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Rare specimens illustrate Australia’s botanic explorations

For those of you who are itching to catch a glimpse of the secretive contents within our National Herbarium of Victoria, we’ve got great news! Two of our prized specimens are on display at Colony: Australia 1770-1861, NGV Australia at Federation Square.

Today marks the anniversary of British explorer Captain James Cook’s first sighting of Australia in 1770. Aboard the HMS Endeavour, was Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, botanists who inspired the name Botany Bay. Whilst ashore, Banks and Solander made the first collection of Australian plants, discovering and describing many new flora to science.

Amongst those collected for the first time, was the Banksia serrata (pictured right). Protected within the National Herbarium of Victoria, this specimen is priceless and irreplaceable as it represents the very first example of its kind, a “type specimen”. All understanding of plants, including identification of new plants in the future, cannot be done without the original type specimen.

Drawing from public and private collections across the country, Colony: Australia 1770–1861 brings together the most important examples of art and design produced during this period and surveys the key settlements and development of life and culture in the colonies. Importantly, the exhibition acknowledges the impact of European settlement on Indigenous communities.
(National Gallery of Victoria)

You can see the type of Banksia serrata and Eucalyptus platyphylla for yourself at Colony: Australia 1770-1861 at NGV Australia, Federation Square until Friday 15th June. 


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