Image Gallery: Fossil Remains from Wellington Caves, NSW

Since 1830, fossil vertebrates have been collected from Wellington Caves, NSW, a site known by the local Aborigines as 'Mulwang' Caves. Of the 58 marsupial species listed from the site, 30 are now extinct throughout Australia and 12 more no longer inhabit the Wellington region. The deposit also contained the bones of reptiles, birds, bats, rodents and monotremes dating from the late Pliocene to late Pleistocene period.

In 1866 Gerard Krefft, Curator of the Australian Museum made his first expedition to examine the caves at Wellington and the first photographic views of the neighbourhood of the caves were taken by Henry Barnes, the Museum's photographer. In 1869 Krefft returned under instructions from the Museum Trustees, accompanied by Dr A.M Thomson and Barnes. Together they obtained a large collection of specimens, many of which were not dispatched to Europe for study but kept in the Australian Museum. Krefft sent the famous English palaeontologist Sir Richard Owen reports of his work in 1869 and 1870, accompanied by 'duplicate' specimens, casts and photographs of some of the best specimens.

In 1870 Krefft also compiled a Guide to the Australian Fossil Remains, with handdrawn plates to accompany it (the originals of which were destroyed in the Garden Palace fire of 1882). Copies of these plates and some of the original specimen photographs were first published by Krefft's successor, Dr E. P Ramsay, in a Parliamentary report entitled 'Exploration of the Caves and Rivers of New South Wales' in 1882. The Museum Archives still holds the original glass plate negatives of some of these early specimen images taken by Henry Barnes.