17th September, 1929 – 10th May, 2020


It is with sadness that we announce the death of Donald Simpson on 10th May 2020.


Donald Simpson was born in Townsville in 1929, and went to school there. He moved to Brisbane to continue his education, and worked as a teacher and a headmaster, first in Queensland, and then in England at Winchester House School.

During his time at Winchester House School, Donald spearheaded the introduction of 'The New Mathematics', bringing teaching of maths more in line with what was perceived to be the expectations of industry and the wider world, was an early adopter of computers setting up the Computer Room and had a love of music. He played the horn and taught himself all other instruments so that the children could access their instrument of choice. He ran the Chapel Choir, conducted the School Orchestra and put on numerous Gilbert and Sullivan productions as well as other plays. He was heavily involved in the Cubs and Scouts and led both canal boat and camping expeditions.

Arriving at WHS at a similar time to David Jones (1955), Richard Speight (1961) and Richard Murdin (1965), Martin Roberts writes in his book 'The House on the Hill', 'These men provided fresh legs on the games field and in their different ways were to work tirelessly on all those activities which make a preparatory school much more than a means of passing Common Entrance'.


He retired in 1994 and came to live on Magnetic Island, a place much loved by him from many holidays there as a boy. Although mathematics was his subject, he has always been interested in things that grow (he was head of an Agricultural School for some years), and this encouraged him to photograph and write the series of volumes on island plants.


His nephew Neil plans to continue to update the website with more photographs, either by replacing existing photographs with better ones, or by adding photographs of aspects of the plants that were not previously illustrated. 


Do please send Neil your new plant photos, comments or suggestions, using the contact us page. 




All of the plants shown in this website grow on Magnetic Island, 8 kilometres (5 miles) offshore from Townsville in North Queensland, Australia.

The island is in the dry tropics

The average rainfall is about 1500 mm (58 inches), most of it falling in the "wet season" (December to March). The rest of the year is very dry.

The plants described here may be found in the bushland near one of the walking tracks, or on one of the beaches, or by the roadside, or in the parks, or in private gardens. 



To find a plant, look under






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Donald Simpson passed away on 10th May, 2020

Donald Simpson passed away on 10th May, 2020

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Page last updated 21st May, 2020