Sir Joseph Banks

Sir Joseph Banks was born in England in 1743 and became a well known explorer and botanist in Australia. Educated at Harrow, Eton and Oxford, Banks grew up in a life of privilege. From an early age Joseph had an interest in plants and nature. He would use his pocket money to purchase unusual plants from a woman who would collect the specimens for drug makers.

In 1766 , at the age of 23, Joseph joined an excursion to Newfoundland and Labrador on board the Niger.
On this journey he documented 34 species of birds, including the Great Auk, which became extinct in 1844 and brought back many specimens of plants to England.

In 1768 , following astronomer Edmund Halley suggestion that it could be possible to measure the distance of the earth from the sun by observing the passage of the planet Venus across the face of the sun ('transit of Venus'), an expedition was organised by the Royal Society. Three locations had been identified to view the event Brazil, Tahiti and Australia. The expedition would be headed by James Cook on the HM Bark Endeavour. Banks role would to lead a group of eight naturalists and collect plant specimens.

Joseph Banks would later be influential in convincing the British government to colonialize New holland (Australia) and establish a settlement in New South Wales. In 1779 he told the House of Commons that Botany Bay would the perfect location to send convicts. For 20 years after settlement was established he would continue to pull strings and advise the government on all things concerning Australia. He in turn was continually called on for help in developing the agriculture and trade of the colony.

Things You May Not Know About Sir Joseph Banks

The Banksia was named after Joseph Banks.

Sir Joseph Banks appears on the face of the Australian $5 note.