Vale Bill Burch

Bill Burch at Wilkes early 1961

Station Year Season
Wilkes 1961 Winter

With great sadness we advise the news that Bill Burch passed away in December this year, 2023.

Notified by email from David Dodd 10 December 2023

Bill Burch

Geophysicist, Wilkes 1961

A brash young, just 22 year-old, and very raw Geophysicist, Bill was appointed to run the Geophysical Observatory at Wilkes for the year 1961.  A lecture from John Bechervaise had fired his passion as a schoolboy, and the Director of the Bureau of Mineral Resources, as it was then, responded to his plea to go to Antarctica and gave him the job when he finished his basic degree at Uni. Bill was sent to the Mundaring Geophysical Observatory near Perth WA for most of the year in 1960 to learn how to drive the instruments and interpret the seismic and magnetic traces they produced.

Read about Bill’s Club Berth Voyage on Aurora Australis – January 31 – March 20, 2008 on the Club website.

George Cresswell remembers a particularly interesting BSA ride:

Bill Burch, who wintered at Wilkes in 1961, was riding a BSA Bantam  on thin ice and saw a wave following him. “I remember that the only reasoning that I was capable of at the time was: keep the throttle wide open, turn in a very wide arc for shore and look out for thicker ice to get home on.  It seemed important to psyche myself to prepare for the machine to break through and to try to make as slow and as spread-eagled a descent to the ice as possible, in the hope I would not follow it through.  After another mile or so – which felt like an eternity – the wave vanished and clearly both the bike and I made it back.”

Commitment to the ANARE Club

Bill Burch served on the ANARE Club Council 1963-64, 1964-65, 1965-66, 1966-67 including as ANARE Club President 1967-68.

Bill was awarded Life Membership of the ANARE Club at the 2014 Annual General Meeting.

Bill was also a founding member of the ANARE Ski Club (an incorporated not for profit organisation independent from the ANARE Club).  The roots of the ANARE Ski Club go back to the ANARE Club annual general meeting (AGM) of 1963, when the idea was floated to form a ski club for ANARE Club members. Things soon got under way, thanks to Ian Bird (M60), Peter Schwerdtfeger and Bill Burch (W61), who organised the drawing of plans, and obtained a premium site on Mt Baw Baw. Over the next five years the lodge was completed to lock-up stage, entirely by volunteer labour, thanks to returned ANARE expeditioners and their expertise.

Contributions to Aurora

March1967ANARE Ski ClubBill Burch18Aurora Journal Autumn 1967
June1973Preservation of Mawson's Hut Commonwealth BayBill Burch33Aurora Journal Winter 1973
February1982Antarctic Heritage! Are We Serious?Bill Burch35Aurora Journal Summer 1982
June1994The Wilkes MotorbikeBill Burch13421Aurora Journal Winter 1994
June1996The All American BoyBill Burch1547Aurora Journal Winter 1996
June2005Aerial shot of Wilkes early 1962Bill Burch244Front CoverAurora Journal Winter 2005
June2009Voyage 4, '61st ANARE' January - March, 2008Bill Burch2842Aurora Journal Winter 2009
September2009Journey to the Ice Age - Dewart (book revBill Burch29128Aurora Journal Spring 2009
September2014Profile - Bill BurchEditor3412Aurora Journal Spring 2014
March2015Motorbikes Down SouthGeorge Creswell, Bill Burch, John Russell3435Aurora Journal Autumn 2015
February2016S.Y AURORA AND HER LIFEBUOYB.Burch3525Aurora Journal Summer 2015
August2016Letters to the EditorBill Burch, Jane Black3543Aurora Journal Winter 2016
September2017Reviews - Ice Eagles; In Whom we TrustBill Burch & Richard Ferguson37116Aurora Journal Spring 2017
April2018To the Editor - Remembering Bill Storer,Don Howell, Bill Burch37315Aurora Journal Autumn 2018
April2019Mawsons Transit HutBill Burch38315Aurora Journal Autumn 2019

Place Names

Burch Peaks – A group of peaks about 11 km east of Mount Torckler, Enderby Land. Plotted from air photographs taken by ANARE in 1957. Named after W M Burch, geophysicist at Wilkes in 1961.