The Natural History Collections (NHC) register is designed to provide information about the natural history collections held in Australian museums, herbaria, universities, government departments, including the CSIRO, and other organisations and provide access to their digitised records.

Collectory Map Page

See to explore our natural history collections.

Looking at a collection’s page the reader is given an overview of the collection – where it is physically housed, its size and makeup, some interesting statistics and a means to access the specimen records. Contact details are also provided.

NHC Map and Breakdown of Taxonomic Group

Click the image to display a larger image in a pop-up window.

Currently the NHC register holds information for all collections that come under the auspices of the newly formed Council of Australian Biological Collections (CABC). CABC is the overarching council representing Australia’s collection community, with executive representatives drawn from each of the councils, those being the:

  • Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria (CHAH)
  • Council of Heads of Australian Collections of Microorganisms (CHACM)
  • Council of Heads of Australian Entomological Collections (CHAEC)
  • Council of Heads of Australian Faunal Collections (CHAFC)

Before long it is hoped the NHC register will cover all Australian natural history collections, for instance those coming from university museums, community-run herbaria etc. This will allow the NHC register to become that one-stop shop for Australian natural history collections’ metadata!

The NHC register has a set of web services that can be used by other collections indexers, or organisations wanting information on Australian natural history collections and the people who curate them.

Since late last year, the NHC register has been accessible to the public from the Atlas’ website. The data was compiled by the Atlas initially using data from the Biodiversity Collections Index and the Resources of Australian Herbaria (RAH) with updates coming from collections’ websites and feedback from the curators and directors.

Tray of Beetles at ANIC

Tray of beetles at ANIC
Photo courtesy: Gavin Jackson
Atlas of Living Australia

Later this year, the NHC register will be moving into a new phase. In the fourth quarter, the content will be expanded to include more information about the taxonomic scope and holdings of collections including type specimens, to cater for molecular taxonomy and to store additional metadata required by the Resources of Australian Herbaria (RAH). The public interface of RAH will draw information from the NHC register, while retaining its own look and feel.

By late September, curators will have access to self-service editing facilities to allow them to keep their collections and institutions’ metadata up to date. Support will still be available from the Atlas team.

Information in the register will also be used to provide the taxonomic component of the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) reports on Australia’s Taxonomic Capacity. The workforce component of these reports will be derived from ABRS’s online surveys which in future will be supported by Atlas infrastructure.

For more information on the NHC:
Contact Us: Atlas Support


Collecting expedition in the Simpson Desert Day 6

Day 6 - Photo 17: Christie and Sean lead the camels Camp Day 6 (July 7th). Lat -23 .83292. Long 138.55421. Elev 91m. Time 6.36 pm.
By Paul Flemons, Australian Museum

Tip: Hover mouse over photo to see the caption. Click on photos to see different sizes and/or make a comment on Flickr.

Magnificent weather continuing – not a cloud in the sky at sunset. Very light breeze. Day was warm and excellent for walking.  The clear skies will ensure another cold night tonight. Long walking day today – about 9km over undulating terrain covered predominantly in spinifex and saltbush made for rugged walking with occasional respite afforded by dry and not so dry claypans. Once again we have chosen to camp on a dry claypan as it suits the camels for loading and unloading.

The Zebra finches are clearly doing well after the rain and flush of growth – they are by far and away the most dominant bird species. Today we saw a family group – the young birds identifiable by their dark bills, compared to the bright orange of their parents. We were attracted to them by their begging calls and watched them being fed by their attentive parents. Several members of the group are interested in the array of tracks on the sand dunes and we spend some of our time debating over fox, dog and cat tracks, the amazing “highways” of rodent tracks and unusual slide marks that could be snake, lizard or tail marks. Bustard tracks were found today, characterised by the three toe print, and dragging nail marks. Later in the afternoon we flushed a Bustard from the Gidgee scrub which caused excitement and wonderment in the group.

Day 6 - Photo 24: Paul and Istan The camels have settled in to their work on the trek. The first few days were trying for the cameleers, who had to work very hard to lead the “strings” of 19 camels through the desert. It was also a steep learning curve for us, learning to help load and unload the camels and fit them into their saddles each day. We’re all getting into the groove now and the morning loading is smooth and efficient, for both people and camels! The afternoon unloading is pleasant and relaxing, with ample opportunity for rubbing down our “favourite” camels and giving them cuddles. The camels are very vocal and we can tell they enjoy their afternoon hugs as they sigh and in some cases, lie their head right down on the ground.

Highlights of the day

Birds: White Backed Swallow, Rufous Crowned Emu Wren, White Winged Triller, White Backed Swallow, Australian Bustard, Chirruping Wedgebill, Australian Hobby.
Reptiles: Central Military Dragon

Camel trekking from previous days

  • Collecting in the Simpson Desert by camel, Day 5. Story »
  • Collecting in the Simpson Desert Day 4. Story »
  • Simpson Desert full of life on camel trek Day 3. Story »
  • Follow camel trek collecting animals in the Simpson Desert, F.W. Qld. Story »

Day 6 - Photo 20: Identification please Day 6 - Photo 11: Identification please Day 6 - Photo 19: Identification please Day 6 - Photo 9: Identification please Day 6 - Photo 16: Identification please Day 6 - Photo 28: Identification please Day 6 - Photo 23: Beth and camel Day 6 - Photo 18: Beth and camels Day 6 - Photo 22: Bustard tracks Day 6 - Photo 15: Drying claypan between dunes Day 6 - Photo 13: Identification please Day 6 - Photo 21: Lunch break Day 6 - Photo 26: Sleeping quarters Day 6 - Photo 25: Yeehaa!Day 6 - Photo 27: Identification please Day 6 - Photo 8: Identification please