The Allan Cunningham Project – a focus on Australian colonial history

Portrait - Allan Cunningham 1817

Allan Cunningham Botanist Explorer 1791-1839
Pen and Ink Drawing by Phillip Parker King
National Library of Australia Collection

Artuccino is proud to host The Allan Cunningham Project

The Allan Cunningham Project is made up of several parts, all with the same aim, which is to document accurate information related to Allan Cunningham (botanist and explorer 1791 – 1839) and make it accessible via the internet.

Keeping a record of what he witnessed, discovered and documented will ensure that our generation and future generations will have access to historical information related to the Australian landscape and its flora between 1816, when he first arrived in Port Jackson and 1839 when he closed his eyes for the last time.

When seeking to understand the colonial past of Australia, Allan Cunningham’s story is one to experience. As you travel through it you will discover that he was a person who knew many of the characters who populated the Australian colony in its early days. As you get to know him you will also meet them. He participated in many of the events that shaped his world, most importantly for us, he saw the pristine Australian wilderness in its natural state and wrote about it, leaving a treasure trove of information for those that followed and cared to know what it looked like and what grew there.

Although he was often a support player, he was right in the middle of everything. He counted some very influential people among his friends including Phillip Parker King, John Oxley, the Macarthur family, Robert Brown the Botanist who sailed with Matthew Flinders and Alexander Macleay, the Colonial Secretary of NSW. His patron was Sir Joseph Banks.

His beliefs were firmly grounded in the philosophy of the British Enlightenment resulting in his dedication to the pursuit of knowledge resulting in a precious collection of botanical specimens that still exist in the herbariums of the world.

When Allan applied for the position of Botanical Collector in 1814, he wrote a postscript on the application which states quite clearly how he intended to live his life:

it is a love of plants and to search for them in their wild state, and a wish to make myself useful in the capacity of a collector . . .  it shall be the highest ambition of my life to exert myself in the perform[ance] of the requisite duties that constitute a collector, so that the Royal collection at Kew may exceed all other collections in the riches of new, beautiful and desirable plants.  Allan Cunningham to Sir Joseph Banks 1814

SOURCE : LIONEL GILBERT: THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS SYDNEY
Gilbert, Lionel Arthur. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney: a history, 1816-1985. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1986. Print.

Posted in Australian Colonial History, History, Interesting People, The Allan Cunningham Project