Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
"In July 1968 John Maconochie, myself
and a new assistant, Jenny
Must (Purdy) set off in the
lead in the heavily laden botany section Land
Cruiser; following us was a short wheel based
Nissan Patrol from Adelaide University in which
was Tony Orchard and an off-sider named Joe Weber.
The route of the six day trip took us through Todd River Station, down to Andado, west to Kulgera then north to Alice Springs. The first few days saw some pretty tough going as the countryside was sodden, with areas under water and creeks flowing. The laden Land Cruiser sank into some bad wet bogs causing much work by shovel and tow rope. I had developed a trick of pushing steel fence pickets under the tyres of a bogged vehicle, which works very well.
As this was Jenny's first trip, John generously let her be the collector for the NT Herbarium. The South Australians made their own collection. By the time we came to a research site in big sand dunes on Andado we had quite a few very full plant presses. We met up with Al Weiderman from Canberra, and Rod Hodder of CSIRO Alice Springs. They were conducting an ecological survey across the dunes. The weather was cold with periods of light rain.
One day it was decided that the botany group would help Rod and Al with their work. The presses were arranged around a big camp fire to help dry the specimens. Joe stayed to keep watch while the rest of us drove away several kilometres to go trudging over the sand-hills. After some time we noticed a distant plume of smoke. Its origin was disastrously apparent when we returned to camp.
Becoming bored, Joe had gone for a walk. During his absence the plant presses had ignited. All that remained of them was ash, belt buckles and copper rivets. Luckily, we had a supply of empty presses so we then had a very busy time doing another collection, so Jenny got her botanical start after all."
Recollections of Des Nelson, 2012
Source: Extracted from: "Working with John Maconochie (1941-1984)" by
Australasian Systematic Botany Society Newsletter 150 (March 2012)
Portrait Photo: Extracted from: George Chippendale photo collection at ANBG.
Data from 1,801 specimens