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Albert (Bert) Morris (1886–1939)

from Barrier Miner

A career of outstanding botanical service ended today with the death at Warrawee Private Hospital of Mr. Albert Morris, of Railway Town. No keener student of botany could be found anywhere in the Commonwealth, and the fame that this self-taught botanist earned for himself carried beyond Australian shores. Mr. Morris, who passed away at 10.30 o'clock this morning, was aged 52.

His death will be mourned by thousands, old and young. Prime mover in the successful regeneration projects inaugurated some years ago, Mr. Morris's work will be long remembered.

Born at Bridgewater (S.A.), he came to Broken Hill nearly 50 years ago. From childhood he displayed an irresistible liking for plants, but it was not only 1918 that he made a systematic study of botany.

For 36 years Mr. Morris had been in the employ of the Central mine, for a number of years as chief assayer.

During his career Mr. Morris has collected the astounding number of 7000 different species of flora. Many of these have found their way into his own garden at Railway Town, but others have been planted at the Zinc Corporation nursery and elsewhere.

The most amazing part of Mr. Morris's ability was that he received no tuition. Yet it is doubtful whether any other botanist could tell him anything about his study.

Mr. Morris's possessions of different species of salt-bushes are world-known.

The late Mr. Morris early visualised the beneficial results that would eventuate the encircling of Broken Hill with natural flora. To this end he was encouraged, and he started growing trees and flora to check drift sand. He was responsible for the raising of the small trees which were later transplanted at Penrose Park.

The Albert Morris Park at the Zinc Corporation was designed and planted by Mr. Morris.

With the late Dr. W. D. K. Macgillivray he pioneered the field naturalists' movement in this district. He made many excursions outback, and eventually so much interest was shown in their work that speedily they had many supporters.

From this band of followers the popular Field Naturalists' Club was formed. Dr. Macgillivray was for many years president, while Mr. Morris was secretary from its inception.

Mr. Morris is an undoubted authority on the flora of the district, and his advice has been sought from various parts of the Commonwealth. To aid tree planting to be carried out on reclaimed areas at Whyalla and Iron Knob Mr. Morris's knowledge was tapped, while Port Pirie also requested him to advise on tree planting.

One of the objectives for which he worked untiringly in Broken Hill was the Dr. Macgillivray Memorial, it being Mr Morris's ambition to pay full tribute to Broken Hill's popular medical botanist, who, like Mr. Morris, had visions of transforming Broken Hill into a city of beauty.

Mr. Morris interested hundreds of residents in district native flora and in large numbers of rockeries to be seen in gardens in the city and plants that originally found their way from Mr. Morris's home in Railway Town a home which itself is a nursery and garden of repute.

Mr. Morris always believed in making field naturalists' work more interesting by acquainting the more humble members of the society with the common names of all species of plants, reserving the highly technical names for appropriate occasions.

When the South Australian Soil Erosion Committee visited Broken Hill in connection with its intensive inquiry into soil erosion and sand drift in the northern areas of South Australia, Mr. Morris astounded members of that body by his remarkable knowledge of flora, a knowledge which was of encyclopaedian proportions.

His death followed a long illness. At the end of September of last year he entered Warrawee Hospital, and later was taken to Adelaide for specialised treatment. He was brought back early in November, and has been in hospital ever since.

Mr. Morris, whose wife was also highly interested in botany, left a brother, Mr. Jack Morris, of Broken Hill, and two sisters, Mrs. Davies, of Sydney, and Miss Edith Morris. Mr. Morris' mother, Mrs. Emma Morris, still lives in Broken Hill.

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Citation details

'Morris, Albert (Bert) (1886–1939)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


13 August, 1886
Bridgewater, South Australia, Australia


9 January, 1939 (aged 52)
Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (brain)

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