Thursday, August 18, 2016


While making a quick raid on the Cairns CBD in the never ending hunt  for oddities, books , ephemera  and  the elusive Holy Grail, a shopkeeper  from whom a  few items  were  bought  was  asked if  there were  any other places  which  might  have offbeat  goodies  which  appeal  to  weirdos  like  Little Darwin  and  its readers.

Try the  Crackerbox Palace , was  the  reply,  just past the giant Captain Cook  statue  , in Sheridan Street , but it may  not  be  open  today . True enough , it was  shut . Tut,tut .  However  the  emporium  was  visited when  it  was  obviously  open  for treatment of  the afflicted   by  a  huge  kewpie  doll   flaunting  herself   on  the  footpath  .

Upon entering the premises  it looked [far left] as if  Her Majesty was  standing there in a right  royal blue hat , searching for  gear to  modernise  dreary  Buckingham  Palace . Before the  forelock could  be tugged , it  became apparent  it was  a   mannequin  in  the image of Lizzie Twostroke in ordinary dress,not  crown and   flowing  ermine  robe .  A stand out  surprise  was  Chesty Bond in a  singlet . He used  to be proudly Australian before Bonds was  bought  by the Yanks , along with Vegemite, Monte Carlo biscuits  and  probably  the ashes  of Horrie  the Wog  Dog . Desirable retro  objets  were  scattered  throughout .
 Little Darwin's  cluttered  den would take on a new  look  if space could be found on  a  wall   for that   mounted Marlin  trophy,  which   could  have been  caught  by Zane Grey  in New Zealand  or  Ernest Hemingway  in  Cuban waters. However, it  was part of a  235lb Black Marlin caught by  King  Hardwick ,off  Sydney,  in  l950,  and   is  on  consignment . 

At  the rear  of the shop  were  records-vinyl - displayed as  art  objects  and  racks of  distinctive clothing .  Riffling through some  45s , an interesting  one was Ted  Egan   going on about  Darwin's Beercan Regatta. A  cluster of postcards    revealed an unfortunate  episode where  a person ,possibly from overseas ,  doing an outback  tour ,  posted  PCs  to a  friend in  Sydney , but  they were  never delivered  because  of the wrong  postal address, all marked not known at this address . 

One of  the postcards , a view of Mt Conner, in the Northern Territory, told  of  being  stranded  by  rain  in Central Australia , the cold  weather  hard to  bear.

A particularly  interesting postcard  bought  was  about South Africa by  German  black and white artist  Heiner Egersdorfer who  came to Australia  from South Africa and  lived with Lionel and Norman Lindsay in  the artists colony  at   Charterisville , Melbourne .

 The proprietor of  the shop ,  Megan  Card ,  has been  in this line of  business  for   20  plus  years , her   first shop   at  Kuranda  , on the Atherton Tablelands .

The shop's name , she explained , was  inspired by George' Harrison's 1976  single  ,  the  promo film for which, directed by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame ,  showed a  group which  included Harrison , a  future   wife , Olivia Arias, and John Cleese   romping about in  an array of  wild  clothes . Harrison  had long been   a fan of American  stage performer  Lord Buckley , called the hippiest cat of them all ,  and   had visited  the old  Buckley  house  in Los Angeles called  Crackerbox  Palace .
 Through  her business,  Megan    mixed with local artists , musicians  and  indulged her interests in  records,  fashion ,  retro furniture , into  the latter before it  became so  popular. In  the past she has been involved in art exhibitions  and  staged  her   own  lighting  exhibition .
One of her great  buys  came when an 80 year old man  came in  and sold  his  mother's  large  wardrobe of  art  deco  clothing ; she  had been well to do and had  travelled  the  world .  It  gives her  much pleasure  bringing  old  fashion garments  back to  life .
 The retro  items have  come from far and wide over the years . A Brisbane  couple  had  provided her  with interesting retro furniture  some 20 years ago . Some is  bought locally, and she has  scouts out looking .

The large  kewpie doll  at the front of the shop was  specially made by an artist and  Megan liked it so much   she offered to buy it if she ever  felt like parting with it  and  eventually  it   was  offered  to her .