What was growing along the Tank Stream Valley, Sydney Cove, in 1788?

Michael Macphail, Timothy Owen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On 26 January 1788 the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove (Warrane), New South Wales, formally invading the traditional lands of the Cadigal People, and establishing the first British colony in Australia. The urgent need to obtain wood, water and shelter meant the vegetation growing around Sydney Cove, and along the Tank Stream Valley, was destroyed before specific botanical details were recorded. Plant fossils preserved on an archaeological site at 200 George Street provide a partial record of plants and plant communities in these historically important areas. It was found that casuarina swamp forest dominated in the estuary of the Tank Stream, or was present as stands growing along the lower reaches of the stream, with ground ferns dominating damp sites. The plant fossil record has filled gaps in our knowledge of the ecological conditions faced by the British colonists, and the landscape previously occupied and shaped by the Aboriginal people whose traditional Country included Sydney Cove.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-28
Number of pages13
JournalAustralasian Historical Archaeology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Tank Stream Valley
  • Sydney Cove
  • pollen analysis
  • Aboriginal Australians
  • fire management


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