Thursday, November 29, 2012


As the long running Shirley Collins case was due to be heard  in Darwin in another telephone hook up between Perth and Canberra , I attempted to check on the Federal Magistrates Court website . No listing could be found, I went to the court site in  Mitchell Street and there was no access , no  sign of activity, no list indicating the court was sitting that very day.

A notice said inquiries could be  made on the first floor .  Stepping out of the lift, I found  myself in a tranquil  area –somebody reading a newspaper down the far end , their back towards me. At the  glass panelled area right in front of me was a sign indicating you  pressed a button for attention . As I waited , I noticed what looked like all the animals out of Sesame Street and a few other shows were sitting on top of cupboards. For a  time I thought I had stepped into  Wally World , a  set  for Toy Story  X  or  a  branch of  Disneyland soft  mechandising .   I told the  attendant that there was supposed to be a court case involving Shirley Collins downstairs but the place was closed up . Was it a Family Court matter? No. The computer was consulted , but it said, No .

At one stage I was asked what was the date of birth of  this Shirley Collins . Somewhat surprised, I said I was a reporter wanting to cover the case and did not know her date of  arrival on the  planet. Further consultation within the inner sanctum took place , and it was discovered that yes indeed , the case was to be heard that  morning .  Downstairs , later on , a security man arrived and announced he had only just been told about the case . I went through the security check and sat down outside the courtroom , noticing a large tissue sitting on top of the nearby rubbish bin .

On a previous visit to the same area , mossies flitted about ; they were not evident on this occasion. When the hook up was made, there was no indication who was  this person, presumably a magistrate, speaking from Perth. In future hearings it would be good if  it was  announced to  one and all at the outset  who is presiding over the   distant bench . No  members of the local media were present, but you never know what might happen in the future . As it turned out, on this occasion, the case was adjourned to December 17 , after an additional order for court costs of  $264 , the spirit of Xmas evident.

As explained in great detail  by Little Darwin, Ms Collins,  former head of Raintree Aboriginal Art Gallery , Darwin, was ruined by her involvement in the  Bank of America Down Under Tour of the US in the lead up to the Sydney Olympics. With it being stated that Ms Collins had been made the scapegoat  for the  mistakes and misinformation of others in high places , she now is seeking an act of grace payment from the Federal government , fighting the rejection by a Canberra public servant, Dr Guy Verney , in the Department of Finance, of her application , claiming he acted as both case manager and case decider , contrary to the guidelines.

[ A former NT Administrator, Charles Aubrey Abbott , was granted a grace in favour payment by Prime Minister Menzies because he was short of money late in life ; he was also given a free state funeral . The NT Dictionary of Biography states that the Abbotts were snobbish and that Administrator Abbott classified Darwin’s population into four groups , permanent residents described as not having a mentality of a very high standard]. Darwin solicitor  James Matthews is representing Ms. Collins   pro bono .- ( Peter Simon )


To counter all the publicity given to those enterprising Kiwis over the world premiere of The Hobbit movie in Wellington, Canberra staged an Aussie version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In the last week of Federal parliament, PM Julia Gillard strode into the bearpit armed with a claymore , wearing a blouse patterned like chain mail that protected warriors in the Dark Ages beneath one of her short length jackets detested by Germaine Greer , which , however, enables the fearless First Lady to quickly mount a passing warhorse. Intent on blocking her passage across the Molongolo Bridge, was the Black Knight, Tony Abbott, and his motley crew of camp ( as in bivouac) followers, including gimlet-eyed Julie Bishop , Adelaide soup kitchen plate licker , Christopher Pyne , and Puffin’ Joe Hockey, believed to be a member of the arthritic Wollstonecraft Mob . In his bid to secure the Holy Grail-the reins of political power- Abbott challenged Julia to a proxy sword fight . Tougher than the Iron lady, Margaret Thatcher, Julia was not for turning .Whack!-off came Abbott’s left arm . Saying it was but a scratch, cack -handed Abbott transferred his Wilkinson Sword , blessed by Archbishop Pell , to his right hand . Enjoying the fun, the PM then sliced up the Mad Monk as if he had fallen into a potato scallop making machine, reducing him to a quadruple amputee, wearing a g-string . In the uproar , somebody was called a thug , the Mad Monk threatened to bite off the PM’s legs , Brownwyn kept on trying to read from her black book , the Italian , Chinese and diabetic kids in the gallery sat there stunned . At the end of the bloody battle ,which resembled 1066 and All That ,the long suffering Speaker , Anna Burke , donned a pair of funny looking ears, and booked herself into a Rotorua sanatorium to take advantage of the soothing mud slinging therapy on offer for the duration of the parliamentary break. The coconuts  used to provide the  sound effects of galloping horses  will  be used in the next ABC  Kitchen Cabinet   Tv  series .

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


For many years , Darwin  journalist and nudist , the  late  Dick Muddimer, above , lived in Philip Street , Fannie Bay . The property became  increasingly valuable and he said he had been offered large amounts of money by  developers to sell. He rejected all offers and said he had been branded anti- progressive , but he did not want to see the street ,which  he  regarded  with affection, full of  jammed up units. Now, under instructions from the Perpetual Trustee , the block  is to be auctioned on December 15 . It will be interesting to see how much it brings and what rises on the site. The  nextdoor neighbours on one side  are  former NT Administrator, Tom  Pauling , and his wife,Tessa,who  held  the wake for Muddimer . Little Darwin  is proud to have  retrieved,  from a dark storage shed in the rural area, the above  painting of  Muddimer  in a pose like an Aztec  sun worshipper , with  his  pet dog . It is now in the possession of a  woman who regarded  Dick with  affection . Truth be told , Dick  did not like the painting. *

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Panorama House once stood on this now empty and fenced off site overlooking Townsville. The building ,with spectacular views, used for many functions over decades , contained asbestos and was demolished in 2011.
Anybody aware that  this is  National Asbestos Week ?  The recent ABC two- part series DEVIL’S DUST- about the James Hardie asbestos scandal-highlighted the part played by ABC journalist Matt Peacock in exposing the criminal cover up . The documentary attracted an audience of 723,000 each night . As Peacock had once worked in Darwin with the ABC , it would have been a golden opportunity for the ABC to really promote the show locally, do interviews , report on the asbestos situation in the Territory today. Recently Chief Minister Mills announced he had called for a report on asbestos in education facilities. In a really competitive media situation such as existed yesteryear there would have been an immediate in-depth follow up. But no . It is a fact that there are many houses in Darwin in which there is asbestos. Royal Darwin Hospital is full of it . Despite all the palaver about Occupational Health and Safety , tradesmen, without proper protective clothing, are sent in to do work in buildings containing asbestos. In Queensland, it was recently acknowledged that it has a massive problem with asbestos in many homes, commercial buildings, defence bases .

Staff at News Limited’s Townsville Bulletin office were moved to a temporary office when asbestos was discovered on the premises. The paper has spent more than $100,000 making parts of its Ogden St office safe.  The total bill is expected to exceed $210,000. A multi million dollar program to remove asbestos from Australian Defence Force buildings has resulted in tonnes of the hazardous material being dumped over the past decade. A total of 1245sq m of asbestos was removed from three World War II-era buildings during  heritage restoration at the Townsville  RAAF base this year. What is the story with Darwin defence bases ? In the case of the asbestos dump at Nightcliff, dithered over by the Darwin City Council and politicians, it has slipped below the media radar , like so many other isssues, without any proper in-depth investigation. There is concern in North Queensland that the depressed economy and an increasing trend to do- it- yourself home renovations could be creating health hazards .

COLD WAR POLITICS AND SPIES -The Big Jim Bowditch saga.

Two men living in  Alice  Springs  after  WW 11  had  an important influence on Jim Bowditch , above, photographed by Kerry Byrnes.  The first was Englishman, Francis “ Frank” Whitewood , secretary of the ALP, who lived in a caravan and sent money home to his mother. Bowditch described Whitewood as his “ father confessor,” saying he was well - read and taught him to see values in people he otherwise would have missed. The two of them frequently sat up late at night in the caravan playing chess and discussing a wide range of topics, social and political.

The second was lawyer Richard “Dick ’’ Ward , a member of the NT Legislative Council and later a NT  judge , with whom Bowditch formed a strong association ; this relationship lasted for decades , both fighting for Aboriginal rights , NT political reform , underdogs  and  numerous other causes.
By Peter  Simon
Ward’s activities resulted in him being called the Clarence Darrow of the Territory . Darrow was the famous American lawyer who fought many legal battles for organised labor, becoming known as the legal champion of the oppressed and unfortunate . It was Darrow who defended the right to teach evolution in Tennessee schools. Ward had been a contemporary of ALP leader Gough Whitlam , they being born in the same month and same suburb. At a political meeting in Darwin years later when the similarities in their lives were pointed out by Whitlam, some wag called out “- and the same father. ’’

About l938 Ward became a partner in the Darwin law firm of Andrew Brough Newell in Darwin . He joined the Army during the war as a lance corporal and worked as a clerk in the record section at the Larrakeyah Barracks in Darwin . However, he was given leave to appear in a court case on February l9, l942, the day the Japanese first bombed Darwin , and he and others rushed out the back of the court and took shelter in a trench. One of those in the ditch was a court stenographer , Florence Wright , whom he later married.

Reflecting on his war service, Ward told this writer  most of his work involved drawing lines and remembered attending a muster in sandshoes. He moved to Alice after the bombing of Darwin , set up a legal business and was drafted into the Allied Works Council. In  l943 he married Florence Wright .

A dedicated socialist, Ward was known in Alice as “ Red Richard. ” He was a skilled orator, a brilliant advocate and had a firm belief in the rights of the individual . He became a leader in the Northern Territory Development League , formed to press for legislative and political reform, and in l946 the Chifley Labor government decided to form in l947 a Northern Territory Legislative Council. Ward stood for and was elected to the first Legislative Council, beating Frank W. Johnson by one vote. Johnson then won the seat by one vote at the next election . Ward called for Alice Springs to be made the administrative capital of the NT , a proposal backed by influential Adelaide businessmen , including Mr H. J. Bird , manager of S. Kidman and Co. The Deputy Leader of the ALP, Arthur Calwell, said he hoped the day would come when the NT would be divided into two, each one eventually becoming a state. He did not envisage this happening until the NT population had reached 250,000. There was a close relationship between many people in Alice and Adelaide. Territorians from the Centre down in Adelaide used to gather in a drinking spot called the Coal Hole at the Ambassador Hotel, King William Street.

While Bowditch was secretary of the Rovers Cricket Club , Ward was patron of the Pioneer Football Club . Ward arranged for a talented Aboriginal Australian Rules Footballer , Henry Peckham, to play in Adelaide where he received the best player of the year award. Ward was a man of broad interests-music, philosophy and books , of which he had a large collection. He and Jim drank together , and Mrs Ward was in the amateur theatrical group in which Jim and Iris Bowditch were members.
ASIO kept Whitewood, Ward and Bowditch under surveillance. Years later, an ASIO report would describe Bowditch and Ward as having “ long histories of  association with Communists and radicals. ”
The Cold War between the super powers caused deep divisions throughout the world , including Alice Springs. Ferocious fighting and huge casualties in Korea , plus the Federal government’s attempt to outlaw the Communist Party heightened passions . It was whispered about the town that Jock Nelson held regular meetings attended by communists in a shed on his property . Nelson told how a union activist in Alice Springs who had a large hammer and sickle emblem emblazoned on the floor of his house had been accused of subversion during WW11. The Queensland Communist lawyer Fred Paterson represented him in court and  had him  acquitted.

Eddie Connellan was one of those who often spoke a lot about communists. Connellan, according to Nelson, had pulled out of the Northern Territory Development League , which he ( Connellan ) founded , because he said it had been taken over by communists. Dick Ward had become a dominant figure in the organisation

The “Commie” tag was trotted out frequently by people opposing Bowditch. It was also used as ammunition against Dick Ward by plumber Frank Johnson during elections. Johnson loved talking about politics , especially in relation to what happened in Australia during the Depression. It must have been more than sheer coincidence that for quite some time an advertisement in the Centralian Advocate for medical rubber goods appeared next to  one for Johnson’s plumbing services.

Another event which added to the Communist jibes against Bowditch was his involvement with the Peace Council . The Peace Council was regarded by many as a Communist front , if not actively supported by “ subversives” then by gullible people being  manipulated by evil forces. Because of its support for peace, the World Council of Churches was also regarded with suspicion and outright hostility in some quarters. A person deeply involved in the Peace Council was Marjorie Johnston, sister of Adelaide Communist barrister, Elliott Johnston, later a QC and a judge . When his sister planned to hold Peace Council meetings in the NT , Johnston wrote and asked Bowditch if he would help organise a venue and chair the event. As ASIO put it , Bowditch “ came under notice ”in August l951 when he began corresponding with the SA branch of the Australian Peace Council.

Peace Council Warnings  

Bowditch , who had recently been approached and asked to become a Justice of the Peace, agreed to do so . Through his friendship with the incumbent minister, a chess player, Bowditch booked the Anglican hall for a night meeting in June l951 . A leading businessman and a mason both approached Bowditch and warned him against having anything to do with the Peace Council.

Miss Johnston had recently returned from an international Peace Conference in Warsaw and said she saw no sign that Poland and Czechoslovakia were preparing for another world war. Warsaw, she said, would be at the forefront of any invasion and there the populace was rebuilding the city after WW11, not preparing or wanting another global conflict. The Peace Council , she added, was non-political but willingly admitted any political creed as long as it had a genuine desire for peace.

At the Alice meeting Bowditch opened proceedings by introducing Ms Johnston and said peace was a desirable state . He urged those present - about 50 ,by his account - to listen to what was said and to make up their own minds .

In the audience, which included his friend Dick Ward , was Darwin’s Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation officer , Mr Mooney, who came down to report on the event . His secretary took  notes throughout the evening . Also present was Mrs Esther Meaney , president of the Darwin Housewives’ Association, who was to accompany Miss Johnston in the Territory. Mrs Meaney had been the NT delegate to the l950 Australian Peace Congress in Melbourne. The Melbourne gathering had been attended by the Dean of Canterbury , Hewlett Johnson, dubbed the “Red Dean” because he had written favourably about Russia . His visit to Australia was criticised in the Press , the Sydney Morning Herald saying he was “ a decoy duck ” for the peace movement .

The Dean passed through Darwin on his way to Melbourne and no local clergy went to meet him because of the Red bogey . However , Esther Meaney, and her husband Jack, a watersider , later made a life member of the ALP , both tireless campaigners for a better society , invited him home to Fannie Bay for a meal, his first in Australia.

On his way back to England, the Dean again stopped off at Darwin and was entertained by the Meaneys, once more breaking bread with the couple. To young John Meaney ,the Dean seemed about “nine foot tall” and spoke in a strong, educated voice.

A short newspaper account of the Alice Peace Council meeting said Bowditch thanked Reverend F. Rodgers Burns for allowing the Church of England hall to be used for the meeting. Reverend Burns had responded by saying he had been impressed by what Miss Johnston had said , and that he was willing to support the proposed establishment of a Peace Committee in Alice.

The ASIO account of the meeting gave a more detailed version . It said Johnston had arrived in Alice on 2/6/5l and she and Meaney had been looked after by Bowditch , who entertained them at his home. It said Johnston had been the only speaker at the meeting , and when people attempted to ask her questions about Communism and the Peace Council , Bowditch had “ disallowed these”. A resolution was supported which had “effectively gagged” Bowditch so that a question could be asked. According to the ASIO account , nobody would accept the position of president or secretary of a local Peace Council committee, so Bowditch and another person , a committee of two , was voted in.

As a result of his involvement with the Peace Council , Jim’s appointment as a JP was either revoked or did not go ahead. The Anglican minister who allowed his hall be used for the peace meeting was transferred . Bowditch noticed that after the meeting some people  seemed to  avoid him . While walking in the main street Bowditch saw Police  Inspector McKinnon , known as “Camel Bill” because in earlier years he had made extensive camel patrols , turn away and  head off quickly.  Another day, McKinnon  repeated the dodging act . As they used to regularly meet in the street and chat, Bowditch decided to find out exactly why he was being shunned. He called on the police officer at his home and asked for an explanation .

McKinnon told him that because of the federal government campaign to have the Communist Party outlawed , it was not safe to be seen with Bowditch as people associated with communists could lose their government jobs. The policeman said he did not want his career jeopardised by being seen with him . The inspector also told Bowditch he had also been rejected as a JP because it was thought he would not be able to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

Bowditch was not concerned about being rejected as a JP . He had indicated when first approached that he would not be interested in sitting on the bench in court cases and “ sending people up the river ”, but would be prepared to witness the signing of documents . While he did not become a JP , he did editorialise some years later that it was not right for Justices of the Peace with “ known attitudes to Aborigines ” to sit on cases involving them .

ASIO noted that by August l951 the Alice Springs Peace Council Committee had “ apparently fallen through” owing to lack of interest and support by local citizens. ( During the  time of the Whitlam Goverenment, Jock  Nelson informed Bowditch that ASIO had recently taken his  (Bowditch’s ) name  from  the “ fellow traveller ”list .) NEXT Marriage  break down,wild ASIO  claims .

Monday, November 26, 2012


In a brilliant move to counter his growing unpopularity avec les femmes  , Coalition Leader, Tony Abbott,  is to undergo a major makeover to improve his image . First, he will change his surname to Turnbull-Abbott ( even if it means losing the donkey vote ), and wear leather jackets in public - instead of his daggy Junior Chamber of Commerce clobber. Because he is regarded as the  B.O. Kid by so many women , he will rub his armpits with Mongolian garlic knobs which emit powerful pheromones that drive femmes crazy with desire.

Women who get a whiff of the seductive odour become mad keen for a date . Informed of this, Mr Abbott said he would buy up tasty dates in bulk from the Middle East through a war  surplus store and give them to dateless and desperate women  and Narelle , the lonely chimpanzee at Taronga Zoo Park .

 During his recent visit to Alice Springs, the Mad Monk addressed the CLP  at a candlelit dinner  and caused many to spit like camels.  He tried to impress a well known local  lady by getting her to walk on his Bondi designer label   possum skin cloak,  but he  slipped on  a banana skin while flinging down  the gorgeous garment .  On that same disastrous trip  to Alice he bought some locally grown dates to take home and was trampled underfoot by feral female camels which roam the mall and the RSL, proving beyond doubt that dates ,maybe even seedless prunes, drive  hairy females silly. He is confident that he will project a new image of inner cleanliness which will also  lead to a spike in bookings at speed dating centres for the blind.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

DEATH OF A DEDICATED COMRADE : The Jean Devanny series,#6

Despite the earlier belief  that a Japanese invasion was imminent , boredom set in  at the Mataranka Army camp  in the Northern Territory  , relieved  slightly by two-up , beer nights,  occasional  concerts. It has to be said that the camp’s litterateurs - playwright Sumner Locke Elliott , journalist /cartoonist  Frank  Hardy and  writer   Frank  Ryland - obviously  found the  place  inspirational , providing ideas  for  short stories, skits , yarn  telling , a  ground breaking Australian play . There  was the irreverent, aptly named camp paper, Troppo Tribune , in which Hardy , a Communist, played a large part , which  helped  let  off   steam  for one  and all .

Nevertheless, sitting out there in the bush waiting for something to happen could and did drive men crazy. It was a situation somewhat like the British military TV spoof It Aint Half Hot Mum . The   photograph at the top of this post  is from the Little Darwin Ephemera Collection and shows hairy "chorus girls" in New Guinea during WW11.

Another person who influenced  Frank Hardy at Mataranka was Paul Mortier who had trained for the Catholic priesthood but became an avid Communist. He had come from the Adelaide River area where there were larger Australian and American camps . Entertainment  there  had included  concerts .

Among the photographs from that period is one taken  at Adelaide River  showing the 6th Division Front Line Diggers Concert Party which had returned from the Middle East. In the actors posing for the photograph were three female impersonators ; the orchestra consisted of  men  all  wearing suits, some with bowties. More  and  more Australian and American concert parties toured Australia and New Guinea and the islands  as  the war progressed , some with genuine females. The film star John Wayne came to the Territory.

The late NT Administrator , former MHR, Jock Nelson, told this writer that there was a belief that a huge cache of liquor had been buried by Americans in or near one of  the NT camps.

At Mataranka , Mortier recruited others in the camp into Communism and was involved with Hardy in production of the Troppo Tribune . Hardy was said to have become Mortier’s best friend , a relationship which would later have an unexpected big impact on the battle for Aboriginal land rights in the future .

In the Mataranka area was an Army workshop which carried out repairs on vehicles , a hospital , an ammunition dump and railway sidings ran from the main line. A large team of Aborigines helped load trains and do other jobs . An Aboriginal boy , Bardyal (Lofty) Nadjamerrek, aged about 16, chopped wood and did other tasks. He became a recognised artist with work in the National Gallery of Australia, the Victorian Art Museum , the Museum of Contemporary Art , Sydney , and other museums and major collections .

The above l944 hand-made Christmas card from Madang , New Guinea, is another example of Australian fighting men’s humour . It was sent by “Toby” to  Bonds Tours staff  in Adelaide. In 1945 Mortier married Dulcie Haslam , an arts student who had been one of the foundation members of the Sydney University Labour Club , active in pre-war student politics. She had heard Paul speaking in the Domain along with other activists of the day including Rupert Lockwood . A talented writer, she is said to have played second fiddle to her husband’s driving political interests and campaigns. Later she became a teacher in languages in secondary schools .

Mortier, a highly strung individual, passionately  supported and promoted Communism . After the war he religiously wrote copious material for the Communist paper ,Tribune, for which he received little remuneration. He was a devoted foot-soldier for the cause, an educated cultural voice . The National Library of Australia catalogue has a Paul Mortier listing in connection with North Star , a Darwin Communist publication , dated  May  l947

In l948, after the Sydney Morning Herald ran a large article about Communist influence in the People’s Council for Culture , several organisations disassociated themselves –the British Drama league, the Sydney Literary and Debating Society and the Metropolitan Theatre .

Mr Justice Nicholas, asked to have his name as a vice president of the British Drama League removed. Paul Mortier, secretary of New Theatre, in a letter to the paper pointed out errors in the article ,one being that Katharine Susannah Prichard was a member of the executive committee .

Arrested and charged with footpath obstruction in Sydney during a demonstration against the Korean War in l950, Mortier , organiser for the NSW Peace Council, told the court he believed in the Bible only as a very interesting historical document . He refused to answer when asked if he was a Communist . Placards worded  HANDS OF KOREA and CALL OFF THE YANKS had been displayed . During the Cold War, when ASIO agents sat in their car outside the Mortier home, Mrs Mortier told a daughter to take out a cup of tea.

Mortier wrote the above pamphlet in l955 which explained the relationship between art and politics, dismissing artists who said there was no politics in art . He presented what was described as “the party line.”It aimed to find the correct way to use art in the struggle against imperialism and build socialism. Mortier criticised the second volume of Manning Clark’s Select Documents In Australian History ,1851-1900 in the Tribune, saying the historian lacked Marxist understanding and had rejected class struggle as the key to historical development.

Mortier also  took a stand against  jazz in the early l950s. As " the party theorist,"he  urged the young to turn away from the  eroticism, escapism and  subjectivism of  jazz  for   folk music. As a  result, the Eureka  Youth League played a  leading role in the  revival of  Australian  folk . 

Both Paul and Dulcie Mortier were devastated in 1956 when the Soviet leader, Nikita Krushchev revealed the barbarity of Stalin’s ruthless rule. In the upheavels caused by  the revelations,there were splits in the Communist Party of Australia and Paul came under attack. Prone to bouts of severe depression, he overdosed on barbiturates in 1965. Saddened by the shock suicide of  his wartime friend , Frank Hardy was going through a tough patch in his own life , short of money and not sure of the future. Darwin beckoned , so he hitchhiked north and became involved in a new battleground and over the coming years would also work on a major novel intended to honour Paul Mortier, but which ended  up a disappointment for his widow. NEXT : The Unlucky Australians .


Interesting  additional information has  come in since  mention of  Sumner  Locke  Elliott’s  controversial play - Rusty Bugles - based on  experiences  in  the  WW11  Army camp at Mataranka , NT,  in  the series about   Kiwi  author  /activist , Jean Devanny.   Two  of  Darwin’s  current  elder statesmen ,   Creed  Lovegrove  and  Vern  O’Brien,  holidaying in Melbourne  from the  NT  in  1949 , saw the  play  performed.  The  language  used  did  not  seem unusual  for  the   NT.   Further  savouring   the   sophisticated  offerings  of   the  big  smoke,  they  went  ice  skating .

Creed   recalls   neither  of   them  was  steady on  the   blades .  Vern  said  ice  skating  was  a  real experience , and  laughed  when he  said  there  was  no  ice  in the NT  at  the  time .  It  has  been  suggested  that  there   could  be  a  photograph of  the  ice skating   follies   somewhere   in  Darwin.   We  have  unleashed  a sniffer   dog   to  try  and  track   down  this   snap  before  global warming causes  it  to fade, curl  up  and  disintegrate . 

Former Darwin journalist , Kim Lockwood, TV Editor of the Melbourne Herald ( l979-l981), interviewed Sumner Locke Elliott when he came out from America  to promote the TV series based on his novel, Water Under the Bridge , which covered  Kings Cross and  Sydney's class system in the l930s, described in  the blurb as a watershed in the depiction of Australian identity.  Kim  recalls that  Elliott , of pleasant  disposition,  had  an   American  accent.  Kim also interviewed  Frank Hardy for the TV adaptation  of his  book, Power Without Glory.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Proud as  Punch, young  boy  in  car, believed to be somewhere  in the  NT, in an uncaptioned  photograph  from  the  Little  Darwin  Ephemera Collection .

Sunday, November 18, 2012


An  Open Letter to Mr James Dyson
Dear Mr Dyson: This is a letter of thanks. Let me explain-
Last month I purchased one of your vacuum cleaners, a  Model DC 23. Although I had to pay close to the annual budget of an African republic for it, my wife, who watches television advertisements, insisted that you looked like a nice person and were to be trusted.

We live on an island on the south coast of New South Wales in Australia in a house we designed ourselves, sited right on the bank of the Shoalhaven River and in sight of the sea. It’s a beautiful environment. The wild life loves it, and the snakes do too.
A few mornings ago I went into our bedroom and saw a one-metre Red-bellied Black Snake disappearing under our bed. As we are 30 kilometres from the nearest vet, I didn’t have time to call for help. Although tempted, I decided against using the shotgun we usually apply in Snake vs. Human boundary disputes. Blasting a hole through the carpet and splashing shredded snake and blood on the walls was not an option, and it couldn’t be left to get into the rest of the house – I might never find it again. I couldn’t kill it in situ without making a bloody mess , and you can't shoo a snake out of the room as you might a sheep. So what to do? 
I mean this in the nicest possible way, James, but our Dyson sucks. I figured if I could get the tip of the crevice tool onto the snake the suction would hold it tight enough for me to take it outside and drop it in the garden.
As it coiled itself behind a  bedside table I managed to place the tool right behind its head. I was right, the suction held it. However, I’d forgotten how elastic and flexible a snake is and its entire metre length was suddenly sucked into your vacuum cleaner, making the same noise Hannibal Lecter did when he mimed eating someone’s liver.

Yes, there it was, safely wrapped around the inside of the dust container. It was angry.Assuming it would be easy to empty the snake from the container without endangering myself, I removed the container from the DC23 and took it to the edge of our garden. When I opened the lid I was stunned to find the container was empty.

After cautiously inspecting the filter and the cyclone assembly I had to accept that the snake found a way out of the container but as I hadn’t let it out of my sight it must still be inside the vacuum cleaner.The only place the snake could be was inside the hose, so I gingerly forced a broom handle into it, all the while fighting off  waves of fear.

This didn’t work – the snake didn’t appear. The broom handle didn’t quite reach the far end of the hose so I was forced to conclude that the snake must indeed be in its last few centimetres. I wasn’t about to pick up the hose and look inside, so I clicked everything back together and restarted the DC23.

Sure enough, after a moment’s resistance the snake reappeared in the dust container, whirling around and around and by now very displeased indeed. This time I made sure it wasn’t able to "take the tube", so to speak, by quickly emptying it onto the grass.
How Peter  Burleigh  won the 2012  Australasian Good  Housekeeping Award  with his novel  method of  dealing with the common problem of  snakes in  the  bedroom, using  a gadget which looks like something  from an  Iranian  uranium enrichment  plant , irradiated  snake visible .
At last I was able to resolve the problem , but frankly I believe the snake had already died from giddiness. As there are no snakes in England, the control of deadly serpents is not among the design innovations claimed for your vacuum cleaners. However, such is the brilliance of the Dyson DC23 that snakes up to a certain size can be controlled.
Please accept this testimonial from your grateful customers,
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Thursday, November 15, 2012


Monarch of  Mount Ramelau ,  a  fine  stallion  in Timor-Leste. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Through Banjo Paterson’s poem - The Man From Snowy River- the noble Timor Pony became part of Australia’s folklore. Remember the  brave rider who turned  those  wild mountain horses was  astride  small and weedy  beast , three parts  thoroughbred , with  a  touch of  Timor Pony.

Darwin agronomist and longtime East Timor supporter , Rob Wesley-Smith, admires these  noble  beasts of burden. The sturdy animals, he points out , were used by Australian troops in Timor during WW11 . About 25 years ago , Wes was asked to name a new Timor Pony for Barry Lemcke who has been involved in livestock and pasture research in the Territory for more than 40 years.

The name he came up with was Tatoli–meaning something like swift, or despatch, deliver , pass on, to send a message , which sounds like a mount in the famous Wild West Pony Express days.

Wes took Shirley Shackleton, widow of reporter  Greg Shackleton,one of the Balibo Five , killed by the Indonesian invading forces , to see Tatoli when she expressed the desire to write a book  about East Timor’s struggle for freedom . It was suggested a small boy and a pony could feature in the story.
Over the years Wes has photographed Timor ponies , some carrying” horrendous loads”. Boys are seen above   with a pony loaded with  corn. In 1999 ,Wes was driving a truck on the  island with a load of supplies for Aileu and noticed that many people had to walk down a long mountain road to pick up a bag of rice, possibly weighing 50kg , and struggle back up. Being Wes, he  had firm words with World Vision about  altering their rice  distribution system .
"I used to fill my truck with people and goods on the way back, and one old man gave me all the load off his half- starved Timor Pony, to be collected back up at the top of the mountain ," Wes recalls ." I was relieved it was just the load- not also the pony!"

 About 2000 or  2001 ,  a resident raised the possibility of importing  Australian ponies  as part of  a program to  strengthen the Timor Pony.  An  unexpected  link to The Man From Snowy River came to light when researching aspects of  the life of author Jean Devanny , which included involvement with Territory people.  Mention was  made of Devanny having attended a meeting of the Fellowship of Australian Writers , Sydney ,where guests included Bill Harney and Jessie Litchfield of the NT, for a lecture delivered by Michael Sawtell, who had spent time in the Territory.

At one stage Sawtell urged the nation never to forget the poet Barcroft Boake , found hanging by the neck from a stockwhip at Middle Harbour, Sydney , eight days after he disappeared on May 2, 1892. It has been suggested that Boake committed suicide during the Depression of 1891-93 because he could not find work and his unrequited love for a girl , a sister of  horseman , Charlie McKeahnie, one of  a number of men said to have inspired  The Man From Snowy River .

Boake had worked as a boundary rider in NSW and Queensland and then as a surveyor; several poems  he wrote appeared  in The Bulletin . When living in the Snowy country  in l887, Barcroft spent much time with the McKeahnie family , riding with Charlie,  becoming  fond of  his sisters, May and Jean .

In 1891 Boake wrote a poem for The Bulletin - On the Range- which told of McKeahnie chasing a wild brumby stallion. His poems were published posthumously in 1897 by A.G. Stephens in a collection titled Where the Dead Men Lie and Other Poems; the most famous poem -Where the Dead Men Lie- described the tragedies Australians faced in the 1891-93 Depression.

During that period , his father , Barcroft Capel  Boake , involved in a substantial number of photography businesses in NSW and Victoria , experienced financial difficulties .The above  business card  is  for  one of the Sydney  studios .  Soon after receiving a letter that a  McKeahnie girl was to be married, Boake disappeared and was later found dead , the  end  of   the stockwhip around his  neck.

Historian Neville Locker gathered extensive information about Charlie McKeahnie and mounted a display at  Locker’s Happy Valley , in the Alpine Way country, near Adaminaby , supporting  the  proposition that  McKeahnie, who died of  injuries received when his horse slipped ,  inspired Banjo Paterson to write the nation’s best  known poem.  The  display  included material about Barcroft  Boake .

Another  person  said  to have been the model for The Man From Snowy River was Jack Riley , described as a hermit stockman, who is frequently  mentioned in tourist promotion for  the area . The Northern Territory  also had a character , fond of a drop of rum, who claimed he had been The Man From Snowy River.      (Pony  photographs  by  Rob Wesley-Smith .)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Did the late media mogul Kerry Packer sell his soul to the Devil ? On the occasion that he died and was revived , he announced that there was nothing on the other side, as he had been there and back. However, Little Darwin wonders if he made a Faustian  deal with Beelzebub to look after and promote Devils when he was in that other place, reeking of sulphur , to get his return ticket . This question was raised after we received startling information , whispered during a service in Darwin’s St Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Cathedral, that there is a Kerry Packer Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary in a special area of NSW. Well known is the fact that Packer did deals with demon bowlers , but would he agree to play Godfather to Tassie demons? Scurrying out of the church to check our red hot scoop , fire and brimstone in abundance in Mitchell  Street and other CBD hotspots , we checked and discovered that  one of James Packer’s companies had indeed donated 340 acres of property in the choice Barrington Tops area to establish the Kerry Packer Devil Ark. It is hoped to have some 360 Devils living there by 2016 as part of the campaign to save from extinction the noisy, snarling beasties who have been dying in large numbers due to terrible facial cancers .

Monday, November 12, 2012


Riddled with bookworm , this is the cover of an unusual 1909 ( new and revised ) edition of The Little Black Princess of the Never -Never by Mrs Aeneas Gunn , also author of another NT classic , We of the Never - Never ( see Devanny post below ), which probably came from an early passenger ship’s library , possibly the Eastern and Australian Steamships Company , seeing as it carries attached  details of shipping services passing through Port Darwin. 

The shipping information reads as follows...ADELAIDE TO PORT DARWIN : Means of transit is by the fine Interstate Steamers from Port Adelaide to Sydney, thence by steamers beautifully equipped for the Australian, Singapore, Manila, Hong Kong, China, and Japan trade. These steamers leave Sydney about every three weeks. If preferred , the journey from Adelaide to Sydney can be made by express train. UNITED KINGDOM AND EUROPE TO PORT DARWIN: Port Darwin can be reached from the East via Vancouver or San Francisco , or from the West, via Singapore.

The book  is kept in a depressing Little Darwin quarantine station – a sealed bag containing old books , some dealing with early New Zealand , which have been savaged by bookworms. Just when it seems the worms have all been killed by fumigation, fresh signs emerge that some blighters have survived and are going about their devastating work. Published by Hodder and Stoughton , London, 107pp, the book  is illustrated with interesting black and white photographs of Bett–Bett ( the so called princess) , Elsey Station , a crocodile, fire sticks, an Aborigine in the classic figure four stance, a rock painting , groups of people , dilly bags and other implements, several of Bett-Bett’s uncle-“King Goggle Eye”.The author, Melbourne schoolteacher, Jeannie Taylor, before she married Aeneas Gunn , went to live at Elsey , a 31 year-old bride , in February 1902 , her husband dying from malarial fever. She acknowledges the help of W.Holtze, of Katherine, in posing and photographing  groups of natives for the book. The Princess became Mrs Dolly Bonson who died in March l988 at the age of 95.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Honouring Eddie Mabo , this is the cloud reflecting entrance to the James Cook University Library , Townsville, where the Jean Devanny Papers are held in the Special Collections section.

During WW11,  author  Jean Devanny corresponded with Communist journalist Frank Hardy when he was a Corporal in the 8 Army Advanced Ordinance Depot , Mataranka , 420kms south of Darwin , NT, where he edited the lively camp news , Troppo, which he promptly renamed Troppo Tribune –the Tribune being the title of the Communist Party of Australia paper. For some unknown reason  Troppo Tribune eventually  underwent a name change–New Troppo, more than likely due to officialdom’s dislike of the Communist Tribune. The Australian Army Education Service provided books, films , sports , lectures and  organised concerts in which Hardy was involved .
By Peter Simon
Also based there was journalist , Sergeant Frank Ryland , and Sumner Locke Elliott , the latter destined to become a prominent writer in America during a period described as the golden age of TV , who wrote a play based on his observations of  the Mataranka  camp life , which upset Colonel Blimps and censors .

Hardy (1917-1994) had joined the Communist Party in 1939 because of his observations and experiences during the Depression . In a letter dated May 15 , l944, Hardy, writing from Mataranka , told Devanny that Ryland had encouraged him to do serious writing  and suggested he write down some of the stories he told at “ beer nights.” These were not literature, commented Hardy. ( Later in life , Hardy became a TV identity telling light- hearted Billy Borker stories, also turned into books . )

During his correspondence with Devanny, Hardy said it was an impertinence for him to criticise and make suggestions about her books , he being a “backyard journalist and cartoonist.” Nevertheless, he did .

In response to a letter she had sent him, Hardy, late in replying because of being over-active , he passed comments about her banned novel, Butcher Shop. Devanny had apparently told him she only now had a vague idea of what the novel was all about. He commented :-

The excellent vocabulary, the profoundity of expression and the reality of the characters contributed to making this, in my opinion, a great book; but it was, in addition, a powerful argument for equality of the sexes and against the bourgeois system of marriage
While   there  were weaknesses in the book and even though the “villainess” was a socialist and there were other slight political weaknesses , he doubted if she would ever write a book to touch the “ Butcher’s Shop.” Getting rid of political vocabulary was quite a job-one formed the habit of using clich├ęs, difficult to overcome. He would get a copy of her latest book-Bird of Paradise- and let her know what his thoughts were  about  the novel.

On the subject of her possibly writing an autobiography, Hardy said that these were often dull, despite how interesting a  life the writer had led . He suggested she write a novel based on her life.It was a great pity that only ill health had brought her to the stage of withdrawing from political activity and concentrating on writing ..."The working class movement has plenty of political organisers but all too few really good writers!" The novel could traverse the development towards maturity of the working class movement in  general and the Communist party in particular...

Make it something of a history, thread your life through it but depart from autobiographical facts where necessary. Deal with the struggle between the individual and society-by this I mean the struggle between you , the writer and you, the Communist organiser. Begin with the early days in NZ then with Australia, coming right up to the party reaching maturity during the struggle against Fascism and your enforced retirement .
In a postscript, Hardy said that he and Frank Ryland were going to spend the day writing . Ryland was finishing a couple of stories . Hardy was working on a short document entitled Romance and Reality in the NT in which he proposed to "tear to pieces" the romanticising of  the Elsey Station and station life in the Territory. It would expose " the terrible position " –the exploitation of the Aborigines and the " death grip" in which Vestey’s held  this potentially great land , the problems and possibility of the country,etc. “ I have gathered some startling material for it.”

This statement is highly significant , because it seems to indicate Hardy intended to challenge the Australian classic We  of the Never –Never  by Aeneas Gunn , centred around Elsey Station , not far from Mataranka .

A wad of newspaper clippings and other  documents  in the Devanny Papers shows that she was particularly interested in and informed about the  condition of Aborigines in Australia . These items cover concern about NT pastoralists fighting recommendations that there be a scale of pay for working natives; quoting the 1929 Year Book , it is said that there were 2358 fullbloods regularly employed in Federal Territories, about 2000 not paid ; a 1933 International Labour Office letter is quoted in connection with the plight of Aborigines , halfcaste children; the expression “Aboriginal slave labour” is used in a letter to workers of the world, the value at anything from 100,000 to half a million pounds ($1 million) a year in WA, where" runaway slaves" were chased by the police and put in chain gangs for up to six months ; WA newspaper articles relating to these issues are mentioned , as is Hansard .


 Cartoon from section in SALT with the heading CAMP PIE , sketches  by Australian and  American  artists .

After two years at Mataranka, Hardy was sent to Melbourne as an artist on Salt, the Army magazine, above . The title of the publication was an acronym of Sea, Air and Land Troops . It had a staff of 10, including well known artists and writers with a circulation of 180,000.The deputy editor , Hume Dow , had graduated from Harvard University in l938  and   became involved  in the peace movement .

After the war , Hardy received Australia-wide notoriety and  fame with his explosive novel, Power Without Glory, which saw him charged with criminal libel. With the Menzies Government taking steps to outlaw the Communist Party, Hardy went to  the Berlin Peace  Conference  with his wife  to  dodge being gaoled  if the legislation came in, feeling he would  be a prime target. He returned after the bill to ban Communists was rejected by a national vote.  Jean Devanny was named by a politician as a " security risk" to the nation because she was a  Communist who travelled freely about  the country .

On July 19, 1959, Hardy wrote to Devanny , then living at 38 Ocean View Road , Harboard , Sydney. In it he gave her tips on a manuscript, which he said compared favourably with her novels, Sugar Heaven and Butcher Shop. These novels, he wrote, had been well focused , artistically integrated and the dialogue had been a conflict between the characters , as it should be , not the author telling their side of the story, as it often was... " I think you should read aloud every word of dialogue in the book and revise where it is stilted or explanatory.There are some beautifully written parts in the book..."

In the final analysis, only the author could really know what must be done to a manuscript .The thing to do was neither to accept or reject criticism for the sake of it .The author’s own self critical faculty was the ultimate guardian of good writing. As authors grew older, they seemed to lose the capacity to weigh up criticism .The letter contained a PS : My London publisher has flatly rejected my latest novel.


Freckled  Sergeant Frank Ryland , a journalist during the Depression , a sensitive , observant person, had close contact with Devanny and leading Australian literary figures. He had worked on the Labour Daily , Daily News and spent 20 years as a parliamentary reporter in Canberra .

From Mataranka , he wrote to Devanny in May 1944 telling her that, "out of the blue, " he was being transferred to Melbourne to write some war history. He was writing a short story for the ABC on his typewriter with a copy to Coast to Coast , produced by Angus and Robertson. Mention is made in the letter that he had won the camp Pedigree Competition which involved naming horses for the Mataranka Cup, with Invasion , by Great Expectations, out of Channel Crossing, with the added comment : He’s a long time getting started , eh?

In another communication he said he had started to write a play for an ABC competition about an "ammo dump and abos ," though he did not know much about them. Digressing , he asked : " Why do  Aussies  use that abbreviation “O” such as you see in Abo, compo, commo, goodo, ammo, demo(demolition),dermo ( dermatitis ),Troppo, and so forth .     “Is it a sign of  our happy  go lucky laziness ?”

 Ryland continued his correspondence with Devanny when he went to Japan -Osaka and Tokyo- with the Occupation Forces. Before leaving Sydney for Japan , Ryland had seen author Jon Cleary who told him he was going to England writing a script for RKO  and that a gangster thriller he had written would probably star Alan Ladd . In Japan ,  Ryland had a Japanese girlfriend, Toshiko Oda ," Rose", perhaps a play on Tokyo Rose , the  wartime radio propagandist , whom he later married, she also wrote  to  Devanny. Frank took an interest in Japanese music and floral arrangement.

Ryland wrote many articles for the British Occupation Force News about Japan emerging from the chaos of the war. There are interesting snippets in remnants of a burnt letter at James Cook University Library : The White Australia Policy, he said, was losing friends in Asia ; mention is made of author Miles Franklin and her "strange" Sydney house; Frank Clune had sent him a copy of his travel book , Sky High to Shanghai, Ryland commenting that Clune knew little about Japan ; writers in America used to be Leftish , but had"veered" to the right.

Racism was another subject covered by Ryland . It was hard to understand " the rotten attitude " of (white ) Americans to coloured Americans . Most “Aussies”were indignant about the treatment of negroes .

Of all the cruel prejudices in the world, surely the one of race is worst... man can and does change religion and politics , but how the hell can he change his race –even if he wanted to.  Ryland said an Australian girl married to an American in Yokohama fell in love with a Jap at an art school and they suicided by poisoning themselves on a railway station. A number of American soldiers and Jap girls had made suicide pacts
Living with Frank on a quiet mountain with pine trees and a pond  Rose wrote to Devanny, addressing her , Dear Mrs Jean. Ryland noted that author Flora Eldershaw had written a thoughtful and provoking piece in which she was right in saying that none of Hardy's characters really lived in Power Without Glory .

Ryland  told Devanny that Rose could inspire him to write a long short story or a novel and that she considered herself  lucky because she only had consumption in one lung. There is a surprising part in the correspondence in which Ryland reveals that Rose had  shown  him that one of her legs was shorter than  the other .


Sumner Locke Elliott’s mother , nee  Helena  Sumner Locke  , a vivacious , much travelled playwright and  author , died October 18, l917 from eclampsia , one day after he was born .  According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography , a mourner said : " I hope the son will be worth the sacrifice ." Sumner, subject of a custody battle , was brought up by his  aunts , at one stage sent to  boarding school.

A secret gay, he was an actor and writer with Doris Fitton’s Independent Theatre , Sydney, before being drafted into the Army as a clerk in 1942 , posted to Mataranka. There he told Hardy he was a professional theatre writer and took part in sketches, concerts and  contributed  items to Troppo Tribune . His experiences in the NT  inspired his controversial play Rusty Bugles, performed in 1949, causing an  outcry , banned in Sydney .

A Sydney Morning Herald review described the play  performed at Fitton’s Independent Independent Theatre , as fine theatre . It read -

The boring, demoralising life of an Australian army camp sweating in the backblocks of the Northern Territory would seem to be, of all the places that saw the furious human drama of the last war, the least likely to offer easy stage material for a dramatist.

Yet Sumner Locke-Elliott has made this lonely military grease- spot the setting for some of the most brilliant and honest stage writing we have yet had from an Australian.

His "Rusty Bugles," a string of sketches rather than a play (the author calls it "a documentary"), opened successfully at the Independent Theatre last night. The consummate skill of the dialogue, although heavily loaded with cuss words that will bring the pink to modest ears, and the affectionate observation of a batch of doggedly Australian Australians kept last nights audience royally entertained

Doris Fitton's fine, fast production, and some exceptionally good acting from the all-male cast made the most of the comedy that ripples constantly on the surface of Locke Elliott's writing. And yet the performance was not so heavily loaded for laughter as to disguise the essential ugliness and degradation of the lives that these soldiers were forced to lead
A further SMH review said the play was one of the most thoroughly Australian in tone and character.

Fond mothers may not care to see their soldier boys drawn as the author has drawn them - there are more innocuous obscenities to the minute than in any other play we know of-but that was the way so many of them were. Perhaps "Rusty Bugles" is too long to sustain interest fully, there is a limit to the number of ways a monotonous life can be varied for the stage

The author has been ingenious enough to write to that limit-the talk of leave, the bad news from home, imagination of kisses and cuddling in the remote cities, the soldier whose mind cracks, the futile 'phone calls home on a bad line, the ingratiating organiser of unwanted fun and games.

Outstanding in an excellent cast were Ralph Peterson, Lloyd Berrell, Alistair Roberts, Frank O'Donnell, Ivor Bromley-Smith, all of them with a vocabulary which, true to type, included copious references to illegitimacy, the bloodstream the anatomy and advanced biology

Due to official protests about the language , the play was rewritten and  attracted the following SMH review by LB under the heading : RUSTY BUGLES SOUND NEW LILY WHITE TUNE .

"Rusty Bugles," polite version, was presented at the Independent Theatre last night.Two representatives of the Chief Secretary-the chief clerk of the Chief Secretary's Department, Mr. F. R. Lake, and Inspector F. Nunan , were present in the audience to see that the actors minded their p's and q's (and their b's).

Critical opinion is that "Rusty Bugles," as bowdlerised, is still a very able show, although the last-minute revisions of the script slowed the pace of the acting and steeply reduced the original play's crackling vitality.

It will not be known until today whether the Chief Secretary, Mr. J. M. Baddeley, is satisfied with the revised script which is a lily-white echo of last week's performances. There is so much water in the new performance that an audience, only rarely, could taste the original jungle juice.

An occasional harsh word has been retained in order to prove that the lovable soldier characters in this play are not really dandies at a garden party. On the whole, the revision has been done "not too baddeley," as one punster put it. The Minister for Housing, Mr. Clive Evatt , was in the audience and said at the interval that he wanted to congratulate the playwright, Sumner Locke Elliott, on the vigour of his writing and characters.
Sumner Locke Elliott went to the US in 1948 without seeing his contentious play performed . There he wrote numerous TV shows and movie screenplays . In l955 he became an American citizen and did not return to this country until l974 . His autobiography, Careful, He Might Hear You, won the l963 Miles Franklin Award and was made into a film. In l990 he “came out “ in his book Fairyland. Residing  in Manhattan, he died in June 1991 at the age of 73 ; an obituary in the New York Times said that during WW11 he had served in Australia’s " outback ." NEXT : Another Mataranka luminary whose tragic  death  impacted on the Northern  Territory .