Allan Cunningham Botanist and Explorer

Author: WG McMinn


Allan Cunningham was perhaps, with the exception of Robert Brown, the most accomplished of the botanists sent out from Kew Gardens during the golden age when Sir Joseph Banks was director. He also explored much of south-eastern Australia in the years 1817 to 1828.

Cunningham left England in 1814, spent some time as Kew collector in Brazil and then came on to New South Wales where he accompanied John Oxley on his exploration of the Lachlan Valley.

He then set out with Phillip Parker King on a series of surveys of the north-west coast of Australia.

Between 1822 and 1828 he worked in New South Wales as a botanists and explorer. While collecting enormous numbers of specimens and making a significant contribution to the advancement of botany as a science he explored large areas of land adjacent to the settled districts, found what seemed a convenient access to the Liverpool Plains, discovered the valuable Darling Downs and later Pandora Pass linking them to the coast.

He returned to England in 1831 and came back to Australia five years later as Colonial Botanist, only to die within a short time from an illness aggravated by his untiring travels. ((Source: The above text is quoted from the inside cover of the book.)) ((This book can be found at bookshops specialising in second hand and/or rare books.))


W.G. McMinn was a senior lecturer in history at the University of Newcastle, teaching primarily British and Australian history and those aspects of the history of ideas associated with the development of modern science. He is a graduate of the Universities of New England and New South Wales.