John Carne BidwillPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by John Huth / Erich Nussbaumer

The tree commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth in Exeter, England of botanist John Carne Bidwill (1815 - 1853).

In September 1838 he arrived in Sydney, where he joined a commercial firm while waiting for the survey of land that he had been allotted. Sent to New Zealand, he reached the Bay of Islands in February 1839, visited Rotorua and Taupo, explored the spurs of Tongariro and collected botanical specimens which included some new discoveries. He was recalled to Sydney in April, but returned to Port Nicholson in 1840; during his stay in New Zealand he collected plants from the mountains of Nelson. His firm then sent him to Moreton Bay, where his letters concerned little except plants; writing to his friend, Captain Phillip Parker King.  

In February 1841, having established a reputation as a botanist, he sailed for England with a letter from King to Sir William Hooker at Kew.  His Rambles in New Zealand (London, 1841), which was reprinted in 1952 in Christchurch, contains observations on agricultural practices and the effects of firing.

He returned to Sydney in 1844, and in February 1845 was sent to Tahiti for a year. In September 1847 he was given charge of the Sydney Botanic Gardens as director and government botanist. By some misunderstanding, the Colonial Office gave the position to Charles Moore who arrived in January 1848. Governor Sir Charles FitzRoy sent for Bidwill and expressed his sorrow at his supercession. Bidwill in a letter to King showed no resentment.

At his own request he was appointed commissioner of crown lands at Wide Bay. He wrote in 1849 that he had more than £500 a year for doing what was only a pleasure. At Tinana, now a suburb of Maryborough, he began to plant a botanic garden. While surveying a road from Wide Bay to Moreton Bay he was lost in the bush for eight days and died at his home from his privations on 16 March 1853. Most of his plants were transferred to Sydney after his death and the Tinana garden no longer exists. The genus Bidwillia and some twelve species of native Australian and New Zealand plants commemorate his name.


Address:Sussex Street, Queens Park, Maryborough, 4650
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -25.537888
Long: 152.705663
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Tree
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:05-February-1815
Actual Event End Date:05-February-2015


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 5th February, 2015
Front Inscription

This tree, a Longan (Dimocarpus longan) was planted of 5 February 2015 to mark the 200th birthday of John Carne Bidwill

5 February 1815 - 16 March 1853

The Longan is a tropical tree that produces edible fruit.  It is one the better known tropical members of Soapberry family to which the lychee also belongs.  In about 1850 Bidwill planted a specimen of this tree amongst his extensive private botanic garden near his barracks at Tinana.  Today that plant is the sole survivor from this collection and proudly stands beside his isolated grave overlooking the junction of the Mary River and Tinana Creek.

Upon taking up his appointment as the Commissioner of Crown Lands for Wide Bay in December 1848, Bidwill became the region`s first government official with his base at Maryborough, then the most northern settlement in the colony.  A world renowed and passionate botanist, he discovered hundreds of new plant species with about 40 named bidwilli before a more recent major plant reclassification. In Australia he is also credited with the introduction of many ornamental and economic plants and being the first to undertake plant breeding (hybridisation).

George Seymour
Councillor for Community, Heritage and Family Services
Fraser Coast Regional Council

Tom Ryan
Former Manager for Parks and Gardens
Maryborough City Council



Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au