The Amazing Case of Dr Ward


The Amazing Case of Dr Ward and Other Stories is a show developed by me and my wonderful collaborator, Sarah Depasquale.

Wandering through our local botanic gardens, the Williamstown Botanic Gardens, we asked ourselves the question, 'Where did all these exotic plants originally come from and how did they get to Australia?'

We discovered that part of the answer was 'the Wardian case', or as we like to say: 'The Amazing Case of Dr Ward!'

The problem of carrying botanical specimens on board ships had been ongoing for centuries. Then in 1833, Dr Ward (a plant enthusiast) experimented with sending some plants in a sealed glass and wooden case from London to Sydney and back again. The experiment was success and the transportation of plants was revolutionized and the terrarium craze was also sparked.

Sarah and I have found our delight in this story to be infectious. The Hobsons Bay Men's Shed need little persuasion to make us a couple of scaled down replica cases.


Loraine Callow (who works part time at the Williamstown Botanic Gardens managed by the Hobsons Bay City Council) created a glorious set of illustrations for us to use in a Kamishibai (Japansese wooden storytelling box).


Dr Luke Keogh (environmental historian and curator with a special interest in the global movement of plants in the 19th and 20th century) offered advice and encouragement and Nan McNab (editor and author) kept a close eye on us as we developed the story.

Jackie Kerin