Day 1: Botany Basics voyage, Sydney to Newcastle

Monday 8 September 2014

At 8am on Monday morning, 16 new HMB Endeavour crew members were waiting on the wharf – voyage crew, supernumeraries and two botanists from the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. Thankfully some of the fog captured by the Sydney Morning Herald photographer had faded by then!

The botanists, Dr Trevor Wilson and Dr Matt Renner, are with us as part of the voyage crew but are also on board to provide their expertise in explaining some of the vegetation in the Pittwater area of the lower Hawkesbury River.

Motoring into Broken  Bay. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Motoring into Broken Bay. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

As soon as Endeavour‘s new crew were aboard, the priority was to head north towards Pittwater in preparation for the second day of the voyage, which would be spent ashore gathering plant specimens. With light northerlies forecast, we set off from Sydney Harbour under engines.

While motoring up the coast, the three watches undertook training rotations including climbing, line handling and a ship’s tour. This is the first stage of vessel familiarisation for voyage crew, in preparation for the anticipated sail to Newcastle later in the week.

After our difficulties with the ship’s smaller stream anchor in Broken Bay during last week’s voyage, we dropped the large bower anchor straight away and were comfortably at anchor by the time the nearly-full moon rose later in the evening.

Through the hawse pipe - the ship's anchor cable. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

Through the hawse pipe – the ship’s anchor cable. Photo by Eden Alley-Porter.

After dinner, the botanists gave a presentation about the vegetation that we could expect when going ashore the next day.

As Trevor explained, one of the exciting things about going ashore along the Hawkesbury River is that you might just find a plant species that hasn’t previously been collected or identified.

‘People tend to think all plant species have been described already, but that’s not the case at all,’ Trevor said.

‘The Sydney Basin is hugely diverse, and going to places where people haven’t collected in the past can provide the opportunity to find something new.’

‘The material collected during the voyage will be held at the National Herbarium of New South Wales indefinitely,’ Matt said. ‘So it will be available for other researchers to access in the future.’

All’s well.

– Suzannah Marshall Macbeth