7000BC Earliest dated rock art on Bells Line of Road.
Darug Traditional Tribal Group inhabits northern Blue Mountains including Mount Tomah
1600 Estimated date for oldest eucalypt in the Garden
1804 Naturalist George Caley visits Fern Tree Hill, now Mount Tomah
1823 Archibald Bell discovers a route across Blue Mountains, afterwards known as Bells Line of Road
1823 Botanist Allan Cunningham visits the area
1830 Susannah Bowen receives the first land grant in the area
1934 Effie and Alfred Brunet acquire property for a cut-flower farm to supply Sydney florists
1972 The Brunets present their land to the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
1987 Mount Tomah Botanic Garden opens to the public (1 November)
2000 The Garden reaches a milestone 1 million visitors
2002 Darug Connections storyboard trail launches
2010 The World Heritage Education Centre opens
2011 The Garden gets a name change to Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah
Download a more detailed timeline of the Blue Mountain Botanic Garden history (PDF, 6.3mb):
The Darug Aboriginal people were the original owners of the land. 'Tomah' is reputedly an Aboriginal word meaning 'tree fern'.
European discovery and settlement
In 1804, naturalist and explorer George Caley became the first European to visit Fern Tree Hill, now known as Mount Tomah. In 1823, Archibald Bell, with Aboriginal guides, found the route across the northern Blue Mountains now known as Bells Line of Road. He was followed later that year by botanist Allan Cunningham (Superintendent of the Sydney Botanic Gardens 1837-1838).
In 1830, Susannah Bowen received the area's first land grant. The property was later used for dairying and as cattle resting paddocks. Three sawmills also operated, milling coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum), sassafras (Doryphora sassafras) and brown barrel (Eucalyptus fastigata). These species still dominate the rainforest sections of the mountain.
In 1934, the French-born horticulturist Alfred Brunet and his Australian wife Effie acquired the property now occupied by the Garden. They operated a cut-flower farm to supply Sydney florists, specialising in bulbs and other cool-climate plants. In the early 1960s, the Brunets proposed to donate their land at Mount Tomah as an annex of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. They presented the land for Mount Tomah Botanic Garden in 1972. With State and Commonwealth Bicentennial funds for development, the Garden opened to the public on 1 November 1987.
Evolution of the Gardens
Since 1993, the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah has included 186 hectares of sandstone woodland and gullies to be maintained as a conservation area.