Friday, July 14, 2017


Indulging his long  interest in the sea , ships  and  keen to interview  mermaids  in every  port  along the bounding  main  , our   nautical  reporter was "a-salt-ed " when  he went  looking for  maritime oddities  in  North  Australia . In  Cairns ,  at the admirable  Crackerbox  Palace , he fell  for  a Japanese  salt  and  pepper  set , known in the trade as  salts,  a  souvenir  of   the inland  port of  Echuca , Victoria , in  the shape of   the  famous Murray River  paddle steamer  , Adelaide , the  oldest wooden vessel  of  its kind in the world , built in Sydney in  1866, placed  ashore as a statistic display after many years , mainly rebuilt  and    recommissioned  once more as a working riverboat  by Prince Charles and Princess  Diana .   

As  can be expected, the thirsty  S(h)ipping  Reporter  knows  and  has  uttered many a salty oath while serving  before the  mast under   famous skippers , the  mad  Captain  Ahab, who unknowingly  kicked off  the Starbucks coffee  and  whaleburger chain ,  one  of  them .  In  an endeavour  to improve  and  polish  his cussing , he snapped up  A  Dictionary of  Sea Quotations , by Edward  Duyker, originally  sold by the  River Tales Bookshop , Margaret River , Western Australia, at  a  garage sale on Magnetic Island .

Then from an op shop   north of  Cairns , awash with many interesting  books , came  the  delightful  Last Port  Lyttelton The Life and Reminiscences of Captain William Laird Whitby  1838-1922, signed by author  Colin Whitmore Venimore , a ripping read about  a  boy who  went  to  sea   at  the age of   14,  became an  eyewitness to the  famous  bloody  Charge of  the Light Brigade into the Valley of Death  in the Crimean War  where he collected a large number of Russian muskets as souvenirs , became  involved  in  the  Battle of  Inkerman , and  survived  many dangerous  voyages , including encounters with  pirates , ending up   in  New  Zealand , blind  late in life . 
Tacking about the Cairns  CBD ,  our reporter dropped anchor in an old wares  shop ,  Kaotica , in the  Oceana Walk Arcade ,  where he inspected   the  above  attractive   table (reflections from neon lights ) with   a  shipping  scene  inlay on  top , a  bound in 1915 volume of  New Zealand  Gazettes nearby   for  $50 . Although  he liked  the table, it would  not  fit  into  his  kitbag , so  he reluctantly  left  it behind . 
Because of  a  family  interest  in  the early meat  export trade  from    New Zealand to the Mother Country in which a   bundle of money  was lost due to the freezing plant  breaking  down  during the  voyage ,  the  first  day  cover  above marking  the  centenary of  the frozen meat  industry  was bought  at the monthly Tolga market on a  bitterly cold  day  after  a wet and  windy  drive  from Cairns   up  the  Kuranda Range road .   
Our  S(h)ipping Reporter says he was  disappointed to see the unusual  old Adelaide  Steamship  Company building  in  the Cairns  CBD   is  still empty  and  suggests that  a  large maritime  photographic  display   could  be  placed  inside .