Taken by Botanical Surprise

On April 29, 1770, English navigator and explorer James Cook arrived on HMS Endeavour to make his first landing on the continent of Australia.

The site is part of Australia’s Sydney Basin bioregion that features great species diversity because of its variety of rock types, topography, and climates. The expedition’s botanists were so taken with myriad plant species that they convinced Cook to name the place Botany Bay. The botanists did not understand the underlying soils, water catchments, and the fragile nature of coastal and marine ecosystems.

Botany Bay, Australia, taken from the International Space Station

Botany Bay, Australia, taken from the International Space Station

Although the remnants of that 1770 vegetation are still to be found in that open shrubland above eroded sandstone cliffs, the area today is densely populated and generations of human activities have threatened its biodiversity. Fortunately, in the last centuries, we have learned more about ecosystems and environment science. That 1770 landing place is now part of Kamay Botany National Park and under the state’s environmental stewardship.
In the virtual collections at the State Library of New South Wales, Australia, you can access examples of Cook’s log, the charts and maps of Endeavour’s exploration, and more.


B Bondar / Real World Content Advantage


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