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The History of the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah
The Garden takes its name from the mountain on which it is located. The original owners of the land were the Darug Aboriginal people. 'Tomah' is reputedly an Aboriginal word meaning tree fern.
In 1804 the naturalist and explorer George Caley was the first european to visit Fern Tree Hill, now Mt Tomah. In 1823 Archibald Bell, with Aboriginal guides, found the route across the northern Blue Mountains now known as Bells Line of Road. He was followed later that year by botanist Allan Cunningham (Superintendent of the Botanic Gardens in Sydney 1837-1838).
The first land grant in the area was made in 1830 to Susannah Bowen. The property was subsequently used for dairying and resting paddocks for cattle. Three sawmills also operated at separate locations, milling Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum), Sassafras (Doryphora sassafras) and Brown Barrel (Eucalyptus fastigata). These species still dominate the rainforest sections of the mountain.
From 1934 the property now occupied by the Garden was acquired by by the French-born horticulturist Alfred Brunet and his Australian wife Effie. They operated it as cut-flower farm to supply Sydney florists, specialising in bulbs and other cool-climate plants. In the early 1960s the Brunets proposed that their land at Mount Tomah should be donated to become an annex of the Royal Botanic Gardens. They presented the land for the Garden in 1972. With State and Commonwealth Bicentennial funds for development, the Garden opened to the public on 1 November 1987.
Since 1993 the Garden has included 186 hectares of sandstone woodland and gullies to be maintained as a conservation area. In 2011 the name of the Garden was changed to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah.