Sunday, November 29, 2009


Considerable media attention - including an unladylike raspberry from Alderman Heather Sjoberg - has been given to the new walkway nearing completion in Smith Street to protect locals and residents as they wander from the wharf precinct to the CBD.
One of our roaming correspondents , with little better to do at the weekend, spent an hour observing the amount of shade produced by the structure between the hours of 1 and 2 pm. While sipping his 21st latte for the day ( wait till the NT News Coffee Squad hears about this! ) , he observed that no shade was produced by the structure between those hours that would protect anything larger than an ant.
Nevertheless , saving ants from being scorched could lead to an RSPCA award. But not if Aldermann Sjoberg is on the judging panel as she was reported as saying the walkway is " an abortion". Knickers also figured in her reported scathing comments.
While there was no monsoonal activity during the time our reporter observed the structure , a closer inspection showed that citizens and refugees from the south would have been soaked . In another year or two the government will have to fork out another million dollars or two to provide shelter from the sun and tropical downpours. One can only wonder why they didn’t do it properly in the first place.
Maybe its another case of the Mall which is about to undergo yet another upgrade. Darwinites have requested more shade for years . The pleas have largely fallen on deaf ears resulting in soaring sales of umbrellas, sun block and floppy hats . The incidence of sunstroke and lunacy also jumped to astonishing heights.
Little Darwin understands that because of the sun drenched CBD a reshoot of the great movie ,African Queen, will be filmed in the stream of blood, stale beer and nervous police horse urine flowing down Mitchell Street .

Saturday, November 28, 2009


When you see Joe Hockey sliding out the side entrance of the Wollstonecraft Wally -John Howard- you know that Malcolm Turnbull's leadership of the Liberals does not have much longer to run. The very fact that the advice of the PM who refused to buzz off when requested to do so by his party is being sought is bizarre. On the other hand, Malcolm may take heart from the fact that key players in the current putsch to knife him are some of the weak -kneed crew who folded like deck chairs when Howard refused to release his grip on the Kirribilli wallpaper. Come Tuesday and the plotters may have turned into the Aeroplane Jelly Club.
Rather than beat his head against a brick wall trying to lead the troglodytes out of Jurassic Park , talented Malcolm should resign, depart Canberra for good. No doubt, PM Kevin Rudd, with his puzzling propensity for finding jobs for Coalition discards, could make him a roving ambassador for emissions control .
For light relief , Little Darwin suggests, Turbull , for a mere $5.5 million , buy the old Darling Point mansion , Seaford House, which is a short distance from the “Struggle Street” flat in which he lived as a child . This pile is divided into four apartments which would provide individual accommodation for his four photogenic pooches.
No matter what happens in Canberra this coming week , and in Copenhagen , the Liberal Party will continue its eye-gouging, groin-kneeing, hair-pulling , marathon tag -wrestling contest .

Friday, November 27, 2009


Nightcliff has received an early visit from Santa . He has presented the Nightcliff Village shopping centre with a brand new police station sign . For years, the old sign was minus the letter C and declared it was POLI E . This gave the impression it was either a milliner’s shop , a polly waffle outlet , a polygon in a mini skirt , a naughty polygyny or somebody running a teashop.
That annoying pest, Little Darwin, drew attention to this missing link and other matters. Along with the new sign is a fetching checker display of police blue and white squares at the entrance. A (c)ynical (c)odger said the new sign was an indication of a looming election.

Meanwhile , police have been alerted to watch out for a sad looking part- Beagle called Leo who is missing and could be roaming the streets of Nightcliff , ready to (c)ock his leg outside the ( c) opshop.


Hollywood is planning to shoot a biblical epic bigger than Ben Hur in one of Australia’s retirement villages. Called the Never Ending Loaves and Fishes Story , it is sure to be a smash hit with those members of the accounting fraternity and village owners who feed elderly people on a monotonous diet of el cheapo tucker bought in bulk from Filipino garbage dump scavengers .
Background music for the star studded movie will be the delicious Monty Python hit about Spam , sung by a choir of anorexic geriatrics . A Mega – Gastric- Munchies Studios PR today said the village picked for the shoot will be decided from a list of places renowned for their lean, very mean cuisine .
It is a surprising medical fact that most people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease can rattle off the monotonous same old fare menu at their retirement village. This is helpful in those establishments which have a massive turnover of staff , especially where the poorly paid instant cook has destroyed the well - thumbed Ethiopian guide for making 1000 tasty meals , including imitation T-bone steak, from lawn clippings .
Thank God for sausage rolls, party pies, sawdust sandwiches, gluggy special treats from another planet and reheated packet soup. These culinary delights cause thankful elderly people to fall down on their knees from malnutrition , thus providing the desired worshipful setting for a whole string of Hollywood extravaganzas made for the overfed , born - again Christian couch potato market in the US.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


The stage is now shaping up for a double dissolution . The temptation to eviscerate the Coalition must be overpowering within the ALP. Urging the Rudd war cabinet to blitzkrieg Poll-land must surely be the belly up NSW Labor government. A double dissolution in which the Opposition forces are smashed might help reduce the NSW state election losses when it has to face the angry, long suffering voters with their waiting tumbrels and skeins of Merino wool. Even more helpful to NSW than a miracle would be if , as suggested by Little Darwin, a new , breakaway conservative party is formed . This very morning there is talk of a possible split in the Tories like that in the ALP which resulted in formation of the Democratic Labor Party .


Gonzo journalist lifts lid on thunder box +++ Who flung Dung ? +++ Pass the Lady Scott Tissues +++ Pre–decimal currency Scottish Lament +++ Phantom of Soap Opera Strikes Again +++ Redback bites Henderson on donga +++ Centralians move to form breakaway new State +++ Amazing Rip and Read Scoop .

Police are investigating the suggestion that a huge dose of the clumsy drug caused the I HATE DELIA sticker farce during the Alice Springs sittings of the Legislative Assembly. There is a statutory declaration from a prune- faced member of Paul Henderson’s entourage claiming that Katherine MLA Willem Westra van Holthe was seen placing the sticker on a dunny door.

A former policeman, clunking about the loo in his clogs , Willem said he had merely seen the sticker on a bench in the toilet and, wanting to beautify Australia , had stuck it on the door . At the time , he apparently admitted it was a “fair cop “ being observed doing a bit of bill posting . Later, he was quoted as saying he had no idea who was responsible for production of the sticker, which includes a serious mug shot of the Manager of Government Business , Dr Burns , a man usually seen beaming like a Cheshire cat in and around supermarkets.

Somehow , another copy of the sticker mysteriously attached itself to the laptop of David Tollner . The Grand Sitting Primo, Jane Aagaard , ordered Tollner to remove the offending sticker , the threat being that if he did not, he would be flushed into the sin bin , yet again . Pleading ignorance , Tollner said he had no idea who had placed the sticker on his laptop. That some fiend goes about slapping offensive stickers on the laptops of politicians can only be regarded as a serious threat to the Westminster system of government and the Bank of Nigeria . Tollner helpfully suggested the sticker could have been produced by a larrikin member of the CLP.
It must come as a severe shock to our modest readers to learn a larrikin could join a Territory political party.

Meanwhile, the Phantom of the Alice Springs Comic Soap Opera is roaming at large. Police investigating the baffling event are keen to speak to a plumber , Mr Caroma , who will be subjected to water torture in an attempt to crack the case.
That the CLP was badly in need of colonic irrigation became clear when it again agitated to enable grog to be sold from take away bottle shops from 10 am , instead of 12 , in Alice Springs . Chief Minister Paul Henderson rightly tore strips off the Opposition over this crazy suggestion for a town torn apart by grog . The Government has itself been constipated in its dealings with the monstrous drink problem in the Centre , failing to reduce the number of liquor licences in the town.

Tollner created a ruckus when he revealed that the government had arranged for a $170,000 outhouse to be built and installed in a convenient spot at Howard Springs for kingmaker Gerry Wood. Henderson , a member of the Privvy Council, said the contract for the throne had been cancelled , a saving of $40,000.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


During his Sydney Peace Prize acceptance speech , journalist John Pilger spoke of the need to break “the great Australian political silence ". He told his audience the nation was manipulated by a great power which spoke through an invisible government of propaganda that subdues and limits our political imagination and ensures we are always at war –against our own people and those seeking refuge.

Pilger referred to the NT in the near 6000 word provocative oration . He said his own real Australian education began at the end of the 1960s when Charlie Perkins and his mother, Hetti, took him to the “Aboriginal compound” at Jay Creek in the NT. “We had to smash down the gate to get in ,” he said ." The shock at what I saw is unforgettable . The poverty. The sickness . The despair . The quiet anger. I began to recognise and understand the Australian silence.”

He took Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to task for saying government did not have a clear idea of what was happening on the ground in Aboriginal Australia . "How much information does the prime minister need? How many ideas? How many reports? How many royal commissions? How many inquests? How many funerals? Is he not aware that Australia appears on an international ‘shame list’ for having failed to eradicate trachoma, a preventable disease of poverty that blinds Aboriginal children?” In August this year, the United Nations once again distinguished Australia with the kind of shaming once associated with South Africa.
We discriminated on the basis of race. The UN blew the whistle on the so-called “intervention”, which began with the Howard government smearing Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory with allegations of sex slavery and paedophile rings in “unthinkable numbers”, according to the Minister for Indigenous affairs . In May last year, official figures were released and barely reported. Out of 7433 Aboriginal children examined by doctors, 39 had been referred to the authorities for suspected abuse. Of those, a maximum of four possible cases were identified. So much for the “unthinkable numbers”. Of course, child abuse did exist, in black Australia and white Australia.
The difference was that no soldiers invaded the North Shore ( of Sydney ) ; no white parents were swept aside; no white welfare had been “quarantined”. What the doctors found they already knew: that Aboriginal children were at risk - from the effects of extreme poverty and the denial of resources in one of the world’s richest countries. Billions of dollars had been spent – not on paving roads and building houses, but on a war of legal attrition waged against black communities.

Kevin Rudd had made a formal apology to the First Australians." He spoke fine words. For many Aboriginal people, who value healing, the apology was very important. However, the Sydney Morning Herald published a remarkably honest editorial. It described the apology as ‘a piece of political wreckage’ that ‘the Rudd government has moved quickly to clear away... in a way that responds to some of its supporters’ emotional needs’”. Since the apology, Aboriginal poverty had worsened . The promised housing programme –SIHIP-was a grim joke. No gap had even begun to be bridged. Instead, the federal government had threatened communities in the Northern Territory that if they did not hand over their precious freehold leases, they would be denied the basic services that white Australia took for granted.
Pilger said that in the 1970s, Aboriginal communities were granted comprehensive land rights in the Northern Territory, and John Howard set about clawing back these rights with" bribery and bullying ". The Labor government was doing the same. “You see, there are deals to be done," he added . "” The Territory contains extraordinary mineral wealth, especially uranium. And Aboriginal land is wanted as a radioactive waste dump. This is very big business, and foreign companies want a piece of the action .” This was a continuation of the darkest side of our colonial history: a land grab. Where were the influential voices raised against this? Where were the peak legal bodies? Where were those in the media who told us endlessly how fair-minded we were ? Silence.
He paid tribute to those who did not listen to the silence - like Barbara Shaw and Larissa Behrendt, and the Mutitjulu community leaders and their tenacious lawyer George Newhouse, and Chris Graham, the fearless editor of the National Indigenous Times;Michael Mansell, Lyle Munro, Gary Foley, Vince Forrester and Pat Dodson, and Arthur Murray. Also mentioned was Australia’s historian of courage and truth, Henry Reynolds, who stood against white supremacists posing as academics and journalists. Swimmer Ian Thorpe had raised his voice against intervention in the NT , an objection which had yet to find an echo among the pampered sporting heroes of the country where the gap between white and black sporting facilities and opportunities had hardly diminished. (Further condensed extracts will be posted .)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Like Dick Whittington , Malcolm Turnbull should take another turn and not waste his time and talents trying to lead the Coalition cats. He has more chance of becoming the Lord Mayor of London than continue as the leader of the Tory pantomime , trying to drag this shower into the 21st century .

The radio reports say that Kevin Andrews ???? and Andrew Robb???? are potential new leaders of the Liberals. In other words , a choice between two As. Is this alley cat fight due to impurities in the imported cat food served in the parliamentary dining room ? The hands of some 20th century weak- kneed , anonymous conservatives are clearly visible behind the scheming against Turnbull. Is it possible that a new party could result from this brawl for control of the true blue kitty litter box ? The way things are shaping, taking into account the ETS which pays the polluters incredible amounts of gold , a stronger Green party is more than likely .


NORTH POLE : In an exclusive report, Santa has confirmed that he will not be coming to Darwin this Christmas because of strict instructions from the NT Government. He has been ordered to stay away because the Henderson government is fearful that the Top End’s power supply will collapse when thousands of decorated Christmas trees with fairy lights and the Star of Bethlehem on top are switched on . Santa told us the government will break the startling news next week then rush overseas to study wind power.

This morning , Santa admitted he is happy about the Darwin ban because he develops nasty prickly heat delivering presents in the sweaty Top End. “What a hell hole , '' he added , in an unsolicited testimonial .

His leading reindeer, Rudolph, is also glad not to be coming to Darwin as he is fearful that some pickled , gun- toting Territorian will mistake him for a pygmy hippo or a low flying wombat wearing Easter Bunny ears and take potshots at him. Rudolph has been shot at on innumerable occasions flying over Darwin and is scared by all the fireworks which make it more dangerous than Baghdad during the last Gulf War .

Sunday, November 22, 2009


The NT News has been promoting its annual forthcoming list of the most powerful people in the Territory . If we remember correctly, the News nominated a Japanese gentleman in Perth connected with Inpex as wielding power similar to Emperor Hirohito. Subsequent developments have shown the expected great Inpex bonanza , which caused the Henderson government to nearly perform mass political hara- kiri, is not yet certain . The rush of carpet- baggers to cash in on the Klondike-like strike has contributed to sky- high house prices and rent hikes.

In dealing with Inpex , the NT Government would be wise to heed the words of that famous moose shooter , Sarah Palin , candidate for the US Vice President’s job, who stated Alaska was sick and tired of being given the run around by oil and gas companies.

Frankly, the idea of issuing a list of 120 movers and shakers in the NT this year seems absurd when so many sections of the NT regime have been found wanting , sluggish, incompetent and possibly criminally negligent . Examine a short list -SIHIP, health shortcomings, coronial findings of hospital mishandling patients , a critical education report , overloaded child careworkers , failure to reduce the grog outlets in Alice , the supershires apology , building approvals which go against the regulations , etcetera, etcetera.

Key sections are under review, the Commonwealth is keeping a beady eye on departments and some inepts are becoming twitchy and look, fearfully, over their shoulders , wondering if their dream run is about to end.

A businessman recently said there is a kind of paralysis gripping people in high office because of the relentless searchlight focused on the performance of so many aspects of the NT Government. This fear made it difficult to get a firm decision out of people. One day there was a deal, the next there was a change of plans, a delay, uncertainty about what to do .

Swanning about town are individuals with grand titles and incomes , perks and other fringe benefits , who are , plainly , not doing their job properly. It is a fact that in several key areas of government the staff live in despairing cynicism that anything will change. They see a government so weakened that it is scared to say boo to its own shadow. Recently, a known difficult , bombastic head in a vital public area, paid tribute to a number of staff who had departed. This caused wry smiles as they left because they had had enough of him. Replacing them will be costly and difficult .

Other public servants fed up with their senior officers and “ the system”, which does not work , are looking for an out. One pompous fellow who has built up an empire of mates has been heard say his establishment is there to waste government money.

Another mugwump, obviously out of his depth ,driving personnel to distraction, struts about like a field marshall. Contributing to this unsatisfactory situation is that the ministers with portfolio responsibility for these people appear not to have a strong hand on the tiller. Their advisers , often graduates of “ the sytem” themselves , seem not to have the grit needed to help their minister to get on top of the situation. The commercial business world is not exempt from criticism as some of the enterprises are “rough as guts” and gung ho in work practices, of particular concern for the safety of young apprentices .


An alleged attack using a rolled up magazine on SA Premier Mike Rann at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide has placed him in an embarrassing situation. Little Darwin has a New Zealand publication which reveals he was a studious and honourable young man aware of the swashbuckling Aussie film star, Errol Flynn .

It is a special 1977 effort by the Northcote College, Auckland, to mark its centenary in which Rann , a student, played a major part in its production , being on the editorial panel and Centennial Committee .

In an article headed DON STOTT : WAR HERO , Michael Rann wrote about a former mild mannered Northcote student who became one of Britain’s most distinguished secret agents. His “Errol-Flynn like exploits” had earned him the rare distinction of twice being awarded the DSO for gallantry.

Stott had parachuted into Greece and worked with the resistance which blew up the strongly guarded Aesopsos viaduct. For his part in the mission Stott was awarded the DSO, though recommended for a Victoria Cross. Major Stott disappeared in March 1945 when setting out for shore in a rubber dinghy from an American submarine in Japanese occupied Borneo.

There is an interesting photograph of a 1969 Staff versus Pupils debate in which Rann , his distinctive curl hanging over his forehead, in tie and jacket , is seen taking notes. Even now, Rann is frequently seen brushing that stray lock back into place. He received the Hardwick Trophy for debating in 1969 and was a prefect in 1970 .

Saturday, November 21, 2009


The Australian newspaper in its streamlined , uncluttered layout makes interesting reading . One aspect of the new format is the way photos of regular columnists , apparently digitally enhanced , make them stand out as if in 3D , giving new insights into the writers.

For instance , take the presentation of George Megalogenis, arms crossed and smiling, in the Weekend Australian article of his about the baby boomers , which captures the very essence of the genial guy, including his obsession with graphs, charts.

In the case of veteran reporter Errol Simper , an ex NT News scribe, who writes on media subjects, his picture needs a bit more artwork and studio tan .

The most revealing touched up photo, however, caused this Little Darwin browser to drop his crumpet into the café latte with surprise when it made another individual look like the sad father of that poor pygmy hippo shot by a gun happy Territorian.

In the beaming visage of Ross Fitzgerald you can detect an abstemious man , despite covering Bananaland politics which would drive many to drink. David Penberthy is brilliantly presented as the original Mr Punch- well fed and without a dog , party hat and pointy nose.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Expect further embarrassing revelations for the NT government during two coronial inquiries, the first , involving a child placed in care , beginning on Monday. The hearing will take place in an out of the way room near the Roma waterhole in Darwin . Little Darwin understands there will be further disturbing information about the failure to protect vulnerable children .

Meanwhile, Health Department honcho, David Ashbridge, has told his staff to brace themselves for inquiries which are focusing attention on the department and the NT Families and Children Department . Apart from coronial probes there is the public inquiry ordered by Minister, Malarndirri McCarthy , which will report back by next April. The NT's Children's Commissioner, Dr Howard Bath , involved in this inquiry, is also conducting a separate review of certain aspects of child protection which is expected to be presented next month.

Ashbridge said the intensive focus on the workings of NTFC would place a significant administrative burden on both the division and the department at large. " Your cooperation with these inquiries will be appreciated. The department is committed to offering appropriate support - whether professional, personal or legal - to staff affected by the demands and obligations of these inquiries." (Little Darwin understands some high powered counsel has been engaged ).

In recent weeks, Ashbridge wrote, there has been considerable media coverage of incidents related to child protection. This coverage had not always been accurate or balanced in representing the issues, causing distress to some staff as well as community members close to these events.

Present and former staff would be providing evidence to the inquest beginning on Monday , he added, and pointed out that the department was not able to respond to media inquiries during a legal event such as a coronial inquest, and as a result no public comment would be be made.

Ashbridge went on to say the scrutiny was " an opportunity to affirm the importance of keeping children safe and of ensuring sound foundations for our future generations; to openly and honestly examine the multiplicity of issues relating to child protection; and to consolidate workable strategies that ensure the system is best able to provide families and children with appropriate security and support."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


It is well known that the NT News has a strange attitude to café latte sipping people, especially if sooky soy milk is used as an ingredient in the stimulant. If you will excuse the pun , the News “frothed” when the ABC Media Watch TV show ran criticism of the paper . In a fine old xenophobic response, the News said Media Watch was run by latte sipping southerners who had probably not been further north than Sydney’s Luna Park , Manly’s Corso or the ALP’s Love Boat .

The inference being that a true , hairy- chested Territorian ( and your average NT News scribe ?), doesn’t swill poofy coffee , instead wears no jocks , drinks moonshine from an illegal rural area still, expectorates in the Smith Street Mall, drives like a lunatic , has been abducted and anally inspected twice by aliens from one of the new 39 heavenly bodies, Planet Nigela , which is circled by 15 moons made from yummy Turkish delights and Moccha coffee.

Back on deep fried Mother Earth, three people recently gathered at the Ducks Nuts in Darwin - the MLA for Macdonnell , Alison Anderson ,who works up a thirst asking embarrassing questions about continuing waste and incompetence ; The Australian’s ace reporter , Nicolas Rothwell , said by the NT News to live in a luxury apartment, who probably needs a daily shot or two of caffeine after covering the Baltic wars and Iraq ; and roving reporter , Peter Murphy , who now spends some time in Victoria , where café latte is reportedly consumed by the oil tanker load, especially by ` Lygon Street screen jockeys and other poseur pests who gather there in droves.

This trio of coffee slurpers suddenly found themselves the centre of attention for a team from the NT News. When asked why they deserved such scrutiny , they were told it was for social news . Surely, with its disdain for coffee imbibers, the News does not have a coffee rounds squad ? Ms Anderson was then interrogated about why she had not attended the first Council of Territory Cooperation meeting in Darwin and if she would be attending the Tennant Creek sitting. A photographer started to snap them. The News was told to depart ,which they did. However, the photographer then took shots of them from the street .

Then in the NT News of November 19 appeared a report ANDERSON MUM ON ABSENCE ,illustrated with a photo of a stern- looking Rothwell -HEATED , according to the tabloid - next to a coffee cup. Adding drama to the action packed photograph was a piece of Murphy's colour co-ordinated R. M. Williams shirt. The regurgitated report had a double shot of adrenalin and a dash of mock cream when it declared that Rothwell had “become angry and swore at the NT News crew ”. We find this hard to believe as he is normally a scholar and a gentleman. Apart from its odd hang up about café latte drinkers, the News has a similar obsession about Ms Anderson who has the courage of her convictions and gives the impression , if thoroughly aroused, could quickly grind the bones of chief reporters into coffee bean dregs to be thrown into the smelly pig swill bucket.

In the true spirit of Christmas ,Saint Nicolas , using his known command of the more baroque elements of the English language, with a few quaint Czechoslovakian blessings thrown in, will convey a clear festive season message to his NT News colleagues .


It must be close to Christmas. No sooner had Little Darwin received an invite to Chief Minister Paul Henderson’s annual Christmas bash than we heard he was “shouting” at another venue . By shout, we mean yelling . Only thing is , he was not the only one exercising his vocal chords. He and another well known businessman , in fine voice , were having a heated exchange and withdrew into a room . The CM repeated, “This is truly disappointing ,Greg !”

Little Darwin understands the cause of the uproar was a claim that the government had allegedly reneged on a deal connected with a controversial project which could now be in jeopardy .

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Odd things are found washed up on islands and beaches . This scribbler delighted in slipping through a story headed ORGAN FOUND ON BEACH while working on the Cairns Post some 40 odd years ago. It was about a church organ found washed up on sleepy Port Douglas beach by a beachcomber. This was followed up by an equally sneaky yarn headed FINED FOR HAVING CRABS .

In recent years , Little Darwin found an interesting item of flotsam at a garage sale on Magnetic Island- the authorised biography of Queensland Premier Johannes Bjelke-Petersen , described by PM Gough Whitlam as a Bible-bashing bastard,etcetera. Inside on the front free endpaper was Joh’s business card , signed on the verso: Joh. Bjelke –Petersen , Premier, 23-8-85 .

Called JIGSAW , it was written by one Derek Townsend who in the gushing foreword wrote : “ While having always believed in God , at no time did I feel so close to Him as when producing this manuscript. Day after day, month after month, reading from the diaries and letters of the Bjelke-Petersen family, it was almost as if some of their intense faith and courage still remained in spirit among these old documents”. He described the premier as a statesman , not a politician . Sold for $19.95, it was remaindered nine months later for $3.99. Because of its associated inclusion , my copy cost me a whole buck , and is still in my political collection.
Author Townsend dug up the fascinating story that young Joh had invented an inflated rubber cricket bat and “several disastrous prototypes” were made by a rubber company, some of which exploded .
Joh's dictatorial reign came to an end when the Fitzgerald Inquiry began fitting together another jigsaw, revealing massive crime and corruption in Queensland.


Whether or not it happens, and latest thinking it will not, but then again , talk of a possible double dissolution in federal politics has generated a flurry of activity and increased pressure in Territory political circles. Interestingly, the Country Liberals publicly called for preselection for the two House of Reps seats, Solomon and Lingiari, the Senate and even for expressions of interest for NT Legislative Assembly seats which would not be part of a double shake up . There appears not to have been any local media follow up on this issue , but somebody will surely pop a question or two in the fullness of Territory time. One wonders what Darwin would be like if it had a wham bam , hot to trot, competitive media pack.

So far there has not been a public call for intentions of interest for any ALP seats, local or federal, probably because of the fragility of the party’s hold in the NT . Still, with the NT government’s very existence depending on a day to day relationship with Gerry Wood , it must have contingency plans . The failure to publicly call for expressions of interest in Territory seats gives rise to conjecture that the party is considering running rejected MLAs from the past , which would be suicidal . But then the choices are not great, some possible quality candidates may have been scared off because the government is likely to take a belting at the next poll and could even lose office .

On the NT Federal scene , the Coalition believes it could capture the Darwin based Federal seat of Solomon if Damian Hale runs again for the ALP. His re-endorsement, however, is not assured because of known dissatisfaction with his performance and other matters . Chaser even made him the butt of a skit which, conversely, could be to his advantage. Hale has openly stated in various places that some people are manoeuvring to block his re-endorsement . Hale has been telling numerous people it would not be the end of the world for him if he misses out being re-endorsed. In addition, he is going about confidently trumpeting an early election before the next Federal budget which means he thinks there is going to be a double bunger.

The party machine will have to bite the bullet over Hale, and very soon. If it wants to put up a fresh face, that person had better be one of substance and must be given a reasonable amount of time to make an impact on the electorate.

In the seat of Lingiari , held by ALP’s Warren Snowdon, belatedly made Federal Minister for Aboriginal Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery , an appointment thought to be a desperate attempt to hose down indigenous issues which have are like a keg of smouldering TNT . This has patently failed as more and more organizations draw attention to the extensive and inadequate shortcomings in the NT. In truth, the health situation in the Territory is many more times worse than the SIHIP fiasco.

Normally, Snowdon would be regarded as a safe bet but in a highly charged double dissolution election the outcome could be a shock. Snowdon looked tired and uneasy during a recent appearance on ABC Stateline , perhaps because he is going to have his mo shaved off . A number of observers have said they expected him to pull the pin in the near future after a long innings.

The now independent Member for Macdonnell, Alison Anderson, has been critical of Snowdon . While travelling about her electorate she has told constituents that Snowdon talks a lot , but does not achieve much . This same criticism was voiced this very week by an exasperated medical member of the intervention team who strongly urged Snowdon to cut the cackle and get some action going on the grim Aboriginal health situation.

The CLP has its own problems . While people say the present NT government is not the best , the Opposition does not look much better .“What’s the alternative? ”being a common lament. Perhaps more independents ? In pocket hanky sized electorates , an independent , as shown by Gerry Wood, can attract voter support .

Little Darwin cannot believe that any political party would advocate an open speed policy for Territory roads as does the Country Liberal Party . Are they trying to win the hoon, petrol head, glue sniffer and maniac vote? Surely not . Loud –mouthed individuals who aggressively advocate open slather on the highway , to my way of thinking, are like that drongo at Coolalinga , holding a beer in one hand and a fag in the other, who stood gawking at the fatal accident in which a cattle truck ran over the top of a car, killing its driver. Told to move back because the cigarette could start a fire , the yob called the officer a mug , because the truck ran on diesel. But flattened underneath was a petrol driven vehicle with leaking fuel.

Police, emergency services , hospitals and the bulk of the public at large expect better. The Minister for Transport, Gerry McCarthy , rightly had a go at the Opposition saying he could not believe that any party interested in road safety would have three of its members display no speed limit stickers on their laptops in parliament. A certain amount of uproar resulted . From time to time, there is talk that Opposition Leader Terry Mills is likely to be replaced by MLA for Fong Lim , Dave Tollner . Any political journo who falls for this furphy should be regularly breath-tested and switched to church rounds and coverage of the new Olympic Games sport, tiddleywinks.

Considering the fact that Terry Mills is a solid performer , not given to bluster or displaying an overweening ego, and did so well at the last election, his position should be guaranteed as leader. Some people complain he does not have the “killer instinct” to be a leader, really a meaningless fault, much used by couch potatoes who watch too many B-grade movies while stuffing themselves with rotgut popcorn. Jodeen Carney and Kezia Purick are head and shoulders over Tollner. For Tollner to get the leadership would mean the party is in a parlous and desperate state.

An editorial in the NT News must have caused groans, guffaws and head shaking in many places when it stated on November 17 that Tollner is the best performer on the Opposition side.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Queensland has been called many things –the Sunshine State, Bananaland and Johburg , all tired old labels. It was also infamously known as Australia’s Police State and the Moonlight State . In a poetic blast from the past comes a new, sexier title: Goddess of the Sun . What a superb marketing brand . Little Darwin intends to register this name and is prepared to sell it to Queensland for a mere $5million deposited in a Swiss bank account or buried in the Canary Islands with a Myers catalogue to mark the spot.

While rummaging through boxes of ephemera in a Brisbane antique emporium, a member of our literary department came upon the expression Goddess of the Sun in a slim volume of self published poems about the Australian Bush by J. Stratton Wadley who also wrote a l932 book on graphology, the science of handwriting and its application.

Sunned and foxed , the collection of poems has a foreword , by A.E. Palfrey , writer of Queensland school history books, which states Wadley loved the land with its strange fauna and flora and admired the dogged fighting qualities of those who tamed the bush . Wadley praised squatters, Aboriginals, nuns , drovers and revived happy Christmas memories . In the eight pages of verse is the following –

Queensland, goddess of the sun ,
On whose warm bosom thrives a virile race,
In happy cities and on squatter’s run ;
A privilege to live in such a place .

Luscious fruits and fertile soil abound,
With work for every earnest man to do,
Where adventure sought may soon be found ;
To win a stake in Queensland ; hopes renew.

Her able people rally to the cause ,
When’ere they find usurpers at her gates ,
From Bush and everywhere without a pause ;
No colour bar , her people all are mates.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


When a small, young bitch started to exude milk, its owner sought the advice of a Queensland vet, believing the dog to be in whelp . No, said the vet , it is a false pregnancy. He even offered the opinion that the dog was so small it could only ever have about five pups. The owner came home one night to find the animal on his bed giving birth to TEN puppies like a sausage machine. So much for the phantom pregnancy .

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Reporters attending the next police briefing should ask what is going to happen to the Darwin boofheaded businessman ( ?) , the subject of a court order, who has been up to his usual nonsense . Police speaking to him were treated to smartarse , moronic comments. As they say in the TV show, some mothers do have them . Here in Darwin, however, there seem to be a lot of them . Police dealing with Darwin dills need the patience of Job .


Many people express the wish to be a fly on the wall during interesting discussions . Well, one of our flies was buzzing around viands at a recent Sydney medical conference and overheard titillating comments about the NT Health Department and the NT government . Our fly , rewarded with some smelly sheep entrails for his scoop, told us that he had heard a conversation about a Queensland man who had upset the Territory government and the Health Department with a critical farewell letter to the Territory which had been published in the Darwin newspaper.

According to Louie the fly, the letter writer was informed by the NT Government and the Health Department that there would be no welcome carpet run out for him should he ever contemplate returning to the Territory. Unfortunately, Louie, suffering loss of memory due to a close encounter with Mortein, could not supply the name of the man who penned the annoying letter.
But by delving into our extensive NT News files, we found a letter in which a person departing Darwin made unflattering comments about a large number of people on the fifth floor of the Wedding Cake and the Royal Darwin Hospital. Wonder if this was the letter which caused chuckles and much comment at the conference ?


Images of American author Erskine Caldwell’s poor sharecroppers and exploited workers came to mind when Little Darwin spotted a sign declaring GOD’S ACRE from a bus. Hitting the stop button , we bailed out and found the intriguingly named place is an early Brisbane cemetery within the busy Archerfield Aerodrome boundary . It became a dedicated cemetery after a l6 year old boy ,Volney Grenier, fell from a horse during a fox hunt on October 26, l859, and was buried there. His parents cut off three quarters of an acre of their property , truly making it Caldwell’s God’s Little Acre, as a family cemetery in what was then part of NSW . Other local pioneers were buried there, l6 of them Greniers.

As Little Darwin entered the consecrated ground , buzzed by a host of low flying light fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, there was a cross marking the grave of Leopold Hahm , 53, an l893 inscription stating he had a hard life on earth, but is now resting in Heaven. Of the about 280 buried there, representing 83 different families, several were stillborn, and the oldest , 92.
Over the years, the Archerfield drome played a large part in Australian aviation , Qantas planes using it on runs to the NT and overseas. There is a plaque in the passenger terminal commemorating the l934 first flight from Australia to the US by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Captain P.T. Taylor, in the Lockheed Altair Monoplane, VH-USB, named Lady Southern Cross.
During WW11 Archerfield was a very busy base , much used by the US Fifth Air Force , the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, the RAAF and others.
There are photographs of Eleanor Roosevelt , the toothily endowed , always beaming wife of the US President , in her American Red Cross uniform , with Jean MacArthur , wife of the famous general , at Archerfield in September l943 . In the background can be seen the number plate of Mrs MacArthur’s staff car ,US-2, and she is wearing a fashionable hat and a large spray of flowers pinned to the lapel of her jacket. Mrs Roosevelt also met Prime Minister , John Curtin, in Canberra , and visited troops in camps, hostels and hospitals.

One of the crewmembers of a Ventura bomber who emerged uninjured when it crashed on landing at Archerfield during the war was Gough Whitlam. Whitlam joined the RAAF General Duties Branch in l941 , became a navigator, spent some time in the Territory , and when discharged in l945 had the rank of Flight Lieutenant .

The cemetery is now heritage listed and maintained by Federal Aviation and God’s Acre Restoration Committee , with a day of remembrance held the last Sunday of June each year. Not all persons buried there have been identified , so anybody who might have information is invited to contact the committee . There is an alphabetical list of those in God’s Acre which can be viewed online , two bearing the unusual surname of Barnacle. Should you choose to visit the cemetery and the airport, be careful crossing Beatty Road as Tobacco Road never experienced such heavy traffic .

Friday, November 13, 2009


Readers of Little Darwin will recall that we broke the news that the Tiwi Land Council had put forward a proposal to Canberra to set up a refugee detention centre on Bathurst Island. Part of the local media finally caught up with the story . Canberra said no go and one or two pollies made nebulous statements about the matter.

It was recently stated that the Darwin Commonwealth detention centre could be used to take an overflow of boat people from Christmas Island. If this happens, it would see greater involvement by NT agencies in the centre. Aware of this, a lowly , but laterally thinking public servant, suggested to the head of his outfit that contingency plans should be drawn up to deal with possible situations -including emergencies -which might occur within the centre, like those which have taken place in other camps. His reasonable suggestion was greeted with what amounted to scorn and rejected out of hand - another example of inept and unimaginative people in key positions.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Royalty is often annoyed by newspapers. The Duke of Edinburgh famously said the Daily Express was a “bloody awful paper”, full of lies, scandal and imagination. The paper responded with a story headed WE ARE A BLOODY AWFUL PAPER and a great Giles cartoon showing proprietor, Lord Beaverbrook , in chains, being marched to the Tower of London by Beefeaters.

The Territory’s powerful resident king, Member for Nelson , Gerry Wood , who could order the execution of the Henderson government , if he so wished , recently expressed annoyance with the NT News. In doing so, he invited the paper's editor to experience a wild Friday night out with sandflies, mud larks , petrol and rev - heads , roaring cars and heavy traffic . Speaking in the Legislative Assembly, Wood said that there were times when you read an article in the News and thought it was “ a load of codswallop”. While a letter could be written to refute the piece, the paper, generally speaking, would not publish a missive from a politician , especially if it was long. So he took the opportunity in an adjournment debate to refute the News editorial of October 14, 2009 , headed NEW PRISON IS NEEDED , which stated the Berrrimah Gaol would be expanded rather than replaced by a modern state of the art complex at Weddell , thus losing another site for perfect housing , all to accommodate Mr Wood , one man with no qualifications in correctional services or planning, against a platoon of experts.

Furthermore, it said by Wood blocking the new $300 million institution at Weddell, he would cost the next generation of Territorians hundreds of millions of dollars to put right. The editorial also declared Berrimah would be the centre of a Darwin –Palmerston city and it would be inappropriate to have a prison in the centre of that conurbation . Instead, the Berrimah site would be ideal for a large parkland estate fringed by commercial buildings.

“Wow !” was the MLA’s response to these “fighting words”. Taking the editor to task over the rosy picture of the proposed 700 block Berrimah Goal farm site converted into a parkland estate ringed by commercial buildings, Wood said there were no commercial buildings ringing Berrimah, they were industrial buildings. BHP , Bridgestone Tyres, Reece Plumbing and an extractive mining facility nearby would not describe themselves as commercial entities. ”I would challenge the editor of the NT News to go down on a Friday night when the drags are operating, or the mud races are operating, go down into the valley and tell me he would like to live there, amongst the sandflies, next door to the four lane Tiger Brennan Drive. If he tells me that is suitable, I will go heave,.” he told the House. While Wood did not claim to be an expert, he gave the editor a detailed account of his extensive study into correctional facilities in Australia and the US and his long experience in local government

In response to the editorial claim that he had no planning experience, Wood said he had studied town planning to get his diploma in horticultural science, spent time as a shire clerk and had 13 years as a member of the planning committee of the Litchfield Shire . In addition , he had been a member of the Planning Authority and the Development Consent Authority.

In 2004, he had spoken about low security prisons, prison industries, work camps, and prison farms. In 2005 he introduced a motion saying the government should investigate, independently, or in partnership, constructing and managing in appropriate regional areas of the Northern Territory, low-security correctional and rehabilitation centres.These could be used , but not exclusively, for juvenile offenders, low-risk prisoners, and people affected by substance abuse. Even back then he was talking about places for people affected by alcohol and had been through the revolving door going to places where they could get treatment and help in a reasonably pleasant environment like a small farm. This was a concept supported by the CLP . Continuing, he said that in the NT " our Indigenous brothers and sisters” formed 80 per cent of the prisoners. Half of these were in for six months or less.

As alternatives to prison, he supported prison farms . Katherine would be an ideal place for one and it would assist the local economy as well . The Minister for Correctional Services, Terry McCarthy, was a “ great supporter” of work camps, he told the House. "” We could also have mobile work camps, working out in national parks, working out on cattle stations. We should have more people doing community orders for those short term one month in prison cases.”
It would be short sighted to use the Berrimah farm area for housing. It was close to the East Arm port where industrial development was rapid. . Once full it basically only had one other place to move- back to Berrimah on the high ground. “ If we cut that land up for housing we will not only risk some of the industrial development there, because of complaints about noise, smell, lights, we will also take away the option of having industrial land close to the port.” I say to the editor of the NT News , it's fine to criticise, I have not got a problem with that. I would like to use this opportunity to say there are other options and your editorial is not necessarily correct in what you say."

The NT News missed a golden opportunity, unlike the Daily Express, to reply to King Gerry with the aid of a bright Wicking cartoon. If Darwin had an independent newspaper you can bet your tiara that it would have undoubtedly given the codswallop comments a right royal run.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Little Darwin's roaming gonzo journalist has detected a palpable air of fear and loathing in Queensland politics. Premier Anna Bligh, intelligent, articulate and more presentable than anybody else on her side , is on the nose with the electorate over a number of issues : the massive sell off of state assets, the Traveston Crossing Dam , just knocked back by Peter Garrett, and the feeling that some of the good old boys have had their snouts in the trough like the white shoe brigade and buddies of yesteryear.

A recent survey showed that Bligh is not highly regarded , her ministry so unimpressive few voters can name them. As a result , the Premier, dressed in R.M. Williams gear , looking like a Jillaroo , was seen flying off to far flung areas to try and win hearts and minds without the use of helicopter gunships in what is fast becoming another electoral disaster zone for Labor- PM Kevin Rudd’s own bailiwick . Unions, the police association , koala bear huggers, rare lung fish lovers, turtle ticklers, cod cuddlers and many other sections of the community are unhappy, frothing even . One placard seen on TV read BLIGH BUTCHERS KOALAS , an extreme statement you would expect to see in America during the health brawl. As a result, the government rushed out and announced it will make $15million available to help save Queensland bears.

In the rural areas , Barnaby Joyce , starting to rant like Iron- Bar Tuckey , is warning the men from Marlboro Country that the wicked socialists, communists and city dwellers are going to rape and pillage the economy and take their farms away before the friendly banks get a chance to foreclose on them.

Premier Bligh , goaded by Mr Fitzgerald , has just announced proposed caps to donations to political parties due to the aroma emanating from the too cosy relationship between government and big business , especially developers. If adopted nationwide, the close nexus between unions and the ALP will be further weakened.

The Queensland state Opposition , the Liberal National Party, is not dazzling, and the deep tensions emerged after the pre- selection debacle involving Peter Dutton who committed hari- kiri . Hands up anybody who has heard anything about the LNP leader, John-Paul Langbroek . Our gonzo nomad heard an extraordinary ABC radio interview in Brisbane with Jane Grieve , electorate secretary for Lawrence Springborg, deputy leader of the Liberal National Party , who has written a book, Slippin’ On the Lino. A former Courier Mail columnist who played a leading part in setting up the Stockmen’s Hall of Fame, Longreach, she made amazing statements about highly ambitious Springborg.

She said Springborg, a happily married man , known to iron his own jocks and expose his chest like Boris Putin during unsuccessful election campaigns, wows women. Young women slavered over him and blocked his pathway wanting his attention , she told Spencer Howson, causing Aunty listeners to drop their cans of FourX . Is he a politician or Brad Pitt? Her boss probably scorched his Long Johns, also known as romance busters, when he heard the interview. Then again, he may have slipped under the lino with embarrassment .

That women go ga-ga over him is proof positive that many of the femmes , probably southerners fleeing the cold of Victoria, go about without hats in the Sunshine State and are victims of sunstroke. It makes you wonder if that colourful Joh offsider, the Minister for Everything, rotund Russell Hinze, molester of mud crabs, prawns , bugs and never likely to die from dehydration , depicted by comedian Max Gillies as a man in a bean bag, had a fan club of panting Bananaland babes.


On reflection, I should have worn a cravat , corduroy pants and jacket, and spats to make a bigger impact on one and all when I took my teenage grand- daughter, Lily, on a tour of the Brisbane Art Gallery . She was down from Darwin on her way to Townsville, a diverse artistic outpost with its Perc Tucker Gallery , the raw beauty of the reef and rainforest inspiring many painters, photographers and potters. I had volunteered to act as her guide , showing her some of the attractions and cultural facilities of the Queensland capital , which has just undergone a controversial revamp of the King George Square , where the giant kangaroo statues are a major attraction .

That she was artistically inclined was evident after she drew a baby in a foetus smoking a cigarette with the clear message that fags are no good for you and your child, which went on show at Casuarina shopping centre. Unfortunately , she now smokes , as does her mother , and I had the urge to hide her cigarette lighter during the Brisbane cultural tour.

At the art gallery I gave her the benefit of my artistic knowledge, having frequented auction rooms in Sydney -including the first held by Christie's in Australia - Auckland and Adelaide , attended Archibald Prize awards and collected books on art . I gave her a running commentary on such painters as Charles Blackman who was represented by his blue Alice in Wonderland and some of his earlier paintings, one being of the first 24 hour service station in Brisbane ; wild eyed Brett Whiteley in his seven incarnations , which includes a wolf and a cicarda, and the sombre Calcutta , using pictures of the hard life there and what looks like part of a twisted, dehydrated body ; Sidney Nolan of Ned Kelly fame ,who spent time in Alice Springs ; Russell Drysdale, also connected with the Territory , whose son and wife both committed suicide ,one of his paintings hanging in Rupert Murdoch's office in the Wall Street Journal

There were early paintings of Sydney Harbour by Arthur Streeton , the distinctive works of Dorritt Black and lively Margaret Olley , she of the husky voice ( fags and libations? ) and a constant twinkle in the eye. We viewed four Papunya bark paintings , early Australian sculptures and emu eggs incorporated in colonial silver work depicting Aborigines, kangaroos , emus and even a camel .

A real find were paintings by the Hermit of Bribie Island , Ian Fairweather, and a special video display which included the flimsy raft he built in Darwin and set sail for Portuguese Timor in l952. The sail made from a bedsheet, the flag of his native Scotland attached to the mast, he nearly perished, refused help from a passing vessel, hallucinated and landed on Roti . Authorities believed he had died and his death notice was published. Lily took a picture of the raft for me as I intend following up Fairweather’s time in the Territory.

Did Lily benefit from the grand guided tour? We separated in the Queen Street Mall as she went to buy socks, and returned to say she had seen something unusual which she wanted to photograph : a raised large garden mainly planted with chilli bushes covered in masses of red and yellow fruit, filling the frame of her digital camera. Forget the Campbell Soup labels which made a bundle for Andy Warhol, whose diverse collection was exhibited at the gallery last year, budding artist Lily is on to something hot.

STRUGGLING ARTIST NOTE : While sitting in the Queen Street Mall, another day, reading The Australian for less than half the price it costs in Darwin , a guy sidled up , sat down and asked , "Are you that bestselling writer bloke?” Fame - at long last ? No . You see he was an “ artist” up from Sydney and there was nowhere for his works, in storage, to be exhibited for the Brisbane art world to salivate over . Did I have a couple of dollars I could give him to bail out his etchings? Serves me right for pretending to be gabby Toulouse Lautrec fired up on absinthe in the art gallery.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Forget about all the attention given to Dad’s Army, my mother and her sister helped overthrow the Japanese in the Pacific. Both of them made springs for the landing gear of Beaufort bombers which were built in Australia . It has been stated that if Australia had been able to send 500 Beaufort - torpedo bombers to Singapore when the Japanese invaded Malaya in January l942, the outcome of the war could have been vastly different in the Pacific . As it was, the first seven Australian built Beauforts were rushed to Singapore.

I was recently able to inform my mother, in a Brisbane retirement home, of the part played by the Australian aircraft industry during WW11, especially that of the Beauforts . From an article in the June 21,l945 British Flight and Aircraft Magazine , written by John Storey, director of Beaufort, Beaufighter and Lancaster production in Australia., I read her details of the wartime activities of the planes.

According to Storey , Beauforts carried out the lion’s share of the work in the Pacific: as torpedo carriers attacking enemy shipping; in bombing raids on important enemy bases such as Rabaul,Gasmata, Kavieng, Buin, Faisi, Paronga, Wewak and Timor. Beauforts patrolled 12,000 miles of coastline and convoyed Allied shipping carrying many millions of pounds' worth of munitions and supplies and hundreds of thousands of troops. The first Beaufort squadron went into action near Lae in New Guinea in June l942, sinking a Japanese supply ship ,Tenyo Maru. .The same squadron sank a merchantman off Milne Bay and inflicted damage or sank other naval vessels in major battles

Mother told how she and her sister , Val, both wearing bib and brace , were part of a team of Sydney women who produced parts for the bomber. There being shift work, Aunty Val, felt tired one night , so slipped into the boardroom and slept on the table. Mum operated a machine which removed burrs from the springs for the National Motor Spring Company . A wartime poster for Beaufort bombers was displayed in Darwin last year.

My mother and I lived on the waterfront at Kirribilli during the war with a French woman from New Caledonia who taught me how to count to 10 in French .. Because she was an alien, she had to report to police once a week , and each time emphatically stated France would rise again. She resorted to coarse Australian language, calling me a little swine after a kitten I brought home shat on the carpet.

Mum was attending a dance in the city when Japanese submarines invaded Sydney Harbour. The driver of the tram she caught home was instructed to turn out the lights and cross the bridge as fast as he could .


The powers that be in Darwin move with the speed of a wounded gazelle hit by a blast from an elephant gun . Weeks ago, Little Darwin pointed out gross errors in the Esplanade Cenotaph area and spelling errors and poorly written text in the online guide to Darwin’s war memorials. Here we are at Remembrance Day in a military citadel and the guide is still there.
Illustrated advertisements run next to the guide include fornicating kangaroos . Perhaps we were wrong when we said a high powered organisation was working on “brand bombing ”, using soap marketing techniques to cash in on the Territory’s wartime past. . It must have been brand bonking. Surely somebody can look into this matter. The longer it continues, the more we look like hillbillies. Correcting bad errors in the stonework spelling might take time to correct, but the online snafu only requires a telephone call or two to remedy.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Herr Hitler Praised ***The Stockholm Conference ***Global Warming Melts Queensland Snow !*** Kiwis Obsessed With Sheep ***Strange Wedding Customs ***Dancing with General Washington *** Dave and Mabel Finally Hitched in Woolshed

Whilst browsing through a grand Brisbane antique shop which has produced arcane items over the years , Little Darwin unearthed a l933 gem – WHAT THE COUNTRY WOMEN OF THE WORLD ARE DOING , edited by Canadian journalist , Sholto Watt , Rydal Press, Great Britain, 238pp, illustrated , with drawing of Maypole dancing on front cover.

The book had belonged to Ruth B . Fairfax , who in all probability was related to Mrs J. H. Fairfax , a leading figure in the international women’s movements. A former president of the Queensland CWA , she was a keen organiser and eloquent speaker who had represented Australia at London and Vienna conferences of rural women . In Australia she had been on national committees dealing with war and social service.

At the Stockholm third conference of Rural Women’s and Homemakers’ Organisations in June l933, Mrs Fairfax was elected one of the vice presidents .Motto of the conference was "The Will To Peace", and a resolution by Australian women calling for peace was well received . A “wistful sigh” went up among the European delegates when the Canadian writer and speaker on social legislation , Mrs W. R. Lang, ended a presentation with , "Why cannot there be flower gardens instead of fortifications along the frontiers of Europe?"

That great crusader , Eleanor Roosevelt, extended a cordial greeting to all present at the conference and said one of the most constructive forces in the world was the endeavour of organised womanhood , rural as well as urban, in all nations to maintain the moral , spiritual and cultural values of life in the face of economic chaos [Depression]. She continued:
The world has at last recognised that it must deal justly with agriculture , [ prices had tumbled and tariff barriers stopped the flow of produce ] and is seeking ways and means to that end . May you, rural women, with undiminished zeal continue to serve your family, your community , and your nation to the end that family life will be made secure , agriculture shall be adequately recompensed, civilization be maintained and strengthened , the nations of the world gain experience peace and stability, and international goodwill and co-operation be achieved. ”

In a chapter dealing with improvements in marketing methods it quoted Chancellor Adolf Hitler as saying ,” All the blows of fate can be overcome if the farmers are in a healthy state.” Each country attending the conference was given space in the book to explain their way of life with much attention being given to fairs, dances and customs.
In the case of Australia , a wedding in a woolshed where shy young men hang back when the dancing starts is covered .There is a description of a bush picnic and a race meeting, with a photos of a kangaroo and koalas.

In Queensland , where buckjumping and bare back riding is popular, there is a puzzling mention of ski-ing and toboganning being enjoyed in the highlands for a short season. Bet you never knew there were snow bunnies in the Sunshine state. While not into folk dancing in a big way, eurhythmic dancing was catching on in Qld and camp fire singing was heard in the evenings .

Over in Western Australia, the CWA staged a tableau during the l929 Centenary celebrations . During that festival there was a re-enactment of the founding of Perth when a woman , Mrs Dance, struck the first blow with an axe on a jarrah tree which was chopped down . There was also a big effort for Wool Week in l932. The section dealing with Victoria seemed to be trying to wrest the kudos for introducing the merino sheep wool industry from NSW . In New Zealand, of course, they were mad on sheepdog trials .

General George Washington’s dancing style is also covered. Seems he used to take long steps and his partner had to run to keep up with him. The detailed information about the life and times ,the global struggles and aspirations of women , along with some unusual wedding customs , make this an unusual reference book . Old time Estonian weddings , outlined in considerable detail, with pics, sound like a hoot. One of the key players is the "doctor" who wears an old lobster dragnet with attached frogbones on his head. His stethoscope is a sausage funnel and he has "various other queer medical instruments." A well known Darwin marriage celebrant should consider incorporating aspects of Estonian nuptials to jazz up Territory weddings .

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Strange as it might seem, one man was thankful for Cyclone Tracy . He spent that wild night sitting on the toilet protecting his head with a floor tile , fearing daybreak because a man with a record of violence had promised that he would call on him in the morn and bash him. Much to his relief, his mates decided to drive out of Darwin on Christmas Day in a battered car for Sydney . Some time later , he related the cyclone story to me over a pot of ale in a Sydney pub and heaped praise on the bands of women along the way who offered help to people fleeing Darwin. In particular, he mentioned the Country Women’s Association whose members offered food, cuppas, accommodation and even arranged a set of tyres for the car. Prior to the disaster, he had regarded the CWA , Red Cross and other service organisations with what amounted to scorn. Now they were the salt of the earth .

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Surgeons, to our way of thinking, are like pilots and deserve to be paid a bundle-if they know what they are doing . It is unnerving to say the least when you hear of what one surgeon in particular allegedly did in Queensland and that a Qantas crew recently forgot to put down the landing gear. Then there is the still unexplained case in the US of A where two pilots went off the air and overshot their destination by hundreds of miles.
Here in Darwin, surgeons have left and others are threatening to strike over pay . One media report said the Royal Darwin Hospital is threatening to reveal the salaries of surgeons. Little Darwin can reveal that the top knife gets close to $350,000. Seems the lower rated surgeons receive amounts in the $200,000 region and want to stitch up higher pay. Not so long ago, a passenger plane was damaged after hitting what was described as a" blind spot" on the Darwin tarmac. The last thing you want to hear is that the pilot of your jet is blind.

Friday, November 6, 2009


When Health Minister Kon Vatskalis explained why he had misled the Legislative Assembly while answering a question about the hamfisted treatment by the Royal Darwin Hospital of visiting gynaecological oncologist Professor Margaret Davy, he said he had been misinformed about the contents of a letter , was “ furious” and the “next time” he would “expect resignations.”

Well , Little Darwin has received information from several sources indicating that the minister is again “ furious ”, claiming he did not know another abrupt letter had been sent to Professor Davy . Furthermore , he has been heard fulminating on the phone about the letter to the Adelaide based specialist who has been coming to the Territory for 20 years.

The minister had earlier stated that Professor Davy would make several more trips to the Territory this year. However, it is understood that the good doctor was so frustrated by the hospital’s continued less than enthusiastic response , she indicated she would not be coming back. Patients, naturally, were concerned , and complained to the minister who, it seems, claimed he knew nothing. How could such a situation exist after the Legislative Assembly apology ? Surely the minister insisted that he be kept informed of every letter and communication with Professor Davy ?

This matter is certain to be raised during this month's sitting of the Legislative Assembly in Alice Springs and the continuing shabby treatment of Professor Davy demands a full explanation . Little Darwin understands the Health Department is hurriedly trying to organise one more visit by Professor Davy this year, an act which could be interpreted as a measure to prevent the guillotine blade from falling.


During a consultation with one of Darwin’s medical specialists, who has since departed for greener and possibly more rewarding pastures, he emphatically stated that the Sydney Morning Herald is a “ terrible, lefty paper.” This caused my blood pressure to jump as I had once worked on that broadsheet when it was reliable, respected, if somewhat staid. In no way could you diagnose Granny Herald , as it was known, as being of the left. Indeed, Sir Warwick Fairfax , of the founding establishment family, would rotate in his sarcophagus on hearing such a blasphemy. Of course, along came Margot Kingston who got Granny to lift her skirts and gave PM John Howard a working over.

I may be wrong, but I surmise the doctor was politically conservative and could have been a regular, outraged reader of the strong political columns written by Alan Ramsey for the SMH from l987-2008. Many of those powerful pieces-l50- are in his recently released book - A matter of Opinion- published by Allen and Unwin, $35.

Ramsey, described as a grumpy old bastard and a curmudgeon , covered the national capital political beat. He and I have things in common. Both of us worked at the Northern Territory News in the old tin bank when Jim Bowditch was the editor and did the same rounds , including court reporting . Ramsey was there in the mid - l950s ; I arrived from Sydney in l958 . While he later spent five years as Bill Hayden’s press secretary , I spent an interesting time as press secretary for the NT ALP leader of the Opposition , Jon Isaacs.
While Ramsey was called variations of a grouch, I- a sweet, loveable guy at heart- have been identified as cranky, aggressive and an expletive or two . I emailed Alan for info about his time at the NT News when researching the life of Big Jim Bowditch. In interviews associated with the launch of the book, straight talking Ramsey criticised the modern ALP, commercial TV , spoke of the media’s obsession with celebrity and trivia , spin " sludge ", and gave some wonderful insights .
In an at home session in Canberra with Phillip Adams of the ABC’s Late Night Live , Ramsey served up chicken and lettuce sandwiches, and let the political revelations flow . One was a detailed account of the time he shouted from the Press gallery that PM “ Jolly” John Gorton was a liar. There are two column pieces related to the Northern Territory in the book . With a preface by the inimitable David Marr, which describes the farewell party for Ramsey in Canberra , attended by a host of politicians from the past, including Andrew Peacock who flew in from overseas to be in attendance , the book is a welcome , refreshing read, bringing back memories of long gone editors, reporters and politicians .


Friends in Malaysia have sent an email warning of a serious virus expected to strike any day soon. The advice is not to open any message from a friend with an attachment for POSTCARD FROM HALLMARK .The advice goes so far as to say that your computer should be turned off on receipt of a postcard message .

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Despite the Chief Minister's announcement about the Nightcliff Police Station now being a real police station, the word is that there are not enough officers available to run the place. Today a doctor's surgery , a short distance from the station, in the Nighcliff Village, is being worked on after a front window was smashed in during the night . Earlier in the day , some regulars were seen drinking in the area . There has been an outbreak of graffiti , and the back door of another shop was tampered with . It would seem that nothing has really changed . The obvious message that an integrated approach is needed , day and night, did not get through.
Any police turning up for duty at Nightcliff should be on the alert for two missing ducks, one brown , the other white. The owner is worried that dogs may have got them . Some thoughtless people have suggested they were roasted in the long grass .


Paul Barry’s book and the associated ABC documentary about James Packer focussed much attention on the casino /media tycoon’s failed investments running into billions of dollars. When his crusty grandfather , Frank , was running the Australian Consolidated Press empire, which included the Daily Telegraph, the Australian Women’s Weekly and, it is suggested, the Australian franchise for sweet smelling Californian Poppy hair oil for men, a close eye was kept on investments .

Indeed, when there was a dispute over a new award for metropolitan journalists , the Packer outfit dug in its heels. In a memorable TV interview, urbane David D. McNicoll ,editor- in -chief of the Daily Telegraph , also known as David D McBlue -Rinse because of the colour of his hair and bushy moustache , said the newspaper game was not overly profitable. Wise investments in other areas kept the company going . It seems punting on lavish casinos when a large part of the world is bankrupt, is not a wise investment .Wonder if James could recoup his losses by investing in hair oil and pig belly futures
OILY ENDING : Cyclops added to the Packer fortune by anointing himself with Californian Poppy in his pimply youth. Vaseline oil hair tonic ( repeat hair tonic) was also used, along with the curse of every mother ,Spruso, which left dirty marks on collars when it melted and ran down the follicles. )


A stroll through the Brisbane Art Gallery recently brought back unexpected memories of Cyclone Tracy. There in a glass case was an open volume of part of the l883-86 Picturesque Atlas of Australasia , displaying engravings by leading artists. Originally sold in 42 parts , it was eventually sold in three bound volumes. I had bought two half leather bound volumes at a Sydney auction of Australiana from the collection of a noted bibliophile, and brought them with me to Darwin in l972 along with some framed drawings of Darwin in WW11, also bought at auction . With magnificent engravings and coloured maps, and detailed chapters on the settlement of Australia and the Pacific, the Atlas volumes were treasured .

As Cyclone Tracy hammered away at the house, I placed the volumes in a high cupboard … and away they went when the roof was ripped off. One sodden volume was found but the other had disappeared . Reluctant to part with the lumpy survivor, I dried it out and put it aside. The WW11 drawings of Darwin had to be tossed out.

Moving to Adelaide years later , the sad looking , water stained Atlas was treated and many of the engravings saved and framed . An erratic artist hand- tinted some for me, including a view of Townsville with shipping in the foreground and Castle Hill looming large. A number of pictures now hang on the wall in Darwin , showing signs of foxing , waiting for the next blow or quake. Pride of place is held by a fine engraving by that adventurous painter of wildflowers and birds, the petite Ellis Rowan,who ventured into remote parts of North Australia and New Guinea . She also spent time in America illustrating a book on American flora by Alice Lounsberry . Other pictures include Reverend Samuel “ Flogger” Marsden meeting Maoris in the Bay of Islands , an Ostrich Farm near Port Augusta and a carved gateway at an old Maori Pah .

There was a time in Australia when many photocopying machines almost melted running off copies of Atlas engravings which flooded the nation . At one stage I had the personal bookplate of F.B. Schell , the American art editor of the Atlas . McCulloch’s Dictionary of Australian Art says the Atlas had a major impact on black and white art in Australia and influenced the high standards of the early Bulletin magazine, only recently blown away by the financial blizzard still sweeping the world .