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The arrival of free settlers from the early 1790s seems to have led to some level of self prescription and experimentation with local plants as individuals and families established themselves in increasingly remote locations (Cribb 1983, Maiden 1889/1975, Webb 1948).
Later, when free settlers arrived in greater numbers to settle the flat plains, the surrounding hills and mountain ranges 'ensured a sanctuary for the poor where a degree of independence and freedom could long be maintained'.
In some cases these include records of members of convicts' families transported as free settlers.
The statuesque Oscar-winner, who has loved Ireland ever since she filmed Far and Away in Co Kerry with ex-hubby Tom Cruise 16 years ago, added: "They came to Australia as free settlers in the 1800s with a pioneering spirit.
The Australian ancestors of 16 million British people were revealed in the records, which date from the New South Wales Free Settlers in 1826.
Convicts typically served their sentence building roads, bridges and buildings or for free settlers