John Septimus Roe

The explorations of John Septimus Roe after he arrived in Western Australia are well recorded but dispersed.

The tenth Volume in Western Australian Exploration series chronicling all exploration from 1826, The Western Australian Explorations of John Septimus Roe 1829 - 1849 has, for the first time, brought all Roe’s Western Australian explorations together in the one book.

These include the little-known surveys he made of the Albany region while serving with P.P. King aboard the Mermaid and later the Bathurst, and culminate with his defining, five month, 2000 kilometre 1848-49 trip south-east to the Russell Range.

Roe is often referred to as the ‘Father of Australian Explorers’ for his training and mentoring of explorers such as A.C. Gregory, F.T. Gregory, John Forrest and Alexander Forrest, all of whom gained fame in their own right. Others trained by Roe included Robert Dale, Robert Austin, Arthur Hillman, H.M. Ommaney and Charles Hunt.

Kim Epton
Series Editor

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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.

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Father of Australian Exploration

Naval officer, hydrographer, explorer, founding Surveyor General, settler and father, John Septimus Roe helped make Western Australia what it is today.

Roe’s early education at Christ’s Hospital and training as an officer in the Royal Navy and his work for the Admiralty Hydrographic Office developed his talent for sketching.

His field notes and sketches are typically accurate and objective. They are a record of the area at first contact by European settlers. The landscapes and waters, the aboriginal people and their place names, as well as the plants and animals of the south west of Australia were all noted by Roe.

Roe’s expedition reports, field notes and maps have been annotated, summarised and indexed in The Western Australian Explorations of John Septimus Roe 1829-1849. The reports are complemented by expert analyses of native plant species, native animal species, and navigation and surveying.

This tenth volume in the Western Australian Exploration series is a companion volume to Western Australian Exploration Volume 1 1826-1835 and Western Australian Exploration 1836-1845.

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Kim Epton
Series Editor

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