Botanists, Aborigines and native plants on the Queensland frontier

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By the 1920s, it was well understood by missionaries, scientists and botanists that the spread of grazing and agriculture into the interior posed the final threat to the remaining Aboriginal populations. Botanists were also aware that Aboriginal economies were collapsing with the increasing competition for the plants which formed the staples of Aboriginal diet, and that the cattle herds were in large part responsible for this economic disaster. This paper examines the work of these botanists for an ethnohistorical understanding of the demise of Aboriginal economic activities. Their records represents a rich record of the nature of the Aboriginal plant food economy and a window on the competition of the most educated colonists for the resources that would support ever-expanding herds of cattle and food for the colonists and the English market.


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