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Plants with a history

Monday, 22nd September, 2014

“Cullen pallidum” (woolly scurf pea) by botanic artist Anne Lawson from the “Beckler’s Botanical Bounty” exhibition that opens this week in Menindee. “Cullen pallidum” (woolly scurf pea) by botanic artist Anne Lawson from the “Beckler’s Botanical Bounty” exhibition that opens this week in Menindee.

In 1860, the Burke and Wills Expedition established a supply camp on the banks of the Darling River at Menindee.

The doctor on that famous and ill-fated journey of discovery was Hermann Beckler and, while at the camp from September to October of that year, he collected about 120 plants. Those specimens are now in the collection of the National Herbarium in Melbourne.

For the last five years, a group of botanic artists from the city from which Burke and Wills set out on what was called the "Victorian Exploring Expedition" have been coming to Menindee to collect and paint the very same plants that Dr Beckler found.

They explored the bush in Kinchega National Park and around the township to find the plants on his list which they then painting in Menindee's Civic Hall.

Now the artists are returning to present the fruit of their labour in an exhibition, called "Beckler's Botanical Bounty: Flora of Menindee".

It is an interesting mixture of history, art and science that consists of 30 prints of the very detailed and scientifically-accurate watercolour paintings they created.

The show will be officially opened at the Darling River Art Gallery, in Yartla Street, at 11am on Tuesday, September 23 and will run until Sunday, October 12.

The gallery is open most days between 10am and 2pm.

The artists will also be returning to their makeshift studio in the Civic Hall for a week from September 22 and everyone is invited to come in and watch them at work.

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