Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Soon after Cyclone Tracy , a large part of the Australian naval fleet , including the aircraft  carrier  HMAS  Melbourne  , top , right , steamed into Darwin to  help  the recovery. While  it  was in  the  harbour I  went aboard to see  a naval photographer and in  an all hands on deck  scenario was  engaged to help  move  refrigerators with a trolley  inside the  cavernous  vessel.  One  of  the most  spectacular  photographs I accumulated  was  a  panoramic view  of Darwin  looking  as if it had been hit by a nuclear bomb , taken by  a hand held camera  from  a jet  fighter  ,  the photographer in  a  helicopter .   

Memories of  the post cyclone period came to mind when  one of the several special 40th TV anniversary reports  showed former Northern Territory  News  editor Big Jim Bowditch  tucking into   a meal  at the Darwin High School which  dispensed  food  to  large numbers of  people .   Also  seen serving   choice tucker there was jovial Ronnie Yip   from  The  Vic Hotel .
In my capacity as the government press officer  in Darwin ,  I compiled the  regular Government Newsletter  which was  run off  in  large numbers and  handed  out at  all  the  emergency  food  and    help  centres  in  the city.

My wife , Judith ,worked at  the Nightcliff  High School , another   centre   which   fed  people , workmen; she commuted  by bike from our  torn apart house .  From  the  school   people were bussed to the airport to be flown south,  some in a US  Starlifter  .  My  wife  saw  police  pull  guns on  men  dressed  as women trying to force  their way into  a  bus at Nightcliff.  When  she  developed what was  thought to be  thrombosis in a leg , she was admitted  to hospital  where   blood  thinner  was  incorrectly injected  and  both her  arms blew up ,  resulting  in   her  being  evacuated  to  Sydney  in  a  Hercules.

NEXT :  How  Santa   was  punched in  the nose  and  defending PM Gough Whitlam .  Peter  Simon