Tuesday, June 19, 2018


Treasures  from Townsville  University  Library  Special  Collections ,  # 1

Currently on  display in a  showcase  are  items connected to  James Morrill (1824-1865), a  sailor who lived with Aborigines  for 17 years after being shipwrecked  near Townsville   in  1846  , and   the  journalist  beachcomber of  Dunk  Island , Edmund  James  Banfield  (1852-1923 ).   
Published  Brisbane  1863 , Morrill's account .
Covered in green suede, with decorated brass edgings, the above  l857  Book of Common Prayer,  the initials IHS on the cover ,  presented in 1865  to  Morrill's  only son , James  Ross Morrill,  by his godparents , Robert E. and Mary Pym, of Bowen , Queensland , where  Captain Pym  was  the Harbour Master .    
James Morrill was  22 when he was shipwrecked  at  Cape Cleveland   and rescued  by  a  clan  of  Birra-Gubba  speaking  people .

The Beachcomber of  Dunk  Island
 Cover  above of   1866 book  presented to  journalist and author Edmund James  Banfield  by his mother.  Banfield's father owned the Ararat, Victoria, newspaper  , where  Edmund received  early training . In 1881 he went to  North Queensland, worked on the Townsville  Bulletin , moved to  the  then  uninhabited  Dunk Island   with his wife , where   he  wrote  The Confessions of a  Beachcomber , published  1908,  regarded  as  an Australian classic . His grave on Dunk  is  on  the Queensland  Heritage Register .

The  rare  items  in  the  display   were  donated  to   Special Collections  by  former  Townsville  antiquarian   bookdealers , Paul  and  June Tonnoir .


The  path of  self government in the  NT  will   be the subject of a talk by Ken Parish on June  28  at the Darwin  Archives  Centre . When self government was  granted in 1978 little  thought  had been given  to what legal and institutional  relationships  needed  to  be established  between  the  Territory Government, the Land Councils and  traditional owners to enable a  smoothly functioning  system .  Parish , a legal academic  at Charles  Darwin University, with research  areas  in public law,   a member of the  NT Legislative  Assembly in the early 1990s, is also  in the Friday Club .   Photo: Galarrwuy Yunupingu , chair of the  Northern Land Council , and  Chief Minister of  the NT , Paul"Porky"Everingham . Galarrwuy was the 1978 Australian of  the  Year .

Monday, June 18, 2018


 Cairns  Art  Gallery  
Made from wool, raffia and Tjonpi (desert grasses) , entitled   I am a Tjanpi Woman  2017, this is the work of  Tjunkaya Tapaya. Another photograph by Abra below provides  a different  perspective  and  greater detail of  the intricate work.
Tjunkaya , born 1947 in the  South Australian  desert,  brought up at the Ernabella Mission , is internationally  renowned   for  her  batik . In 1974 she and  other  Pitjantjatara  women  went  to Indonesia to study   batik  making . She  also works  in  acrylic, painting, weaving , ceramics  and wood carving . Her work has been exhibited  widely overseas  and is in  Australian galleries  and  the  British Museum

Sunday, June 17, 2018


Aurukun Airport, Gulf side of  Cape York , Abra Photograph.

Saturday, June 16, 2018


A dealer in oddities( including  Rhesus monkeys  and Penny Blacks  ) , a  book from a garage sale , a  famous  cartoonist  and  James Cook  University  Special Collections   combined  to breed this  Little  Darwin  brumby which romped  home  at  odds of  100-1 . Puzzled stewards  are  still   investigating .
Knowing this blog's interest in Australiana , ephemera  and assorted   oddities , no matter if grubby , a South Australian  dealer  recently  sent  a broken and battered   copy  of  the 1904 edition  of Phil May in Australia, being  drawings  by the British cartoonist for the Sydney Bulletin . One of the many  great   full-plate drawings, above , covered the toffs, bookies , jockeys ,  possibly  politicians at  the  Randwick, Sydney, races.
Tucked away, almost overlooked , at the bottom   right corner, was a panel showing  a flash looking  cove , possibly a  bookie or punter -with  a cravat?!!!-  on  settling day  at  the far away races  in   the booming goldmining town of Charters  Towers , North Queensland  ,  bearing a  racy caption .   
Things we see  when we haven't got a gun was a line often used by May in his  cartoons .   
Horses  which bolted during an  electric storm led to the   Charters Towers  goldrush .  A  young Aborigine , Jupiter , out looking for  them , came across  gold and  reported  it to the  group of  men  he was  travelling with , on Christmas Day  1871  , who  were searching for  gold .
 A jockey club was started early in the Towers  and  held its  first race  on Queen's Flat ;  a racecourse  was  formed   in 1874 . An assayer for the   Bank of New South, the first bank  on the field,  Thomas Buckland ,above, was interested  in horseflesh ; he cashed in on the boom , made pots of money, later   knighted   became  president  of  the  bank .  
There was so much gold  dug up at Charters Towers that one resident is said to have had a  nag  shod with golden horseshoes. The Towers  became the state's  second biggest  city , supported   90 pubs , had its own stock exchange on which  fortunes were won and  lost. It had so many modern conveniences , including gaslighting in the streets , that it called itself  The World.
Numerous sports were supported, including  footracing . Fast off the mark  between l887 and 1902  was    Fred Erickson , nicknamed  " Carbine "  after  the  famous Melbourne Cup  winner .  
One of those  who made  a  fortune was blacksmith  Frank  Stubley . He bought into a  reef named St. Patrick, which proved extremely rich .  His personal  wealth was estimated to have been  400,000  pound .  He invested in other  mining ventures , was  extremely popular, threw money about   and  became  the MLA for  Kennedy  from 1873  to 1878.
Known to  bet  thousands on  a racehorse ,  he eventually   went  broke , became a swaggie  , died   wandering  along  the  track .
Between 1885-1911 the annual output of gold never fell below 100,000 ounces , 319,572 in 1899, yielding $60,000,000 during  its  lifetime .  The Charters  Towers  1872-1972  Centenary book , printed by the Northern Miner,  had  gold covers .
 A surprise find  turned up  this week during a visit to  Special Collections  at  the  James Cook University Eddie  Koiki  Mabo Memorial Library - a ledger  for  the  Charters Towers  Amateur  Hack  Club  from  1932  to the  l950s .
The ledger , above , includes the names of  members  over  the years  and  letters stating  the  balance of  funds  in the  bank.  On a  marbled  endpaper  is the trade sticker of  a  Brisbane firm of book binders and stationers, the  date  13.5.9  . 
Annual races held by the  club were  written up in Townsville  and Brisbane newspapers  during the  l930s.  The grass fed  hacks  had names such as  British Queen, Spanish Scholar, Bang Whiz  and Gulf Boy . The  Ladies Bracelet  Race  was  a  major  event    

Friday, June 15, 2018


British cartoonist Phil May defined  the  settling  of  Australian  in  this  circa 1900 drawing for  the Sydney  Bulletin  depicting  the  centenary of the arrival of  the  first  fleet  in Sydney in 1788 . It is  captioned "Poor Pfella Me!"  ... Whomever Australia is for, it  is  not  for the Australian  Aboriginal . John Bull,on a plinth named Australia 1788-1888 is shown  delivering  the  boot to Aborigine derisively  named King Billy ; others in the group  represent  Germany , China , America  and  France.   Prime Minister Malcolm  Turnbull  recently  delivered what was described as a  " kick in the  guts "  when he  rejected  the  Uluru Statement  call  for  an  indigenous  advisory   body .