To Frederick Barlee   24 March 1871

Melbourne botan Garden



Allow me, dear Mr Barlee, to ask from you a favor in the interest of industrial researches and indeed also in the interests of your colonial resources. I am very anxious to have fuller information, then hitherto exstant, on the woods of West Australia, which are almost all peculiar to your colonial territory. The only wood about which, as far as W. Australia is concerned, is anything fairly known, is the jarrah; but the Tooart, the Karri, the Blue Gum of W. A (peculiar) the Red Gum of W. A (peculiar) and indeed all your Eucalypts, your Acaciae and Casuarinae must have important uses, well known to your local traders and artisans, but unknown here. As I intend to publish an essay soon on all the woods of Australia in connection with our industrial Museum here,1 I would ask, whether your Government could not have a short circular (perhaps a printed one) sent to all Police Magistrates, Surveyors, Shipbuilders, Wheel wrights, carpenters, Joiners, Turners, &c &c asking for full information on the woods employed by them, and begging of them to accompany their notes with flowering and fruiting branches of the trees, to which they refer. It would be most advantageous that the practical results and information gained by your artisans since 30 years should be placed somewhere on record, because that would tend to make your resources better known, and give a new impetus to free immigration. Also about your gums, resins &c we are almost completely in the dark, because in most cases, when specimens were received, they were not accompanied by the branchlets of the plants yielding them, or if so, it frequently happened that the botanic specimens were quite insufficient to fix the name of the species, producing the article of commerce or of industry.

As the publication, in which these remarks from West Australia are to be embodied, is likely to appear soon, I would feel indebted, if I could get the information from the various parts of your colony soon; it can be successively supplemented.

Let me remain, dear Mr Barlee, your regardful

Ferd. von Mueller.


A direct call call by circular would be probably far more effective than a general public request.2





While M published several items dealing with timber trees in 1871 and 1872, including lectures presented at the Industrial Museum, none matches the description that M gives here of what he had in mind.

MS annotation by Barlee on 24 April 1871: 'Answered that as far as practicable this will be done.' Letter not found.

On 8 April 1871 Barlee minuted: 'Forwarded to Mr Manning C. W. [Clerk of Works] It is very desirable to supply Dr Mueller with the particulars and specimens alluded to in this letter and the note annexed [M to F. Barlee, 27 March 1871?]] — H. E. is of opinion that they will be furnished better by Mr Manning than in the manner herein suggested. I shall be glad to hear Mr. M's remarks, both as to what can be supplied and when?'

Please cite as “FVM-71-03-24a,” in Correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, edited by R.W. Home, Thomas A. Darragh, A.M. Lucas, Sara Maroske, D.M. Sinkora, J.H. Voigt and Monika Wells accessed on 21 September 2023,