper Creek attracts a variety of wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, whistling kites, and smaller birds such as spiny cheeked honeyeaters.

A spiny cheeked honeyeater at Burke's Grave
A spiny cheeked honeyeater visiting Cooper Creek near Burke's Grave


The site of Burke's Grave, with its mixture of natural beauty, interesting heritage, and peaceful location provides travellers with a welcome respite from the long and often dusty roads of Outback Australia.

Even the most adventurous appreciate the occasional rest from their travels!
Even the most adventurous appreciate an occasional rest from their travels!


It is also only 11km from the famous Innamincka Trading Post which sells food, drink, auto accessories, souvenirs, and more.

Quirky Innamincka Trading Post is just around the corner from Burke's Grave
Quirky Innamincka Trading Post is just around the corner (all things being relative) from Burke's Grave


Facilities for travellers and campers at Burke's Grave include:

Long drop toilets
Bird watching
Stargazing with almost no light pollution
Opportunities to appreciate Aboriginal and settler heritage
Hiking
The potential to explore Cooper Creek via canoe or kayak
Fishing along Cooper Creek

Visitors can explore the natural beauty and human heritage at Burke's Grave
Visitors can explore natural beauty and cultural heritage at Burke's Grave on Cooper Creek


Getting there:

Burke's Grave sits along the Strzelecki Track near to the Queensland border in South Australia. While people have completed this trip in 2 wheel drive vehicles, especially in the dry season, a four-wheel drive is recommended.

Some parts of the route to Burke's Grave, including parts of the Strzelecki Track, are sand tracks
Some parts of the route to Burke's Grave, including parts of the Strzelecki Track, are sand tracks


The most popular routes for reaching it are:

From Adelaide:

The most direct route to reach Innamincka and Burke's Grave from Adelaide is to drive via Port Augusta to Lynhurst. From there you can follow the Outback Loop which will take you the rest of the way. Potential overnight stops include Marree, Birdsville, and the Coongie Lakes.

From Brisbane:

Follow the Adventure Way from Brisbane to Innamincka. Four recommended overnight stops along the way are Dalby, St George, Cunnamulla, Thargominda, with your fifth night at Burke's Grave Campsite.

Visiting Burke's Grave is a real opportunity to explore some of Australia's beautiful, remote areas
Visiting Burke's Grave is a real opportunity to explore some of Australia's beautiful, remote areas
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Why? A visit to Burke's Grave includes natural beauty and interesting heritage
When: Anytime
Phone: 61 8 8207 7700
Where: Burke's Grave Site, Innamincka, SA, 5731
Cost: Free to visit, camping fees apply (updated here: https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/book-and-pay )
Your Comment
A very interesting and educational article Meg. I may never get there myself, but I feel I have 'seen' it. Neil.
by Neil Follett (score: 2|564) 7 days ago
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