Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture
Vol. 3, No. 1, 1990
Space * Meaning * Politics
Edited by the Institute for Cultural Policy Studies, Griffith University

An ancient assemblage: the Australian rainforests in European conceptions of nature

Kevin J. Frawley

In recent times there have been profound shifts in the valorisation of Australian landscapes. New images are emerging to replace those that have been dominant for much of the period since European settlement and which, in the aesthetic and cultural sense, were generally dominated by those that lowly valued Australian landscapes. These new images are strongly based on a marriage of scientific discovery (even revelation) and changing aesthetic sensibilities. It was perhaps inevitable that these shifts would occur only over the long passage of time and in some instances, come almost too late. Australia's immigrant derived culture brought familiar (and usually assumed superior) home country criteria against which to appraise the local scene, and even those born locally inherited exploitative and depreciatory attitudes towards the local environment. Generations of Australian schoolchildren were actively desensitized to most things Australian - both natural and cultural.

In the case of the Australian rainforests, by the 1970s their management was being elevated from mainly regional significance into both a national and international spotlight. Amid world-wide concern for nature conservation and environmental degradation, the dominant narrow utilitarian image of rainforests was vigorously challenged by aesthetic and ecological (scientifically based) ones. Concern for the future of the rainforests came in the context of mounting criticism of intensive large scale forestry activities throughout Australia. The organised campaign for rainforest preservation began to overturn the former ignorance, apathy and antipathy: stressing the remnant nature of the Australian rainforests, their aesthetic splendour, and their scientific values (based especially on new interpretations of their origins and their high concentration of different species of flora and fauna still only partially known). Rather than a recent immigrant flora from more exotic places, rainforest has become valued as an ancient component of the Australian landscape to be treasured as part of the national heritage.

As the Australian environment comes to be considered worthy of study and contemplation, rather than simply use and exploitation, and its significance to the geological and biological record and the evolution of human life on earth becomes evident, then the landscapes involved, whether they be valued primarily for their natural or their cultural attributes, become to the community sites of cultural significance. An important component of this valuation of landscape is the sense of historical depth - the knowledge of which can inspire awe in the same way as a great landscape expanse.

To eighteenth century European eyes, one of the aesthetic deficiences of the Australian landscape was its apparent lack of evidence of the human past. The artifacts of established civilization were missing and neither the boundless inland, nor the dense and monumental virgin forest lands of parts of the coast showed any evidence of attempts to convert them from their primeval state. By contrast the 'completed' English landscape was ordered, had been given perfectibility by the human hand, and was above all, agricultural. The accessible rainforest lands of eastern Australia were to become a focus for achieving this orderly, perfected, agricultural vision for Australia, for superficially, their luxuriant growth, high rainfall and apparently rich soils suggested that this might be possible. This utilitarian (and sometimes antipathetic) image of the rainforest lands was not, however, the only perception. Other and contrasting categories of responses may be identified: aesthetic, romantic, spiritual, and scientific.

There can be little argument that an exploration of the images people form of the environment is essential to understanding human - environmental interactions. Images are subjective knowledge formed out of perceptions, attitudes, beliefs and values and while being individual and contemporary are framed communally and historically. To assist a language deficient in terms that refer to the affective bond (both positive and negative) between people and place or setting, Tuan1 coined the word 'topophilia'. Investigation of topophilia is beset by two main problems which need recognition at the outset. The first is that rarely are responses to and feelings about environment one dimensional and clearly identifiable. They are more likely to be ambiguous and ambivalent, sometimes contradictory and generally poorly articulated. Dichotomy between thought and action are characteristic. The second, especially relevant for historical enquiry, is the question of how representative the written word is of wider societal views, and also the extent to which society was influenced by those who did articulate environmental attitudes. In many instances the best approximation possible must be based on a combination of written down thoughts and inference from behaviour.

Rainforests in the European Consciousness

For Europeans, knowledge about, and images of, rainforest could only form from reports or experience of the New World or the South Pacific. The luxuriant forests of these areas contrasted starkly with the floristically much simpler European woodlands. Rainforest, as a vegetation formation, has a continuous lineage on the Australian continent dating back prior to the breaking apart of the Gondwana supercontinent 120-140 million years ago. By contrast, woodland history of the British Isles only dates from about 11 000 BC, when the ice retreat after 90 000 years of glaciation allowed the slow advance of tree regrowth across the denuded land from the warmer south not then separated by the English channel.2 By 4 000 BC a climax wildwood had developed, and the British flora contains between fifty and seventy native tree and shrub species which arrived in those times.3 Into this woodland, Neolithic settlers were soon to make the first inroads. Rackham believes that by the time of Domesday Book (1086) the bulk of woodland removal in England had already occurred - with as little as 15 per cent remaining, this being further reduced to 10 per cent by 1350.4 Woodland encroachment was then halted by the effects of the Black Death and the woodland area remained reasonably stable over the next 500 years. At the time of the British exploration and settlement of Australia, all of Britain was therefore poorly wooded and had long been so.

None of the immigrants - convict or free - coming to Australia would have seen a wildwood stretching to the horizon in their home country . Nor would have their grandfathers, for the substantial removal had occurred so long ago. Woodland remained in small patches, vulnerable to the swings in agricultural fortunes, and to the Enclosure Acts in the case of those wooded Forests, 5 of no further interest to the Crown, which had returned to ordinary common. Centuries of use had allowed the determination of the usefulness of the relatively small number of species making up the woodlands, and for those with aesthetic sensibilities they were familiar and well loved. Countryside imagery is strong in English traditional folksong - from 'green fields and meadows' to particular tree species. The English rural scene was dominated by the order and rhythm of agriculture complemented by scattered trees, woods and the hedgerows. At the pinnacle of the later rural scene were the great country houses and their landscaped parks, dating from the sixteenth century, but with the associated landscaping becoming the grandest and most contrived in the 17th and 18th centuries. By contrast, New World and Australasian forests were the epitomy of chaos and disorder: 'One of the great superiorities that tropical scenery has over European is the wildness even of the cultivated ground' (Charles Darwin, Diary 5 March 1832). 6

From the late eighteenth century there was intense European investigation of the landscapes, flora, fauna and native peoples of the South Pacific and the New World. The Pacific, in the century after Cook's first voyage (1768) became a focus of scientific enquiry and stimulated European thought concerning humans and nature in both art and science.7 The eighteenth century also saw the ascendancy of positivist based scientific empiricism and naturalistic philosophical perspectives which challenged both neo-classical art and traditional science. At the time, art and science were closely related, but the neo-classical view prescribed that the artist should present nature in perfect forms discerned from the ancients and their Renaissance disciples.8 This could not accord with a scientific method based on sense experience, precise description and recording, and careful experiment - ostensibly free of aesthetics, values and social concern.9 Not surprisingly, empirical science was to triumph and, allied with progress and a rational view of nature, contribute to the accelerated transformation of nature in the nineteenth century made technically possible by the Industrial Revolution.

Empiricism with its 'doctrine of facts' was by no means universally accepted. In respect to geographical enquiry, the theory of science developed by Alexander von Humboldt under the influences, in particular, of Immanuel Kant and Johann Reinhold Forster (botanist on Cook's second voyage [1772] in replacement of Banks) and his son George was a major factor in the revival of the discipline.10 On their journey into the Pacific, the Forsters were observers both of the natural world and primitive peoples from which George Forster produced his celebrated work A Voyage round the World.11 This highly readable account also addressed the prevailing methods of scientific enquiry, criticising both mere fact gathering as well as the assumed objectivity of science. It was to be a major influence on Humboldt's thinking and together with the paintings by William Hodges (artist on Cook's second voyage) draw him towards the scientific travel in the tropics that was to prove to be such a revelation. It was in the work of the Forsters and Humboldt that the completely new world of the tropics began to exert its influence on European conceptions of nature.12 However, while the tropics were seen largely within the framework of contemporary science, they were also to provide a major stimulation to profound changes in scientific theory most evident later in the work of Darwin and Wallace and Humboldt's unfinished Kosmos.

Natural historians were enthralled by the luxuriant plant growth and diversity and novelty of the fauna of the tropics. In addition, the exotic settings and different peoples raised again the questions of the relationships between nature and culture and in particular the influence of climate upon cultural and social development. In the 1790s, Humboldt was formulating his ideas on the geography of plants, going beyond the natural history approach to see plants in relationship to their environment. In doing this he was laying the foundations for the ecosystem concept and the science of ecology. These ideas of a science concerned with the interrelationship between organic and inorganic phenomena, and people and their environment, gained greatly from the experience of the tropics.

Humboldt's discovery of the tropical world began at Cumana, Venezuela in 1799, from whence began a five year period of South American research. This involved not only plant geography but also the native cultures and the relationship between the two. Anticipating themes developed much later in Kosmos , Humboldt considered what influence plant life might have on the imagination and artistic sensitivity, making the link between geography and aesthetics or the subjective, affective response to landscape.13 In Aspects of Nature 14 (originally published in German [Ansichten der Natur] in 1808) he wrote: 'Nowhere does she [nature] penetrate us more deeply with the feeling of her grandeur, nowhere does she speak to us with a more powerful voice than in the tropical world...'. The tropical world provided for Humboldt the inspiration to explore this question of the experience of landscape and the extent to which particular and vivid 'topophilic' experiences and aesthetic attractions etch impressions of landscapes on the human mind and memory:

The impression left on our minds by the aspect of nature is frequently determined, less even by the peculiar character of the strictly terrestrial portion of the scene, than by the light thrown on mountain or plain, either by a sky of azure purity, or by one veiled by lowering clouds; and in the same manner descriptions of nature act upon us more powerfully or more feebly, according as they are more or less in harmony with the requirements of our feelings. For it is the inward mirror of the sensitive mind which reflects the true and living image of the natural world.15

There is every possibility that Humboldt's attention was drawn to considering this by the paintings of William Hodges, with their attempt to capture atmospheric effects and the brilliance of tropical light. In the twentieth century the role of 'sudden encounter with the landscape' in giving places meaning to people was again taken up by the humanistic geographer, Yi-Fu Tuan.16

Within his developing holistic view of the 'cosmos', Humboldt saw the world as being divided into climatic zones each with its distinctive life forms and aesthetic attractions, but only in the mountainous regions of the tropics could one see at successive altitudes all the plant forms normally separated latitudinally:

The great elevation attained in several tropical countries not only by single mountains but even by extensive districts enables the inhabitants of the torrid zone - surrounded by palms, bananas, and other beautiful forms proper to those latitudes - to behold also those vegetable forms, which, demanding a cooler temperature, would seem to belong to other zones.

... Thus it is given to man in those regions to behold without quitting his native land all the forms of vegetation dispersed over the globe.17

To Humboldt, the rainforests of South America were truly phenomena of nature on a grand scale and could be used to show Europeans the diversity and splendour of nature if suitable impressions were transmitted through writing, landscape painting and botanical illustration.18 The contrast with the European woodlands was stark:

... If the name of primeval forest, or 'Urwald', which has of late years been so prodigally bestowed, is to be given to any forests on the face of the earth, none can claim it perhaps so strictly as the region of which we are speaking [the 'great connected basins of the Orinoco and the Amazon'].

... if the character of the 'Urwald' is that of a forest so truly impenetrable, that it is impossible to clear with an axe any passage between trees of eight or twelve feet diameter for more than a few paces, then such forests belong exclusively to the tropical regions.19

Ansichten der Natur was a highly popular work and brought the tropical world and its luxuriant vegetation to the attention of the German people. Humboldt's writings probably formed the best holistic conception of nature at the time and were to be a considerable influence on Charles Darwin on the voyage of the Beagle (1831-6). However, as Glacken has cautioned, the course of natural history enquiry was still strongly influenced by the idea of the designed earth within Christian theology - the path from Humboldt to Darwin was not an easy one.20 The experience of the tropics was clearly a major influence on Darwin's thought and, as in Humboldt's case, the South American rainforests were both of great scientific interest and aesthetic fascination:

The forest abounded with beautiful objects; among which the tree ferns, though not large, were, from their bright green foliage and the elegant curvature of their fronds, most worthy of admiration. In the evening it rained heavily ... As soon as the rain ceased, it was curious to observe the extraordinary evaporation which commenced over the whole extent of the forest. At the height of a hundred feet the hills were buried in a dense white vapour, which rose like columns of smoke from the most thickly-wooded parts, and especially from the valleys. 21

Alfred Wallace's experiences in the tropical rainforest also began in South America (1848-52), having been attracted there by the works of Humboldt and Darwin. Their evidence had convinced him that species did evolve, and in 1854 Wallace arrived in the Malay Archipelago to investigate faunal distributions and the question of origins.22 It was from here that he elaborated his conclusions regarding evolution by natural selection in 1858, in parallel with Darwin.

The tropics, and the rainforests in particular, were therefore the inspiration to one of the most revolutionary changes in the history of scientific thought. In addition, from the writings of the natural historians there emerged a number of images which express the striking distinctiveness of the tropical rainforest. The following predominate:

(i) Abundance and diversity: the overwhelming number of plants and animals and the diversity of species provided a great contrast to the forests of Europe, simplified by glaciation and human modification, and often named after particular dominant genera. 'Tropical forests, on the other hand, are strangers to such uniformity of association; the exceeding variety of their flora renders it vain to ask of which trees the primeval forest exists'.23

(ii) Luxuriance and wildness: here was a richness of growth unknown in European forests.

(iii) Colour: vivid colouration is a distinctive characteristic of many flowers, fruits and animals of the rainforest. No better example is provided than by the butterflies, as Darwin recorded: 'The large and brilliantly-coloured Lepidoptera bespeak the zone they inhabit far more plainly than any other race of animals'.24

(iv) Size: many life forms were of large dimensions - trees of spectacular height and girth, thick woody lianas, massive accumulations of ferns and epiphytes, flowers of extraordinary size.

(v) Grandeur and grand scale: the rainforest appeared 'larger than life' and combined with climatic effects to produce the 'grandeur' of the tropical zone.

(vi) Activity: the humid tropics are a place of incessant activity except for the apparent stillness of noon.

(vii) Richness and fertility: plant growth in the rainforest led to assumptions of a rich and fertile environment and to the persistent idea of underlying fertile soils.

(viii) Menace: the rainforest could also be a fearful enclosed space - dismal, dank and melancholy. The struggle for life was sharply defined - a point not lost on Darwin. Plants competed vigorously for sunlight and animal predation could be ferocious. Camouflage, in cryptic patterns enabled the survival of the physically weak.

(ix) Night noise and disturbance: as nocturnal animals moved about, the rainforest at night was characterized by noise and disturbance. On the Orinoco, Humboldt recorded that the wild cries and disturbance which raged all night made sleep impossible.25

(x) Beauty: novelty, atmosphere, form, sound, colour and shape combined in the rainforest to give pleasure to the senses.

The landscape appreciation of the natural historians came from a combination of scientific curiosity, aesthetic delight, the novelty of the tropics and the intellectual questions which arose from observations of people and nature in exotic places. It was from this scientific exploration and the associated artistic representations that the scientific and romantic images were formed. They were the images also of an educated elite, able to articulate in published works their landscape impressions. But as European colonization proceeded, utilitarian and sometimes antipathetic images predominated as New World and Pacific lands and their vegetation cover were investigated for their usefulness. Both native peoples and the new lands were overrun by settlers who rapidly imposed new and much more exploitative systems of resource use. In Australia, the rainforest lands were progressively 'discovered' as settlement spread, but it was to be more than a century after Cook's charting of the coast in 1770 before the first detailed land exploration of the extensive rainforests of the Queensland wet tropics took place. In the meantime, utilitarian appraisals had clearly gained supremacy. But there was also a favourable response to the rainforests which contrasted with the drab 'never-green' appearance of the 'interminable' eucalypt forests and woodlands.

Australian Rainforests

In 1788, rainforests of differing structural types and floristic composition occurred in a narrow discontinuous strip down the east coast of the Australian mainland, in western Tasmania and across northern Australia. The fragmentary distribution represented the dynamic remnant of both a much greater previous extent and also an expansion from protective 'refugia' to where the boundaries had retreated in times of climatic stress.26 These rainforests were not undifferentiated and, though it would be the second half of the twentieth century before they were scientifically classified, first on the basis of structure27 and later floristics,28 some of the distinctive and geographically defined features soon became apparent, and attracted the interest of the first Europeans. Virtually anywhere on the east coast at the time of first European contact, settlers were exposed to rainforest in one form or another - a few extensive areas in particular favourable locations (e.g. the Richmond 'Big Scrub'), residual pockets or linear fragments in sheltered, often riparian, locations (e.g. the deep gorges of the Shoalhaven River), intermixes with wet sclerophyll forest containing an understorey dominance of tree ferns (e.g. highlands of eastern Victoria), or scattered floristic elements in drier locations (e.g. central Queensland).

Early Images of the Australian Rainforests

By the time Cook departed the north-east coast of Australia in 1770, he had formed the view that, contrary to the images built up by the Dutch and reinforced by Dampier, the continent perhaps had some possibilities for agriculture and settlement.29 Banks was less sanguine, though he later softened his first harsh judgments.30 On the voyage, priority was given to a range of charting tasks with detailed land observations being restricted to landings and intervening coast being described briefly. It was the drier vegetation types which dominated the description of the east coast - 'gum' trees, heaths and grass, however, from the ship, the 'well wooded' northern New South Wales and southern Queensland coasts were also observed. Banks recorded palms of 'three different sorts' and the enforced six week stay at Endeavour River resulted in the collection of rainforest species including the Black Bean (Castanospermum australe).31

By 1820, reflection upon Australian nature had produced two attitudes, sometimes closely blended: first, that the flora and fauna were novel, contrary and eccentric; second, that the scenery was visually monotonous, wearisome and induced feelings of melancholy.32 For these reasons much of Australian nature was despised, and once the new settlers experienced the bushfires which swept through the flammable vegetation, this feeling was heightened by fear. Compared with the benign, virtually fireproof, British woodland, Australian forests and woodlands stood as an ever-present threat to civilized settlement. The denser forests of the coastal lowlands and adjacent ranges where sight was limited also re-invoked ancient fears of forests or forest wilderness. In European folklore and mythology, forests were places with dark, mysterious, threatening qualities and the home of demons, spirits and outlaws.33 In countryside largely cleared, they also provided the necessary cover to commit 'dark deeds'.34 It was believed that human progress could be measured by the removal of primeval forest and its replacement with the ordered garden. For some, nature was an allegory of the will of God; a long transition from the dark wood to the paradise garden.35 Governor Arthur Phillip saw the 'wild appearance of the land entirely untouched by cultivation, the close and perplexed growing of trees...' being changed and improved as 'by degrees large spaces are opened, plans are formed, lines marked, and a prospect at least of future regularity is clearly discerned...'.36 This statement of necessity for the first settlement grew to dominate public perceptions of the desirable future for accessible forest lands throughout Australia.

Literary and artistic representations of the Australian landscape reflected a combination of the nature of the environment, the filters of taste and aesthetics through which it was seen, and the purposes for which the representations might be used. In general, they were an elite view and even the convict painters such as Joseph Lycett and Thomas Watling were influenced by contemporary taste. From the 1820s, favourable artistic representations were used also to encourage immigrants. Underlying most literary descriptions was the lack of any aesthetic appreciation of the Australian landscape. Australian nature could not be valued until people found it attractive and associated with it a sense of belonging. Combination of a favourable aesthetic response and Australian nationalism brought reappraisals in the latter part of the nineteenth century (as represented in art by the Heidelberg School ), but there remained a deference in society as a whole to things British, and also a pride in the human stamp that had been placed on a never compliant Australian nature.37

The unfavourable literary reactions to Australian vegetation as presented, for example, by the frequently-quoted Barron Field in his First Fruits of Australian Poetry38 and Geographical Memoirs on New South Wales39 are mainly responses to the dominant sclerophyll component. During a tour across the Blue Mountains, Field wrote that there was not a 'single scene' in New South Wales 'of which a painter could make a landscape without greatly disguising the character of the trees'.40 Deciduous European woodland was the standard by which to appraise other vegetation and the eucalypts were evergreen:

... no tree, to my taste, can be beautiful that is not deciduous. What can a painter do with one cold olive-green? There is a dry harshness about the perennial leaf, that does not savour of humanity in my eyes. There is no flesh and blood in it: it is not of us, and is nothing to us. 41

As Smith has noted, these comments were in part a criticism of Humboldt who had championed the tropical forests as providing enjoyments of nature unknown to Europeans.42 Darwin was inclined to agree with Field, for while the inhabitants of the tropics had their senses sated by the 'gorgeous productions of those glowing climates' they could not experience seasonal change such as the 'exquisite green of spring'. Nevertheless, Darwin concluded that while it is 'probable that the picturesque beauty of many parts of Europe far exceeds anything we have beheld .... I must except, as a class by itself, that of the intertropical regions'.43

The rainforests provided a stark visual contrast to the sclerophyll vegetation. Yet it was their utilitarian value which first brought the 'brushes' of the coastal river valleys near Port Jackson to the attention of the new settlement. Not only were the eucalypts aesthetically displeasing, they were very difficult to work because of their hardness and propensity to split and warp. Cabbage tree palm (Livistona australis) provided a temporary solution to building needs, but the discovery of the tractable, light and durable red cedar (Toona australis) in rainforest pockets on the Hawkesbury and Nepean Rivers was most welcome. These rainforest patches grew on the rich river flats, later to become highly productive market garden settlements such as Wilberforce and Pitt Town.44 In this location began the fateful, sequential association between cedar-getting and land settlement which would see the cedar bearing rainforests of New South Wales reduced to one-quarter of their original area - with most of the clearing occurring in the nineteenth century.

At the utilitarian level, therefore, the rainforests were soon viewed favourably and the predominant image of rainforest became a utilitarian one, firmly within the exploitative pioneering ethic. As exploration of the land north and south of Port Jackson proceeded, finding more red cedar became one of the goals. A cedar cutting camp was established on the Hunter River in 1801 and a decade later, the timber was being sent from the rainforests of the Illawarra. This was followed by exploitation of the 'cedar brushes' of the Port Stephens district.45 New districts were sought out, after the easily accessible stands in each one were cut. The rich stands of red cedar in the Illawarra and as far south as Ulladulla, meant wealth for those acquiring grants of land, and the beginning of a timber mining operation which in the next century would progressively move northwards to far north Queensland, extracting the 'red gold' and using it for every purpose, both high and low value.

However, some attributes of the rainforest drew a favourable aesthetic response and impressions were influenced from the 1820s by the Romantic revival, with its delight in wild, mountainous scenery. The fact that some rainforest species were deciduous did not escape attention. Barron Field commented on the white cedar (Melia azedarach)of the Nepean:' ... almost the only deciduous native tree in the territory ... and congenial to me from that singularity'.46 The red cedar was also deciduous and a distinguishing feature was its display of bright coppery-red new leaves in the spring. This was a contrast with Northern Hemisphere deciduous trees which showed their colours in autumn. The feature distinguished red cedar in the rainforest canopy, greatly assisting timber-getters.

In the 1820s, the Illawarra was the largest rainforest area yet discovered47 and as it began to be opened up, became a focus of attention. Even Barron Field, an otherwise trenchant critic of Australian nature, who travelled through the district a year after crossing the Blue Mountains found that the area reminded him of Humboldt's descriptions of South American vegetation.48 Impressions of the Illawarra plain were enhanced by vistas of the ocean and lush farms ('The Garden of New South Wales') and the area attracted visitors from the 1820s.49 It may have even encouraged some recognition that not all the vegetation of New South Wales was the apparently undifferentiated eucalypt forest - as Ship's Surgeon P. Cunningham noted in 1827:

The moment you reach the foot of the mountains an entire new scene opens upon your view, the country being quite distinct ... from anything you have before seen in the colony. The tall fern, cedar and cabbage trees; the numerous creeping vines, climbing up and throwing their fragrant tassels of flowers downwards from the tops of the less lofty trees; the luxuriant growth of every vegetable product; with the red-crested black cockatoos, and large crested blue pigeons peculiar to this district, make you fancy yourself transported to some far distant tropical region.50

There was in this, however, the suggestion that such 'exotic' vegetation did not really belong in Australia. Seddon51 believes that it was this colonial attitude - that the drab, untidy bush was the 'real' Australia, and rainforest could only have come from more exotic lands, which later influenced the eminent English botanist J.D. Hooker to postulate a late-invading Indo-Melanesian element in the origin of Australia's rainforest flora.52

Though the crossing of the Blue Mountains had revealed quality pastoral lands, further exploration inland brought depressing results. Oxley, in his journeys into central western New South Wales in 1817 and 1818 recorded dryness and monotony,53 and in the following two decades, optimism about the possible resources of the inland were replaced by the concept of the 'dead heart'.54 The attraction of the rainforest was partly generated by this contrast between its shady, moist, green, cool interior and the opposites of all those attributes in the open eucalypt forests and woodlands, and the even sparser vegetation of the interior. This contrast, and the often close juxtaposition of the two vegetation 'types,' remains a feature accentuating the sensory experience of the rainforest.55

Knowledge of the Illawarra rainforest country could allow the presentation of more favourable images of Australia from both a utilitarian and an aesthetic perspective. The Illawarra was depicted in Romanticist style by the visiting artist Augustus Earle who, in 1827, was the first painter of any consequence to visit the area. His paintings, Cabbage Tree Forest, Illawarra, N.S.W. and A Bivouac of Travellers in Australia, in a Cabbage Tree Forest, Day Break use a vertical format to emphasize the towering rainforest trees and also highlight the cabbage tree palm (Figure 1). 56

The interest in palms may have been an influence of Humboldt who described the palm as the most beautiful of all plants and placed it at the pinnacle of his sixteen tropical vegetable groups. The bivouac scene combines a highly exotic landscape with imagery of both the noble savage and the noble frontiersman, and would have stirred the imagination of those contemplating migration from the Old World.57

By the time Earle was capturing the grandeur of the Illawarra rainforest, the landscape was being transformed. In 1828, the County of Camden (Illawarra and land to the north and west bordered by the Wollondilly and Nepean Rivers) recorded 3,120 hectares cleared and 1,330 ha. under cultivation. By 1840, cultivation had risen to 5 690 ha.58 The Illawarra was to demonstrate the suitability of rainforest country for small farmers especially when, as in this instance, some of the forest (such as the 'Yarrawa Brush' of the Robertson area) was underlain by fertile basaltic-derived soils. The experience was to reinforce the belief which had gained general currency during European exploration of the Tropics (and was encouraged by Humboldt, for example) that rainforest vegetation was an assured indicator of rich, fertile soils. It was probably also in the Illawarra that the technique of cutting a 'drive' was discovered which made clearing the rainforest much easier:

The more usual method, however, is to chop a row of trees fully half way through, then fell a heavy one at the end of the row, so that it may fall against the second, which snapping at the chopped part of the stem, falls in like manner against the third, and so on till the whole row of trees is beaten to the ground in the same way as we see children upset a pack of cards placed on edge. 59

The splintered and tangled mass was then allowed to dry before being fired.

The favourable utilitarian and aesthetic images developed of rainforest in the first decades of the nineteenth century provided the framework for future appraisals, as settlement moved northwards. In public policy terms, the utilitarian dominated, though aesthetic appreciation began to find some expression in the first recommendations for 'scenic reserves' and 'national parks' towards the end of the century. Often associated with the aesthetic image was the scientific, for it was the botanists, natural historians, explorers and surveyors who probably more than any other group wrote about the forests. For example, Surveyor Clement Hodgkinson gave an evocative detailed description of the rainforests of northern New South Wales in the late 1830s as the cedar cutting was advancing through the area, but nevertheless, saw its future in agricultural terms:

... the peculiar appearance of the brush is principally caused by the countless species of creepers, wild vines, and parasitical plants of singular conformation, which, interlaced and intertwined in inextricable confusion, bind and weave together the trees almost to their summits, and hang in rich and elegant flowering festoons from the highest branches. The luxuriant and vigorous character of the brush, on alluvial land, in the northern part of the territory of New South Wales, cannot be surpassed in any tropical region. When this brushland is cleared, and cultivated, its fertility seems inexhaustible ...60

Decades later, as settlers were rapidly clearing the forest on this expectation of limitless fertility, W.R. Guilfoyle, 61 Director of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens (1873-1909), used a stylized representation of the north coast rainforest centred on a perfectly formed Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) as frontispiece for his Australian Botany (1884).62 The Romantically inspired, finely executed sketch is reminiscent of Earle's Illawarra scenes with its towering vertical tree trunks, bangalow palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana), epiphytes, lianas and European and Aboriginal figures (Figure 2).

Guilfoyle was closely in touch with contemporary landscape taste and saw tropical and sub-tropical plants forming an important part of the Melbourne Gardens, in addition to the fern gullies characteristic of the temperate rainforest, which were thought to have particular charm.

As a result of the observations made on both inland exploration and coastal charting voyages, the broad and general features of Australia's tropical vegetation had been outlined by the 1850s. The systematic study of the tropical flora can be dated from Ferdinand Mueller's work on the trans-continental expedition of A.C. Gregory in 1855-6.63 Mueller's contribution was to more than botany, however, for in his later writings and lectures he raised the argument for forest conservation, expressing in this an ethical position quite advanced at the time:

In passing through a demolished forest, how saddening to us its aspect. What mind, capable of higher feelings, can suppress its sympathy, when we see stretched and withering on the ground a princely tree which but a few hours previously was an object of our admiration and a living monument of magnificence and glory ... Why should even the life of a plant be expended cruelly and wastefully ...64

It was also through Mueller's writing that others raising the question of forest management in the 1870s (such as Walter Hill, Queensland Government Botanist, 1859-81) became aware of George Perkins Marsh's message on the destructiveness of human agency, in his highly influential Man and Nature of 1864.65

As settlement spread, the rainforests became the subject of journalists, travel and feature writers. Much of this writing was characterized by an unrecognized ambivalence, for while the beauty of the rainforest and its life forms was extolled, there was also satisfaction in the march of progress, represented by forest clearing and the promise of the ordered rural landscape of family farms. There was also some ambiguity. When observers described the rainforest in terms of a luxuriant garden, there was a mixture of being and becoming. It was a garden, but also would become one after the rich fertility was converted to agricultural purposes.

The challenge for selectors was to fell the forest as quickly as possible and establish their pastures or pioneer crops such as maize. The compulsion to clear everything, right to boundary lines and to river banks, was strong. Complete removal demonstrated human supremacy - the ability to triumph over wild nature. There was a compelling imperative to forest removal. It was the first step to improvement: the conversion of the unused and unproductive to the landscape of the yeoman ideal. 'Opening up' the 'scrub', 'jungle' or 'brush' was also symbolic of bringing light and civilization. Pioneer attitudes, generally inferred from behaviour, as the selectivity of the historical record allows little else, indicate the dominance of the utilitarian image of rainforest (in which it was seen almost entirely as an indicator of agricultural potential). Sometimes this even appeared to border on antipathy - a fixed aversion to the forest. Yet there is also evidence that not all were indifferent to the aesthetics of the rainforest. Amidst the waste and destruction of the pioneer economy, selectors sometimes stood in awe below a forest giant before bringing it to the ground. The antipathy could be tempered by some respect for the 'enemy'.

Rainforest in Queensland

Some of the differentiation of the Australian rainforest became more evident as European exploration proceeded northward. The quest for useful timbers led to the investigation of the tall 'pine' trees which grew northward from the north coast of New South Wales, with samples of logs being taken at Port Clinton (near Rockhampton) by Matthew Flinders in 1802. Later, Allan Cunningham, botanist to the voyages of Captain P.P. King (1818-22) commented on the extensive latitudinal range of the, as yet, undescribed species, assumed to be a local variation of Norfolk Island Pine.66 In 1823, John Oxley's favourable report on Moreton Bay as a site for settlement was influenced by the presence of both the river and the indigenous pine tree common in the area.67 In the following year, the trees were investigated more closely by Oxley and Cunningham:

Having crossed the river, we penetrated through a very thick brush abounding with stately and magnificent pines, which towered far above the other timber on the hill, among which was the Flindersia. Mr C. procured a couple of young cones, which satisfactorily demonstrated that the tree which had excited so much admiration was an entirely new species of the genus Araucaria, being the first discovered in New South Wales, and decidedly the growth of the interior, and not a coast tree. We measured one, the first we came to, the circumference of which was 10 feet. Many others were of greater magnitude, which was carried up perfectly straight without a branch to the height of from 50 to 100 feet, the whole height in the full-grown trees being at least 150 feet. To this stately tree Mr C. gave the name of the Brisbane pine ...68

However, hoop pine became the common name, and Araucaria cunninghamii the scientific one, for this stately and majestic tree which dominated many south-east Queensland skylines, grew to the waterline on the north-eastern coast and formed narrow arrowhead scrubs in inland locations. Australia was very deficient in softwoods especially 'pine,' consequently the properties of the timber attracted considerable interest. Further exploration of south-east Queensland revealed the other native Araucaria, bunya pine (A. bidwillii), an elegant symmetrical tree with a dome shaped crown often emergent from the canopy, and with strong Aboriginal associations. This tree, seen in a Romantic context, became a colonial curiosity and was protected in the Moreton Bay district by proclamation of Governor Gipps in 1842 (protection repealed by the new colonial government in 1860).69

Though, as in the Illawarra, there was this favourable aesthetic response to the rainforest of south-east Queensland, it was the utilitarian image which was dominant. The 'scrubs' were rich in red cedar, hoop, bunya and kauri pine (Agathis spp.) and other timbers, and in the following decades the timber industry became established, commencing the process by which the rainforests of the south-east, and in particular, the Araucarian Vine Forests were reduced over the next century to remnant stands.

For more than a century after Cook's charting of the east coast, the large rainforest massif of the Queensland wet tropics remained a terra incognita.70 Some knowledge of the flora of the margins had been gained by botanical work accompanying coastal charting; for example, Cunningham's collections in Rockingham Bay in 1819 on the survey voyage of P.P. King. A description of the adjacent country (the core of the wet tropical rainforest) was contained in King'sChart of part of the N.E. Coast of Australia71which presented a romanticized picture of the landscape, with no clue to the rugged topography of the rainforested ranges or the morass of swampland, mangroves and paperbark forest on the lowlands (Figure 3).

The information on this map was to become part of the accepted geographical data on north Queensland when it was incorporated in the map by John Arrowsmith accompanying Leichhardt's published journal of his 1844-5 inland journey.72 Arrowsmith's map and King's charts provided the basis for planning the ill-fated expedition of Edmund Kennedy from Rockingham Bay to Cape York in 1848. Almost immediately, the landscape image upon which the Kennedy expedition had been planned was reversed as the true vegetation of the wet tropical coast was encountered. The result of the Kennedy expedition was not only an unfavourable image of the landscape, but also of the Aborigines who were perceived as a malevolent part of wild nature - without any Romantic associations.

The first comprehensive exploration of the wet tropical coast was the government funded expedition led by G.E. Dalrymple in 1873.73 The focus was now clearly on discovery of agricultural lands, especially those suitable for sugar cane and other tropical crops. North of Clump Point, Dalrymple was able to report a 'great coast basin' - densely forested, containing the valleys of major streams and with half a million acres of soil 'unsurpassed by any in the world - all fitted for tropical agriculture'. The valleys of the Mossman and Daintree Rivers with their 'evidence of many thousands of acres of the same agricultural lands' also fired Dalrymple with enthusiasm. There was mention of timber, but discovery of timber resources was constrained by contemporary knowledge, and only red cedar and kauri pine were readily identifiable. In Dalrymple's report there was a sense of genuine exhilaration in the area's resources and aesthetic appeal:

In the dense scrubs, or rather jungles, to which descend the surrounding hills to the water's edge, we were for the first time introduced to true tropical Queensland, and to a development of vegetation thoroughly oriental in its character and unlike any other in the Australian colonies.74

There was also an objection to the use of the term 'scrub' to describe the rainforest which:

... it may be as well to classify as 'Queensland Jungle.' It is not scrub, and to call it so is to mislead as to the luxuriance of a vegetation, which is Indian in its density and massiveness ...75

The ambivalence and ambiguity characteristic of environmental attitudes are seen in Dalrymple's report by both contrasting descriptions of the rainforest (from 'dark,dank jungles' to 'whole green-houses of rich perfume') and an appraisal of bounteous and luxuriant nature that saw it always in terms of conversion to agriculture. Referring to the 'Northern Eldorado,' Dalrymple contributed to an image of abundant natural growth in the tropics - soon be used by promoters of land settlement in the area. Though Dalrymple's portrayals of the coastal Aborigines such as the 'wild and picturesque' camps on the Mulgrave River in the evening, were occasionally presented in a Romantic vein, Aborigines were said to 'infest the whole coast country' - in a similar description to leeches or mosquitoes. It was implicit that they would have to make way for civilization, and in any case their demise was soon to be seen in Social Darwinist terms - a product of the harsh 'economy of nature'. European images of this part of the tropics in the latter part of the nineteenth century no longer had any sympathy for the idea of the 'noble savage'.

While timber had been the first attraction for Europeans in the rainforests further south, it was agriculture which took priority in first appraisals of the north. However, the cedar cutters were still the first Europeans to come to most parts of the wet tropics. As land was thrown open for freeholding on the coastal lowlands from the 1870s in the wake of the cedar getters, the timber was treated as a 'free good' being given no valuation in the sale of the land.

The inexhaustibility of resources was promoted as an image of the northern rainforests with, perhaps, the height of superlative description of the scrub soils being that of Fletcher who discussed the idea that lands on the wet tropical coast would be 'too tropical' for sugar cane and that the soil was 'amazingly fertile and inexhaustible in this fertility'.76 Writing to promote the sugar industry in Britain, Fletcher described the wet tropical lowland as having ' a hot-house flora of tropical luxuriance, a soil unsurpassed on the earth's surface for fertility; a jungle land typically tropical - the delight of the botanist, the wonderland of Australia'. But there was no doubt as to the future of the forest for 'the utilitarian hand of man is laying all this natural beauty low and substituting economic cultivation'. Settlement and cultivation could be seen as bringing 'social light' to the primeval forest and in perfecting the landscape according to God's assumed will, the user was' turning into profit for the community, and occasionally for himself, vast tracts of country that had lain waste and desolate since creation'.77 The idea of inexhaustibility, a common frontier perception, was also applied to northern timber resources when the first attempts at government control of the industry emerged:

What was the use, therefore, of talking about the extermination of their forest lands? They had an illimitable quantity of cedar still left in addition to illimitable quantities of pine and illimitable quantities of hardwood, and not a stick in one million had ever been touched .... (F.A. Cooper, MLA Cook)78

These images of the bounteous tropical north of Australia were based on observations and reports of that area, but with evaluations built from more general beliefs about the tropics derived from European expansion into the New World and the writings of authorities such as Humboldt on the assumed richness and fertility of the wet tropics. As settlement advanced in the north, there was obvious delight that the 'wastelands' were being turned into 'smiling homesteads' and the 'wild untamed scrub' into groves of bananas and fields of waving cane.79 There were also clear expressions of antipathy towards the rainforest such as in the article from a local 'gentleman' printed in the Herberton Advertiser after a visit to the crater lake, Lake Eacham:

Most of your readers know Atherton, and I look on this small settlement as marking the first skirmish in the coming war between the pioneers of civilization and the vast wilderness that stretches N S and E over hundreds of square miles. This war between man and the scrub has begun - and will never cease till the axe has laid the enemy low and smiling pastures have taken the place of the heavy scrub ...

Around this lake is laid out the new village settlement .... I would like here to record my admiration for the pluck of these pioneers, whoever they are. To try and make a home in the very heart of the scrub, and to meet all the dangers and difficulties of settlement, single handed and alone, requires the amount of pluck that has ever made the Anglo-Saxon the very leader of civilization all the world over.

... We left an empty bottle to mark our visit, and started back in Indian file. No one was sorry to come out again into the sunlit pocket ...80

The dominant appraisal of the north Queensland rainforest was overwhelmingly utilitarian and directed towards agriculture and associated timber getting. But as in southern Australia, subsidiary images may also be identified: scientific, aesthetic, spiritual. Scientific interest was both intrinsic and utilitarian. Until the advent of governmental forest administrations, knowledge of the rainforests was derived from the researches of amateur natural historians and a limited number of government botanists. The Bellenden Ker Range between Innisfail and Cairns attracted special interest, and in 1889 a government funded expedition led by Archibald Meston explored the area, ascending all the peaks and returning with an extensive plant and animal collection.81 Early scientific work was essentially taxonomic and phytogeographical (study of plant distributions) with ecological studies appearing from the 1920s, especially the work of W.D. Francis, culminating in the 1929 publication of the illustrated field guide Australian Rain Forest Trees.82 As the newly formed forest administrations became involved in the first decades of the twentieth century, their research efforts were focussed mainly on species and forests of commercial value.

Rainforest scenery was more likely to be commented on by visitors and it was especially the spectacular or exotic, such as the large 'strangler figs' which attracted interest. As photography was incorporated in newspapers and magazines from the 1890s, forest scenes could be shown, and 'pictorials' were popular. But the most common scenes were those showing forest which had been modified by humans in some way (Figure 4).

To the settlers surrounded by the 'scrub', evidence of human progress was more pleasing, and the rainforest was only really attractive when it had been reduced to small defined areas as in picnic spots, or around special features, or formed, like the 'Tolga scrub', a roadside scenic attraction. In north Queensland, the aesthetic attraction of the formerly rainforested Atherton Tableland landscape came eventually from its combination of ordered green farmland, rainforest patches, river gorges, nearby mountains and cloud effects. For this 'temperate' landscape in the tropics, English landscape tastes provided some of the filter through which the area was perceived. One early settler wrote of the 'crisp air and cool nights, the green grass and clear running creeks, and the way the misty rain hung over the mountains as it did in England'.83 Very occasionally, spiritual responses appeared, such as that by the 'nature lover' who wrote to the Cairns Post in1890 describing the rainforest between Cairns and the Barron Falls as something 'solemn and religious'.84

The element of appreciation of rainforest found expression in the first recommendations for National Parks in Queensland (all in the south-east). In the 1890s, R.M. Collins began a campaign for a National Park in the rainforested McPherson Ranges on the Queensland -New South Wales border (eventually coming to fruition in the Lamington National Park in 1915). Collins saw the highlands as a summer resort where people could see' the bold grandeur of the rocky bluffs' and the 'rich and varied luxuriance of the scrub vegetation'.85 In 1903, the Bunya Mountains west of Brisbane were identified by the newly formed Forestry Branch of the Lands Department as having 'special values' - in particular stands of the Bunya Pine. Many of the early identified 'beauty spots' in Queensland were waterfalls surrounded by rainforest. One of these, Witches Falls, Tamborine Mountain (south of Brisbane) became the first Queensland National Park. North Queensland reservations came later - a combination of 'beauty spot' parks such as the Atherton Tableland crater lakes and the large parks of the residual lands of the ranges such as Bellenden Ker (31 000 hectares) and Daintree River (56 450 hectares).

For most of the twentieth century, the narrow utilitarian image of rainforest remained dominant. In Queensland, where there was most of the accessible, potentially useful rainforest land; politicians, public servants and local promoters proposed huge schemes to develop most of the north Queensland 'scrub lands' into small family farms.86 The Queensland Forestry Department argued determinedly against this proposed land alienation, and for the reservation of forest lands for timber production, as well as for some national parks. The foresters were arguing for professional management of the forests for production forestry purposes, consistent with the utilitarian conservation philosophy of the 'wise use' of resources. Nevertheless, the 'cabinetwood' forests and 'hoop pine scrubs' were still cut at a rate way in excess of sustainable rates, and their timbers often used for low grade purposes.

Especially in the south-east of the state, agricultural clearing and logging proceeded, until only remnant stands of the original hoop pine and other 'scrub' remained. The more rugged topography of north Queensland, combined with the climatic conditions, resulted in extensive areas being preserved from clearing and, to a lesser extent logging, though in some instances poor quality land went perilously close to being thrown open. During this period, there was little to suggest that the rainforests were anything special. Scientifically, they were still considered to be an immigrant flora and independent scientific investigation outside the forestry departments was small in scale. Behind resource management in Queensland there was still the exploitative pioneering ethos (slightly tempered by the 'wise use' concept), images of resource inexhaustibility, and the ever present yeoman farmer ideal which was the single most important driving force behind land policy for the better watered parts of the state.

New Visions: the Aesthetic and Ecological

Earlier in this paper, it was shown that the tropics of South America provided a major stimulus for the influential geographer and philosopher Alexander Von Humboldt in the formulation of his ideas linking the affective response to landscape and empirical research into a new holistic theory of science. These ideas were raised as a challenge to the ascendancy of sense-empirical positivist science at the time, finding their ultimate expression in the writing of Kosmos (published from 1845) which defended the contribution of imagination and interest along with intellect in the process of scientific enquiry.87 However, by the time of the writing of Kosmos, the positivist model of science with its separation of mind and nature was already dominant. In metaphorical terms, nature was beginning to be perceived as a machine, able to be dismantled, reconstructed and manipulated,88 and the industrial revolution had increasingly given humans the technological means to assert mastery over nature. By the second half of the nineteenth century, therefore, both the framework of ideas and technologically boosted human capabilities combined to bring about the most rapid and profound changes in landscape seen to that time - of which there is no better example than the removal of forests in the New World and Australasia.

How nature is valued is the major determinant of the way in which humans interact with it. The dominant appraisal of the Australian rainforests has been utilitarian, first an exploitative pioneering ethos - the extraction of valuable timber and clearing for small farms; second, the only partially successful application of 'wise use ' management principles. The rainforest lands of the east coast became a prime focus for achieving the orderly, perfected agricultural vision of the rural landscape and showing the advance of civilization over the wild and primeval. In Queensland, opening of rainforest land for family farms continued until the 1950s, but even as the closer settlement ideal declined, governments still viewed other types of development proposals favourably. Most notable was the granting in 1963 of a special lease of 21 000 hectares in the Tully River valley to the Texas based King Ranch for beef cattle fattening. One-third of the area carried rainforest, from which a timber salvaging operation preceded clearing. Only in the last two decades has the dominant utilitarian imagery of rainforests come under decisive challenge from aesthetic and ecological perspectives.

The rainforest campaign based on these images brought Australians full circle to the marriage of aesthetics and scientific discovery which Humboldt had promoted in his unitary concept of nature a century and a half previously. Rainforest - this ancient assemblage of plants and animals which was more than the sum of its parts - gained a symbolic value to emerging holistic and ecological views which were now challenging an atomised science capable of producing 'the silent spring' and, worse still, being little concerned about it. The Terania creek enquiry in New South Wales produced the most notable confrontation between establishment science - dogmatic, conservative and reductionist - which still saw the remaining rainforest mainly as sawlogs, and a holistic 'oppositional' science which stood in support of values other than the simply utilitarian.89

Seen historically, the turnaround in the dominant imagery of the Australian rainforests and the corresponding change in their valuation has been dramatic. Yet the two former minor streams of imagery (the aesthetic and ecological/scientific) which now dominate, and form the basis of the World Heritage List inscription of both the Australian East Coast Temperate and Sub-Tropical Rainforest Parks (New South Wales) and theWet Tropics of Queensland90 have early roots in both the European scientific investigation and the artistic and literary representation of the Tropics, especially from the eighteenth century.


1 Yi-Fu Tuan (1974) Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes and Values, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, p.4.

2 O. Rackham (1986) The History of the Countryside, Dent, London, ch.5.

3 O. Rackham (1980) Ancient Woodland: its history, vegetation and uses in England, Edward Arnold, London, p.1.

4 O. Rackham (1986), op. cit., ch.5.

5 In its original meaning in Europe, 'Forest' referred to land on which deer were protected by special by-laws and was hence a strictly legal term. The laws and the word were introduced to England from the continent by William the Conqueror from 1066. Each Forest normally contained an area of uncultivated land in which the deer lived.

6 In C. Ralling (1978) The Voyage of Charles Darwin, BBC, London, p.41.

7 B. Smith (1960) European Vision and the South Pacific, Oxford University Press, London, p.7.

8 Ibid., p.1.

9 M. Bowen (1981) Empiricism and Geographical Thought: From Francis Bacon to Alexander von Humboldt, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p.174.

10 Ibid., chs 6,7; For the life of J.R. Forster see M.E. Hoare (1976) The Tactless Philosopher Johann Reinhold Forster (1729-98), The Hawthorn Press, Melbourne.

11 G.A. Forster (1777) A Voyage round the World, B. White, J. Robson, P. Elmsly, G. Robinson, London, 2 vols.

12 C.J. Glacken (1967) Traces on the Rhodian Shore: Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century, University of California Press, Berkeley, p.544.

13 Ibid., p.546.

14 A. von Humboldt (1849) Aspects of Nature (Translated Mrs Sabine), Longmans, London, v.1,p.208.

15 Ibid., p.208.

16 Yi-Fu Tuan (1961) 'Topophilia, or sudden encounter with the landscape', Landscape v.11, no.1, pp.29-32.

17 A. von Humboldt (1849) op. cit., v.2, pp.30-31.

18 B. Smith (1960), op. cit., p.152.

19 A. von Humboldt (1849) op. cit., v.1, pp.261-2.

20 C. J. Glacken (1967),op. cit., p.548.

21 Charles Darwin, Journal 14 April 1832 in C. Ralling (1978),op.cit., p.45.

22 H. L. McKinney (1972) Wallace and Natural Selection, Yale University Press, New Haven.

23 A. von Humboldt (1849) op. cit., v.1, 264.

24 Charles Darwin, Journal 19-23 April 1832 in C. Ralling (1978), op.cit., p.48.

25 A. von Humboldt (1849), op. cit., v.1, 269.

26 L.J. Webb and J.G. Tracey (1981) 'Australian rainforests: patterns and change', in A. Keast (ed.), Ecological Biogeography of Australia, Junk, The Hague, pp.607-94.

27 L.J. Webb (1959) 'A Physiognomic Classification of Australian Rain Forests', Journal of Ecology v.47, pp.551-70; L.J. Webb, J.G. Tracey, W.T. Williams (1976) 'The value of structural features in tropical forest typology', Australian Journal of Ecology v.1, pp.3-28.

28 L.J. Webb, J.G. Tracey, W.T. Williams (1984) 'A floristic framework of Australian rainforests', Australian Journal of Ecology v.9, pp.169-98.

29 G. Williams (1988) 'New Holland to New South Wales: The English Approaches', in G. Williams and A. Frost (eds), Terra Australis to Australia, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, p.155.

30 G. Williams and A. Frost (1988) 'New South Wales: Expectations and Reality', in G.Williams and A. Frost (eds), Terra Australis to Australia, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, p.162.

31 J.C. Beaglehole (ed.) (1963) The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768-1771, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, v.2, p.115 and facing p.206.

32 B. Smith (1960) op. cit., p.184.

33 See R. Nash (1974) Wilderness and the American Mind, Yale University Press, New Haven, ch.1.

34 An example is recorded in the English traditional ballad 'The Bramble Briar', where the romance between a farmer's daughter and a servant man is ended by her brothers taking him to the woods on the pretext of going hunting, wherein they 'do him in'. See R.V. Williams and A.L. Lloyd (1973) The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, Penguin, Harmondsworth, pp.24-5.

35 B. Smith (1960), op. cit., p.168.

36 Quoted in H.B. Proudfoot (1979) 'Strange New World', in W. Goldstein (ed.) Australia's100 years of National Parks, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW), Sydney, p.39.

37 R. Birrell (1987) 'The social origin of Australia's conservation movement', Journal of Intercultural Studies v.8, no.2, pp.22-39.

38 B. Field (1819) First Fruits of Australian Poetry, Sydney.

39 B. Field (1825) Geographical Memoirs on New South Wales, John Murray, London.

40 Ibid., pp.421-2.

41 Ibid., p.423.

42 B. Smith (1960) op. cit., p.182.

43 Charles Darwin, epilogue to Diary on return to Britain in 183 in C. Ralling (1978), op. cit., pp.154-5.

44 J. Vader (1987) Red Cedar The Tree of Australia's History, Reed, Frenchs Forest, p.21.

45 Ibid., pp.34-45.

46 B. Field (1825), op. cit., p.421.

47 Recent research suggests that the original area of rainforest in the Illawarra has been exaggerated and that its coverage was not a continuous one but involved an intermixture with tall eucalypt forest. Preliminary estimates are of 21 000 hectares total. See K. Mills (1987) 'The distribution, character and conservation status of the rainforests of the Illawarra district, New South Wales', in Australian Heritage Commission, The Rainforest Legacy: Australian National Rainforests Study Vol.1, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, p.81.

48 B. Smith (1960), op. cit., p.192.

49 L.A. Gilbert (1971) Botanical Investigation of New South Wales 1811-1880, Ph.D. thesis, University of New England, Armidale, pp.167-8.

50 P. Cunningham (1827) Two Years in New South Wales, Colburn, London, v.1, p.108.

51 G. Seddon (1981-2) 'Eurocentrism and Australian Science: Some examples', Search v.12, no.12, pp.446-50.

52 J.D. Hooker (1859) On the Flora of Australia, Its Origins, Affinities and Distribution; Being an Introductory Essay to the Flora of Tasmania, Lovell Reeve, London.

53 J. Oxley (1820) Journals of two expeditions into the interior of New South Wales ... in the years 1817-18, John Murray, London.

54 J.M. Powell (1972) Images of Australia, 1788-1914, Monash Publishing in Geography 3, Dept of Geography, Monash University, Melbourne.

55 Rainforest Conservation Society of Queensland (1986) Tropical Rainforests of North Queensland Their Conservation Significance, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, p.63.

56 R. Ritchie (1988) 'Seeing the Rainforests: European Attitudes to the Australian Rainforests in the Nineteenth Century', Heritage Australia, v.7, no.3, p.11.

57 B. Smith (1971) Australian Painting 1788-1970, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, p.30-31.

58 D.N. Jeans (1972) An Historical Geography of New South Wales to 1901, Reed, Sydney, pp.102 & 125.

59 P. Cunningham (1827) op. cit., v.2, p.164.

60 Quoted in: A. Fox (1977) 'Rain Forests 1840', in W. Goldstein (ed.) Rainforests, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW), Sydney, p.4.

61 W.R. Guilfoyle had a particularly good knowledge of the north coast as the Guilfoyle family (successful Sydney horticulturalists) established a tropical garden, orchard and experimental nursery on the Tweed River in 1866. See R.T. M. Pescott (1966) W.R. Guilfoyle 1840-1912: The Master of Landscaping, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, ch.3.

62 W.R. Guilfoyle (1884) Australian Botany specially designed for the use of schools, George Robertson, Melbourne, 2nd ed. See also first ed. (1879) for an 'uncropped' sketch.

63 F. von Mueller (1858) 'Botanical Report on the North Australian Expedition under the command of A.C. Gregory, Esq.', Journal of the Linnaean Society v.2, 137-63.

64 F. von Mueller (1876) 'Forest Culture in its relations to Industrial Pursuits', in E. Cooper (ed.) Forest Culture and Eucalypt Trees, Cubery, San Francisco, p.81-2.

65 G.P. Marsh (1864) Man and Nature; or Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action, Scribner, Armstrong and Co., New York.

66 P.P. King (1827) Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia performed between the years 1818 and 1822, John Murray, London, v.2, p.528.

67 J.G. Steele (1972) The Explorers of the Moreton Bay District 1770-1830, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, p.90; J.G. Steele (1975) Brisbane Town in Convict Days 1824-1842, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, pp21-3.

68 John Oxley, Field Books 1824 in: J.G. Steele (1972) op. cit., p.139.

69 W.J. Fisher (1980) Ecology and history of plantations of Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii Aiton Ex D. Don) at Yarraman, Queensland, Master of Natural Resources thesis, University of New England, Armidale, chs1&2; E.G. Heap (1965) 'In the wake of the raftsmen; survey of early settlement in the Maroochy District up to the passing of Macalister's Act (1868), Part 1,' Queensland Heritage v.1, no.3, 3-16.

70 K.J. Frawley (1982) 'European Exploration and Early Images of Northeast Queensland, 1770-1880,' Journal of Australian Studies v.10, pp.2-16.

71 P.P. King (1824-5) Charts of the Coast of Australia (Folio), Hydrographical Office of the Admiralty, London.

72 L. Leichhardt (1847) Journal of an Overland Expedition in Australia, T. & W. Boone, London.

73 G.E. Dalrymple (1874) 'Narrative and reports of the Queensland North-east Coast Expedition, 1873', Votes & Proceedings, Legislative Assembly of Queeensland 1874 v.2, pp.615-67.

74 Ibid., p.622.

75 Ibid., p.644.

76 P. Fletcher (1886) 'The Sugar Industry of Queensland', in P. Fletcher (ed.) Queensland: Its Resources and Institutions, Essays prepared for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, London, Govt Printer, Brisbane, pp.14-16.

77 T. Archer (1881) The history, resources and future prospects of Queensland: For the information of intending immigrants, S.W. Silver & Co., London, p.3.

78 Queensland Parliamentary Debates v.XXXVII 1882, p.629.

79 'On a Tropic Shore, Glimpses of North Queensland', Illustrated Supplement to the Queenslander, 26 June 1897.

80 Herberton Advertiser, 2 August 1889.

81 A. Meston (1889) 'Report by A. Meston on the Government Scientific Expedition to the Bellenden - Ker Range (Wooroonooran), North Queensland', Votes & Proceedings, Legislative Assembly of Queensland1889 v.4, pp.1 205-39.

82 W.D. Francis (1929) Australian Rain Forest Trees, Govt Printer, Brisbane.

83 Evelyn Maunsell in: H. Holthouse (1973) S'pose I Die: the story of Evelyn Maunsell, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, p.155.

84 Cairns Post, 5 January 1890.

85 R.M. Collins (1896-7) 'The south-eastern highlands of Queensland', Proceedings and Transactions, Queensland Branch, Royal Geographical Society of Australasia v.13, p.24.

86 K.J. Frawley (1983) Forest and Land Management in North-East Queensland: 1859-1960, Ph.D. thesis, Australian National University, Canberra; K.J.Frawley (1987) The Maalan Group Settlement, North Queensland,1954: An Historical Geography, Monograph Series No.2, Dept of Geography and Oceanography, University College, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra.

87 M.Bowen (1981), op. cit., p.244.

88 W.J. Mills (1982) 'Metaphorical Vision: Changes in Western Attitudes to the Environment', Annals, Association of American Geographers v.72, p.245-8.

89 D. Mercer (1985) Reading the Book of Nature: Physical and Human Geography and the Limits of Science, Working Paper No.18, Dept of Geography, Monash University, Clayton, p.35.

90 Rainforest Conservation Society of Queensland (1986), op.cit.; P. Adam (1987) New South Wales Rainforest: The Nomination for the World Heritage List, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW), Sydney.

10 Paul Carter, The Road to Botany Bay: An Essay in Spatial History, London, Faber and Faber, 1987.

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