Plants, vegetation, geography, country: the landscape and its unique flora are all major elements in Australia's story. For Aboriginal people and the European explorers who came to this area in the 18th century, plants are integral to the telling of the story of Australia.
European collectors came to Australia and collected specimens near the Swan River in Western Australia in 1697 (Dutchman Willem de Vlamingh) and on the north-western coast of Western Australia (English buccaneer William Dampier) in 1699. Serious European botanical exploration began in the 18th century with the arrival of the Endeavour in April 1770, commanded by Lieutenant James Cook, to what is now called Kamay Botany Bay National Park. During the 8 day visit, Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, the naturalists (for it was a scientific exploring expedition) encountered an unusually large number of previously unknown plants. First named Stingray Bay by Cook, he later changed the name to Botany Bay, in recognition of this new and impressive flora.
Here you can explore the botany of Botany Bay through the historical accounts, the specimens collected and the landscape today. The young Joseph Banks spent much of his time 'in the woods botanising as usual', and was very impressed with the diversity of the flora.
Two hundred years later, you can still see the descendants of many of those plant species in the small bushland reserves around the Bay, though others have disappeared as their habitat has been destroyed by Sydney's continuing urban and industrial expansion.
Go to the Kamay Botany Bay National Park website for more information about visiting the area.