Saturday, December 29, 2012


The 1952 Rockhampton Chinese Recreation Club’s Chinese New Year Celebration leaflet, the production of which may have involved Darwin identity Timmy Forday. It features the National Anthem of the Republic of China , derived from a speech in 1923 when Dr Sun Yat Sen proclaimed his principles for Nationalist China ; the loyal declaration of  God Save The King  and a wise saying by Confucius
Enterprising Darwin businessman , the late Timmy Forday , once known as Tim the Toyman, edited a unique monthly newsletter in the l950s designed to keep young Australian born Chinese along the eastern seaboard informed and in contact . Called the CHINESE CHIMES, it was produced in Rockhampton, Queensland, where he started his career as a newspaper linotype operator/compositor on the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin. Because the local Chinese Association had become inactive, the younger generation got together and formed the Rockhampton Chinese Recreation Club, its initials RCRC, which Timmy said was unfortunate . Its newsletter was run off on a gestetner , the head typist being Betty Yin Foo (nee Lee Chin ). Others to help included Gordon and Adam Low Wah , Ronnie Yep , Bruce Yin Foo , Betty and Bev Yuen.

In the main , it contained social news about the Chinese communities and people in them. It was non- political and was distributed to all of the Chinese communities along the eastern Queensland coast. It was probably sent in bulk to a person in each place who would  then  distribute. There was also sporting news in the newsletter as Rockhampton and Brisbane Chinese held tennis tournaments every year, with Brisbane winning most .

Timmy’s brother, Bill ,80, who lives in Rockhampton, says the publication ran for several years and  contributions came from Cairns , Innisfail ,Townsville , Mackay , Brisbane and Sydney . The well known Brisbane herbalist , Willy Sou San , a skilled illustrator, each month designed and mailed a front page stencil which  usually featured dragons and other Chinese symbols for the publication. Bill said Willie came from a large family and may have lived in Cooktown at one time . Copies were sent as far away as Darwin and Melbourne . The club organised bike rides , tennis , barbecues and  dances. Timmy’s involvement with Chinese Chimes was interrupted when he was called up to do National Service in the Army .

In his autobiographical  book, Tim’s Trumpet, written late  in  life , Timmy provided amusing details about his involvement in the Nashos ,which could have been turned into an entertaining volume .  He admitted having flat feet, legs too short to reach pedals in military vehicles and on weapons , poor eyesight, fun and games with anti tank guns , being made the Platoon Mascot and  put in charge of the weapons room .

In this photo  from  his amusing  time  doing  National Service , Forday branded himself  a Toy Soldier ;  later he  became  known  as  Tim  the  Toyman .

On a follow up Citizens' Military Force bivouac, he went to Charters Towers for two weeks with the infantry and was made a major’s batman , a post he did not like, but he was based next to the officers’ mess, so made the most of the good food and drink. During this camp, he was asked if he spoke Chinese ; he said no, but it did not matter as he was officially appointed the Chinese interpreter. Some Chinese residents from Townsville had been organised to be “ enemy troops” ; during the exercise it was Timmy’s job to interrogate captured Chinese prisoners . Luckily, he wrote, no enemy were captured . However, there was a positive side to this farcical situation- he being an “ Intelligence Officer”, he did not have to carry his own rifle or pack as he had a bodyguard to look after him.

In what  looks  like  an  overseas  location, but is actually a  studio backdrop, Timmy , right, mixes  with  the  military brass , perhaps  in  his  batman  role .  

Back in Rockhampton , he was made a sapper in the engineers , but he could not attend weekend camps because he had taken on a milk run, which required repacking crates near the cemetery to avoid waking the slumbering residents in other parts of town , so he was transferred to anti tank guns, but could not reach the foot trigger. There are photographs of Timmy during his hilarious military service, one showing him  peering out of  a  tank turret .

His memoirs about his military service could have been in a class like those of the inimitable funny man, Spike Milligan. There is material for a TV series in Timmy’s life –especially as a Nasho- and the way  the young Australian- born Chinese in Rockhampton started and  supported CHINESE CHIMES , its influence spread  throughout  the  nation.

Timmy’s newspaper career took him to Sydney ( Shipping News, which produced magazines and newspapers, some in different languages ) , The Townsville Bulletin ( where he bought his first car , a 1939 Ford Prefect ), The Tablelander in Cairns ( where he remembered having to set a gardening book in Latin ), the Northern Territory News in l957 (during which time he was master of ceremonies at the Chinese Dragon Ball ) , the South Pacific Post in New Guinea (his observations and experiences fascinating ) , then back to the NT News .

While at the NT News he put clothes in the washing machine one night at the back of the old “Tin Bank “ building and a large python slithered in through the window; it rocked back and forth, apparently mesmerised by the movement of the washing machine arm. One of the staff loaded a speargun and fired at the snake , smashing a sheet of fibro in the washroom /toilet . His workmates in the paper warned Timmy that pythons found Chinese extremely tasty. I met genial Timmy Forday after I joined the NT News in l958 ; he was one of the boys , a cheeky smile on his face , and contributed to the lighthearted banter in the factory and up the Vic Hotel after work.

Timmy became annoyed with all the sub editor’s marks and corrections on a bundle of copy he was given to turn into metal type for the paper. Angry, he went to the sub-editor, Keith Willey, and complained about the copy being hard to read, looking like a “bloody Chinese pak-ah-pu ticket.”  Willey was offended by the remark , but Timmy’s colourful description caused many laughs. Timmy left the News soon  after and tried his hand at many business ventures. He  strung tennis racquets, sold fishing gear , re-handled golf clubs. Timmy represented Hardy wines and other products , in lean times consuming his samples .

In l971 Timmy married Dawn How Lum , above , an experienced businesswoman, in Townsville.   He became a virtual household name when they  traded as Tim the Toyman at Parap , selling a wide range of toys , and  brought Humphrey B Bear to town for Toy Fairs . Newsagencies were also launched by the hard working duo. When Cyclone Tracy ripped through the Forday house it blew away a large stock of Humprey B  Bear pillows and Mrs Forday recently said everybody in Darwin must have ended up with one .

As part of a venture into video productions, Timmy was called upon to set up a media room for reporters covering the Azaria Chamberlain trial. Renowned for his cheeky grin, Timmy , 76, died on March 28 this year after several years of major operations. A regular smoker of 80 cigarettes a day , Timmy strongly advised against smoking , saying it was a filthy habit which was no good for the body and mind . In his book he wrote that he had been broke many times in his life and should have been a journo instead of a factory hand .

FOOTNOTE : Timmy’s father , Lee For Dai , aged 11, sailed from China in l888 to Cooktown, North Queenland, at the time of the Palmer River goldrush , to work for his uncle who ran a store which catered for  miners.  On the ship out to Australia, the captain apparently changed  For Dai to the English sounding Forday. Timmy’s mother , Kim Sing Fong, had been born in Darwin , and was his father’s second wife. The Cooktown Museum contains  information  about  the  Fordays.-By  Peter Simon  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


It seems the popularity of the Northern Territory Government is plummeting faster than the wok Chevy Chase rode down the ski slope in the great must-see annual classic, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  After four years of the Mills-stone about the neck of the population ,there could be a gaseous explosion as in the joyous dysfunctional Griswold family gathering. *** With so much attention on and discussion about tucker over the Festive Season , came further news about the growing Indian influence in Darwin . There is a new Indian restaurant at Stokes Hill Wharf ; there is also a Sri Lankan eatery in the Vic Hotel area . And then we noticed a car with the numberplate , PUNJAB .*** Santa brought this writer a bent spoon for stirring cafe lattes and a book EAT MY WORDS A Memoir of Politics, Pig-outs & Pickles , by journalist Mungo MacCallum .  Many moons ago, this writer swapped outlandish tales with Mungo about a certain northern scribe over libations in the non-members’ bar in the old parliament house, Canberra.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


One thing about Christmas is that you often renew contact with or receive startling news about people from your past. In the stream of emails that came in recently was one asking me if I wanted to be linked to a number of people, one being Colin Dangaard, who sells saddles in America. Colin Dangaard! When I left Darwin for the first time in l962 and went to work on the Cairns Post, Colin was a dashing young reporter who got about on a motorbike ; his lively , whip cracking , grandmother  lived  on Coen  Station ,  Cape York .The Dangaards were prominent in the Mareeba area , a  street named after one .

Colin moved on –New Zealand , Africa , America – where he worked on the Miami Herald , covered showbiz in a big way, had his own TV show; in Malibu his neighbour was JR of Dallas fame and he branched out into making fancy horse saddles and associated  accoutrements in the Australian style. We eventually lost touch with each other , although I noticed that Derryn Hinch gave him a big mention in his latest book.  From time to time a journalist mate in New York said Dangaard was “ really big in America.” Yesterday , I Googled Colin Dangaard and was bowled over to find an article, with him wearing a cowboy hat snuggled up to a horse , in which he is described as MALIBU’S CROCODILE DUNDEE , involved in horseback NEVER NEVER  adventure tours in Queensland , starting at Cairns , which take Americans on 10 day trips, where they can ride like The Man From Snowy River . The bright idea for this venture came four years ago when Col was sitting with his brother in his jacuzzi in California. It seems his North Queensland family- mother , brother and sister are involved .  Mum, the story goes, entertains the riders at  her home by playing the piano and singing Irish songs before they set out on the great ride . NOTE: When contacted ,  Colin made it clear the horseback tours story  was  an old one  , and   said his  dear old  Mum  is   now   playing  the  piano  for  the angels .   (Peter Simon)

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Melbourne journalist Kim Lockwood  has fleshed out , in more ways than one , the latest chapter in the Little Darwin serialised biography of NT crusading editor , James Frederick Bowditch ( See post below ) . It  was  pointed  out  there  that it appeared Bowditch had incorrectly named the renowned Punch editor Malcolm Muggeridge –not the famous philosopher Lord Bertrand Russell – as the person who figured in a strange episode in The Residency , Alice Springs , where the irascible NT chief veterinary officer, Colonel Lionel Rose, cavorted within  and  without.  Kim’s father , the late  well known  journalist and author , Douglas Lockwood, was the Melbourne Herald representative in Darwin for many years .  In part , Kim  wrote :

You must be right about JFB's Muggeridge being Russell. As you say, Muggeridge was in the Territory in 1958, and is hardly likely to have also been there in 1950. I know Muggeridge was there in 58 because Doug Lockwood dropped his 13-year-old son ( Kim) at Mataranka Homestead for a few days, drove to Alice, picked up Muggeridge and returned, picking me up on the way back. The two men had a swim in the hot springs, but not having bathers did the obvious. I may -- or may not -- be one of very few people to have seen the editor of Punch in the nude. On the way home I drew a couple of cartoony things, resulting in his (Muggeridge’s ) inscription in my autograph book: "To Kim, the future cartoonist."

Little Darwin followed up this fascinating story and asked  Kim for a copy of  his teenage artwork which had so impressed Muggeridge , plus details of his autograph collection. His rapid response was thus :
As for the "cartoon" I drew for Muggeridge, fair suck of the sauce bottle! I was 13! That's 55 years ago. Do you think I kept it? In your dreams. However, despite my penchant for singing syrup , my memory of what I drew and why I drew it is good. I will replicate it tomorrow and send it to you. With my cartoon signature. (I invented a giant machine that could gouge through hills, thus eliminating the blasted Pine Creek Hills switchbacks.)

As promised, Kim met Little Darwin’s  demanding  Christmas global edition deadline and provided the above awesome  drawing , which looks like a machine  for thrilling , dangerous journeys to the centre of the Earth , a la Jules Verne . Kim said he was pleased with his “invention” - a tunneller, or hill-gouger, a machine that would bore straight through the hills to produce a flat, straight road.

The Lockwood home, Kim continued ,  on Darwin’s  Esplanade , was a goldmine for an autograph hunter as his father regularly went to the airport to meet passengers of note on incoming Qantas flights, and since people had to overnight at Berrimah ( the airline base) in those days , he brought home many of them for dinner or a drink. A detailed list of persons in the autograph collection , with  interesting  pen pictures and other snippets of  information , is as follows -

1. Jennifer and Penelope Wise, Government House, Darwin. They were the daughters of the NT Administrator, Frank Wise – a former Premier of WA – with whom Dale (Kim’s sister ) and I often played. The book was a gift from them, and although their entry is not dated I would guess it was for my ninth birthday in 1953.

2. Don Bradman. This signature was cut from a letter from Bradman to my father. They corresponded, though perhaps not regularly, and Bradman had dinner with us in our house in Esher, Surrey, in 1955 or 1956.

3. Verity Gill, c/o Gold Seeker. Gill, 23, a Singapore-based journalist, was one of six survivors of the wreck of the Gold Seeker, a treasure hunter grounded on the coast of Timor. The six spent eight days in an open lifeboat before being rescued. Their story is told in my father’s cuttings.

4. Arthur Calwell, long-serving federal Opposition Leader. Visiting VIPs often came to our house for dinner or drinks. I recall hearing from my bedroom the raised voices of political debate in the lounge room that night. Dad had probably invited a few local politicians along.

5. Rohan D. Rivett, campaigning editor of The News, Adelaide. Author of Behind Bamboo, the story of his time as a PoW, and famous for his involvement in the Rupert Max Stuart rape/murder case.

6. (Sir) Lloyd Dumas, managing editor then chairman of (Adelaide) Advertiser Newspapers Ltd from 1929-1967.

7. (Dame) Elisabeth Murdoch. Widow when she signed the book of Sir Keith, and mother of Rupert.

8. Laurie W. Whitehead, journalist at The Herald, Melbourne, competitor in the 1953 round-Australia Redex trial.

9. (Sir) John Williams, journalist, editor-in-chief, managing director and chairman of the Herald and Weekly Times in the 1950s and 1960s.

10. Norm Banks, 3KZ and 3AW broadcaster 1930-1978. Pioneered Australian rules football broadcasts, founded Carols by Candlelight and pioneered talkback radio in 1960.

11. R(ichard) G(ordon) Casey (in green ink). Minister for External Affairs in the Menzies era, later Lord Casey of Berwick. Another senior federal politician talking to locals in our lounge room. My father doubtless got news stories from these encounters.

12. I cannot identify the other signatories on the Casey page.

13. Albert Namatjira, modern Aboriginal artist.

14. J.S. Higgins, general manager of the Peko gold mine at Tennant Creek.

15. Bill Harney, bushman, poet, author of 12 books, self-taught anthropologist, lived and worked among the Aborigines of the NT almost all his life. He was an honorary member of our family, and my sister Dale’s godfather.

16. Jock Nelson, then MHR for the NT, later NT Administrator.

17. Ngarla (Rosie) Jedda, real name Rosalie Kunoth, the 16-year-old female star of Australia’s first full-colour feature film, Jedda (1953). Became a nun, left the order and married, becoming Rosalie Monks.

18. Redex Aircraft Trial Survey Flight. I imagine men who surveyed by air the route of the 1953 Redex trial.

19. Elsa Chauvel, wife of film-maker Charles Chauvel (see 43).

20. Farrell, Wesley and Jones. Sydney Fairfax journalists taking part in the 1953 Redex trial.

21. Syd Kyle-Little, served in the Malaya uprising, but was also a Native Affairs Branch patrol officer in the NT.

22. Wade, Fuller and White, Redex trial contestants.

23. Clive Turnbull, journalist on the Melbourne Herald and Argus.

24. Aubrey Koch, Trans Australia Airlines, previously a pilot with Guinea Airways in Papua New Guinea in the 1930s.

25. Ronald Nethercott, David McCredie, Darwin Primary School friends.

26. R. Schmidt, manager of Avon Downs cattle station.

27. Glen Cooper. ?

28. Richard Murdoch. British radio and TV comic actor, appearing in shows such as Much Binding in the Marsh, the Men from the Ministry and, later, Rumpole of the Bailey and the first Blackadder series. I got his autograph on the RMS Himalaya on the way back from London in 1956.

29. Arthur Brittenden, senior writer at the News Chronicle, London, and later, after the paper folded, editor of the Daily Mail.

30. Graham Stanford, long-time reporter on the London News of the World.

31. Wilson, James and Poylan, USAF flyers on a goodwill mission.

32. Thompson, as above.

33. Peter Finch, English-born Australian actor (his parents were Australian), winner of posthumous Oscar for Network. Made 50 films, starting with Dad and Dave Come to Town in 1938.

34. Max Fatchen, Adelaide News and later Advertiser journalist and resident poet. Max did a topical poem for the paper each week.

35. Beth Dean, American dancer, and her husband, Australian singer Victor Carell. In 1953 they spent eight months studying Aboriginal dancing, and later toured the US, Australia and New Zealand giving performances and lectures on the dances of the Pacific, the Aborigines and the Maori.

36. Frank Tolra, same page, Melbourne Herald photographer who had come to Darwin to accompany my father on his annual outback feature-gathering tour.

37. Rex Battarbee, his wife Bernice Battarbee. Battarbee taught Namatjira to paint.

38. Kim.

39. John Landy. Champion Australian miler signed this book when on his way to Finland to try to be the first runner to break four minutes for the mile. Seven days after he signed, Roger Bannister beat him to it at Oxford (6 May 1954). Forty-six days later, in Finland, Landy broke Bannister’s time.

40. Alec Hay, my grandfather, Ruth Lockwood, my mother.

41. Howell Walker, National Geographic. The magazine’s writers and photographers were frequent visitors.

42. Henry La Cossitt, Reader’s Digest freelancer.

43. Charles Chauvel. Australian film-maker. His work included The Sons of Matthew, Forty Thousand Horsemen, Jedda and others. Chauvel’s uncle was General Sir Harry Chauvel of the Australian Light Horse in World War I.

44. Yvonne H. Simpson. A babysitter. One of the many young single women who worked for NT Administration and lived next door to us in Marrenah House, the main “single girls’ quarters” in the 1950s.

45. Jon Cleary. Prolific Australian novelist. More than 50 years after this signature he was still writing.

46. Agnes Susanne Schulz. German student of prehistoric art.

47. Patricia Murphy. A babysitter. See Simpson, 44.

48. Lachie McDonald, London Daily Mail journalist.

49. Denis Warner. Long-serving foreign and war correspondent for The Herald, Melbourne, and wire services.

50. Hopman, McGregor, Sedgman, Cooper, Rosewall and Rose. Australian Davis Cup squad members.

51. Malcolm Muggeridge. British intellectual commentator, editor of Punch. Aged 13, I had been holidaying at Mataranka Homestead for a few days on my own while Dad went to Alice Springs to pick Muggeridge up. Back at Mataranka, they both had a nude swim in the hot springs – no on else was around – and we all then drove to Darwin.

52. Mobil Round Australia Survey 1954. What it says.

53. Sefton “Tom” Delmer, The Daily Express, London. Born in Berlin, father born in Hobart, Tom was interned with his family in a concentration camp in World War I. After university he was posted to the Express’s Berlin bureau, and was the first British journalist to interview Hitler. In the 1932 election Delmer travelled with Hitler on his private aircraft and was with Hitler when he inspected the Reichstag Fire. During WWII he worked for British propaganda.

54. ??

55. A.H. Cooper, skipper of a navy ship heading for Exmouth Gulf to look for oil.

56. Scot McColl, station manager, Victoria River Downs, which was then – after Alexandria Downs – the second biggest cattle station in the world.

57. Mr Fujita (upside down) and the names of all his family. The Fujita Salvage Co took back to Japan the scrap metal of the ships sunk in Darwin Harbour on 19 February 1942 by the Japanese Air Force. This entry, dated 1962, is chronologically the last in the book.

58. Norm Mitchell, Adelaide News cartoonist.

59. Nicholas Monserrat, author of The Cruel Sea.

60. Pepper Martin, Tokyo-based journalist. CBS, United Press, China, 1930s and 1940s. U.S. News and World Report, Senior Editor, 1950s to retirement.

61. Richard Whyte. Darwin Primary School friend. Lost his way and died young in Perth.

62. Barney Porter, journalist, Korea.

63. Alan Dower, Australian war correspondent and police roundsman for The Herald, Melbourne.

64. Margery. Cousin. The late daughter of the late Rear Admiral Surgeon Lionel Lockwood.

65. Jolliffe, Eric. Artist, cartoonist. Sketches of the eight-year-old Dale and 10-year-old Kim.

66. Virginia Paris. US singer/actor who played Bloody Mary in the Australian tour of South Pacific in 1954. She was staying at the South Australian Hotel on North Terrace, Adelaide, where we were also staying on our way back to Darwin from our biennial holiday. We had seen her in the show.

67. William A. Something and Los Angeles industrialist Allen Chase. They were US investors in the Humpty Doo rice project, which failed.

68. Michael Somes, Margot Fonteyn Arias, ballet dancers.

69. Bob Cummings, US comic actor on TV and elsewhere. Had his own show.

70. Kim Keane, NZ journalist. Was good at handstands. Did several in our lounge room.[Sounds as if there had  been some heavy drinking  that   night  .]

Kim points  out  that  nearly all the autographs were obtained in  Darwin, which makes the collection a most  unusual part of   the  Territory's social history .

Monday, December 17, 2012

A DRAMATIC CHANGE IN CAREER – The ongoing biography of Northern Territory Crusading Editor , “Big Jim” Bowditch.

Still uncertain about the future, his life seemingly a mess, Bowditch returned to Alice after the short stay in Adelaide where he had been watched by ASIO. Then it was announced he would be resigning as paymaster at Works and Housing to become the full-time editor of the Centralian Advocate newspaper.

While Bowditch's life  was in a state of   turmoil  an  important newspaper event took place in Darwin on February 8, 1952 with the publication of the first edition of  the Northern Territory News, above , from Little Darwin  Media Collection . Tucked away in that paper, on P2 , in a round up of  Territory news , it reported that in Alice Springs Mr Ted Millgate had succeeded Mr J. Bowditch as secretary of the Federated Clerks’ Union , a post he had held for three years. Who would have thought that in a short space of time Bowditch would be running the   NT News  and  become a famous crusading editor.
By Peter Simon
The manager of the Centralian Advocate, Ron Morcom , had asked Bowditch to take over the editorial reins ; Bowditch had helped out during l951 when editor Alan Wauchope became ill .As an indication of the fairly free and easy conditions in Alice, Bowditch wrote the copy for the first few issues of the newspaper under his editorship from his desk in the paymaster’s office in Works and Housing . All the copy was labouriously written in longhand , then passed in a bundle  to the linotype operator . Because he had so much copy to write, he developed a three-finger typing action , which increased in speed .

Working long hours each day, Bowditch wrote everything for the paper , even the social notes which were mainly compiled from a weekend visit to the social hub , the Memorial Club. His social notes appeared in columns headed Seen At The Club and Club Hub-Bub . He denied having ever written a column in the paper which was called A Cup of Tea and a Chat , by “Sue”.

The newspaper office had been rebuilt after a mysterious fire in l950 but was still a primitive building . A taxi driver with a news sense brought people of interest to see Bowditch at the newspaper. These visitors were surprised at the dingy premises , especially the pokey office  in which  Jim worked.


ASIO continued to report his activities. On May 23, l952 , the SA regional director notified Canberra headquarters and Darwin that Bowditch had expressed the intention to stand as a “ Communist candidate” at the next federal elections. He went on to say that Bowditch was currently building up an association with the half-caste population in and around Alice Springs . This acivity, he said, may represent the foundation of a long range plan in connection with his political ambitions. On June 17 a field officer in Victoria , repeating the claim that Bowditch had intended joining Thornton in China, forwarded further conjecture about Bowditch’s likely political moves .

Bowditch , he said, was on friendly terms with and had campaigned for Jock Nelson, MHR and Frank Johnson, the Alice Springs member in the NT Legislative Council. Nelson had suggested to Bowditch that he should become his successor . Bowditch,the field officer wrote, could obtain Labor endorsement with the aid of his friend Frank Whitewood, secretary of the Alice Springs branch of the ALP . According to the report , Bowditch was “ apparently” still a member of the ALP .


Recalling those hectic days running the Alice paper , Bowditch described in great detail an event in which Colonel Lionel Rose, the NT’s chief veterinary officer, who resided in The Residency , invited him to come and meet the British writer , commentator and Punch magazine editor, Malcolm Muggeridge .

It  seems certain that Bowditch got Malcolm Muggeridge mixed up with the  British philosopher,Lord Bertrand Russell, who visited Alice in l950. Bowditch’s account of  the dubious Muggeridge episode went as follows :  Straight talking as ever, Rose supposedly told  Bowditch that he ( Jim ) , being “ a bit of a Commo, ” would probably enjoy Muggeridge.  Muggeridge, he told Jim , was a bit that way inclined and liked airing his views. In fact, Muggeridge was inclined to the right and had been a wartime British spy.

Bowditch arrived at The Residency and began talking to Muggeridge . Rose , who had been drinking, shuffled in , grunted and studiously avoided them while reading a book by Winston Churchill.  Muggeridge became enraged by Rose’s behaviour, and gave him a dressing down about his bad manners. He told Rose that he would let Canberra know about the rude treatment he had received at The Residency . Diplomatically, Rose  supposedly  replied : “ I am reading from a work by a better man than you will ever be . I don’t give a damn what you tell the Minister .”

Muggeridge packed his belongings ,and Bowditch said he drove him to Underdown’s pub . Returning to The Residency, Bowditch said he proceeded to give Rose “ a blast ”, telling him he could get into all kinds of official strife , but he did not care .

The biography of Colonel Rose by Trish Lonsdale , written long after Bowditch described the supposed Malcolm Muggeridge event, contained a highly detailed account of the visit of Lord Russell and the outlandish treatment he received from the host at  a  small dinner party. One of those present , Gunnar  Isaacson , described as a  cinematographer, married to  Colonel Rose's sister , became  a close friend of  Jim Bowditch and   provided  Lonsdale with a colourful account of  that evening  during  which  Lord  Russell became  infuriated  by  Rose , a complaint made to  Canberra .   Bowditch is not mentioned in the book  , but some of the details are similar to what  he outlined.

Lonsdale also covered  other episodes in  which VIPs Colonel Rose was supposed to entertain were treated rudely, aggressively-Sidney and Cynthia Nolan, for example ; it appears Colonel Rose went bush  rather than play host to Sir Anthony Eden and the Administrator, Mick Driver, had to come down from Darwin and do the  honours .

Lord Russell had addressed large anti war rallies in London and would almost certainly have been considered by Colonel Rose as “a Commo.” The Centralian Advocate carried several stories about him in l950 , including Lord Russell’s belief that there  could be  a third world war and there might be a small number of survivors of a nuclear conflict in  places  like Alice Springs to carry on the human race .
In respect of Malcolm Muggeridge, he came to Australia in 1958 on a lecture tour when Bowditch was editor of the NT News in Darwin and would not have received a phone call to come on round to The Residency to meet “ a Commo .” During his time in Adelaide , Muggeridge attended a select dinner organized by author Geoffrey Dutton , Rupert Murdoch one of the media people present. Muggeridge had recently written an article for an American magazine which asked if England needed a Queen.

According to Dutton’s autobiography, Murdoch reportedly said he thought it ridiculous that there was no republican movement in Australia. As a result of his observations of  Australia, Muggeridge , referring to Aboriginals,wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald of June 4,1958 : “I have never, anywhere in the world, seen people who have such an air of having no connection with the society on whose fringes they live . They are outsiders indeed-so much that they would appear to be , for the most part, beyond even resenting their wretched circumstances .” When Bowditch was asked by this writer how he first came in contact with Rupert Murdoch, he was not sure, but raised the possibility that it had been in connection with the visit of  Malcolm  Muggeridge.

Journalist Alan Wauchope was interviewed in Darwin by this writer decades after the supposed Muggeridge incident at The Residency. While he could not recall such an episode as described by Bowditch , he said Colonel Rose had  subjected Lord Russell to “ similar treatment” when he came to Alice. His version of the Lord Russell event, lacking in great detail, was that on being taken to The Residency by Wauchope, probably also in the company of Bowditch, the visitor received short shrift from the colonel. According to Wauchope, a less than enthusiastic Rose asked Lord Russell if there was anything in particular he wanted to discuss. When he replied no, Rose had quickly ushered him off  the premises .

Colonel Rose eventually shifted out of The Residency and gave his address in Who’s Who as “ The Wurley,” an Aboriginal bush shelter, instead of the prestigious former abode  where  unsuspecting  VIPS  received  a  mixed reception . NEXT : Bowditch sets tongues wagging .

Sunday, December 16, 2012


The Federal Magistrates Court has ordered that the Minister for Finance and Deregulation , Senator Penny Wong, be the respondent in the case involving former Darwin Aboriginal art gallery identity, Shirley Collins , ruined by her involvement in the Bank of America Down Under Tour in the lead up to the Sydney Olympics. Collins is seeking an  act of  grace  payment as  compensation for what happened to her , which was  described as  having been made  the scapegoat for errors and misinformation in high places. The possibility of mediation was raised  during a three way court phone hook up ; in the event of this not achieving a satisfactory outcome , the  matter will  be further listed for hearing on April 19. Former respondents were the Department of Finance and Deregulation and Dr Guy Verney , Assistant Secretary Special Claims and Land Policy Branch. It had been claimed that Dr Verney had acted as both case manager and case decider , contrary to guidelines, when he rejected her application.


A survivor of  the  February 19 , l942 Japanese attack on Darwin, Les Penhall, died at the weekend . Doug Lockwood’s book, Australia’s Pearl Harbour, mentions that on the morning of the attack , Penhall,18, made a date with Iris Bald , from the post office , to attend The Star theatre that night . Iris and other members of her family were killed when the post office was bombed . Les made his way to Alice Springs on a truck with police where he helped compile a list of crewmen off sunken ships. After the war,  he joined Aboriginal Affairs and while stationed at Alice Springs he went on  the last police camel patrol to investigate a murder. In Darwin, he had dealings with the editor of the NT News , Jim Bowditch, and had  the dubious pleasure of driving the Liquor Vicar home to the Anglican Church from the Darwin Club . His car carried  the numberplate 1941, the year he first came to Darwin from Adelaide. His knowledge of Aboriginal affairs was extraordinary and he was called  to give evidence in a Stolen Generation case in Darwin .

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Bulldust Diary columnist/illustrator/matelot, Peter Burleigh, on a culturally enriching  tour of  the outback, reluctantly foregoes a trip to the famous El Questro Station in WA ; instead, he heads- yet again- to Kununurra for a wheel alignment and to visit his  unfortunate travelling companion, Bermuda , in hospital to get the latest report on  his  mysterious leg bite 

Bermuda is to be evacuated to Brisbane, his leg is worsening. The latest theory is a poisonous Whitetail spider attack. Its bite dissolves the flesh of its victim! I hope not. Bermuda’s already had a rough time and if he dies he’ll never speak to me again. The Kununurra Hospital is unable to treat his condition, whatever is causing it. He must fly out. One of us will drive his car to his home in Brisbane. The hospital will take him the much shorter distance to Kununurra Airport in a wheelchair-equipped van. I go visit him in the morning. He’s forgotten the time of his Darwin-Brisbane flight. Deep in the Bermuda Triangle indeed.

We sort it out. At the airport he sits in his wheelchair staring forlornly at the heat-shimmering tarmac. A pimpled supervisor in an iridescent jacket, not far short of his twelfth birthday, rolls him into a portable lift, wheelchair and all, trundles him out to the rear door of the aircraft and raises him up like a levitating potentate. With luck he will now leave the ill fortune of the Bermuda Triangle behind, and not take it onto the flight with him.

Back at Kununurra’s Lakeside Caravan Park I decide not to return to El Questro. Right now I never want to see another corrugation as long as I live. I have a few days in Kununurra to pick up my neighbour from Nowra and then take off in a two-car convoy for the Gulf.

After so many weeks of living communally I’m unused to being alone. Camp life gets repetitive when you don’t have people with you to discuss the failings of the hot showers. Life shrinks to waking at sunrise, sleeping at sunset and eating all day in between drinks. Whingeing is tempting, but that’s negative Grey Nomad behaviour and I pretend I’m not one of them.

The rest of our travelling party hits town after staying at El Questro, which is described as “pretty good.” This is only a bit better than “not bad”. Maybe I didn’t miss much after all. As survivors of the Gibb River Road, we freedom fighters are entitled to be critical of accommodation on outback stations, consume more beer than usual and profess to have huge resources of courage but I suspect our touring fulfilment is getting diluted as the distance increases between natural spectacles.

Like other parks, The Lakeside stacks us in like voters in a  Labour branch pre-selection stoush. There’s no privacy whatsoever. Small tampon-like dogs, fluffy things on string leashes, snap and yap. Motorbikes rumble. Car alarms scream. Boxes of empty bottles are emptied into wheely-bins . Some bastard sings in the shower.  People have loud arguments early in the morning or late at night. Garbage trucks arrive at 10pm. Political whining is pervasive. And yet everyone seems pleased to be here rather than out on the road. They talk incessantly of their mastery of the bush.

Where’ve we been? Yeah, we’ve been there, we did that. Nah, we didn’t have a problem-I’ve got special tyres / shocks / spotlights / steering gimbals. Saw a Winnebago / Hyundai / Range Rover/ Mercedes broken down (or overturned, smashed, stripped or in pieces); it'll take a month/2 months/ 4 months to get it out. Then yer gotta get the parts. They’re dreaming if they reckon it’ll  be shorter than a month / 2 months / 4 months to get ‘em. But who’s gunna fit ‘em, eh? I’ll tell you who. No one!”
Incredible Advice    

Uninformed advice abounds around the bars, and you’re asking for trouble if you heed it. Tonight at the van park’s restaurant it’s Fish & Chip night (Snapper & Chips, $22), but I am to attend the Farewell Dinner of our group at the Kimberley Grande. The name may be a tad pretentious, but I am expecting us to be our normal uncouth selves-see Burleigh's artwork at  head of  this post  . Except Mr JW, who understands what “couth” really means, and without much prompting promises a donation to my wallet in anticipation of this piece of independent journalistic observation.

After Harry Robertson arrives tomorrow there’ll  only be three of us to forge on to the Burketown, Normanton and Karumba. This diary is now up to date, and there will be an Intermission so readers can buy a drink in the foyer.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Is it Avgas or paperwork which keeps Territory airlines flying ? Recently there has been confusion over the operations of Hardy Aviation  in the NT because of  a strange problem   interpreting  written instructions from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

On an AirNorth flight from Darwin to Townsville,  passengers found themselves sitting on the tarmac well after the ETD without explanation- until a flight attendant eventually said they had been held up waiting for the necessary paperwork. Passengers sitting near windows on one side noticed that ground crew were seen hurriedly unloading luggage out of the hold and taking it away. The impression was formed that it may have been put in the wrong plane as there was another AirNorth plane further along the tarmac,or else it had not been unloaded in the first place. There was much thumping and banging in the cargo hold; a sweaty looking guy in a high vision safety jacket clambered up the gangway and handed over some paperwork. Blast off.

On another AirNorth flight from Townsville to Darwin , departure was delayed for no  announced  reason – until  it was explained that there had been “ late arrival of paperwork from Darwin.” As that plane flew into Darwin, a passenger began to take photographs of the city. In the process , he turned around and may have taken some snaps out the window behind his seat. On landing , a passenger in the seat behind firmly told the man with the camera that if he had taken any shots which included him in the frame he did not want them put on social media or displayed in any way. Shy , perhaps, or the subject of official paperwork?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Unusual variation of the Hippocratic Oath was used by a medico to describe the shortcomings of the Royal Darwin Hospital. It would be interesting to know what prompted this exceedingly colourful outburst . *** While on matters  medical , anybody who has regular dealings with the medical profession soon realises that case management , especially informing patients, who are human beings, not just numbers , needs an overhaul in this town, as well as elsewhere in the nation . *** It is highly desirable that patients be given a copy of ALL tests, rather than a verbal report as these documents  can reveal information not passed on by the professional . *** When it comes to changing the medication regime , it is also desirable that these instructions be given in writing , not verbally , as they are often given just as you are bundled out the door, sometimes with documents authorising further tests ,  procedures not  mentioned or properly explained  in the “consultation.”*** Doctors’ appalling handwriting – in this day and age surely a way can be found to overcome scribble . *** In pharmacies and diagnostic clinics it is not uncommon to hear staff  mutter when trying to decipher  prescriptions   and instructions ... “Bloody specialists!” heard on two occasions.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

ASIO PAINTS STARTLING SCENARIOS –The serialised biography of Crusading Northern Territory Editor “Big Jim” Bowditch.

On the home front, the marriage of Jim and Iris Bowditch was under pressure. He was engrossed  in  many issues in Alice Springs-politics,  numerous  meetings , some at The Bungalow settlement because of his  interest in advancing “half castes,” cricket, amateur theatricals , writing for the Federated Clerks' Union newsletter,  the RSL, sitting up  late  playing chess with his "father confessor"  in a caravan having  long  philosophical  discussions .
By Peter Simon
Because of his involvement in the vicious struggle by the Industrial Groupers to take over unions in the drive against Communist influence , one which led to a split in the ALP and the formation of the Democratic Labor Party, plus his support for the Peace Council, he was regarded as a Communist  by  part of  the  community and to be avoided . A Catholic priest had  urged clerks not to  vote for  Bowditch in   a union election  and a  senior police  officer  avoided  him , not wanting to be seen with him in  public  because of  the  fear that public servants could  lose their jobs  if they were associated with Communists .   

In October 1950 , the offices of the North Australian Workers’ Union and its Darwin newspaper, the Northern Standard ,were searched as part of lightning , coordinated raids in capital cities across the nation . They were carried out by Security Service officers and local police under the Menzies Government’s Communist Party Dissolution Act. Police arrived at the NAWU  office in two utilities carrying large packing cases , but nothing was taken  away. Also raided was the home of  M. Carne , secretary of the Darwin branch of the Communist Party , where piles of literature were seized.

In Sydney, the editorial offices of the Communist newspaper Tribune and the  Eureka Youth League  ,in the same building , were searched , staff questioned . In Melbourne , about half a ton of documents was seized at the Communist Party headquarters.  Pamphlets and papers were taken away from the Tasmanian branch of the Communist Party CP in Hobart . These events  illustrate the tense  political situation  in which  Bowditch found himself- a war hero , even then known as a champion of the  underdog, a man who would help anybody experiencing financial problems,  victims of   perceived injustices


The  close attention  given to Bowditch by  security offices is revealed in  official reports. Using unusual language, ASIO made extraordinary claims about  Bowditch. One said his wife “prompted” him over an alleged affair with a woman , described as a “Communist stooge, ” a kind of femme fatale , who had been sent to Alice Springs to influence Bowditch. ASIO continued that , “ from all accounts” , she had been “ pulling it over” Bowditch.

Furthermore, it was stated this woman had stayed at the residence of Mr and Mrs Wauchope when she first came to Alice. Alan Wauchope was described in the ASIO report as being about 40, former editor of the Centralian Advocate and private secretary  to  Jock Nelson, MHR.

According to Bowditch , his wife Iris was not really interested in politics or unions and shared her parents’ belief that  unionists were communists who should be avoided. Involved in so many activities, Bowditch was leading a hectic life and at times was away from home. After returning early from one  trip , he became involved in a fight with a red-headed man who used to drink with the Bowditches at the racecourse, and was reportedly attentive to Iris . The fight took place in the Bowditch residence ; considerable damage was done to the small house.

Iris left soon after for Melbourne . Bowditch told this writer that he had agreed that Iris, on returning to her parents, would tell them that the marriage break up was entirely his fault. He came to regret this as he said alimony payouts had impacted on his finances for years. His sister, Mary, was highly critical of Iris when discussing with  this  writer the reason for the marriage failure in Alice Springs.

After Iris’s departure, Jim was at a loss what to do , his ego damaged. There was a woman whom he described decades later as “mystical, ” the supposed femme fatale mentioned by ASIO, but this relationship did not continue. To escape Alice and its problems , he took some leave and drove to Adelaide in a soft top car , where he said there was a woman whom he “admired”-Marjorie Johnston , who had  come to Alice  for the Peace Council meeting mentioned earlier in this series. ASIO noted the departure of the Bowditches thus :
Subject ( Jim Bowditch ) left Alice Springs l4/2/52 to travel overland to Adelaide in his car . He was short of money and intended trying to sell the car in Adelaide , after which he was to have gone on to Sydney . If he could not get his price for the car , he intended to get a job as a traveller or with a country newspaper in South Australia . He is said to have left his wife ; she went South by plane about a week before subject left by car.

 In Adelaide , Bowditch  at  first stayed at the home of his friend, Harry Krantz, secretary  of  the SA Federated Clerks.  Krantz recalled that  Bowditch arrived with a waterbag , an enamel plate and a tin mug.  Krantz’s mother had  known and liked Iris Bowditch  and  was sad to  hear that the couple had parted . While Bowditch was staying in the Krantz household the Alice publican, Ly Underdown, came to Adelaide and called in with the FCU SA president .

ASIO kept Bowditch under close  observation in Adelaide . One memorandum said he was “believed” to be temporarily residing at the residence of lawyer Elliott Johnston, a member of the Communist Party of Australia State Secretariat . Bowditch’s car was observed parked outside on three nights from early evening until late at night, when surveillance was discontinued. The same report said that Bowditch had been known in the Adelaide ASIO office since l950 “ when evidence was discovered that, although ostensibly an ALP supporter , he persistently supported the communist line in the FCU’s affairs ...”

The memorandum went on to say the SA Department of Works and Housing could not say whether or not Bowditch was still employed by the department in Alice. Beneath a blacked out section, it read : “…It cannot be confirmed that this allegation is correct. Nevertheless, circumstantial evidence to date makes the allegation probably accurate" Another secret memorandum from ASIO headquarters , with blacked out portions, said the photograph mentioned was one of James Bowditch and his wife and it appeared that this person “ is probably identical with the James Bowditch on record , who recently arrived in Adelaide, per motor car”.

It was stated  data from a  “Q” Branch source , in South Australia , categorically stated that Bowditch joined the C.P.A. during his visit to Adelaide. In the same file was the additional information :
On the l5th April, Marjorie Vivian Johnston, C.P. of A. member and Acting Secretary of the S.A. Peace Council , stated that when Bowditch was in Adelaide early this month he requested Elliott Johnston to give him a position as a permanent worker for the S.A. Peace Council. Johnston is understood to have said that he could not arrange such a position for Bowditch. Marjorie Johnston already stated that during his recent visit to Adelaide from Alice Springs , Bowditch joined the Communist Party.
 In his aimless and uncertain frame of mind at the time, Bowditch applied to rejoin the army and fight in Korea . In his re-enlistment application he said he was unemployed. Security vetted the application and assessed him as a risk because he was “a sympathiser”. Unfavourable factors listed were the NT Security reports, his involvement with the FCU and Harry Krantz (“ suspected C.P. member” ) , a Tribune item which had  mentioned Bowditch and his involvement with the Peace Council. Favourable factors : Bowditch had “allegedly ” won a D.C.M and the M. I. D., and he was president of the Alice Springs branch of the ALP.

The Bowditch file included a secret report, with several lines blacked out , by a person with the title “senior field officer ”, which contained a sensational claim about why Bowditch wanted to fight in Korea : “ At the end of March l952 subject ( Bowditch ) stated that he wanted to join the Australian Forces in Korea with a view of deserting and joining Thornton in China.” The person referred to here was Ernest Thornton , dubbed “the Red Czar ” of the Federated Ironworkers’ Association , who had been ousted by the Industrial Groupers campaign in l949 . Thornton was subsequently seconded by the World Federation of Trade Unions to head the Asian Liaison Bureau, based in China .

The alleged intention to “ desert” to China was repeated. What is to be made of this assertion , not known until well after Bowditch’s death , so that he could not be asked to respond ? It is such a bizarre suggestion that it invites conjecture. One possibility, of course, is that he did make a dramatic  statement , perhaps while drinking , along the lines that he would like to desert and join Thornton in China. The fact that Thornton had taken up a post in China had received prominent , derogatory coverage in the Australian  Press.

At the time of him applying to rejoin the army , Bowditch acknowledged that he had been at a low ebb , his male ego crushed by the circumstances of his wife’s departure, and at a loss to know what to do . That he was in something of a quandary is gleaned from the ASIO report which claimed he had driven from Alice to Adelaide short of money , intending to sell his car and travel to Sydney ; failing to sell his car , it seems he was prepared to seek work on a country newspaper or even become a door to door salesman, like he had soon after being demobbed .

A number of  the people with whom he mixed in Adelaide during that period had been deeply involved in the battle with the Groupers , and it is possible Bowditch voiced the off the cuff colourful statement about wanting to “defect” and link up with Thornton. The report in respect of him supposedly seeking a job with the South  Australian Peace Council   clearly  illustrates that at that stage in his life he was adrift , prepared  to  try anything .

Anyone having had any close ties with Bowditch , especially journalists , could list extreme statements made by Jim , not necessarily while under the influence of alcohol. While  expressing deep indignation at the action of governments , companies and or individuals , especially in cases where people or nations were being oppressed, brutalised or “bullied” , Bowditch often said it was a situation where ,” You just feel like grabbing a gun and shooting the bastards .” Security men or informants over-hearing such utterances could build up a file presenting Bowditch as a potential assassin , perhaps even a serial killer.Therefore , it is suggested reports of  him expressing the desire to “ defect to China ” should be taken with a sack of iodised salt.

ASIO also noted that Bowditch claimed to have “ unnamed ” friends inside the Adelaide Post Office. Did this information raise the possibility that he could gain access to the Royal mail ? During  his battles with the Menzies government , Bowditch , not infrequently, said Cabinet members were so dense and reactionary they should  be shot to advance the well- being of the nation . Why, he would ask in exasperation , did people let mongrels and , those most hated of beings, bullies , stand over them and force them to lead miserable lives ? It will be shown later on that Bowditch, in print , said the then ALP leader, Arthur Calwell, should be shot . Of course , years later, a disturbed young man , Peter Kocan , later a noted poet and novelist, did attempt to shoot Calwell. NEXT : Bowditch becomes an instant editor .

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Showing  signs of  wear and  tear, this car and  dog dodging  Frill Neck Lizard (Chlamydosaurus  kingii) is  king  of  a  leafy  part of   a  Darwin suburb, often climbing a  tree to  observe the  ebullient  cafe  latte  set  in  action .   Long  may  he  reign.