Tuesday 16 July 2019

The Sausage Tree and the mystery of an early death

Sausage Tree located behind the Cenotaph at Queens Park, Maryborough.
Queens Park, Maryborough is the home of the bizarre native of tropical Africa, the Sausage Tree. This tree (Kigelia africana) grows a gourd like fruit that is up to 60 cm long, weighs about 7 kg and dangles from thin stems. This heavy-trunked tree is decorative and produces masses of purple orchid like velvet flowers that are suspended on thin stems. The original tree is known to have been gracing the rear of Maryborough Court house since the 1870s and did so for around 140 years before its demise.
It was a remnant of botanist John Carne Bidwill's (1815-1853) exotic botanic garden he established at Queens Park from his personal collection located at Tinana. A graft of that tree is now in its place. 
The graft from the original Sausage Tree from John Carne Bidwell's collection.
A mature tree still grows in the park behind the Cenotaph.
Sausage Tree located behind the Cenotaph at Queens Park, Maryborough.
According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography(1966) "at his (John Carne Bidwill's) own request he was appointed commissioner of crown lands at Wide Bay. He wrote in 1849 that he had more than £500 a year for doing what was only a pleasure." 

However, his joy was short-lived. Some two years later in 1851, while working on a new road to the Moreton Bay district, Bidwill was lost without food for eight days.  Even though he was able to find his way out, he died on 16 March 1853 at Tinana, at 38 years of age possibly from kidney disease caused from starvation and dehydration (Australian Dictionary of Biography,1966).

According to the Queensland Heritage Register the grave of Commissioner John Carne Bidwill is located on private property near the junction of Tinana Creek and the Mary River.
Bidwill's Headstone Source: Queensland Heritage Register
After his death "his brother Charles Bidwill came from New Zealand to collect his personal effects, all other items of Bidwill's were auctioned. In 1854 Sir Charles Moore and Walter Hill (curator of Brisbane Botanical Gardens) made a collection of specimens from Bidwill's personal garden"(Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1966)

A Bunya Pine from John's original collection is also in Queen's Park, Maryborough. 

#Bidwill #Sausagetree #Queenspark #Maryborough #Courthouse #Botanist

Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966 retrieved from http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bidwill-john-carne-1778 on 17.7.2019.
Commissioner Bidwill's Grave from the Queensland Heritage Register retrieved from https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/explorer/detail/?id=601822 on 17.7.2019.

#Bidwill #Sausagetree #Queenspark #Maryborough #Courthouse #Botanist

No comments:

Post a Comment