Tuesday, March 27, 2018


More  anecdotes  from  the  life  of   Margaret Vine
Deeply   concerned about the  care  and  protection of  Magnetic Island's wildlife, Margaret Vine   fed  a large  number of  Wallabies, Kookaburras and Curlews, all of which had  names  drawn  from  opera , Shakespeare  and  the  classics. 
By Peter Simon
Hanging  on her  wall  was  a  Clifton Pugh  painting  of a  Wombat, perhaps even  his pet one. He illustrated the book Death of a Wombat which showed  what  bushfires did to the  wildlife of Australia. The artist's home in the bush at Dunmoochin , Victoria,   became an  animal sanctuary and attracted  a colony  of artists .

Alarmed by  the condition of a  newly hatched   Curlew chick, Margaret contacted  an animal carer , dubbed the Queen of the Jungle, who had a  long involvement   with    Curlews  and   Torres Strait  Pigeons .

 As  it happened  , I drove the  Queen  of  the  Jungle  to   the Vine residence to  look at the  bird . Upon arrival  , she  was informed  it looked as if  it had died . Picking it up, after a  quick  examination,  the  Queen    held  the  ball of  fluff  up to her mouth and blew into its beak . Much  to  the  delight  of all  ,  the bird moved. The   Curlew was  transported to the  Queen's residence , named   Margaret  after  Margaret Vine ,  and   hand  reared  .

 Eventually the  female bird matched  up  with  one  named Spikey , became" strange" when another   female  appeared on  the  scene ,  flew  away .

Margaret  Vine , skilled at editing , assisted   the Queen  of the Jungle   compile an information  pamphlet ,The Cry of the  Curlew , above ,  put together   over many editorial  sessions , at  a  round  table   in  the open ,  at   Margaret's  place,   fine champagne , choice  cheeses  and  other  delicacies  provided .

One of the Curlews which strolled  about nearby  during these  sessions was  named  Groucho Marx  , because he  had  big eyes, walked like him and Margaret  added  he was   grumpy by nature .Thousands of  the  Curlew  leaflets have been handed out on the island  to visitors . Two days ago, the Queen of the Jungle  pulled out  a   plastic wallet  containing   drafts  of  the  leaflet  with  many  handwritten   notes ,  an unusual  bundle  of  island  history .

A Possum which  scampered about  demanding   attention from Margaret  bore  a name  from   opera .  It  could have  been  the one  which   reached  up  and grabbed  a  delicacy from the hand of  a woman , one of two  friends   from south , Margaret was  entertaining , champagne   flowing  .

During the editorial sessions  Margaret  pointed out many of the named, inquisitive  Wallabies  which hopped about in the   nearby large granite boulders , able to leap onto  the  flat  roof  of  the  house .
 A considerable  amount of money was spent by  her   feeding the  wildlife: large bags of mixed  seed , pellets  , carrots , stir fried  steak  cut into  tiny pieces for  the  Kookas . Quite some time ago,  when she seemed   healthier ,  she told me she  felt like writing  about her many  pets, which  included   more  than  40  Wallabies .
Without  him knowing , I offered the   services of  illustrator , author and  film maker  Peter Burleigh , who had written  the Bulldust Diaries  , about   a  car safari with friends across  North Australia in search of the elusive barramundi  , for  this blog . I am sure,  said   I , Burleigh would be  only to happy to illustrate  her   wildlife special .

There was  a  subsequent  surprise   response  to my  unauthorised  use  of  Burleigh's  brush .  Margaret emphatically  told me she would not like her  pets subjected to any satirical treatment . Taken aback , I wondered what  had  sparked this  statement . I could only surmise  she  had looked at  the Bulldust  Diaries and  had  been  shocked  by  the animal  drawings , one  shocker   below .
NEXT: An  insight into  Margaret  Vine's   extensive research  into Australian art , Queensland  regional  history  and   her  strict  editorial  standards.