New Sydney herbarium to house Cook plants

Rachel Gray

Plants collected by Captain Cook's botanists during his 1770 voyage are among 1.4 million precious specimens to be moved from Sydney's Botanical Gardens to a new mega-herbarium in the city's west.

The upcoming NSW budget will allocate $60 million to the new Centre of Innovation in Plant Sciences in Mount Annan, which is expected to create 350 jobs, Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton announced on Monday.

The collection, worth $200 million, includes specimens gathered by botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solande during their voyage on HMS Endeavour to the Pacific 248 years ago.

A science, horticulture and education centre will be built in the existing National Herbarium site at The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands executive director Kim Ellis says the scientists in the new herbarium will be tackling some of the most critical challenges facing humanity.

"Without plants, we'd have no food, no medicines, no beer, no oxygen - put simply, there'd be no life on Earth," Ms Ellis said in a statement on Monday.

The move is part of the NSW government's plans to turn western Sydney into the heart of Australia's science and technology industries, Ms Upton said.

"We want the scientists, astronauts, doctors and professors of the future to come from Western Sydney, so it is vital we make these types of investments to inspire and educate," Ms Upton said in a statement.

The new herbarium comes as the state government builds the Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis and relocates the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta.

Construction on the new herbarium is expected to start next year and be completed ahead of the 250th anniversary of Cook's 1770 voyage.