Monday, 26 August 2019

Excursion to Berwick Quarry by the Victorian Field Naturalist's Club in 1916

The Victorian Naturalist, v. xxxiii, n. 389, May 4, 1916 had this report of an excursion by the Club in April 1916 to Wilson's Quarry at Berwick.  The article describes the visit and the various fossils obtained on the day. It is transcribed below.

The Victorian Naturalist, v. xxxiii, n. 389, May 4, 1916

Wilson Quarry, Berwick, 1906

Excursion to Berwick Quarry
Though Berwick is within a reasonable distance of Melbourne, and in the early days of the Club was frequently visited by members in search of insects and plants, the visit on Saturday afternoon, 8th April, was the first arranged for the purpose of studying the geological features of Wilson's Quarry and the physiography of the district. The quarry, which is within a  short distance of the station, is situated on the south-western slope of One-Tree Hill. It has been worked for many years, and is well known to palaeobotanists as it is to geologists, for the many species of fossil leaves which have been obtained there from time to time.  

The north and east faces form  a section which is typical of a high level lead - the sides of the old valley. The infilling rows of basalt - two main ones and several minor ones - the underlying lignitiferous clay - representing the forest grown, immediately preceding volcanic activity - a leaf-bed, and a band of rounded and subangular fragments resting on palaeozoic slates and shales, showing the exact relation of the basalt to the underlying bedrock, and the sequence of evemts during the Miocene volcanic activity.

Having examined the section the party preceded to  a face that Mr Wilson had kindly cleared so that members members might more readily inspect the leaf-bed. Many valuable fossil specimeds were obtained, and Mr F. Chapman has kindly permitted me to use the list of identifications made by him. Later in the afternoon the party ascended One-Tree Hill - a viewpoint from which one may see the main physiographical features of  the district. The general trend of the old stream, both north and south, was indicated by the lateral streams - Narre Warren and Cardinia Creeks- that have cut their way back through the palaeozoic sediments at the edge of the basalt. To the north the couse of the old stream was shown to be ditectly towards the Lysterfield wind-gap, and it was explained that the flats at the head of Dandenong Creek and the Lilydale basalt were directly connected with it. To the south its course was traced on to the pene-plain, and the effect of an east and west fault of large displacement was indicated by  the somewhat steeper slopes of the north. From the hill members had the pleasure of witnessing a glorious sunset, which fitly terminated the day's observations.

The plant remains found in the pipe and carbonaceous clay were as follow: - (?) Nephelites quercifolia, Deane; Tristanites augustifolia, Deane ; Eucalpytus, cf. Hootmanni, Ettingshausen ; E., cf Hermani, Deane;  E. Kitsoni, Deane ; Atherosperma Berwickense, Deane ; Mollinedia helicoiodes, Deane; M. praelongipes, Deane ; M., cf. Muelleri, Deane, previously recorded from Pitfield Plains; cf. Hedycarya, sp ; Lomatia Bosistooides, Deane ; L. dubia, Deane ; L. perspicua, Deane; Fagus Luehmanni, Deane ; F. Muelleri, Ettingshausen ; F., cf.  Risdoniana, Ettingshausen : F (?) sp. nov. ; cf. Poacites australis, Ettingshausen ; also rhizomes and stems, seeds (Carpolithes, spp.), and fragments of (?) conifers. Mr Searle obtained a particularly fine specimen in the end stem of a conifer. -

The Berwick Quarry is now Wilson Botanic Park. Wilson Botanic Park Berwick is one of the southern hemisphere's premier fossil flora locations. Significant Macrofossil Flora Fossils dating back 22 million years where found in the park in 1902 by Australia's foremost Paleobotanist Henry Deane. Many of these represent some of the earliest examples of rainforest in the drying environment in Southern Australia.

Henry Deane (1847 - 1924) was a civil engineer, specializing in railways, as well as a Botanist. You can read about him in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, here. The other botanist referenced in the list of plants above was Costantin von Ettingshausen (1826 - 1897) The Australian National Herbarium Biographical Notes (see here) say that Ettingshausen was one of the first to try to identify the Australian fossil flora.

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