Robert Whyte

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Robert Whyte (born 1955, in Melbourne) is an Australian author, editor and journalist. His works include modernist fiction, political satire, science journalism and books. He is a founding co-owner and director of the Brisbane-based multimedia firm ToadShow. After 2012 he participated in the Australian Government's new species exploration program Bush Blitz. His works include the novel Manacles (1985), influenced by Irish authors James Joyce and Flann O'Brien,[1][2] a practical guide to creek restoration, The Creek in Our Back Yard (2011)[3] and A Field Guide to Spiders of Australia[4] for CSIRO Publishing.


Robert Whyte delivering a paper on invertebrate biodiversity Photo: Mark Crocker[5] at the Brisbane City Council's 2010 Biodiversity Forum

Robert Whyte was born in Melbourne in 1955.[6] His family moved to Brisbane in 1957. He attended Ironside State Primary School and Brisbane Boys Grammar School. He attended James Cook University in 1974 but did not complete a degree.

In 1976 he was awarded a One Year Young Writer's Fellowship by the Literature Board of the Australia Council for the Arts.[7][8] In 1978 Planet Press, Brisbane, published the 64-page Negative Thinking, a book of short prose pieces and drawings with additional poems by co-author Peter Anderson.[9]

In 1980, under the name Robot Wireless, he produced From Inside the Asylum (500 copies), Life and works of Robert Wireless (100 copies) and A 3D Glimpse of the Hearing Process (with Cheryl Adamson and Hugh Ramage).[10]

In 1981 he completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Art Studies at Alexander Mackie CAE (now University of Western Sydney), and was a contributor to Sydney art magazine Art Network. He participated in that year’s Open Artist Studio project.[6] He lived in Melbourne from 1982-1985 at which time his novel Manacles was published.[11]

In 1985 he undertook the production of Environment Victoria, the magazine of the Conservation Council of Victoria, now Environment Victoria. In 1987 he was founding co-editor of contemporary art magazine Eyeline with Sarah Follent and Graham Coulter-Smith.[12]

Robert Whyte is a co-owner of ToadShow, a multimedia firm in Brisbane, Queensland.[13] He has taught new media and writing at Griffith University, University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology. During the 1980s and 90s he was a lecturer at the Australian School of Journalism, teaching the freelance journalism component.[14]

 Anne Jones, Damien Ledwich, Robert Whyte and mark Bracken, editors of Cane Toad Times.
Anne Jones, Damien Ledwich, Robert Whyte and Mark Bracken, editors of Cane Toad Times.

As a web designer he was responsible for Brisbane Stories a collection of web sites revealing stories of hidden Brisbane featuring art, environment and history.[15]

Robert Whyte was an editor of The Cane Toad Times from 1985 to 1990.[16][17][18] Since 2002 he has been an active environmentalist.[19] In 2010 he was appointed to the position of Director, Save Our Waterways Now, a community environmental organisation restoring habitat in Brisbane's west.[20] Between 2010 and 2013 he undertook habitat restorations projects in South East Queensland.[21] In 2011 his book The creek in our backyard: A practical guide for landholders[22] was published, an expanded second edition appearing in 2013[23] A field guide to the spiders of Australia for CSIRO Publishing was released 1 June 2017.[24][4]

In 2017 Robert Whyte was coopted to serve on the Wikimedia Australia committee.[25]

Bush Blitz[edit]

Robert Whyte at Kiwirrkurra
Robert Whyte far right with the Bush Blitz team in Kiwirrkurra Indigenous Protected Area Gibson Desert WA.

Robert Whyte has participated in the Australian Government's new species exploration program Bush Blitz since 2012's Fish River Bush Blitz,[26] as a scientist specialising in spiders and as a scientific photographer. In 2017 he attended his fifth Bush Blitz, in Quinkan Country inland from Cooktown on Cape York Peninsula, where he photographed and filmed live many of the more than 50 new species of spiders discovered on the trip.[27][28][29] In 2013 he attended the Henbury Station Bush Blitz[30][31][32] in the Northern Territory where 297 species were added to those known on the property including 12 species new to science. In 2014 Robert Whyte participated as scientist and photographer in the Home Valley Bush Blitz[33][34][35] in The Kimberly, Western Australia and in 2015 participated in the Kiwirrkurra IPA Bush Blitz in the Gibson Desert in Western Australia.[36][37]

A Field Guide to Spiders of Australia[edit]

Media around the publication of A Field Guide to Spiders of Australia by CSIRO Publishing (with co-author Greg Anderson and a Foreword by Tim Low) included interviews on national television. Channel 7 Weekend Sunrise featured a newsreader with arachnophobia experiencing a Huntsman Spider on her arm.[38] ABC News Breakfast on Monday 12 June discussed Australian spiders generally, with Whyte pointing out that only the Funnelweb and Mouse Spiders had potentially deadly venom, that no-one In Australia had died from spider bite since 1979 and the stories of dangerous White-tailed Spiders and Daddy Long-legs were bogus.[39] Brisbane ABC radio featured an hour long segment with an ABC staffer being successfully desensitised to spider fear by handling a Golden Orb-weaver in the studio.[40] The News Network report on Five reasons why you shouldn't be afraid of spiders, based on the content of the book.[41] On 17 November 2017 Robert Whyte and Eddie Ayers co-hosted a session at Brisbane bookshop Avid Reader featuring A Field Guide to Spiders of Australia by Robert Whyte and Danger Music by Eddie Ayres, both of which appeared in Australia’s Summer Reading Guide’s highly recommended list.[42] On 4 May 2018 Robert Whyte appeared on Gardening Australia as a “My Garden Path” presenter, explaining the link between spider diversity and healthy gardens.[43]


  • Negative thinking, Brisbane, Planet Press, 1976, [64]p., Limited edition of 500 copies, ISBN 0908193025[44]
  • Manacles, Melbourne, Melbourne Paragraph of the Senate of Pataphysical Representatives, 1985[11]
  • From inside the asylum, Robot Wireless, South Sydney, Brou Ha Ha Books, 1980, [18] p., ISBN 0959321306[45]
  • The creek in our backyard: a practical guide for habitat restoration, Second edition revised and expanded June 2013. Save Our Waterways Now Inc, 2013 59 pages, colour illustrations, colour map, colour portraits ISBN 9780646902142[46]
  • A field guide to spiders of Australia, by Whyte, Robert, 1955, and Anderson, Greg Clayton, Vic., CSIRO Publishing, 2017 ISBN 9780643107076 [47][24]


  1. ^ Dever, Maryanne, Ash, Jennifer, "The Politics of Publishing and Postmodernism: Robert Whyte’s Manacles", Southerly: A Review of Australian Literature (Australia), 48:2, June 1988, pp. 212-223.
  2. ^ Manacles / a novel by Robert Whyte National Library Record
  3. ^ "The creek in our back yard" ISBN 978-0-646-55158-6. Save Our Waterways Now Inc | ABN 78 309 030 727 and second edition revised and expanded June 2013 ISBN 978-0-646-90214-2
  4. ^ a b "A field Guide to the Spiders of Australia" for CSIRO Publishing
  5. ^ "Take a closer look: observations of a digital naturalist"
  6. ^ a b "Robert WHYTE". ARI Remix: Living Archives, Artist-Runs 1980-2000 Qld, NSW, ACT. 2015-11-04. Retrieved 2017-05-13. 
  7. ^ Austlit. "Robert John Whyte: (author/organisation) | AustLit: Discover Australian Stories". Retrieved 2017-12-11. 
  8. ^ "Robert WHYTE". ARI Remix: Living Archives, Artist-Runs 1980-2000 Qld, NSW, ACT. 2015-11-04. Retrieved 2017-12-11. 
  9. ^ Anderson, Peter, & Whyte, Robert, 1980 Negative thinking / [by Peter Anderson and Robert Whyte] Planet Press, Brisbane ISBN 0-908193-02-5
  10. ^ National Library of Australia Catalogue
  11. ^ a b Whyte, Robert (1985-01-01). Manacles / a novel by Robert Whyte. Melbourne: Melbourne Paragraph of the Senate of Pataphysical Representatives. 
  12. ^ Queensland Artworkers Alliance. 1987 Eyeline National Library
  13. ^ Jordan, Peter 2007 Career FAQs Digital Media ISBN 1-921106-49-2
  14. ^ Australian School of Journalism
  15. ^ Brisbane Stories
  16. ^ jurisdiction=Queensland, ; corporateName=State Library of Queensland;. "Cane Toad Times". Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  17. ^ "Cane Toad Times Warts and All Best of Collection 1977-1990". Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  18. ^ Whyte, Robert (2011). Poking Fun in a Police State. Brisbane: State Library of Queensland. ISBN 9780975803080. 
  19. ^ "Spidiversity"
  20. ^ Director, Save Our Waterways Now, Inc
  21. ^ Creek Rescue and Catchment Care (CRACC)
  22. ^ Robert., Whyte, (2011). The creek in our backyard : a practical guide for landholders. Save Our Waterways Now (Organisation). The Gap, Qld.: Save Our Waterways Now Inc. ISBN 9780646551586. OCLC 780532080. 
  23. ^ Robert,, Whyte,. The creek in our backyard : a practical guide for habitat restoration. Save Our Waterways Now (Organisation) (Second edition revised and expanded June 2013 ed.). The Gap, Queensland. ISBN 9780646902142. OCLC 856951935. 
  24. ^ a b Whyte, Robert; Anderson, Greg (2017-06-01). A Field Guide to Spiders of Australia. 
  25. ^ "Committee - Wikimedia Australia". Retrieved 2017-12-07. 
  26. ^ "Fish River Station NT, 2012 - BushBlitz". BushBlitz. 2013-09-15. Retrieved 2017-04-14. 
  27. ^ "Spider photographer documents discovery of 56 new species". ABC News. 2017-04-13. Retrieved 2017-04-14. 
  28. ^ "Media centre - BushBlitz". BushBlitz. Retrieved 2017-04-14. 
  29. ^ Ten, Network. "New Spider Species". TenPlay - New Spider Species. Retrieved 2017-04-14. 
  30. ^ "Henbury Station NT, 2013 - BushBlitz". BushBlitz. 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  31. ^ "Henbury Station Bush Blitz 2013 Jo Harding". Flickr. Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  32. ^ "Henbury Station Bush Blitz 2013". Flickr. Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  33. ^ "Greatest Species Discovery in Western Australia in 10 Years". earthwatch. Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  34. ^ "New species discovered on Kimberley Bush Blitz - Media release 3 June 2014". Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  35. ^ "Bush Blitz TeachLive 2014". Bush Blitz TeachLive 2014. Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  36. ^ "Kiwirrkurra Bush Blitz - ToadShow - Graphic design, web design, multimedia, creative communications, Toowong, Queensland". Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  37. ^ "Central Desert Land and Community Team". Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  38. ^ "How to overcome a fear of spiders in five minutes - watch now". Yahoo7. Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  39. ^ Breakfast, News (2017-06-11). "Australia is an "Aladdin's cave" for spider experts says scientist and author Robert". @BreakfastNews. Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  40. ^ Spiders: Are they really out to get you?, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2017-06-12, retrieved 2017-06-22 
  41. ^ "How you can cure your spider phobia". NewsComAu. Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  42. ^ "Summer Reading Guide - Launch #1 - Avid Reader". Retrieved 2017-12-05. 
  43. ^ My Garden Path - Robert Whyte, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2018-05-10, retrieved 2018-05-09 
  44. ^ "Negative thinking / [by Peter Anderson and Robert Whyte]. - Version details". Trove. Retrieved 2017-04-24. 
  45. ^ Robot Wireless (1980-01-01). From inside the asylum / Robot Wireless. South Sydney: Brou Ha Ha Books. ISBN 0959321306. 
  46. ^ Whyte, Robert; Save Our Waterways Now (Organisation) (2017-04-24). The creek in our backyard : a practical guide for habitat restoration / Robert Whyte. The Gap, Qld: Save Our Waterways Now Inc. ISBN 9780646902142. 
  47. ^ Whyte, Robert; Anderson, Greg; CSIRO (2017-01-01). A field guide to spiders of Australia / Robert Whyte and Greg Anderson. Clayton, Vic: CSIRO Publishing. ISBN 9780643107083. 

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