Friday, May 31, 2013


Photograph by Vallis

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

MISS OLIVE PINK-Continuing biography of NT Crusading Editor," Big Jim" Bowditch

* Miss Pink and  her" greatest friend" killed at Gallipoli.

An Alice Springs identity  who  took a keen interest in  Aboriginal matters and the activities  of editor  Jim  Bowditch was  Miss Olive  Pink, widely regarded as  an  eccentric and one of  those  Goodies ” .   While  Miss Pink  was  clearly  mainly interested in the plight of  fullbloods, Bowditch concentrated  on  the  advancement of  those  called  half-castes. He  said  he thought Miss  Pink  disapproved of him because she had a low opinion of white men  who  had a half-caste girlfriend or wife. Still, she  occasionally  invited  him to her humble residence for a cup of tea  and  forthright discussions about various issues.
She often  came to court  to  listen to cases involving   Aborigines and spoke to  Bowditch.  During  court  hearings  she  would interrupt   proceedings  by calling out from the public gallery  when  she thought  an injustice was being committed. At the end of a tribal murder case , Miss Pink snorted ,“ So much for so-called British justice” . The judge heard her outburst and  ordered her arrest. She was allowed to go once she  apologised for her remark .

By Peter Simon
Miss Pink was a living legend. By and large, she loathed   Alice Springs and said many of its white residents were wife beaters. She also branded the town Sodom and Gommorah. She had  been campaigning  for Aborigines  since the l930s and had  a  tragic and  unusual background . From Tasmania,  Miss Pink  met  her “ greatest  friend ,” Harold Southern , when they were art students in Hobart; it is suggested  she had  taught art at  a  private girls’ school. Early in the  l900s  she was in the household of  the  WA  Governor, Sir Frederick Bedford , who had  been in Tasmania .  At  about that time the Southern family also came to Perth  from Tasmania. 

Her friend  Captain Southern was  killed  at Gallipoli in l915. Each  Anzac Day  in  Alice , Miss Pink used  to  honour his  name.   Many  people believed  she  had in storage the wedding dress she would have  worn to marry  Captain Southern . 
In the  l920s  she  stayed  with  Daisy Bates, who ran an Aboriginal settlement   at Ooldea , in South Australia ,near the transcontinental railway line  across the Nullarbor. Bates , an Irish  journalist ,who had once been married to  Breaker Morant, executed by  the British Army during  the Boer War ,  spent 33 years  working with desert tribes  in South Australia  and Western Australia.    Bates , who regarded  Aborigines as a  dying race,  mentioned “ a jolly little  artist called  Miss Pink ” having visited her . Daisy Bates became  one  of  Miss Pink’s  great hates .  The worse thing anybody could do was liken her to  Bates .
Miss Pink moved  to Sydney and worked  in the draughting department  of  the  NSW Railways  Department.  Her work there was said to  have  involved    drawings   associated  with  the huge  Sydney Harbour Bridge  project. Her interest in  Aborigines seems to have  grown  from   observations  she made while on leave making  concessional  rail trips interstate.
On one of her trips she went to Alice Springs and  along the  way painted flowers.  In l932  she delivered a speech to  a  meeting  of the Anthropology Section of the Australian New Zealand Association for the Advancement  of  Science   on the uses to which the Aranda  and Arabanna tribes of Central Australia put their indigenous  flora .  Vice  president of the  Anthropology Section was Professor  A. P. Elkin of  Sydney University   Elkin , an influential advisor  to  government  on  aboriginal matters,  commented  favourably on her talk.  Later  on  she wrote a magazine  article describing how she  could  tell the time in Central Australia  by observing flowers.
Elkin  told me the first time  he  met Miss Pink  he found her  alert  and nicely dressed,  a scarf tied about her  hair  and  wearing  a green tie .  At  the time she was living in rooms  opposite the  university.   She then turned up at  weekly  anthropology  classes  he ran for  the Workers’ Education Association . 
As Elkin became a leading figure in the Association  for Protection of  Native  Races,  Miss Pink’s interest  blossomed  and she took part in  lively discussions on the subject.  Right at the  very  start, the   professor , himself  an  Anglican clergyman ,  noticed  Miss Pink  had an  antipathy towards  religions .   Years later it  was suggested   that  Miss Pink’s  aversion  to all religions, especially Catholicism, was  due to  the suicide of a close female friend who had been unable to obtain solace or support from her  church in a time of  deep  personal stress. It was  hinted  that the woman had  become pregnant to a married  man and had suicided .

Miss Pink proposed carrying out field work in  the  Northern Territory and   Elkin, giving his blessing to the project,  arranged some  financial support.   This trip  into Central  Australia, at times travelling by camel, with a revolver  for protection ,   resulted in a  paper Spirit Ancestors in a Northern Aranda  Horde Country , which appeared in  Oceania , the  anthropology journal founded and edited by  Elkin.  Another important paper she wrote  was about land ownership among  Aborigines .
During anthropological  work in  l933  Miss Pink became dangerously  ill  with  dysentery  at a desert camp near  Mount  Doreen  Station  in the  NT. The owners of  the station, the Braitlings , went to  her rescue   and she was carried  on a litter made from  saplings and  flour bags for  about 50 kilometres over  boggy ground to a car which took  her to  Alice Springs  hospital.
Following that  illness,  Miss Pink  then wrote to  Professor Cleland , head of the  Department of  Pathology, University of Adelaide, for information on  how to combat dysentery and what could be done to help ease the pain  of an elderly Aborigine with apparent gall bladder trouble. In l935 she  put   another proposal to the  Australian and New Zealand Association  for the Advancement of  Science  for her to set up a special reserve  in the Tanami Desert , near The Granites, at a place called Thompson’s Rockhole, where she would carry out further  field studies  and no other Europeans would be allowed admittance. Much to her annoyance, she failed to gain support for the proposal.
Elkin said he  had voted against her proposal , not  because she was a woman, but because it would have  been difficult  for anyone , male or female,  out there in the desert.  He believed  that  apart from  doing anthropological research, she also wanted to emulate the work of  Miss   Annie Lock, a missionary activist  who was mentioned in the Coniston  Massacre  inquiry as being a person  who had lowered  respect for whites by  mixing with Aborigines.
Despite failing to gain backing  from her peers  for  the field work, she went to  Alice Springs under her own  volition  and resumed her work  at  Thompson’s Rockhole, living in a tent .  One day  D. D. Smith, head of the Department of Works in Alice , who became Bowditch's  boss  when Jim moved there after the war, was  driving  through  the Tanami Desert  when he came across  Miss Pink, on foot, clad in a  high-necked  dress which went to the ground , carrying a sugar bag in which there were  watermelons.  He offered a lift , but she firmly declined his kind gesture.  As the nearest habitation was  about 70 miles away , where he was heading, he felt  she might perish out there in the wildness.

A small man, he  got out of the car , took her by the arm and tried to  steer  her into the vehicle.   Miss Pink  struggled,  hit him with her  bag of watermelons , scratched his face and  implied an improper motive  in him  trying to get her into his car. Convinced that she was deranged, he  drove off, still worried  about her  well being ; he checked to see that she had arrived safely  at her destination, three days later. NEXT: Miss Pink nearly shot.  

Sunday, May 26, 2013


A  modern , illustrated , perhaps pirated, Chinese-English   edition   of  Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, above right , contains numerous  errors . Starting  with  the  famous   call   for  workers of  the  world  to   become  one, the slogan reads :  WORKERS  OF  ALL COUNTRES (sic),UNITE!  Then  follows  a series  of  coloured  photos   of  Mao  which includes   his   famous   1966  river swim  .  The  contents  page  has   a  number  of   typographical  and  literal  errors .  These  include  the “Orrect  handling of Con-tradications “Among the People ; Dare to ” Truggleand”  Dare  to  Win. The   translator   refers   to  the  first English edition of  the  book  or  pamphlet cited  as “buplished”by  the  Foreign Languages Press,   Peking .   The heading  on  the first  chapter is   1.THE COMMUNIST PAPTY(sic) .Only  following  the  Marxist Leninist ” revo Lutionary “style  will  defeat imperialism  and its running  dogs .Thereafter there are numerous  typographic errors.  Chapter   3   is  headed SOCIALISM ANDCOMMUNISM, chapter six , IMPERIALISM AND  ALLREACTIONARIES  AREPAPER TIGERS.

The other  Red  Book , above ,  on the  left ,   is  a  1966   first  English  edition  published  by the Foreign  Languages  Press,  Peking, without  apparent  errors ,  many  copies of  which  were  sold  in  Australia , one  Sydney outlet   stamping  each  copy  that it  did not necessarily  agree  with  the  views expressed  herein.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


When  it comes to  drawing  attention to  issues  of  injustice and Western moral  bankruptcy, activist   Rob Wesley - Smith,  of  Darwin, is   truly  creative.  In  more  than  50  years  of  campaigning  for  worthy causes  he  has  used  innumerable ways  and  devices to  draw  the  media  and  the   public’s  attention  to   important  matters.  His   residence   at  Howard  Springs  is  a  veritable  museum  of  activism.   Apart  from  furled,  assorted large  banners outside,inside  there  are  scores  of  T-shirts,perhaps as many as 100 ,with slogans for a  wide range  of struggles  such  as  the   Vietnam War , the  East Timor  bloodbath, Aboriginal  landrights , civil  liberties.    He   has  a  massive  bank of  photos covering  those  campaigns  and  others.   One  snap  shows him holding  a  placard  outside  the NT Legislative Assembly, standing next  to  a  woman  who  is  dressed  like   a   colonial  governor, in  white mufti , complete   with  gloves,  helmet  and cockade ,   protesting  about  foreshore land being handed over  for  an  extension to  the  casino . A  dramatic  framed  photograph on a wall  shows  him  re-enacting  the  part of  Australian  journalist ,Roger  East, bound  and  shot, being thrown into  the  sea  by  Indonesian soldiers on  the  Dili  waterfront .  


His extensive  files  cover   the  Lindy Chamberlain case in which he  played  an active part ; pollution by  mining  at  Gove;   the  Gurindjis  of  Wattie Creek  where  Wes  provided  the  bottle  of   champagne  from  which PM Gough Whitlam and Vincent Lingiari drank at the  the historic hand over of the title to the land .

One of his spectacular “stunts” was his  avowed intention to  burn  a   dog  alive  in  a Darwin park  to  highlight  that  while  Timorese  were  being  napalmed  by   planes   provided by  the US, Australia  was  turning  a   blind  eye  to  the  inhuman treatment of  our  neighbours, yet  were outraged  that  he  planned to  torch   a  dog.  This   proposed  act  attracted  intensive  media  attention  and  a huge crowd , police , firemen   and  even a  sniper” was  allegedly  sighted on  the  rooftop of  a nearby building the day of the event. The “ dog “ was a   toy one , and some  people  seemed  annoyed  that  it had  not  been  a  genuine  canine . The event was   branded a  Communist  stunt  and  a  letter writer  said  Wesley-Smith  should  be  sacked   from his  government job as  an  agronomist. He was in a group arrested  and charged for trying  to  run medical  supplies   from  Darwin  to  East Timor in a boat . In  recent  times  he  was presented  with   the   Grace  Kelly Medal   for  his  support  of  the  Timorese  at  a  government  ceremony  in  Dili.

In his house   are  books, maps, letters  from  such  places  as   the   White House , a   postcard  from Shirley  Shackleton  sent  from  London telling of  her  campaign to  get  the  truth   about   the   murder  of   the  Balibo Five ,which  included  her  husband, a  note  of  support  from  Noam Chomsky.  


Visiting  the  Wesley-Smith  abode,  Little  Darwin looked  through the  racks  of T-shirts  and  stumbled  across  what  looked like   a  pair  of  legs (below ) tucked   away  in  a  corner  against  a  background of   campaign leaflets , mainly related to  East Timor .  On   closer examination, the “legs” were  found to  be  wearing  a  hat  bearing  the  name  M.LONG and  the  sox of  the Essendon Australian  Rules  Football  Club.

Wes  used his  artistic skills  to take out a number of awards in the   annual Human Rights  Art  Competition  on behalf  of   Australians  For   Free East Timor.  The above work   was inspired  by  Indigenous  footballer  Michael Long’s  walk for  justice   from Melbourne to  Canberra, to  see  PM John Howard  .  Wes  made it  from  a  tree  stump which  had   branches which looked like legs .The   people  running  the competition  did  not  insert  a  sign  explaining  its   significance.  Taking  " the  legs" home, Wes  bought  some Essendon   football   sox  and   placed   them on  the " feet" , and attached  an  information  sticker  under the heading THE  LONG MARCH  to  make  the  artwork instantly  understandable.

 It is  a  most unusual  piece  of  Aussie Rules  memorabilia,  not  mass  produced , which you would think AFL headquarters would  like .  At  some stage   Wes  offered  it  to  the  NTAFL  when  he  heard Michael Long, winner of the  1993 Norm Smith Medal, was  coming  to Darwin, and  that  Michael  could have it , if he so wished. The  NTAFL informed him that Long did not want it ,nor did they . Now  Wes  feels  inclined  to offer this  unusual  artwork  to  Kevin  Sheedy . You would  think  that  somebody in  Darwin  with  a   modicum of  intelligence  would  realise that  this  is a unique  piece  of  Australiana, actually made locally  by a  distinguished  longtime  resident  who was closely associated  with  the  early days of  Aussie Rules in town.

 FOOTNOTE:  On the  wall  behind  the  legs is  a  card from  ABC  gardening TV identity, Peter Cundall ,  with  best  wishes  for  Wesley- Smith.  Cundall, a  passionate  activist  like Wes, served in WW11 , was  a  machine  gunner in Korea for the Australian Army , is now a  pacifist  who marched against   the invasion of Iraq  and was arrested failing to move on  from  the Tasmanian  parliament  building  when demonstrating  against  the  Gunns’ Bell Bay pulp mill,approval for which  he claimed  involved  political  corruption.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


A brand new Northern Territory flag  has recently  been raised at the Darwin Casino and , according to our learned vexillologist, who regularly tries to beat the pokies,  it is flying the right way- not upside down , as it has on many occasions. At sea, a flag upside down is a sign of distress,  indicating loss of propulsion, yellow fever , cholera ,  sweaty  crew  badly  in  need of  a  Royal Navy  shower ... a quick dust down with  talcum powder  before  you  go  ashore  and  mix with the  female voters .

Monday, May 20, 2013

BLAST OVER NUCLEAR TEST-Continuing biography of Crusading NT Editor," Big Jim" Bowditch.

When  Ross Annabell arrived  in  Darwin  from Mt Isa in l953  he was allowed to live on the NT News  premises, above ,  in  part of the verandah on  the town side of the  building. He had to provide his own bedding and mosquito net. To make life easier , he bought himself an electric jug and a one element stove on which to cook his breakfast and  make numerous  banana fritters. It was not too bad a set up for Darwin which had a severe  accommodation shortage. At the time, the NT News Services Limited’s director, Bob Freeden , was only living in a one- room  hut rented from the ABC, so Annabell did not feel so  bad about his lot.

By Peter Simon

However , the situation changed for the worse . Annabell was given the task of turning the paper into a bi-weekly. Because of the old , slow press it had a to be run till midnight several  times a week and it made sleep difficult. On top of that , an acccountant sent up from Sydney was a homosexual and he lived in a room nextdoor with a flimsy wall  separating the two. The man would go drinking in pubs and  bring home people, resulting in disturbing goings on behind the plywood wall.

The matter came to a head when Annabell was entertaining a nurse in his quarters. Back drunk from the pub , the man in the next room made snide remarks which could be clearly heard through the partition .   EnragedAnnabell turned from a suave, mild-mannered reporter with an impressive (for those days ) bachelor pad , complete with a one ring stove, into an aggressive person threatening to smash in  the accountant’s head.

Alarmed and shocked , the nurse asked to be taken home to the hospital living quarters. Reluctantly, Annabell  whipped the nurse back to hospital on his motorbike . Then he sped back to the News in a murderous rage and ended up hitting the man . He described the fracas thus : “I called him out to settle the argument in good cave man fashion ; but he simply stood there and insisted that he was a ‘gentleman ’ and gentlemen didn’t fight .  So I let him have a mighty right smack in the kisser, but he simply stood and took it , and wouldn’t fight . And, not being particularly adept in the ancient art of boxing, I had neglected to tuck in my thumb , which nearly dislocated on his ugly mug , and left me in no condition to give him a second right .” The man left the News soon after.

Annabell had a major row with Don Whitington over a story which he did not run in the NT News . The story was about the Monte Bello nuclear tests off WA . Whitington had sent up a front page story from Sydney quoting physicist Professor Harry Messel as saying a cloud of lethal radioactive fallout could blow across the Top End and kill people or render them sterile .

The explosion was due the day the story would have been run in the NT News. Annabell felt that if the dire predictions were true it would be too late to warn the people of Darwin because by the time the paper hit the street many of them could be dead or sterilised. Furthermore, he felt the story would create incredible panic in Darwin , resulting in a mass evacuation down the track like the one that followed the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese in February l942. “Whitington was furious , and ripped the shit out of me in his next dispatch from Sydney ,” Annabell recalled.

Annabell wrote most of the general news , did the layout for the paper, proofread and performed several other chores including keeping a close eye on getting the paper out on time .  Melbourne Herald   Darwin  correspondent  Doug  Lockwood and  Bob  Freeden supplied him with “blacks”-copies of stories they sent south. Ruth Lockwood, who recently died at the age of 99, occasionally helped out by contributing  an occasional “women’s item.


In a bid to capture more readers, the NT News ran horse racing acceptances from four States, claiming  to be the only capital city newspaper in Australia at the time to provide such a service for punters. It was a  clear indication that gambling was a major interest in Darwin and big business. As a counter , the  union owned  Standard began to run extensive horse racing notes from the Sydney turf expert A.B. Gray, former racing editor of Smith’s Weekly.

The Standard fulminated against Japanese being allowed back into Australian, especially Territory , waters . Its campaign quoted Jessie Litchfield and MHR Jock Nelson as saying it was inappropriate for Japanese to return. Japanese were described by the paper as “treacherous spies ”. It thundered : “ We will have no more Japanese polluting the North ”. A series of photos showing Japanese in military uniforms doing self defence military exercises was headed JAPS AT PLAY ? Other items in the paper said Japs had been seen taking photographs of a wharf in South Australia.

JAPS AT IT AGAIN IN NEW GUINEA was the comment when a fishing boat entered the three mile territorial waters. Another unusual heading in the paper was TUT,TUT,TOKIO ! It dealt with complaints in a Japanese newspaper about limitations likely to be placed on pearlers allowed back into Australian waters and pointed out that Darwin based pearler Nicholas Paspaley had told the Standard how Japanese had fished out grounds in the past .

The subject of Aboriginal rights, especially for half-castes, was frequently mentioned in the Standard, as it was in the News . The North Australia Workers' Union , of course, had been involved in this  cause because half-castes were members of the union. Jack McGinness , President of the Australian Half-castes’ Progress Association was quoted in l953 in relation to  the so-called Halfcastes Bill which would give them their “freedom”. He was also given space to outline plans for a hostel and other facilities in Darwin .


It was said that in a desperate bid to increase circulation, the Standard resorted to “pornography, ” a term used by Bowditch and others , without explanation . Presumably , this related to  a  contrived article under the heading SEX  that suggested a brothel should be set up in Darwin which would reduce such crimes as young girls being “tampered with” and “ peeping toms” . It commenced by saying H. G. Wells had said one of the most disruptive forces of the 20th century had been the restless sea of dissatisfied young people. The North had “unsated youth ” and in Darwin there were 3500 male adults and only 1600 females. Youth was not only unsatisfied by existing society , but their natural , quite proper sexual drives and compensating outlets were blocked by the shortage of women.

The paper warned that “thwarted energies,”  if not given an outlet through things like beer, swimming , fishing , etc. could lead to an explosive situation. To overcome this tropical time bomb , it was suggested that a licenced brothel like those in Townsville , Brisbane and Perth be established in Darwin to absorb “surplus, dangerous energies ”. The paper continued the argument by saying it should be apparent to police and Adminstration that the stability of Darwin and district rested as much on sex as the economic factor. The situation, it said, could also be eased by bringing up more wives from down south and providing more accommodation in Darwin . The paper invited readers to respond with letters and said it would run any printable suggestions to overcome the problem.

The first response to this article was headed NO BROTHELS FOR DARWIN and was signed “Psychologist”, a person said to be a well-known Darwin citizen whose identity was cloaked by a pseudonym. This mystery man said the editorial on sex had been unpalatable, that the use of Wells to start the argument for a brothel had been fallacious , and that bad grammar had been used. The paper next ran a nebulous editorial on a subject dear to the heart of Darwin- beer. In the Territory , it said , every man,woman and child swallowed a pint of beer a day , or 43 gallons a year. The response to these two editorials might not have been as desired . Enemies of  the paper, including the NT News touting for business about town , could  have- and probably did - brand the  paper a depraved Commo rag , particularly in  respect of  the brothel issue. Soon after the brothel and beer items , the Standard felt compelled to declare it was not a Communist publication.

The union paper ,which had fought so stridently for the workers over many   years, was  doomed , and Annabell  would   figure  in  its  demise.  NEXT :  Miss  Pink  invites Bowditch  home in Alice Springs.


Photo by Vallis

Sunday, May 19, 2013


CANBERRA:Outrageous  rumours  are circulating   here that  a  prominent politician  is receiving secret injections of strawberry flavoured botox in his fibia and forehead wrinkles and spending much time on a  Harvey Norman couch with a trick cyclist because he believes that something black and fearsome is hovering over his head all the time, like those weird ABC TV exploding bubbles . The  deluded  pollie  is said to have developed this unnerving feeling after it was announced  that the Coalition would abolish the carbon tax. In Freudian circles, feeling that you are the harbinger of disaster is known as the Joe Btfsplk Syndrome.

In the popular US satirical comic strip, Li’l Abner, by Al Capp, “disastrous stuff” was always about to happen whenever Joe Btfsplk  came  around. Little Darwin was handed the above photograph, said to be that of a well known long distance penny farthing rider, coming out of a bicycle repair shop after a bout of therapy. The dramatic photo clearly shows what looks like an ominous black cloud hovering over his shoulder. The poor fellow was taken away to an Opus Dei retreat in a padded stretch limo owned by vulture capitalist, General Bullmoose , in the company of Senator  Jack S.("Slim") Phogbound, an up and coming trumpet blower who also has  an abacus and loves eating  a mess of junk food.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


The  recent post about the demise of the Sydney tabloid - The Sun- and its fearsome , famous editor, Lindsay Clinch, called Little Caesar, and a few other nicknames , brought forth follow up information. A former Sun reporter recounted how he had seen Clinch , suffering dementia, being led by his second wife , journalist Sally Baker , along the corridor in the Fairfax building ,Broadway, Sydney , to his old Sun office. He was totally bewildered, unable to speak , a sad sight when compared with his earlier days when he had been  all powerful . Our informant remembered the day when Clinch raged into the News Editor’s office, threw a copy of the opposition Daily Mirror down on his desk, demanding to know why he  did not have the “fucking “ front page story.

Mention was also made in the original post about genial Reg Halliday / Holliday, assistant to the News Editor, who later went to the Sydney Morning Herald . It seems Reg used to bankroll poor cadets when they ran out of money.  That is why he  often  gave  them assignments where they were likely to get a  good meal.  A small group of  Sunold staffers “ recently met in Sydney to mark the 25th anniversary of the eclipse of  the paper.