Although Dr Beth Gott’s extraordinarily distinguished scientific career as an ethno-botanist ended on 8 July, her legacy will endure. Dr Gott helped us to understand, preserve and recover indigenous flora and learn about fire regimes, Aboriginal languages, bush medicines and the multiple seasons of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung calendar. She deepened our conception of nearby cultural places enabling us to conceive of Merri Creek as Wurundjeri Country. Her commitment to scholarship, field work, learning and the community was always with acknowledgement of and respect for Traditional Custodians. Even well into her 90’s, Beth joined local Merri community events and taught us more about murnong, the yam daisy that was once so wide-spread across the grassslands of the Merri and beyond.
Dr Gott was celebrated in a dedicated issue of the Journal of the Archaeological and Anthropological Society of Victoria (Artefact 2012) as their “long time and beloved member”. The floristic evidence she assembled sits in multiple botanical databases for eastern Australia. She managed the modern woman’s dilemma through the 1950’s with three children, a job and husband despite the discrimination against females to gain education and employment. She is respected worldwide for her ethno-botany and her portrait has been held in Canberra’s National Library for over two decades.
Photo: from lens.monash.edu