Thursday, January 29, 2015


The above  weird  email request  was  received at Little Darwin’s North Queensland  sanatorium from  notorious  American  gonzo journalist , Hunter S. Thompson ,who it seems has been sipping  soda  nonstop  since he  boarded  the Spirit of Queensland  train in  Brisbane on his way to  unsuspecting Townsville  to  do an exclusive  fear  and  loathing  report  on  the   Sunshine State’s  campaign  trail.

Tricky Dicky talked
baseball  with Thompson
His shoe phone, stolen from the CIA while he was  covering the  President  Nixon election , did  not respond when we urgently rang back to  ask what  the hell  he means ...shake  the  hand  of  the  famous  Townsville  Magpie ? 
In desperation , we  Googled  Townsville Magpie  and got what  seemed to be  a strong   clue to   the  feathered  mystery.


From 2002 to 2010, The Townsville Magpie was the most popular column in the Saturday Townsville Bulletin, with an estimated weekly readership of more than 20,000, almost half the Saturday paper’s circulation. It was christened The Magpie because the old bird’s gimlet eye was attracted to shiny little trinkets, both trivial and substantial – just like his namesake.

On his retirement in 2010 , The Magpie’s alter ego, journalist and columnist Malcolm Weatherup decided to keep doing weekly posts, with a slight change of character, offering a more edgy humorous take on politicians, the local council, Townsville Enterprise, and others near and far who would influence and regulate our lives.

Reader response was immediate and gratifying, and continues to grow steadily. The paper itself was one such organisation which merited hitherto impossible critical examination, and modern social media provided the ideal platform.

The spur for Malcolm’s personal ‘Media Watch’ came when the paper repeatedly published editorial lectures to local companies about the importance of jobs in North Queensland while at the same time stealthily sacking a third of its staff (almost 100 skilled people) to outsource jobs south and to India. None of which was reported in the paper. So Malcolm gave it detailed and unwelcome exposure, with an immediate response of both delight at the irreverence, general disgust at this behaviour, and howls of outrage from the Bulletin management.

His new independence allows him to continue to highlight some of the hidden roles of the paper itself, which at the time he left, was rapidly changing into a down-market tabloid. This was a move which he believes was a great miscalculation by a cynical News Ltd, and a grave disservice to the community from which the Bulletin derived so much financial benefit. Plummeting circulation and readership have confirmed his initial view – which he thinks is a crying shame for this city.

The Magpie’s insider knowledge of the paper’s functioning, management structure and editorial structure/policy has resulted in humorous posts which have greatly annoyed Holt Street HQ in Sydney, and prompted fruitless quasi-legal attempts to bully him (and even an uninvolved family member) into silence. No such luck.

Now entering his 48th year as a journalist, Malcolm intends to continue writing on all manner of subjects, not just the Townsville Bulletin, offering his unique take on all aspects of the community in which he loves to live.

Extra pages are being added to the Magpie’s Nest site to broaden its appeal. Hope you enjoy it and participate in the fun and information. You’ll need keep your sense of  both the ridiculous and your funny-bone well oiled.

After reading this , we realized we had solved  Hunter  S. Thompson’s odd  email   message  as  this  Weatherup  guy  sounds like  his   kind of  fearless  scribe .   Little  Darwin awaits  Hunter’s    arrival in Townsville  in a certain state of apprehension and has  arranged  for  an Irish  doctor  to  hit him  with  a  big  vitamin injection  when  he  stumbles  out  onto  the  platform , intent  on  hiring  a  fire engine red Cougar  and  speeding  around  to the  Weatherup residence , where parking is  a problem , and  present  him with a Pulitzer Prize   for real journalism.   Sounds  like  an interesting   conversation between  the  two  birds  is  in  the  offing .