FRESH from taking possession of a pistol owned by Robert O’Hara Burke, Beechworth’s museum has acquired a knife linked to the explorer’s fatal expedition.
The Burke Museum, named after the 19th century Beechworth pol- iceman and explorer, has put on display the pocket knife donated by a South Australian retiree.
Museum manager Patrick Watt recently travelled to Naracoorte to receive the knife from Pat Conrick, who had inherited it through his family who owned the outback station which contains the Dig Tree, which bore instructions for Burke and his companion William Wills to find provisions.
“Our generous donor, Pat Conrick, now 93, remembers his grandfather passing the knife down,” Mr Watt said.
“Mr Conrick, who now lives in a retirement home in Naracoorte South Australia, felt it was important that the knife be placed in a museum.
“The Conricks had already donated expedition saddle bags and a camel tree and it seemed appropriate that the knife go to the museum named in honour of the famous explorer.”
The knife donation follows the museum taking possession of a pistol which was given to Burke by the citizens of Beechworth.
The firearm, which was bought for $18,000 and transported from Dublin, has proven to be a drawcard for the museum, Mr Watt said.
“People have said ‘I’ve just come to see the gun’ and we’ve been getting up to 30 people a day saying ‘we’ve just come to see the gun’,” Mr Watt said.
“On the day it went on display a bloke from Melbourne came in just to see the gun and we’ve had people from Sydney and Canberra just come to see it.
“They’re pretty amazed with the inscription on it, on the base, and we’ve got a magnifying glass so they can look at it more clearly.
“They say ‘it’s hard to believe I’m so close to something that Burke held in his hand’.”