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Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander - the naturalists

Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820)

Joseph Banks travelled with James Cook on the Endeavour in 1768-71, and thereafter remained for some 30 years the major sponsor of science in the Australian region.

Biographical details

Born Westminster, England, 13 February 1743. Died Isleworth, 19 June 1820. Baronet 1781, KCB 1795, member of the Privy Council 1797. Educated University of Oxford but did not graduate. Studied and collected rocks, plants and animals in Newfoundland and Labrador on H.M.S. Niger 1766; travelled with James Cook on the Endeavour 1768-71; led expedition to the Isle of Wight, the western islands of Scotland and Iceland 1772; paid for numerous expeditions which provided him with collections of animals and plants; sheepbreeding and farming on his Lincolnshire estate. Fellow, Royal Society 1766; president 1778-1820. Commemorated by Bankstown, a monument at Kurnell, the plant genus Banksia and several Australian plant species. 

Dr Daniel Solander

Daniel Solander (1733-1782) learnt his botany from the famous Carl Linnaeus in Sweden but spent much of his career in London. He travelled on the Endeavour voyage with Joseph Banks and later was botanist-librarian to Banks in London. Click here for further information.

Banks and Solander at Botany Bay April-May 1770 'in the woods botanizing as usual ...'


During the eight days of their visit, Banks and Solander investigated various areas around Botany Bay, including Bare Island (Banks); the Sea Coast to the south (Cook, Banks and Solander); the head of the Bay (Cook, Solander and Dr Munkhouse); and ashore on the NW side of the bay (Banks).

They collected enthusiastically. Plant specimens pressed, dried and sorted, and botanical descriptions written. At the same time the botanical artist Sydney Parkinson (1745-1771) made his painstaking and magnificent field drawings and watercolours while the plants were still fresh.

On 3 May Banks reported: Our collection of plants was now grown so immensly large that it was necessary that some extraordinary care should be taken of them least they should spoil in the books. I therefore devoted this day to that business and carried all the drying paper, near 200 Quires of which the larger part was full, ashore and spreading them upon a sail in the sun kept them in this manner exposd the whole day, often turning them and sometimes turning the Quires in which were plants inside out. 

(NB "200 Quires of paper" is about 500 sheets, or 10 reams!!)

However, on the next day he was back again collecting in the bush: 'May 4th Myself in the woods botanizing as usual...'

Unfortunately, Banks' journal provides relatively few references to the vegetation and landscape of Botany Bay; in it he is mainly concerned with describing interactions with the Aboriginal people.

The Banks & Solander species list details the plant species collected by Banks and Solander on their 1770 visit. 

We would like to acknowledge the Cadigal people of the Eora Nation within Sydney and pay our respect to Elders past, present and future.