Allan Cunningham’s Journals 1814 to 1822
by A.E. and T.A. Orchard

About the books

Dr AE Orchard and Mrs T.A. Orchard have published a series of books providing, for the first time, a complete transcription of Allan Cunningham’s personal journals, commencing in 1814. Their project is ongoing, with the goal of making accessible a comprehensive and accurate transcription of all of Allan Cunningham’s journals and letters. The books described on this page are: Kings Collectors for Kew – James Bowie and Allan Cunningham Brazil; The Australian Botanical Journals October 1816 to February 1819; The Australian Botanical Journals February 1819 to 1822.

More volumes in this series: Mr Cunningham later undertook other expeditions with King before leading a number of inland expeditions himself, in New South Wales and southern Queensland, and visits to New Zealand and Norfolk Island.  These journeys will be the subject of future volumes in this series.

King’s Collectors for Kew
James Bowie and Allan Cunningham
Brazil 1814-1816

In 1814, with the close of the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Joseph Banks persuaded the Prince Regent (later King George IV) to send two collectors to the colonies of New South Wales and the Cape of Good Hope to gather propagating material to rejuvenate and enhance the King’s Garden at Kew, then, as now, one of the world’s great botanic gardens.  The collectors chosen were the Kew-trained James Bowie and Allan Cunningham.

En route to their destinations they called at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for an intended short stay, but which extended to two years.  During this time they collected extensively around Rio, and undertook an epic overland expedition to São Paulo.

This book presents a transcript of their official journals and correspondence, with detailed interpretation, and links between their day-to-day accounts and surviving plant specimens in the Natural History Museum, London, and elsewhere.

The book concludes with an account of their first few months at Cape Town and Sydney respectively, where each subsequently had distinguished careers as botanists and explorers.

477 pages, 66 colour and black & white illustrations, soft cover.  Privately published. Printed on high quality paper.

ISBN 978-0-9941505-0-9.  

The Australian Botanical Journals
of Allan Cunningham
October 1816 to February 1819
The Oxley and Early King Expeditions

This is the first of a series of books providing for the first time a complete transcript of Allan Cunningham’s personal journal, detailing his collecting activities on a day-by-day basis, and inserts into his commentary details of his surviving collections in London and Australian herbaria, providing an up-to-date series of names for the species he was collecting.

Allan Cunningham was sent to Australia by Sir Joseph Banks in 1816 to collect seeds, bulbs and living plants for the living collection of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, then the premier botanical garden in Europe.

On his arrival in Sydney Governor Macquarie assigned him to the first major inland expedition in New South Wales, commanded by John Oxley, who was charged with exploring the courses of the Lachlan and Macquarie Rivers.

After a gruelling five month journey, with Oxley, Cunningham arrived back in Sydney to find that Banks had attached him to a major surveying expedition led by Phillip Parker King, who was to continue the exploration of the northern and northwestern coast of Australia, begun a decade earlier by Matthew Flinders.

After a seven month’s journey the King expedition returned to Sydney, and, while awaiting favourable weather for his second surveying voyage, King decided to visit Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) to chart the newly discovered Macquarie Harbour. Cunningham joined him, and climbed Mount Wellington near Hobart, as well as exploring Macquarie Harbour.

Between these major expeditions Cunningham undertook short explorations in the Sydney district and as far south as Five Islands (Illawarra).

Source: Back cover of book (adaption).

310 pages, illustrated with 47 contemporary portraits, landscapes and plant paintings, soft cover. Privately published. Printed on high quality paper.

ISBN 978-0-9941505-3-0

The Australian Botanical Journals
of Allan Cunningham
February 1819 to September 1822
The Later King Expeditions

This is the second in a series of books transcribing for the first time the full text of the botanical journals kept by the pioneering botanist Allan Cunningham in Australia and linking them to surviving plant specimens in London and Australian institutions.

This book covers the last three major survey expeditions to the north and northwestern coast of Australia under the command of Phillip Parker King, the first two in the Cutter Mermaid, the last in the Brig Bathurst.

Here in Allan Cunningham’s discursive and often lyrical words is an account of the first contact between a well-educated European botanist, a forbidding landscape and a strange flora. The account is not restricted to botany. Cunningham also discussed the geology, mineralogy and zoology of the country he encountered, contacts with various groups of the native inhabitants, and encounters with the other visitors to the coast, the Macassan trepangers.

The account is addictive reading: the expeditions endured groundings on numerous occasions, near shipwreck on several reefs and headlands, the suspense of exploring inlets and rivers, not knowing what was around the next corner, accidents like the loss of multiple anchors and smashed boats thousand of kilometres from the nearest assistance, encounters with wildlife, including whales, crocodiles, sea snakes, turtles and seals, and dashes to Timor and Mauritius to replenish supplies.

And between expeditions, there is Cunningham’s account of activities in the colony of Port Jackson, just 30 years after settlement, under the watchful eye of Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

Source: Back cover of book (adaption).

431 pages, illustrated with 52 contemporary portraits, landscapes and plant paintings, soft cover. Privately published. Printed on high quality paper.

ISBN 978-0-9941505-4-7

About the authors


In retirement Dr Tony Orchard and his wife Theresa are compiling and publishing a detailed biography of the botanist/explorer Allan Cunningham.  They have published several books in the series so far, with more to come.

Dr Tony Orchard has had an extensive career as a Botanist at the highest levels: Beginning at the State Herbarium of South Australia (AD) (1972);  then Curator at the Cheeseman Herbarium in Auckland, NZ, (AK) (1972-1978); foundation Curator, Tasmanian Herbarium (HO) (1978-1992); Editor/Executive Editor, Flora of Australia (1992-1998), Director (and other positions) at ABRS Flora Section (1998-2003); botanist and Herbarium Registrar, Australian National Herbarium, Canberra, (2003-2005); Compiler, Australian Plant Census (2005-2006); Assistant Manager, Plant Biosecurity, Biosecurity Australia (2006-2009), Australian Botanical Liaison Officer, ABLO, Kew (2008-2009).  Source:

Theresa Orchard is a professional botanist.  After training at Aberystwyth University and University College, London, she moved to Australia in 1969, teaching Botany as a Tutor at the University of Adelaide (1970-1972).  From 1972-1978 she was a Tutor and Research Assistant in the Botany Department, University of Auckland, NZ, and from 2001 to 2008, was employed at the Australian National Herbarium , entering botanical collection records to the ANSHIR database.  In 2008-2009 she accompanied Tony to London where he was ABLO, and together they gathered extensive documentary and specimen data in London, Edinburgh, Paris, Florence and Geneva  for the research underpinning their Cunningham publications.  Follow up private trips to London in 2011 and 2012 provided further Cunningham data.

Books by Dr A.E. Orchard and T.A. Orchard