$60 million herbarium coming to botanic garden

A new mega-herbarium will be built at Mount Annan to re-house more than a million plants.
A new mega-herbarium will be built at Mount Annan to re-house more than a million plants.

Plants collected by Captain Cook's botanists during his 1770 voyage are among 1.4 million precious specimens moving to a mega-herbarium facility in Macarthur.

The upcoming NSW budget will allocate $60 million to the new Centre of Innovation in Plant Sciences at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, moving from Sydney’s Botanical Gardens, which is expected to create 350 jobs, Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton announced on Monday.

The collection, worth $200 million, includes specimens gathered by botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solande during their voyage on HMS Endeavour to the Pacific 248 years ago.

A science, horticulture and education centre will be built in the existing National Herbarium site at The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands executive director Kim Ellis says the scientists in the new herbarium will be tackling some of the most critical challenges facing humanity.

"Without plants, we'd have no food, no medicines, no beer, no oxygen - put simply, there'd be no life on Earth," Ms Ellis said in a statement on Monday.

The move is part of the NSW government's plans to turn western Sydney into the heart of Australia's science and technology industries, Ms Upton said.

"We want the scientists, astronauts, doctors and professors of the future to come from western Sydney, so it is vital we make these types of investments to inspire and educate," Ms Upton said in a statement.

The new herbarium comes as the state government builds the Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis and relocates the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta.

Construction on the new herbarium is expected to start next year and be completed ahead of the 250th anniversary of Cook's 1770 voyage.

David Borger, Sydney Business Chamber, Western Sydney director, said the herbarium would be a great addition to the facilities offered in Macarthur.

“The decision to move the national herbarium from the inner city to The Australian Baotanic Garden, Mount Annan, in south western Sydney, means the region will get an added boost to its thriving visitor economy,” he said.

“The western Sydney visitor economy is going from strength to strength and this new Centre for Plant and Sciences will further encourage tourists and locals to experience the wide range of exhibits it will soon house.

“We know the region has a strong appeal to visitors so this is a welcome addition to the natural beauty attractions western Sydney already has to offer.”