State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 66 Spring 2000


Distinct Creation
Early European Images of Australian Animals

A little time before this I had been lying on a sunny bank & was reflecting on the strange character of the animals of this country as compared to the rest of the World. An unbeliever in everything beyond his own reason might exclaim: ‘Surely, two distinct Creators must have been at work; their object, however, has been the same & certainly the end in each case is complete’.
Charles Darwin (1836)1
Darwin Was not the first European to be amazed and somewhat baffled by Australia's ‘distinct creation’. The botanist, James Edward Smith, had expressed something similar in 1793 when he wrote:
When a botanist first enters on the investigation of so remote a country as New Holland, he finds himself as it were in a new world. He can scarcely meet with any fixed points from whence to draw his analogies.2
Indeed, by the middle of the nineteenth century anything seemed possible:
Nothing short of immortal fame will be the reward of the man who first furnishes a veritable Bunyip for the Museum of the Mechanics’ Institution.3
Australia then was a wonderful, fantastic place, where new scientific discoveries could be made almost every other day. In the following paper, we attempt to recreate some of that wonder and discovery, concentrating on five quintessential Australian animals — kangaroo, wombat, platypus, koala and Tasmanian tiger. In particular, we record the early accounts of discovery, track the process of description and illustration, and discuss naming and classification.
There is no reason why the present study could not be extended to include other Australian animals and birds. Indeed, we hope that the present paper may inspire an author or publisher to undertake a more comprehensive survey. A summary work of this nature has not been attempted before. Apart from Ronald Younger's excellent Kangaroo, Images Through the Ages (Hawthorn, 1988) — which we have brazenly exploited — information about the history of European discovery of our native fauna is scattered throughout a number of books and scientific papers. We feel that bringing the information together is a useful exercise. Finally, the books and illustrations exist not only as foundation documents for Australia's scientific and cultural history but are also a delight to the eye and the mind, and should be better known.


The first recorded European description of an Australian marsupial appeared in the Dutch navigator Francois Pelsaert's account of the wreck of the Batavia, off the western Australian coastline in 1629. Pelsaert wrote:
Besides we found in these islands large numbers of a species of cats, which are very strange creatures; they are about the size of a hare, their head resembling that of a civetcat; the forepaws are very short, about the length of a finger, on which the animal has five small nails or fingers, resembling those of a monkey's forepaw. Its two hind legs, on the contrary, are upwards of half an ell in length [ie. about half a metre], and it walks on these only, on the flat of the heavy part of the leg.4
It is believed that this is a description of the Dama Wallaby of south-western Australia. Pelsaert's description was overlooked for nearly two centuries and was not known to Captain James Cook when he set off in 1769 on his first great voyage in the Endeavour.
On 24 June 1770, Cook recorded in his journal aboard the Endeavour:
I saw myself this morning, a little way from the ship, one of the Animals before spoke off [sic]: it was of a light mouse Colour and the full size of a Grey Hound, and shaped in every respect like one, with a long tail, which it carried like a Grey hound; in short, I should have taken it for a wild dog but for its walking or running, in which it jump'd like a Hare or Deer.5
This description, accompanied by an engraved plate, brought the first news of this new animal to Europe when it appeared in John Hawkesworth's An Account of the Voyages, published in London in 1773. Cook's journal for 14 July 1770, as edited by Hawkesworth, noted:
Mr. Gore, who went out this day with his gun, had the good fortune to kill one of the animals which had been so much the subject of our speculation; an idea of it will best be conceived by the cut, plate XX, without which, the most accurate verbal description would answer very little purpose, as it has not similitude enough to any animal already known, to admit of illustration by reference. In form, it is most like the gerbua. This animal is called by the natives Kanguroo.6
The earlier reports and speculations Cook alludes to originated during the Endeavour's landing at Botany Bay in May 1770. Joseph Banks, in his journal for 1 May, noted that: ‘we saw also the dung of a large animal that had fed on grass which much resembled that of a stag’. The Endeavour's second lieutenant subsequently reported to Banks the tracks of a large animal ‘of the Deer Guanicoe [South American] kind’. During the Endeavour's stopover at the Endeavour River, Banks further noted in his journal for 22 June 1770 that: The People who were sent to the other side of the water in order to shoot Pigeons saw an animal as large as a grey hound, of a mouse colour
and very swift’. On 7 July, at the Endeavour River, Banks himself had his first glimpse of the new animal when a hunt was organized. He recorded:
We walked many miles over the flats and saw 4 of the animals, 2 of which my greyhound fairly chas'd, but they beat him owing to the length and thickness of the grass which prevented him from running while they at every bound leapd over the tops of it. We observd much to our suprize that instead of Going upon all fours this animal went only upon two hind legs, making vast bounds.
The following week, on 14 July, Banks was finally able to study a specimen of this mysterious animal, writing in his journal that:
Our second lieutenant who was shooting today had the good fortune to kill the animal that had so long been the subject of our speculations. To compare it to any European animal would be impossible as it has not the least resemblance of any one I have seen. Its fore legs are extremely short and of no use to it in walking, its hind again as disproportionately long; with these it hops 7 or 8 feet at each hop.7
The following day Banks, with a singular lack of nostalgia, duly noted: ‘The Beast which was killed yesterday was today Dressed for our dinners and provd excellent meat’.
Banks was responsible for assigning the common European name for the new animal. In a series of notes he made in August 1770, after the Endeavour had departed New Holland, Banks recorded:
Quadrupeds we saw but few and were able to catch few of them that we did see. The largest was calld by the natives kangooroo.8
The first printed illustration of a kangaroo,9 from Hawkesworth's account of Cook's first voyage, was engraved after a painting by the noted British animal painter George Stubbs, and is often referred to as Stubbs's Kangaroo [Fig. 1]. It was Banks who commissioned Stubbs to paint the animal, and the finished work was exhibited with the title ‘The Kongouro [sic] from New Holland, 1770’ at the Society of Artists in London in 1773.10 John Hunter, a British anatomist and friend of Stubbs, remarked that, ‘Of the kangaroo the only parts at first brought home were some skins and skulls’. The inventory of the Endeavour's store upon returning to England in 1771 included two kangaroo skins and two skulls. It can be assumed that Stubbs worked from a stuffed or blown-up skin — there were certainly no living kangaroos brought back from the voyage. The general mutilation of the skin possibly accounts for several mistakes Stubbs made — misrepresenting the kangaroo's hind feet and making its ears too big. Given the little he had to work with (the two rough sketches made by the artist on the voyage, Sydney Parkinson, are believed to have been unavailable to him at the time), it is a surprisingly good likeness.11 Stubbs's kangaroo was to make a second appearance in 1773, in the Gentlemen's Magazine, which carried a brief description of this strange new animal, describing it as ‘a new species never yet described’.

Fig. 1: ‘Kangaroo’ [after George Stubbs] (John Hawkesworth, An account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of His present Majesty, for making discoveries in the southern hemisphere, 1773).

With the publication of these images, the kangaroo had entered the European popular imagination. Even James Boswell, the biographer of Dr Samuel Johnson, recorded how during a trip to Scotland Johnson performed for his friends his own imitation of this extraordinary new animal. Boswell records:
He stood erect, put out his hands like feelers, and, gathering up the tails of his huge brown coat so as to resemble the pouch of the animal, made two or three vigorous bounds across the room.12
For naturalists, however, the kangaroo posed a number of problems. In Paris, Georges Buffon declined to include the animal in his encyclopedic Histoire naturelle, then nearing completion, because he had reservations about Stubbs's depiction. The kangaroo proved difficult to insert into the Linnaean system of classification, and for a number of years, even while proving popular with the general public, the animal remained in a scientific limbo.
Stubbs's kangaroo, once unleashed upon the public, proved itself to be a surprisingly resilient creature. It continued to appear in a multitude of works, such as Thomas Pennant's History of Quadrupeds (1781) and Thomas Bewick's A General History of Quadrupeds (5th edn, 1807). Moreover, it was also to be found on mass-produced Staffordshire pottery (c1800), an example of which is to be found in the Australian National Gallery.13 For almost 20 years, it was the only image of a kangaroo in circulation, and even after new information and depictions of the kangaroo emerged out of the English settlement at Sydney Cove in 1788, Stubbs's kangaroo, more often than not, remained the kangaroo of preference for English publishers.
Governor Phillip's account of the First Fleet settlement, Voyage to New South Wales, published in London in 1789, provided the first new image of a kangaroo since the 1773 Stubbs's engraving. Based upon the grey kangaroos observed around the Port Jackson area, the new image differed markedly from its predecessor. The accompanying description noted: ‘The disproportion between the upper and lower parts of this animal is greater than has been shown in any former delineations of it, but is well expressed in the plate inserted here’. Phillip commented further that:
Kanguroos were frequently seen, but were so shy that it was very difficult to shoot them. With respect to these animals, it is rather an extraordinary circumstance, that, not withstanding they are daily shot at, more of them are seen near the camp than in any other part of the country.
He noted that there were at least two kinds, and that ‘the tail of the kanguroo, which is very large, is found to be useful as a weapon of offense, and has given such severe blows to dogs as to oblige them to desist from pursuit’.14
In the same year, Londoners had their first opportunity to see one of these new animals when the bones and skin of a full-grown kangaroo, shot by one of the First Fleet captains, was exhibited there in mounted form. In 1791, a live kangaroo, advertised as ‘The wonderful Kanguroo from Botany Bay’ was exhibited for the first time in the Haymarket district of London. For an admittance fee of a shilling, the crowds could delight at what one reporter described as ‘the most amazing, beautiful and tame animal from the Southern Hemisphere that almost surpasses belief’.15
By 1792, two kangaroos had been established in the Royal Gardens at Richmond, and the following year it was reported to Joseph Banks, then president of the Royal Society, that the keeper had ‘perceived the head of the young one appearing out of the pouch’ for the first time.16
At about this same time, further illustrations of the kangaroo were beginning to be published. John White, the Surgeon-General with the First Fleet, in his Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales, published in London in 1790, included the third depiction of the kangaroo, after those of Stubbs and Phillip [Fig. 2]. White, with his interest in the natural history of the new colony, expressed the hope that ‘I might have been able to form an opinion of the particular tribe of the animals already known to which the Kangaroo should belong’. In the same year another depiction, engraved by the English artist Frederick Nodder, appeared in George Shaw's The Naturalist's Miscellany under the title ‘The Great Kangaroo’. And in 1802 a somewhat comical

Fig. 2: ‘Kangaroo’ (John White, Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales, 1790).

depiction of the animal, based upon popular information available at the time, appeared in George Barrington's The History of New South Wales [Fig. 3].
According to Carl Linnaeus's classification of animals, the term Didelphis (Double womb) was originally assigned to known marsupials. Thomas Pennant adopted this classification for the kangaroo in his 1781 History of Quadru-peds, linking kangaroos to the family of opossums. It was the English naturalist, George Shaw, who first dropped this term in favour of a distinctive genus Macropos (Greatfoot) for the kangaroo. Shaw's catalogue of select specimens from the museum of Sir Ashton Lever, Museum Levarianum (London, 1792-96), included an illustration of the grey kangaroo under the heading “Macropus Giganteus’. His massive General Zoology, published in 1800, added the names Macropus major, for the larger Sydney kangaroo, and Macropos minor for the smaller form, such as the kangaroo-rat. Apart from this more precise classification of the kangaroo, the description and illustration that appeared in General Zoology also corrected the depiction of the animal's hind feet.
In France and the rest of Europe, however, there was a general distrust of Shaw's naming and of Stubb's original depiction. So much so that most writers, including French naturalist Georges Buffon, continued to list the animal under the term Didelphis, even going so far as to avoid the name kangaroo, preferring the New Holland jerboa. As late as 1812 the English translation of Buffon's Natural History refers to the kangaroo as the New Holland jerboa, although, in typical British fashion, the publishers chose to ignore Buffon's clear instruction that ‘we have not thought it necessary to copy the figure of this jerboa, given in Cook's first voyage, because it appears to us too defective’, by adding a depiction of Stubbs's kangaroo on the facing page.
A further species, distinct from Shaw's Macropus major, was described by Aylmer Bourke Lambert in a paper read to the Linnean Society in 1805. Lambert's paper, published in the Society's Transactions (London, 1808), was accompanied by a plate
after a drawing by Richard P. Nodder, the son of the leading natural history artist Frederick Nodder. Lambert identified the species as Macropus elegans, further noting that it was called ‘by the settlers in that country, by the name of the Silver or Brush kangaroo’.
Part of the problem for European naturalists such as Buffon was that they rarely had access to specimens, live or dead, of the kangaroo. The English simply dominated the natural history of the newly settled continent. France, in particular, had no ready access to this new animal. It was not until 1802, for instance, during a brief lull in the Anglo-French conflict, that Sir Joseph Banks was able to arrange for a pair of kangaroos to be supplied. These were subsequently established in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris

Fig. 3: ‘Kangaroo’ (George Barrington, The History of New South Wales, 1802).

Soon after, however, the French came into possession of a new species, which differed both from Cook's original kangaroo and the larger kangaroo found around the colony at Port Jackson. The new kangaroo was the banded kangaroo,17 collected in Western Australia by the Baudin expedition and brought back to Paris in 1804 [Plate 2]. The naturalist on the voyage, François Péron, described the animal in his published account of the voyage:
One single species of mammiferae was all we remarked; this was the striped kangaroo, the smallest and most beautiful among the species of this extraordinary kind of animal in New Holland.
The artist Lesueur's depiction of this kangaroo became the model for subsequent French illustrations of the animal, even though it was entirely ignored by English publishers. See, for example, the 1820 volume of the Encyclopédie méthodique, devoted to the mammals [Fig. 6].
A later French voyage in 1816, under the command of Louis Freycinet, brought back to Paris a wealth of new specimens, information and sketches of kangaroos. The published account of the natural history of the voyage, which included striking plates of the ‘Kanguroo Laineux’ and the ‘Potoroo White’,18 was overseen by Georges Cuvier, the leading French naturalist of the day.
By 1825, another French naturalist, René Lesson could argue that, even while the British had the opportunity to explore Australia so thoroughly as to leave nothing for
other European naturalists, the truth was they had not done all they could from their advantageous position. Lesson pointed out that more than 30 years had passed since Governor Phillip had colonised the country, yet no major works had been produced since George Shaw's aborted Zoology of New Holland (1793).19
Under the guidance of Georges Cuvier and his disciples, the French were to play a major role in the development of Australia's natural history from the 1820s to the 1840s. Aside from the natural history atlases published in the wake of the great French voyages of the period,20 the various editions of Cuvier's works,21 alongside the zoological volumes of the Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles (Paris, 1816-29), the Dictionnaire universal d'histoire naturelle (1849), and the Encyclopédie méthodique, described and illustrated in detail many Australian animals.
Back in England, E.T. Bennett published, in the Transactions of the Zoological Society of London for 1835 (pp. 295-300), an account of a ‘hitherto undescribed species’ which he named Macropus Parryi after Sir Edward Parry, who had been responsible for bringing the specimen from New South Wales and presenting it to the Society. The plate that accompanied Bennett's paper was by Edward Lear, who was then a struggling natural history artist, but would later achieve fame for his nonsense verse.
The general growth in knowledge about the various species of kangaroo and other Australian mammals up to the period 1840 is neatly summarized in G.R. Waterhouse's illustrated volume on Mammalia (1840) in Sir William Jardine's popular The Naturalist's Library (Edinburgh, 1833-43).
When John Gould stepped ashore in Hobart Town in 1838, he had no intention other than to study the bird life of the new colony. He would later say that:
It was not, however, until I arrived in the country, and found myself surrounded by objects as strange as if I had been transported to another planet, that I conceived the idea of devoting a portion of my attention to the mammalian class of its extraordinary fauna.22
After returning to London in 1840, Gould began to issue a series of scientific papers in which he steadily expanded the list of known marsupials. For the kangaroo family alone, his work increased the known species from fewer than 20 in the 1830s to over 40 by the late 1840s. Gould's first publication on Australian mammals was the Monograph of Macropodidae, or family of kangaroos, issued in parts between 1841 and 1842, but abandoned prior to completion. The Monograph included thirty plates of kangaroos, all by the artist Hans Richter. Having abandoned the Monograph, Gould devoted the second volume of his three-volume The Mammals of Australia, published in parts between 1845 and 1863, to the Macropods. Aside from plates representing male and female pairs of more than 40 kangaroo-family species, the work also included 23 plates of life-size heads.
Gould was to describe the red kangaroo as ‘the largest and most beautiful of the Kangaroo tribe’. After completing its plate, he presented the skins, which had been collected by the naturalist John Gilbert, to the British Museum for exhibition. Until this time, only a single specimen had been seen in Europe — a somewhat tattered one

Plate 1: ‘Kanguroo á bandes’ (François Péron, Voyage des découvertes aux terres australes, 1807-1811).

Plate 2: ‘Wombat’ (William Elford Leach, The Zoological Miscellany, 1815).

brought back to Paris by Louis Freycinet and exhibited at the Paris Museum in 1824. In his introduction to the volume, however, Gould commented that:
mounted specimens of all these animals, whether discovered by myself or others, are now contained in the national collection of this country; but I regret to say that their colours are very different from what they were while the animals were living, the continuous exposure to light, consequent upon their being placed in a museum, causing their evanescent colouring to rapidly fade, both here and in the collections of every other country. To see the Kangaroos in all their glory, their native country must be visited; their beauty would then be at once apparent. (p. ix)


Because of the wombat's nocturnal habits and its general shyness, it managed to escape notice during Cook's visit to the east coast of Australia, and for a further ten years after European settlement. Its first introduction to Europeans was not a happy occasion. Wombats were first recorded as providing food for a group of sailors from the Sydney Cove, shipwrecked on Preservation Island in the Furneaux Group in Bass Strait in 1797. Matthew Flinders, who accompanied the rescue party, actually took a live wombat back to Sydney and presented it to Governor Hunter. The wombat survived for only six weeks, but Hunter had it preserved in spirits and sent to Joseph Banks in London, along with a drawing he had made.
Hunter's drawing arrived in England before the actual specimen, in time to be engraved and included in the addenda to the fourth edition of Thomas Bewick's A General History of Quadrupeds, published in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1800 (p. 522). As such it is the first published illustration of the wombat. Beneath the engraving, reproduced with the title ‘Wombach’, Hunter's accompanying letter was reproduced:
I received the animal alive, by a vessel which I had sent to the relief of the sufferers: It was exceedingly weak when it arrived, as it had, during its confinement on board, refused every kind of sustenance, except a small quantity of boiled rice, which was forced down its throat. I had it frequently taken out of the box in which it was kept, that it might receive the benefit of the warmth of the sun, which, however, it did not seem to enjoy; but whenever it could shelter itself under a shrub, there it would continue and sleep … it grew weaker every day, was exceedingly harmless, and would allow any person to carry it about. After having lived, with scarcely any kind of food, for six weeks, it died.
Hunter's drawing was also the basis for a subsequent engraving of the wombat, which appeared in the second volume of Lieutenant David Collins's First Fleet narrative, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales [Fig.4]. Collins himself noted that,
This animal, being a new one, appears to deserve a particular description. The Wom-bat (or, as it is called by the natives of Port Jackson, the Womback) is a squat, thick, shortlegged,
and rather inactive quadruped, with great appearance of stumpy strength, and somewhat bigger than a large turnspit dog … In the opinion of Mr Bass, this Wom-bat seemed to be very economically made.
Collins further recounts George Bass's first experience with a Wombat:
He chased one, and with his hands under his belly suddenly lifted him off the ground without hurting him, and laid him upon his back along his arm, like a child. It made no noise, nor any effort to escape, not even a struggle. Its countenance was placid and undisturbed, and it seemed as contented as if it had been nursed by Mr. Bass since infancy. He carried the beast upwards of a mile, and often shifted him from arm to arm, sometimes laying him upon his shoulder, all of which he took in good part; until, being obliged to secure his legs while he went into the brush to cut a specimen of a new wood, the creature's anger arose with the pinching of the twine; he whizzed with all his might, kicked and scratched most furiously, and snapped off a piece from the elbow of Mr Bass's jacket with his grass cutting teeth. Their friendship was here at an end, and the creature remained implacable all the way to the boat, ceasing to kick only when he was exhausted.
This circumstance seemed to indicate, that with kind treatment the Wom-bat might soon be rendered extremely docile, and probably affectionate; but let his tutor beware of giving him provocation, at least if he should be full grown … The annexed REPRESENTATION of this new and curious addition to the animals of New South Wales was taken from a living subject, which was a female, and had the characteristic mark which classed it with the opossum tribe, the pouch or bag for its young.23

Fig. 4: ‘Wombat’ (David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. 2, 1802).


Fig. 5: ‘Wombat’ (Mémoires de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de St. Pétersbourg, 1809).

Matthew Flinders recorded further observations of the wombat in his account of his survey, carried out with George Bass, of Bass's Strait in 1798 — Observations on the Coast of Van Diemen's Land, first published in London in 1801 (p. 26):
The new animal, called Wombat, by the natives at the back of Port Jackson, is found in no inconsiderable numbers upon Cape-Barren Island, and probably inhabits several other of these islands. This animal has the appearance of a little bear. It eats grass and other vegetable substances, and its flesh something resembles tough mutton. The animal is about the size of a turnspit dog; but there is not too much meat upon it for three or four people to eat in a day.
Wombats are no longer to be found on any of the islands in Bass Strait.
Ferdinand Bauer, the artist who accompanied Matthew Flinders during his circumnavigation of Australia in the Investigator between 1801 and 1803, is best known for his botanical illustrations, in particular his Illustrationes florae Novae Hollandiae, published in London in 1813. Aside from his botanical work on the voyage, Bauer produced over 260 sketches of Australian animals and, after his return to England in 1805, he worked up some 50 of these sketches into completed watercolours. Like the vast majority of Bauer's botanical watercolours, none of Bauer's drawings of Australian animals were published during his lifetime. It is only in recent years that Alecto Historical Editions has undertaken to issue all of Bauer's unpublished watercolours, held in the Natural History Museum in London, in a limited edition of 50 copies, beginning with the 50 watercolours of Australian animals. Their 1997 publication, Ferdinand Bauer's Natural History Drawings, includes plates illustrating the wombat, the platypus and the koala.
Robert Brown, the botanist who sailed with Flinders and Bauer in the Investigator, took a live wombat back to London on his return voyage in 1805,
entrusting it to the care of Everard Home for a period of two years. In this time, it is said that many famous anatomists of the day made its acquaintance, and that:
It was not wanting in intelligence, and appeared attached to those to whom it was accustomed, and who were kind to it. When it saw them, it would put up its fore paws on the knee, and when taken up would sleep in the lap. It allowed children to pull and carry it about, and when it bit them did not appear to do it in anger or with violence.
Home's paper, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London in 1808 (pp. 304-12), was the first to attempt a detailed study of the anatomical structure of the wombat.
By the early 1800s specimens of wombats were regularly making their way to London, circulating amongst the European scientific community. An example of this movement of animal specimens can be seen in the paper published in the Russian scientific journal Mémoires de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de St. Pétersbourg [Fig. 5]. The scientific paper, presented in February 1807 by A. Sevastianof, described what it called ‘quelque nouvelles especes d'animaux’ from New Holland — the spotted opossum, first described by Phillip, and a wombat, discovered by Bass and Flinders. The paper, published in the Academy's Mémoires for 1809 (pp. 443-49), indicated that the two specimens held in the Academy's collection had been forwarded from London.
The French also adopted ‘Le Wombat’. The artist, Lesueur, sketched wombats on King Island, during the voyage of Nicholas Baudin. His beautiful depiction of a wombat family, first published in the atlas to the published account Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes (Paris, 1807, pl.xxxiv, fig. 1), became the dominant image of these animals in France, re-appearing in the 1820 volume of the Encyclopédie méthodique, devoted to mammals [Fig. 6]. A somewhat different depiction appeared in the second volume of René Lesson's account of the voyage of Louis Duperrey, Voyage autour de monde (Paris, 1839).
The wombat did not present too many scientific problems with regard to its classification, and this may account for the few images we find in early publications when compared to the kangaroo or platypus. As well, for a number of years it was assumed there was only a single species of the animal. George Shaw, in his General Zoology of 1800 (p. 504), assigned it the name Didelphis ursina or Ursine Opossum, describing it as: ‘A native of New Holland; a species very lately discovered, and not yet fully or satisfactorily described’.
The wombat certainly slotted neatly into Georges Cuvier's Le règne animal (Paris, 1816-28), William Leach's The Zoological Miscellany: being descriptions of new, or interesting animals (London, 1815), and Frederic Cuvier's Dictionnaire des sciences naturelle: Zoologie: Mammiferes (Paris, 1816-29), all of which included engraved plates, under the newly assigned name of Wombat phascolomys, depicting the animal.
Again, it was John Gould who was chiefly responsible for outlining in detail the distinguishing features of the various wombat species. In his introduction to The Mammals of Australia (London, 1863, p. 16), Gould noted:

Fig. 6: ‘Histoire Naturelle. Quadrupedes” (Encyclopédie méthodique, 1820).

Until lately, only one species of [Phascolomys or] wombat was clearly defined; but we now know that there are three or four, very distinct kinds; and in all probability others may yet be discovered, and prove that this form has a much more extended range than is at present supposed.
Gould's great three-volume work The Mammals of Australia, published in parts between 1845 and 1863, included depictions of several species of wombat, including the broad-fronted wombat and the hairy-nose wombat. Gould's text further implored:
I would call the attention of Professor McCoy [of Melbourne University] and others who have opportunities of studying the wombats in their native country to the importance of investigating their history, since it is to them that the mammologists of Europe must look for accurate information on the subject: and this should be done speedily; for, like the Badger in England, these large and singular marsupials will soon become scarce.


Then comes a quadruped as big as a large cat, with the eyes, colour, and skin of a mole, and the bill and web-feet of a duck — puzzling Dr Shaw, and rendering the latter half of his life miserable, from his utter inability to determine whether it was a bird or a beast.
Rev. Sydney Smith (1819)24
Sydney Smith may have been delighted that Australia's natural history so baffled the scientist, but the platypus was and is a challenge to our understanding of the order of things. In recent years, for example, a number of substantial studies have shown how the platypus simply refuses to be comfortably classified.25 Even now, it sits rather awkwardly in the class of Monotremes, a class it shares only with the Echidna.
The platypus was first discovered in November 1797, almost ten years after first British settlement. David Collins described the discovery in the second volume of An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, published in 1802 (pp. 62 and 321-28) [Fig. 7].
The Kangaroo, the Dog, the Opossum, the Flying Squirrel, the Kangaroo Rat, a spotted Rat, the common Rat, and the large Fox-Bat (if entitled to a place in this society), made up the whole catalogue of animals that were known at this time, with the exception which must now be made of an amphibious animal, of the mole species, one of which had been lately found on the banks of a lake near the Hawkesbury.
The specimen described by Collins may well have been that sent back to England by Governor John Hunter, later to become the type specimen described by a number of naturalists, including Everard Home and George Shaw. This specimen is still in the British Museum.
George Shaw, who had described the zoological specimens in a number of first settlement accounts, treated the platypus in detail in vol. 10 of his The Naturalist's

Plate 3: ‘Ornithorhynchus anatinus’ (John Gould, The Mammals of Australia, 1863).


Fig. 7: ‘Platypus’ (David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Vol. 2, 1802).

Miscellany (1799), naming it Platypus anatinus. This was the first published illustration of the platypus, an animal which Shaw at first viewed sceptically:
Of all the Mammalia yet known it seems the most extraordinary in its conformation; exhibiting the perfect resemblance of the beak of a Duck engrafted on the head of a quadruped. So accurate is the similitude that, at first view, it naturally excites the idea of some deceptive preparation by artificial means … nor is it without the most minute and rigid examination that we can persuade ourselves of its being the real beak or snout of a quadruped.
Shaw repeated the description and illustrations in his General Zoology of 1800 (vol. 1, pp. 228-32), although by then he was far more confident that the animal was what it seemed:
…as the [platypus previously] described was the only one which had been seen, it was impossible not to entertain some distant doubts as to the genuine nature of the animal, and to surmise, that, though in appearance perfectly natural, there might still have been practised some art of deception in its structure … Two more specimens, however, having been very lately sent over from New Holland, by Governor Hunter, to Sir Joseph Banks, the suspicions before mentioned are now completely dissipated.
Shaw's account and illustration of the platypus [Fig. 8] began to circulate throughout Europe, and so they also appear in C.R.W. Wiedemann's Archiv für Zoologie und Zootomie (1800, vol.1, pp. 175-80).
When Governor Hunter sent a wombat specimen to the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Institute (described above), he also sent a platypus specimen. This

Fig. 8: Platypus’ (George Shaw, General Zoology, 1800).

specimen was the basis for the illustration and description in an appendix to Thomas Bewick's General History of Quadrupeds (4th edn, 1800). Bewick described the animal merely as ‘An Amphibious Animal’ but was clearly curious about the apparently eclectic nature of the platypus:
The other animal [i.e. the platypus] seems to be an animal sui generis; it appears to possess a threefold nature, that of a fish, a bird, and a quadruped, and is related to nothing we have hitherto seen.
A few years later, Ferdinand Bauer, the botanical artist on Flinders’ Investigator voyage, made two finished watercolours of the platypus — the first of a male and a female, the second of a dissection. These illustrations, which date from about 1805, were not published at the time, despite their obvious excellence.
Everard Home provided two early descriptions of the natural history of the platypus, the first based on a single specimen (possibly that described by Collins and sent by Hunter back to England) and the second based on two platypuses, a male and a female, sent by Hunter to Joseph Banks.26 Although Home illustrated his articles, the illustrations are essentially scientific, being dissections and skeletal.
One of this latter pair of specimens was later sent to J.F. Blumenbach in Germany, and it was Blumenbach who renamed the platypus Ornithorhynchus paradoxus. Shaw's original name of Platypus was not allowed because the term had been used earlier to describe a beetle. However, Shaw's priority was recognised, and the scientific name (still used today) became Ornithorhynchus anatinus. Platypus, however, continues to be the common name, having replaced other names such as Duck-bill and Water Mole.
As shown above, the French were often deprived of specimens of Australian animals. However, the platypus is illustrated in one of the finest exploration accounts of the period, that being François Péron and Louis Freycinet's Voyage de découvertes aux terres australes (Paris, 1807, pl. xxxiv, fig. 1). A later French voyage of the 1820s, under the command of Louis Duperrey, also describes and illustrates the platypus, apparently observed on an expedition into the Blue Mountains. See René Lesson's Voyage autour du monde, enterprise par ordre du gouvernement sur la corvette La Coquille (Paris, 1839, vol. 2, p. 302).
William Elford Leach, in The Zoological Miscellany (1814-17, vol. 2, pp.135-36, pl. 111), a kind of supplement to Shaw's The Naturalist's Miscellany, makes a false distinction between a red and brown platypus, believing them to be two distinct species. The brown platypus, the so-called Ornithorhynchus fuscus, is illustrated by Richard P. Nodder, whose father Frederick had been responsible for many of the plates in John White's First Fleet account Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales (London, 1790).
As knowledge of the platypus became more widespread, descriptions and illustrations began to appear in general zoological compendia such as the second edition of George Cuvier's Le règne animal (1828, vol. 2, pp. 275-76, pl. 75) and in more general reference works such as the Encyclopédie méthodique, notably the supplementary volume of 1820 devoted to ‘Mammifieres’. John Gould's The Mammals of Australia (1863) [Plate 3] and Gerald Krefft's The Mammals of Australia (1871) provide late nineteenth-century summary accounts of the natural history of the platypus, the first intended for a general audience and the second for schools.


The koala might now be an Australian tourist icon, but it took a full decade of European settlement before one was sighted. Of course, koalas were well known to the Aborigines, both as a food source and as a totemic animal, and they appeared in Aboriginal art from a very early period.
Koalas were first sighted on Australia Day, 1798 by John Price, a free servant of Governor John Hunter, when on an expedition south-west of Sydney, in the vicinity of modern-day Bargo.
We saw several sorts of dung of different animals, one of which Wilson called a whombatt, which is an animal about 20 inches high, round ears, and very small eyes; is very fat, and has much the appearance of a badger. There is another animal which the natives call a cullawine, which much resembles the stoths [i.e. sloths] in America.28
This identification with the sloth, which shows John Price to be remarkably well read in exotic natural history, influenced taxonomists in their early attempts to classify the koala.
Another early sighting was made in 1802 by the Ensign Barrallier while exploring in the area to the west of the Nattai River. On this occasion Barrallier was able to obtain a sample of two feet:
Gogy [an Aboriginal guide] told me that they had brought portions of a monkey (in the native language ‘colo’), but they had cut it in pieces, and the head, which I should have liked to secure, had disappeared. I could only get two feet through an exchange which Gogy made for two spears and one tomahawk. I sent these two feet to the Governor in a bottle of spirits.29
The English were clearly having trouble incorporating the koala into their field of knowledge — first it was a sloth, and now a monkey. However, we are indebted to Price and Barrallier for recording some native names for the koala (Colo and Cullawine) from which the word koala itself clearly derives. We can also gauge the value of the koala specimen by the fact that, in a colony where hard spirits were a form of currency, Barrallier used a whole bottle to preserve two koala feet!
In 1802 Barrallier might have been disappointed at not securing a specimen of the whole koala, but in the following year his luck changed when he obtained not only a live adult female but also two ‘pups’. The Sydney Gazette of 21 August reported on the find, and in the process gave the first detailed description of the koala and its natural history:
An Animal whose species was never before found in the Colony, is in His Excellency's possession. When taken it had two Pups, one of which died a few days since.— This creature is somewhat larger than the Waumbat, and although it might at first appearance be thought much to resemble it, nevertheless differs from that animal. The fore and hind legs are about of an equal length, having five sharp talons at each of the extremities, with which it must have climbed the highest trees with much facility. The fur that covers it is soft and fine, and of a mixed grey colour; the ears are short and open; the graveness of the visage, which differs little in colour from the back, would seem to indicate a more than ordinary portion of animal sagacity; and the teeth resemble those of a rabbit. The surviving Pup generally clings to the back of the mother, or is caressed with a serenity that appears peculiarly characteristic; it has a false belly like the apossum [sic], and its food consists solely of gum leaves, in the choice of which it is excessively nice.
This description is accurate in a number of details, including the references to the koala's pouch and its finicky eating habits. Unfortunately, the description of the fur as ‘soft and fine’ presaged the later intensive hunting of the koala. In 1889 more than 300,000 koala skins were exported to England.30
While quite acute, these early descriptions of the koala were quickly superseded by more scientific descriptions, the first of which (‘An Account of some peculiarities in the anatomical structure of the wombat, with observations on the female organs of generation’ by Sir Everard Home, the great anatomist and later President of the Royal College of Surgeons) appeared in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of
London in 1808. Home's paper (pp. 304-12) was actually about the wombat, but included an account of the koala supplied by the Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales, Lieutenant-Colonel Paterson.
The natives call it the koala wombat; it inhabits the forests of New Holland, about fifty or sixty miles to the south-west of Port Jackson, and was first brought to Port Jackson in August, 1803. It is commonly two feet long and one high, in the girth about one foot and a half; it is covered in fine soft fur, lead coloured on the back, and white on the belly. The ears are short, erect, and pointed; the eyes generally ruminating, sometimes fiery and menacing; it bears no resemblance to the bear in the fore part of its body; it has no tail; its posture for the most part is sitting. The New Hollanders eat the flesh of this animal, and therefore readily join in the pursuit of it; they examine with wonderful rapidity and minuteness the branches of the loftiest gum trees; upon discovering the koala, they climb the tree in which it is seen with as much ease and expedition, as an European would mount a tolerably high ladder. Having reached the branches, which are sometimes forty or fifty feet from the ground, they follow the animal to the extremity of a bough, and either kill it with a tomahawk, or take it alive. The koala feeds upon the tender shoots of the blue gum tree, being more particularly fond of this than of any other food; it rests during the day on the tops of these trees, feeding at its ease, or sleeping. In the night it descends and prowls about, scratching up the ground in search of some particular roots; it seems to creep rather than walk: when incensed or hungry, it utters a long shrill yell and assumes a fierce and menacing look. They are found in pairs, and the young is carried by the mother on its shoulders.
Contemporary with Home is a very fine series of watercolour illustrations of the koala by Ferdinand Bauer. As already noted, Bauer was the botanical artist on Flinders’ voyage of circumnavigation. Another member of that party was the botanist Robert Brown, who, after the wreck of the Porpoise in August 1803, wrote a long letter to Sir Joseph Banks, describing zoological and botanical discoveries in the area around Port Jackson:
A new and remarkable species of Didelphis has been lately brought in from the southward of Botany Bay. It is called by the natives coloo or coola, and most nearly approaches to the wombat, from which it differs in the number of its teeth and in several other circumstances. The Governor [Philip Gidley King], I learn, sends a drawing made by Mr. Lewin. Mr. Bauer cannot on so short a notice finish the more accurate one he has taken. The necessity of sending my description, which is very imperfect, as the animal will not submit to be closely inspected, and I have not had opportunity of dissecting one, is in a great measure superseded by Mr. Tuman having purchased a pair, which, from their present healthy appearance, will probably reach England alive, or if not, will be preserve'd for anatomical examination (September 1803).31
Governor King was not so sanguine about the chances of the koala on the voyage to England:
Another animal has been added to the natural history of this country. As you will have an account of it from Mr. Brown and Mr. Bauer, I shall not attempt its description. The first
that was brought in was a female. Since then more has come in and some of the males. I much fear that their living on leaves alone will make it difficult to send them to England (September 1803).32
King was certainly right to fear for the well-being of koalas in transit. The first live koala to be successfully transported to England was bought by the Zoological Society of London in 1880 — having survived a 10,000-mile sea voyage, it came to a sad end when caught and suffocated in a washing-stand.
The first published figure of the koala appeared in George Perry's Arcana, issued in 21 monthly parts from January 1810 to September 1811.33 Perry's ‘Koalo’ [sic] has the look of a vertical wombat, but his description (possibly influenced by John Price's original comparison) likened the animal to the sloth: ‘the similitude is so strong in most peculiarities … that the naturalist may perhaps be fully justified in placing it with the Genus Bradypus or Sloth’. Perry's mistaken classification caused him to make errors in describing the physical characteristics of the koala:
… the eye is placed like that of the Sloth, very close to the mouth and nose, which gives it a clumsy awkward appearance and void of elegance in the combination. The motions of such a creature being slow and languid, and the back lengthened out by the continual hanging posture which they assume, they have little either in their character or appearance to interest the Naturalist or Philosopher.

Fig. 9: ‘Koala’ [after John Lewin] (Georges Cuvier, The Animal Kingdom, 1827).


Plate 4: ‘Mammals’ (Iconographie du règne animal, 1829-1844).

Not surprisingly, Perry's illustration of the ‘Koalo’ lacks charm and accuracy — but then he was working from an animal that had been dead for several months, if not years.
In fact, Perry was probably using specimens held in the private collection of William Bullock, a goldsmith of Liverpool. Bullock had procured numerous Australian natural history specimens and had transferred them to London in 1809. It was in the 17th edition of A Companion to the London Museum and Pantherion (1814) that a new illustration of the koala was published — an obviously lifeless specimen wedged into the fork of tree branch. Bullock's image may well have been the source of Perry's incorrect description of the koala as having an elongated back.
As more specimens found their way to England, scientists were better able to classify and name the koala. The French scientist H.M. de Blaineville, when visiting London in 1814, described the koala and gave it the generic name of Phascolarctos (phascol Gr. = pouch; arktos Gr. = bear). A few years later, Georg August Goldfuss, a German working on a continuation of Johann Schreber's great work, used Georges Cuvier's description of the ‘Le Koala’ published in 1816, but named the animal Lipurus cinereus. However, Blainville's generic name had priority, and so the koala became Phascolarctos cinereus — the modern scientific name. The common name, of course, continues to be Koala.
In France, illustrations of the koala appeared in a variety of reference works and travel accounts. Cuvier included a description in the first edition of his great Le règne animal (1816, vol. 1, p. 184), but the accompanying illustration (v. 4) shows the koala in a curious walking attitude. The second edition of Le règne animal (1828) depicts the koala in a more natural pose (vol. 1, p. 221, p1. 51) [Plate 4]. The French naturalist Anselme-Gaëtan Desmarest also describes and illustrates the koala in the Encyclopédie mëthodique (Mammalogie, Paris, 1820-24) — a general work of reference. This illustration follows that of the first edition of Cuvier [Fig. 6]. René Lesson in Complements de Buffon also reproduces a derivative figure. The Dictionnaire pittoresque d'histoire naturelle of 1840 (vol. 4, p. 300, p1. 240) reproduces a drawing in the possession of Cuvier, but the artist is not known. Hombron and Jacquinot in the Zoologie volumes of the Voyage au Pole Sud et dans I'Ocèanie: sur les corvettes I'Astrolabe et la Zèlèe, […1837-40 …], sous le commandement de M.J. Dumont d'Urville (Paris: Gide, 1841-55) provided a new illustration of the koala — apparently based on specimens collected in Tasmania.
Meanwhile back in England, Edward Griffith included a new figure of the koala for The Animal Kingdom (1827), the English translation of the first edition of Cuvier's Le règne animal (Paris, 1816-28) [Fig. 9]. As Griffith explained: ‘The female carries the young … in a manner represented in our plate, from a drawing made in New Holland by Mr. Lewin’. This new figure, then, may well be based on Lewin's drawing made of the first live koala specimen taken in August 1803, and reported by Robert Brown (as mentioned above and in note 32).
Gradually, the information and images of the koala began to cross over from specialist natural history books into the public domain. For example, another image
of the koala appeared in Charles Knight's very popular Penny Cyclopaedia, apparently based on specimens at the British Museum and the Museum of the Linnean Society, collected by the naturalist George Caley who had been in New South Wales from 1800 to 1810.34 And an anecdotal account and illustration of the koala appeared in the Saturday Magazine (31 December 1836), written by William Govett, who had come to Sydney in 1827 to act as assistant surveyor to Major Thomas Mitchell. In 1863 John Gould published his coloured lithograph illustrations of the koala along with an extensive description, based on Gould's own experiences in Australia and on the account of G.R. Waterhouse's account in The Naturalist's Library. See John Gould's The Mammals of Australia (1848-63).

Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus)35

They'll not find him in the hills
he's gone to earth in an unknown valley
with legends of coal and Time in stone,
with the sly fern, with the gully.
Vivian Smith, ‘Thylacine’
In recent years the Tasmanian tiger has assumed an almost mythical character for Australians. Julia Leigh's novel The Hunter (Ringwood, 1999) uses the hunt for the elusive tiger as a central motif, while on a more popular front, the tiger's commercial exploitation set the scene for murder and mayhem in Magda Szubanski's television film, The Legend of Dogwoman (2000). As well, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery has mounted a travelling exhibition entitled ‘Tasmanian Tiger: the mystery of the Thylacine’, and there is even talk of cloning a tiger.36
In 1805, only two years after European settlement, Lieutenant-Governor William Paterson reported the first sighting of a Tasmanian tiger in the north of the island.
An animal of a truly singular and nouvel [sic] description was killed by dogs the 30th of March on a hill immediately contiguous to the settlement at Yorkton Port Dalrymple; from the following minute description of which, by Lieutenant Governor Paterson, it must be considered of a species perfectly distinct from any of the animal creation hitherto known, and certainly the only powerful and terrific of the carnivorous and voracious tribe yet discovered on any part of New Holland or its adjacent islands. [The description following makes it clear that the animal was a Tasmanian tiger.]37
The Rev. Robert Knopwood also reported a sighting in 1805 in the south part of the island:
Engaged all the morn upon business, examining the 5 prisoners that went into the bush. They informed me that on the 2 of May when they in the wood, they see a large tiger; that
the dog they had with them went nearly up to it, and when the tiger see the men which were about 100 yards away from, it went away. I make no doubt but here are many wild animals which we have not seen.38
The first scientific description and illustration of the tiger by George Prideaux Harris, the Deputy Surveyor of Van Diemens Land, was published in April 1807 in Transactions of the Linnean Society. This description was based on a specimen that had been caught and died in a trap. Harris's illustration was the basis for one which later appeared in the French Encyclopédic méthodique in a supplementary volume devoted to mammals and published in 1820. The illustration of the tiger that appears in Animal Kingdom (1828), the English translation of the first edition of Cuvier, is also loosely based on the Harris illustration; but the second edition of Cuvier's Le règne animal (1836-49) reproduces another image, one which (incredibly) seems to be derived from the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal (1835). At about this same time, the early colonial artist John Lewin prepared a watercolour of the tiger. A hand-coloured lithograph after Lewin and dated to around 1815 is now in the collection of the Linnaean Society of London and is touring with the current exhibition. Sir William Jardine included an illustration of the tiger in The Naturalist's Library (1833-43) [Fig. 10].
There are contradictory statements from this early period of settlement about how numerous was the Tasmanian tiger. For the 1830s, George Augustus Robinson,

Fig. 10: ‘Tasmanian tiger’ (William Jardine, The Naturalist's Library, Mammalia, 1841).


Plate 5: ‘Thylacinus cynocephalus’ (John Gould, The Mammals of Australia, 1863).

who travelled in the wild regions visiting the Aborigines, spoke of tigers as being ‘numerous’,39 and certainly the number of bounties paid would suggest this to be the case — more than 2,200 bounties were paid between about 1830 and the first decade of the 20th century.40 Nevertheless, John Henderson in Observations on the Colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemens Land (1832) claimed that the tiger was ‘seldom or ever seen, save when caught during the night, in the snares set for it by the shepherd’, and by 1852 John West in his History of Tasmania spoke of the tiger as being ‘now extremely rare, even in the wildest and least frequented parts of the island’. Perhaps the tiger was so little seen because it was a dusk and nocturnal feeder.
John Gould produces one of the most accurate illustrations of the tiger, including plates of both the head of the male in actual size as well as the male and female in profile [Plate 5]. The description in the text is based on G.R. Waterhouse's A Natural History of the Mammalia (London, 1846-48), but includes a prescient comment on the future of the tiger (a comment obviously influenced by prevailing Darwinist ideas):
When the comparatively small island of Tasmania becomes more densely populated, and its primitive forests are intersected with roads from the eastern to the western coast, the numbers of this singular animal will speedily diminish, extermination will have its full sway, and it will then, like the Wolf in England and Scotland, be recorded as an animal of the past: though this will be a source of much regret, neither the shepherd nor the farmer can be blamed for wishing to rid the island of so troublesome a creature. A price is already put upon the head of the native Tiger, as it is called: but the fastnesses of the Tasmanian rocky gullies, clothed with impenetrable forests, will, for the present, preserve it from destruction.
(Gould, The Mammals of Australia, v.1)
By the 1860s, Waterhouse's Mammalia had become very scarce and Gould's The Mammals of Australia was prohibitively expensive, so the curator of the Australian Museum, Gerard Krefft, produced a new Mammals of Australia for the use of schools.41 Krefft's work was illustrated with very fine black and white lithographs by Harriett Scott and her sister Mrs Helena Forde, often based on life photographs by Victor Prout. In the case of the tiger, however, Prout's photograph is taken of a mounted specimen in the Australian Museum.42
The tiger's extinction was due to a number of reasons, including: intensive hunting, aided by government and private bounties; the loss of habitat; and disease. The last shooting of a wild tiger was in 1930. The last captive tiger died at the Hobart Zoo in 1936. There have been hundreds of sightings in the past 60 odd years, both in Tasmania and on the mainland, but not one is confirmed by the taking of a photograph or video film. While many consider the animal to be extinct, a number of authorities, including Dr Eric Guiler, still think that the tiger survives in the Tasmanian wilderness.
Des Cowley and Brian Hubber


Charles Darwin's Diary of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, edited by Nora Barlow, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1933, p. 383, quoted in the Dictionary of Australian Quotations, rev. edn, Port Melbourne, Mandarin, 1992, p. 70.


A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland, London, 1793.


Argus, 21 November 1848, quoted in the Dictionary of Australian Quotations, p. 10.


J.E. Heeres, The Part Borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia 1616-1765, London, 1899, p. 61.


W.J.L. Wharton, ed., Captain Cook's Journal, London, 1893, p. 281.


John Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of His present Majesty, for making discoveries in the southern hemisphere …, London, 1773), vol. 3, pp. 577-78.


For quotations from Banks's journal see J.C. Beaglehole ed., The ‘Endeavour ‘Journal of Joseph Banks 1768-1771, Sydney, 1962, pp. 57, 73, 84, 89 and 93-94.


Ibid, p. 116.


Sydney Parkinson's drawing of a kangaroo, made at Endeavour River during the voyage, was not published. It has been reproduced in Beaglehole, The ‘Endeavour’ Journal.


R.M. Younger, Kangaroo: images through the ages, Melbourne, 1988, pp. 50-51.


A brief account of Stubbs's painting is given in the catalogue to the Tate Gallery's 1985 exhibition, George Stubbs 1724-1806, London, 1985.


Younger, Kangaroo, p. 52.


The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay, London, 1789, pp. 104-06.


For an an account of the kangaroo's reception in London, see Younger, Kangaroo, pp. 53 and 55-56. Also see True Patriots All, Sydney, 1952, for an illustration of the 1791 broadside.


Younger, Kangaroo, p. 58.


Younger, Kangaroo, p. 72.


Gilbert Whitley, in his Early History of Australian Zoology, Sydney, 1970, considers that these may, in fact, have been the same as Dampier's ‘Racoon’, described in his account of his second voyage.


Voyage autour du monde: Histoire naturelle: Zoologie, Paris, 1824, plates 9-10.


Younger, Kangaroo, p. 80.


The atlases to the voyages of Nicholas Baudin, Louis Freycinet, and Dumont D'Urville, all include illustrations of Australian animals.


Le règne animal, Paris: Fortin, Masson, 1816-28, in 20 volumes; F.E. Guérin Mèneville, Iconographie du règne animal de G. Cuvier, London, Paris, J.B. Baillière, 1829-38; The Animal Kingdom, London, printed for George B. Whittaker, 1827-35, in 16 volumes; Le règne animal, Paris, Deterville, 1829-30, in 5 volumes.


John Gould, Introduction to the Mammals of Australia, London, 1863, p. vii.


David Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, London, 1802, vol. 2, pp. 153-57.


The Works of the Rev. Sydney Smith, 4th edn, London, 1848, vol. 2 p. 55.


Stephen J. Gould, ‘To be a platypus’, in Bully for Brontosaurus: reflections in natural history, New York, 1991, pp. 269-80; Umberto Eco, Kant and the Platypus: essays on language and cognition, London, 1999, first published 1997; and Harriet Ritvo, The Platypus and the Mermaid and other figments of the classifying imagination, Cambridge, Mass., 1997.


‘Some observations on the head of the Ornithorhynchus paradoxus’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1800, pp. 432-36, plates XVIII-XIX; and ‘A Description of the anatomy of the Ornithorhynchus paradoxus’, ibid, 1802, pp. 67-84, plates II-IV.


For this section on the Koala, we are most indebted to the following works: Tom Iredale and Gilbert Whitley, ‘The early history of the koala’, Victorian Naturalist, vol. 51, 1934, pp. 62-72, and Bill Phillips, Koalas: the little Australians we'd all hate to lose, Canberra, 1990, esp. pp. 15-19.


Historical Records of New South Wales, vol. 3, Sydney, 1895, p. 820.


HRNSW, vol. 5, Sydney, 1897, p. 759.


R. Lydekker, A Handbook to the Marsupiala and Monotremata, London, W.H. Allen & Co. Ltd, 1894.


HRNSW vol. 5, Sydney, 1897, p. 228.


HRNSW, vol. 5, Sydney, 1897, p. 229.


George Perry, Arcana, or, The Museum of Natural History: containing the most recent discovered objects embellished with coloured plates, London, printed by George Smeeton for James Stratford, 1810-11.


Iredale and Whitley, ‘The Early History of the Koala’.


For this section on the Tasmanian tiger, we are most indebted to the following works: Quentin Beresford and Garry Bailey, Search for the Tasmanian tiger, Hobart, Blubber Head Press, 1981; and Eric Guiler and Philippe Godard, Tasmanian tiger: a lesson to be learnt, Perth, Abrolhos Publishing, 1998.


The exhibition will be at the Australian Museum, Sydney, from February to May 2001. See the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery's website at: and the Australian Museum's website at:


Sydney Gazette, 21 April 1805.


The Diary of the Reverend Robert Knopwood, 1803-1838: first Chaplain of Van Diemen's Land, ed. by Mary Nicholls, Sandy Bay, Tasmanian Historical Research Association, 1977, 18 June 1805: entry for 18 June 1805.


Friendly Mission: the Tasmanian journals and papers of George Augustus Robinson, 1829-1834, ed. by N.J.B. Plomley, Hobart: Tasmanian Historical Research Association, 1966.


Guiler and Godard, Tasmanian Tiger, pp. 110-41.


The Mammals of Australia, Sydney, Thomas Richards, Government Printer, 1871.


For the Scott sisters and Victor Prout, see Joan Kerr, The Dictionary of Australian Artists: painters, sketchers, photographers and engravers to 1870, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1992.