Robert Fitzgerald (1830-1902)
Fitzgerald was a surveyor and naturalist, arriving in Sydney from Ireland in
1856. Soon after his arrival he was appointed to the Department of Lands as a
draftsman for the crown. In his own time Fitzgerald pursued his interest in
botany and in 1864 travelled to Wallis Lake, north of Newcastle in New South
Wales to collect ferns and orchids which he intended to cultivate around his
Hunter's Hill home. This interest in orchids was maintained throughout his life
and in 1869, 1871 and 1876 he visited Lord Howe Island to collect further
botanical samples. It was during this time that he discovered Dracophyllum
fitzgeraldii F. Muell, which was later named in his honour.
Fitzgerald worked for the Department of Lands and was an enthusiastic field
collector, devoting himself especially to native orchids. The publication of
the Australian Orchids was acclaimed throughout the
botanical world. J.D. Hooker considered it 'a work which would bring
honour to any country and to any botanist', while George Bentham
wrote 'thanks to you the Australian Orchidaceae are now better known
than those of any country out of Europe'.
The best and largest colonial series on Australian orchids.