History History

Burketown is located on the gulf of Carpentaria in far North West Queensland. It is named in honour of Robert O'Hara Burke, the leader of the ill-fated 1860/61 Burke and Wills expedition from south to north which started in Melbourne and ended at Coopers Creek. 

It is located on the Albert River and Savannah Way in the area known as the Gulf Savannah. Burketown has a population of approximately 176 but this number increases significantly during the cooler months (April to early October) when most tourists visit the region. 

The Gangalidda Garawa and the Waanyi people are the traditional owners in different areas of the Burke Shire. People from other parts of the world including Europe and Asia have lived in the region since the 1860s but European navigators have sailed in Gulf waters since the 1600s.

The Burke Shire, as a local government entity, was established in 1885. This was during a period of expansion in the Gulf region mainly due to the mining and grazing industries.

More history of the Burke Shire

Dr Richard Martin from the University of Queensland has done extensive reseach on the Burke Shire. Listen to his 2016 interview on ABC Local Radio.

Learn more about famous names associated with European exploration of the Gulf region.

Find out more about highlights in the Burke Shire by visiting the links to this page.