The Victorian Alps

Map of the Alpine region of VIctoria
The Alpine region of Victoria. Derived from ‘Map of Victoria Showing Mueller’s Geographical Divisions’ in A.J. Ewart’s ‘A census of the plants of Victoria, with their regional distribution and the vernacular names, as adopted by the Plant Names Committee of the Field Naturalists' Club of Victoria’. Field Naturalists’ Club of Victoria, p. 94.

The Victorian Alpine region includes the Australian Alps and the South Eastern Highlands. In Australasian herbaria, 650 specimens are attributed to Williamson that were collected from the Australian Alps, including 601 that were collected in Victoria, 36 in the ACT, and 13 in NSW1.

Williamson travelled throughout these regions collecting rare specimens and documenting them in field trip reports published in the Victorian Naturalist. Reports such as ‘Where the Murray Rises’2 (coauthored by C.S. Daley) (1922), ‘Our Alpine Flowers’3 (1922), ‘Plant Hunting in the Cobungra District’4 (1929) speak to his vast knowledge of the alpine flora. Additionally, Williamson featured in several reports from expeditions he took with members of the Field Naturalists’ Club of Victoria, including ‘A Botanical Trip to Mount Baw Baw’5 (1904) written by Dr. C.S. Sutton (1864-1950). After these botanical journeys they exhibited botanical specimens – including rarer alpine species – at the clubhouse of the FNCV.

Bogong High Plains hand drawn map

Above: Hand drawn map of the Bogong High Plains and Alpine region documenting the area travelled by Williamson, Downes and Charles during their 1922 fieldwork  (The Victorian Naturalist, 1923-1924).

The Bogong High Plains

The Bogong High Plains is located approximately 400 kilometres north east of Melbourne. In December of 1922, H.B. Williamson set out on a plant expedition through ‘the plains’7 in search of rare alpine plant species.

Accompanied by Mr. Downes and fellow plant enthusiast and mountain rover Mr. S. Clinton they traversed the region by horse and foot. The journey would take them across 80 kilometres of alpine landscape, climbing terrain at altitudes above 5,000 feet.

In his report ‘A Trip to the Bogong High Plains’ in the Victorian Naturalist Williamson documented 48 specimens among the alpine landscape. He gave an account of rare alpine plants including an ‘underdescribed Brachycome’7. Specimens including Ranunculus millanii (Dwarf buttercup), Acacia dallachiana (Catkin Acacia), Olearia brevipedunculata (Slaty-daisy Bush), Pultenaea capitellata (Hard-head bush pea) and Epacris petrophila (Snow heath) were among rare species collected during this trip.

Grevillea polybractea H.B. Will.

One of Williamson’s most notable collections from this region is possibly the specimen of Grevillea polybractea collected at Granya Gap, north of the Bogong High Plains in 1925. This species was described by Williamson and published in The Victorian Naturalist9. The lectotype specimen of G. polybractea is accessioned at the National Herbarium of Victoria and additional specimens were sent to the National Museum of Natural History (US) in the United States.

Above: Grevillea polybractea specimen collected by Williamson from Granya Gap, Tallangatta in 1925 accessioned at the National Herbarium of Victoria [MEL 2277962A]. Specimen image courtesy of the National Herbarium of Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens Board.
Above: Grevillea polybractea specimen collected by Williamson from Granya Gap, Tallangatta in 1925 accessioned at the National Herbarium of Victoria [MEL 2277962A]. Specimen image courtesy of the National Herbarium of Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens Board.

Flora of The Victorian Alps

Flora of the Victorian Alpine region

[a] Pultenaea capitellata Sieber ex DC.
Hard-head bush-pea
Rare in Victoria.
© Geoff Lay, RBGB, 2021.

[b] Brachyscome foliosa P.S.Short
Species collected by H.B.W. at Pretty Valley (Bogong Plateau), 1923.
Vulnerable in Victoria.
© Neville Walsh, RBGB, 2021.

[c] Olearia brevipedunculata N.G. Walsh
Rare species in Victoria.
Collected by H.B.W. during his Bogong High Plains expedition.
© Neville Walsh, RBGB, 2021.

[d] Epacris petrophila Hook.F.
Snow Heath
Rare in Victoria. Specimen collected by H.B.W. and was sent to herbaria including The Smithsonian Institute (US) in the USA.
© Geoff Lay, RBGB, 2021.

[e & f ] Acacia dallachiana F.Muell.
Catkin Wattle
Restricted to subalpine and montane forests on the Buffalo Range, eastern and western slopes of Mt Bogong and the Bogong High Plains and near Sassafras Gap8.
© Mike Bayly and Neil Blair, RBGB, 2021.


1. Australasian Virtual Herbarium, [Internet]. Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria. 2021. H.B. Williamson’s Victorian specimens [cited 2021 Jun 23]. Available from the AVH website.

2. Williamson HB, Daley C. Where the Murray rises. The Victorian Naturalist. 1922;39:4–12.

3. Williamson HB. Our alpine flowers. The Victorian Naturalist. 1929;39:162.

4. Williamson HB. Plant hunting in the Cobungra District. The Victorian Naturalist. 1929;45:271–76.

5. Sutton CS. A Botanical Trip to Mount Baw Baw. The Victorian Naturalist. 1904;22:58–61.

6. Atlas of Living Australia, [Internet]. 2021. Map of H.B. Williamson’s Australian Alps and South Eastern Highlands specimens, [cited 2021 Aug 23]. Available from:

7. Williamson HB. A trip to the Bogong High Plains. The Victorian Naturalist. 1923;22:58–61.

8. VicFlora Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Acacia dallachiana F.Muell. [Internet]. South Yarra (Victoria): Flora of Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria; 2016 [updated 2021 July 15; cited 2021 June 25]. Available from:

9. Williamson HB. Contributions to the genus Grevillea. The Victorian Naturalist. 1927;44:139–40.