Objects | Inventions and Firsts


Wombat, Vombatus ursinus, 1798

Great North Museum: Hancock, Tyne and Wear

Firsts, Learning and Discovery

1600 – 1799

This is the first wombat to arrive in Europe.

It was sent to Newcastle by Captain John Hunter, the Governor of New South Wales, in 1798. Wombats were first discovered by non-natives when the crew of the salvage ship Francis visited Australia’s Clarke Island following the wrecking of the ship Sydney Cove in 1797. On their third and final salvage trip the crew collected one specimen of this unusual marsupial.

The late 1700s, when the wombat arrived, heralded an exciting time for the study of natural sciences. Western Europe was a centre of scientific endeavour, promoting global exploration leading to the discovery of new flora and fauna.

The arrival of the wombat in Newcastle helped our region to play a pivotal role in these discoveries, fostering and facilitating the study and understanding of novel plant and animal species.

Donated by Captain John Hunter (Governor of New South Wales), 1798
Mounted by Richard Wingate, 1827

On display at the Great North Museum: Hancock, Explore! Gallery (Collecting and Collectors case), Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

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