Survival in the Colony

Naturalist and botanist Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) advised Australia’s first Governor Phillip about what plants to take to New South Wales to sustain pioneering troops and convicts. He advised they could be obtained en route. Taking corn and wheat seed from England at the Cape of Good Hope Phillip gathered such exotic plants as quince, apple, pear, strawberry and sugar cane, as well as oaks and myrtles for their decorative qualities. The plants and seeds essential for the colony’s survival were placed in land set aside for ‘farm and garden’ at Botany Bay. When other areas with better soil quality along the Hawkesbury River opened up, the original plants were moved. Banks’ continuing interest in Australia, and its exotic array of native plants ensured the establishment of a botanical garden, and that many plant hunters would adventure down under to record and gather plants not seen anywhere else before.

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