Robert Fitzgerald (1830-1902)
Fitzgerald was a surveyor and naturalist, and arrived in Sydney from Ireland in 1856 and soon after 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 to be named in his honour.
He worked for the Department of Lands and was an enthusiastic field collector, devoting himself especially to the 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.