Hidden Gem

Dr Marion Hercock’s The Western Australian Explorations of John Septimus Roe 1829-1849 is the most complete work on our first Surveyor General ever put together. And contained within it is a hidden gem.

Ecologist Dr Ian Abbott has prepared each of the Appendixes on Fauna and Ecology written for the Western Australian Exploration series, part of his career output of more than 240 papers.

Dr Abbott’s appendix on fauna as reported by Roe over his exploration career in Western Australia addresses 36 different animals that can be identified with certainty - birds (21), mammals (7) fishes (3), crustaceans (2), reptiles (2), and molluscs (1), - and a further four mammals, one fish, and one bird that can be identified with less certainty.

But it is in his Discussion that we are presented with the seldom seen side of John Septimus Roe. Abbott presents him as a ‘proto community or landscape ecologist’ and discusses Roe:

• as an astute and perceptive observer;
• as an observer of Aboriginal burning of the landscape;
• as a collector;
• as a patron;
• interpersonal skills and empathy with animals.

John Septimus Roe (1897-1878)

John Septimus Roe (1897-1878)

This new and unique view of Roe adds an unexpected dimension to the Volume, greatly enhancing its appeal.

The Western Australian Explorations of John Septimus Roe 1829-1849 is one of 16 volumes in the Western Australian Exploration series. This masterful work contains 34 reports, five appendixes, 22 maps, four illustrations, innumerable sketches and hand drawn maps, and three indexes.

Kim Epton
Series Editor


Abbott, I., Appendix 2, Fauna and ecology. In Hercock, M.H., The Western Australian Explorations of John Septimus Roe 1829-1849, Hesperian Press, Carlisle, 2014, p. 631-43.

Dr Ian Abbott is a consultant ecologist with wide field experience in western and eastern Australia and the Galápagos; he has degrees from the University of Sydney, Monash University, and the University of Western Australia. Dr Abbott has expertise in biogeography, island, forest and historical ecology, and ecological history, as well as expert knowledge of trees, invertebrates, birds and mammals.

Posted by Kim Epton

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