Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Dr Peter Lavarack (known to most as 'Bill') first visited Cape York Peninsula with Bruce Gray, Ron Collins and Mal Brown in 1968. In 1970 he joined the National Parks Branch of the Queensland Forestry Department as a botanist. In the early 1970s he joined Peter Stanton in a survey of the east coast of Queensland and of Cape York Peninsula looking for areas suitable for reservation as national park. This work resulted in the large national parks now present on Cape York Peninsula.
Although not his major task on these trips, he was able to discover a few new species of orchids (e.g. Arthrochilus dockrillii, Bulbophyllum blumei and Cadetia collinsii. Hoping to discover more new species and to record data on the occurrence, ecology and distribution of the orchids of Cape York Peninsula, he applied to the Australian orchid Foundation to provide finance for a series of expeditions to Cape York Peninsula. As a result there were six expeditions jointly funded by the AOF and the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Dr Lavarack was accompanied on these expeditions by several orchid experts notably Bruce Gray (CSIRO Forest Research), Ron Collins, John Clarkson (Queensland Herbarium) and David Jones (Australian National Botanic Gardens). Dr Phillip Cribb from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was also present on the Carron Valley Expedition along with Neville Howcroft from Papua New Guinea. Other occasional expedition members included Geoff Butler and John Wrigley from National Botanic Gardens Canberra, Merv Hodge from SGAP Peter McLain, Dave Wilson and John Grimes.
The expeditions started at lron Range and then investigated the McIlwraith Range, Carron Valley, Cape York and the Jardine River and Torres Strait. The AOF expeditions and other QNPWs expeditions resulted in several new species. The expeditions, along with the other related work of Dr Lavarack, provided a large body of data on the ecology of the orchids and certain other plants and on the vegetation of Cape York Peninsula including infomation on rare and threatened species such as Vanda hindsii and Phalaenopsis amabilis. Data were provided on the occurrence of poorly known species. This information was useful in the establshment and amanagement of the Cape York Peninsula national parks and other reserves.
Source: Extracted from: Laverack, Bill (2013) 'With Strange Device: A history of the discovery of Tropical Australia's Orchids', (Australian Orchid Foundation), Peter S. Laverack, Buderim, Qld
Portrait Photo: Extracted from: above publication