To John O'Shanassy   January 1859

Monthly report on the proceedings of the Gov. Botanist and on the work performed in the botanic Gardens


December 1858. 1


Chiefly ordinary routine work was performed at the Garden according to the requirement of the season. Many dozens additional labels have been furnished and all throughout the ground have been revarnished. Six large [lathseats]2 have been fixed around trees near the Orchestra, and several portable ones have been added[.]3 Hay has been secured in anticipation of the winter supply required for the Menagerie. The palm house, altho' a large building is now completely filled with plants. Drains have been laid in the south part of the garden and at the menagerie. Considerable quantities of seeds and specimens have been received and supplied. A person, who undertook repeatedly nocturnal walks to the garden for stealing plants was apprehended by the vigilant gatekeeper of the zoological Ground. The menagerie is yet greatly suffering from want of accommodation, which it is hoped can soon be fully aforded by the votes of 1859. During the Directors absence4 four of the five fawns died, a place of seclusion being sought for by these animals in nature at this season. Skylarks and a few other singingbirds have been added to the aviary.

The latter part of the month was devoted by the Gov. Botanist for examining the vegetation of the Australian Alps towards the sources of the M'Allister River. The latter stream breaks through a mountainous country (from geological appearance) evidently auriferous; the gentle hills along it form for the greater part pasture land. Some botanical novelties were discovered and the main range of the S.W. Alps was now for the first time ascertained to extend in an almost semielliptical line from Mount Wellington to Mount Useful varying in elevation from 4000 to 5000' except in its northern part, where at the source of one of the M'Allister branches this dividing range is broken & somewhat more depressed. Several high mountains were on this occasion ascended for the first time. Thus it appears, that Mount Wellington is to be regarded as the Southern Key of the Australian Alps. The meritorious and enterprising discoverer of Gipps land, Angus M'Millan Esq was my companion on this journey and generously furnished 6 horses and almost the entire outfit for it. I would gladly, if time and circumstances admit of it, prosecute yet this season researches in the newly discovered range, as it is likely that from hence on a spur of the snowy mountains Mount Baw Baw, which has never been adscended may be reached.

Mr Dallachy continued employed in obtaining seeds at the Darling and has pushed forward to the botanically unknown ranges of Mount Murchison.5

The Russian trophy guns have found a place near the pavilion.6

The terrific gale of the 19. Dec. did much damage in prostrating several trees and two large tents.

Flowers & bows were supplied for decoration on various occasion for public or benevolent purposes.

Ferd. Mueller, M.D. & PhD.,

Gov. Botanist & Direct of botan. Garden.



The number of visitors frequenting the gardens on Sundays during December was 11,430 on workdays 12,194 = Total of visitors in December 23,624.7

Registered, 11 January 1859.
uncertain reading.
editorial addition.
M was away between 17 December 1858 and 8 January 1859 on the expedition described in the next paragraph.
Darling River, NSW.
Two Russian guns from the Redan fortification in the Crimea were forwarded by the Imperial Government to the Victorian Government, who placed them in the Melbourne Botanic Garden. The cannon weighed three tons each, were made of iron and bore the date 1836 on the trunnions. The Argus commented: 'The peculiar construction and formidable powers of these enormous engines of warfare render them well worthy of inspection, not to take into consideration the ideas which they must naturally suggest of the sufferings and triumphs of the allied armies in the late war.' See Argus, 7 January 1859, p. 4.
MS annotation, 12 January 1859: 'Read'.

Please cite as “FVM-59-01-00,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 28 September 2021,