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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation
    The Honourable Andrew McNamara

    State moves to protect explorers’ last dig

    Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation
    The Honourable Andrew McNamara

    Saturday, December 13, 2008

    State moves to protect explorers’ last dig

    The Bligh Government has protected an outback Queensland camp that could cast light on the final days of Australian explorers’ Burke and Wills.

    Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation Minister Andrew McNamara today announced the declaration of the Burke and Wills camp site, known as ‘Plant Camp’, as a protected area under section 103 of the Queensland Heritage Act 1992.

    “Plant Camp is an extremely important part of our history and needs to be preserved to further our knowledge and understanding of the past,” Mr McNamara said.

    “The camp, located in the State’s far south-west, is the second site in Queensland to come under the State’s toughest heritage protection.

    “We moved to protect the Plant Camp after recent reports of vandalism and destruction in the area.”

    The first protected area in the State was a shipwreck at Fraser Island located between Waddy Point and Orchid Beach.

    With the exception of lessees Kidman Pastoral Company undertaking normal operations on the property, no-one will be able to enter the area and nothing can be taken from Plant Camp without a permit from the EPA.

    “Let’s make this perfectly clear, unauthorised entry or interference will not be tolerated,” Mr McNamara said.

    “Grazing will continue as it has over many years. But this is a significant archaeological site where scientific research will be undertaken.

    “We’re hoping this research will help shed new light on the mystery that surrounds the final days of the Burke and Wills expedition and ensures the camp’s preservation for generations of Australians.”

    Maximum penalties for individuals transgressing or interfering with the protected area are $127,500 for individuals and $1,275,000 for companies.

    The site came to EPA’s attention after a Victorian academic and long-term Burke and Wills researcher announced his discovery of artefacts on a property near Birdsville.

    Plant Camp was one of the last stops of Australian legendary explorers, Robert O’Hara Burke and William John Wills.

    The explorers aimed to travel through the middle of Australia from Melbourne to the Far North Coast, through an area that was at the time uninhabited by colonial Australians.

    They had set out from Melbourne in 1860 and were on the return leg of their trip from the Gulf of Carpentaria when they set up camp at the site on 3 April 1861.

    In a weakened state, they were making a last-ditch effort to get to the famous Dig Tree where supplies were buried.

    At Plant Camp, Burke ordered that the team progress only with food and what they could carry on their backs.

    Wills ‘planted’ – or buried – his astronomical instruments and associated equipment in the hope that they would later return to collect them. This never happened and the location of the Plant Camp was lost.

    Both men died in June 1861 near Cooper’s Creek.

    Media contact: Wendy Nye 3336 8004