Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Born 9 Jan. 1949, at Leongatha, VIC;
He was a good student till senior year 6 (matriculation) including head prefect at Aspendale Technical College. He lost interest during 2nd year diploma at Caulfield, while studying for Electrical Engineering Diploma.
He became involved with Australian Rules Football and moved to Brisbane to play for Windsor Zillmere for 2 years, worked as van driver for Daffodil products (margarine etc.). He then spent two years at Port Hedland working for the ship-loading part of a mining (iron ore) company.
His football career took him to Darwin in 1973. When Cyclone Tracy hit in 1974 he was working for YMCA as Bagot Recreation Officer, and got involved in other Aboriginal work instead of returning to WA. He lived at Mindil Beach Caravan Park and played some Rugby League with Brothers when not out of town working with Aboriginal communities. Spent most of 1980s in the building industry on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane.
He backpacked in 1989, starting with 2 months in Indonesia, then Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal and India. After 3 months in India returned to Thailand, and lived there till November 1994. He got interested in botany in Thailand, and decided to return to Australia to see if I could get a job in that field. Eventually he got a technicians job at the Darwin Herbarium (DNA) and worked there for ten years until October 2006. There he got a lot of encouragement from Clyde Dunlop, and revised NT Spermacoce.
Foror five years or more he spent every weekend working on this project, either collecting specimens from local populations, sorting through herbarium material, or writing descriptions. In 1987 there were only 13 species of Spermacoce (then referred to Borreria). At the end of his labours, Bob recognised 53 native species for the NT, 39 of which were new (Harwood & Dessein 2005). Bob also looked beyond the boundaries of the NT, making trips to WA and QLD to collect specimens and begin sorting taxa. However, the task of writing up this work was left in the capable hands of Belgium botanist, Steven Dessein, who worked at DNA from February to June in 2005.
Much of Bob's every-day work focused on general curatorial work and plant identifications. He enjoyed going bush, which is just as well as he was frequently sought for help in carrying out plant surveys, many for the monitoring of long-term fire plots and others for animal survey people wanting habitat data.
He retired from the Darwin Herbarium in early October 2006 and moved to Thailand.
Source: Extracted from: P.Short & G.Wightman, (2006) 'Bob Harwood' ASBS Newsletter No.129, p.13.
Portrait Photo: NT Herbarium.
Data from 574 specimens