Bancroft Exhibition – Horticulture

The Bancroft Exhibition Notes, Edited by Karen Tyler and Huxley Baberowski.

Horticulture

Joseph Bancroft was interested in all things to do with plants. His father was a farmer in Manchester, England.

When he arrived in Australia, he found that people ate about ½ kilo of meat a day, and that there was not enough grain or vegetables grown for people to have the right sort of diet. So he became a member of the Acclimatisation society of Queensland and spent a lot of time and money on experiments.

He produced new varieties of strawberries, wheat, grapes, and castor oil, plants and established plots of land where he grew palnts that could be tested to see how useful they were.

He also experimented with growing rye, barley, cotton, sugar cane, citrus fruits, clovers, grasses, date and coconut palms, and tried arrowroot and tobacco, which didn’t grow.

CLEARING THE BUNGWALL SWAMP ON BRIBIE ISLAND CIRCA 1895
CLEARING THE BUNGWALL SWAMP ON BRIBIE ISLAND CIRCA 1895

He also tried to grow rice while he was at Deception Bay. He cut down tea-trees on a flat wetland, put rice in amongst the tree stumps, and fenced the area to keep kangaroos and other marsupials out. He found that an Indian and American variety of rice grew well after it had rained. But the project stopped because he could not get people who could work on it.

The problem with wheat at that time was that it was infected by a fungal disease called ‘rust’. Joseph grew over a hundred different types, trying to find one that would not be affected by this disease, and eventually found four kinds that were successful.

From:

  • The Bancroft TraditionEdited by John Pearn and Lawarie Powell
  • The Bancrofts, Elizabeth Marks and Josephine Bancroft
  • Pituri, Plants and Physic, Alan Cribb, Joan Cribb and John Pearn
  • White Moon Black Kettle by Professor Geofrey Blainey.

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