Sunday, June 29, 2014


Fleeing the snow, wind and  rain of  Victoria, a  Melbourne woman headed to North Queensland , also experiencing  a  cold snap ,  and  during  a  visit  to  an  Op  Shop  spotted  and  bought  a   frothy  fairy  frock  .  Why ?   Because  she  declared  she  is  a  fairy  in  Melbourne .  Hope  she  does  not  suffer chilblains  upon her  return  south  and   flutters   about   in   her  designer  label  fairy  clobber  at  the   MCG.


Booted out  by  fecund  parents ,  poor  Chicky seeks  solace inside.  
From the   police  horse  paddock  at  the Peter McAulay  Centre in Darwin  to   Magnetic  Island  in  North Queensland , Curlews are  acting strangely and  cruelly . It  is  the  annual  clucky  time  when  they   pair off   to  mate  and  lay  eggs ,  hissing , throwing  leaves and  sticks about  .  In  the case  of   couples  who  have  been  together for  years, they  drive  off  last  year’s  children    so   that   they  can  prepare  for  the next  brood.  In  the  case  of  our  resident  backyard  Curlews ,  the  parents  have  been  hissing   at  and   pecking   poor  Chicky , the chick we saved from the marauding  Barking Owls.   She  ( we think ) is  continually being  driven  out  into the  cold , cruel   world  by  her  parents . Forlorn looking , fluffed up ,  Chicky  often  comes tapping  at  my den  early in the morning , while I am shivering over the computer , wanting  soothing  words  of   love  and  affection- and   a  feed.  At times , she comes  inside  the  back door   for  some  welcoming  words and walks  about  the  house . The   art  of   Curlew  consummation  is  faster than a speeding bullet , even slicker than  that of   the  legendary Speedy Gonzales .  Blink  and  it  is  all over .  By a sheer  fluke , this  writer happened to  witness   the event  , on  dusk under  the  mandarin tree, which  seemed like  a split second  performance by Cirque  du  Soleil  and   two  Chinese gymnasts .  Since  then , the  female has spent  much  time in  the  old nesting  area  and  takes up  a stretched out  prone position  when  you  go   near her .  Like  Greta  Garbo , she wants to  be  alone .  The male  is  on  guard  nearby  and  issues a  warning hiss .  Just  this  morning , the  parents  once  more chased  poor  Chicky  when  my wife   threw  food out  onto  the   grass  for   them.  Chicky  ran  down  the side  of the house , a  piece of  tucker in  beak  .   Apprehensive  Chicky  returned and  took up  a  position  outside  the  den , sad looking . At times there are  nearly 20 Curlews  in the front  garden and  verge ,   looking   like scattered   garden  gnomes . Now  there  is  a lot of canoodling  going on out there  in the  form  of  couples  pairing  off   and  hissing  seductively   at  each  other . It is  going to  be a trying Mango Madness Season.  

Friday, June 27, 2014


Rare white  feather  postcard ,with an actual  feather , from the  collection of  Gary Davies , Magnetic Island  , printed  by  Mudie  and  Westbury, 420 Little  Collins  Street ,  Melbourne .
During an  ABC  talk about  the  NSW Library Life Interrupted Exhibition ,which draws on  the letters , diaries   and  personal stories of  Australian soldiers in WWl , an extract  from a  young  soldier disclosed  his  reaction  and  the  carnage  about  him  in  the first few  days of fighting . On the third , after seeing  many  killed around  him,  he  said he  felt  like running away from it all, but did not want to show " the  white  feather" . This had  been overcome  by  a  bayonet charge . White  feathers were often sent  by  women to conscientious objectors , regarded as  cowards , letting  their  mates  fight and die . As the slaughter continued , the " coo-ee '' call   from  the  front  for more   men   to  join up  and  fight    became  stronger. This  writer  once owned a  South Australian  country  newspaper  in  which  every  advertisement  included   a   call   to  join  up  and  fight , which  undoubtedly would have  put immense  pressure  on  all  young  men in  the district to sign up.  White feathers were also  issued  during  WWll.   Author  Xavier  Herbert  received a white feather and claimed it came from his mother. He joined up and served in the NT and also explained the meaning of  life to groups of  soldiers  at  Melbourne Zoo.  His wartime observations enabled him to write the novel  Soldiers' Women .  More  special  Anzac  related  posts  to  come .


In  his areas of diverse  interest,  keen as  mustard  collector , Gary   Davies ,   of   Magnetic   Island , outsmarts Sherlock Holmes when it comes to research and deductions , resulting  in   great   finds   from  far  and   wide .   Among  his  latest  outstanding acquisitions ,  from  New Zealand ,    is  the   above  superb  postcard  dated  1905 of  Maori  boys  playing   billiards  using a   twisted   manuka  stick  as  a  cue  on  an   upturned  packing  case . This   has  particular  significance  for   me  because  about   half  a  century  ago I  wrote a  piece  for the  Rotorua  Post newspaper   using  the   self   same   photo .
It   had  been  provided  by   local historian , Don  Stafford , who ran  a  menswear   store  and  was   connected   with   nearby  Tikitere - Hell’s  Gate –a  volcanic  tourist   attraction .  Don  supplied  the  information  that the photograph had been taken by a  retired schoolteacher , Mr Phillips,   called  Piripi  by the  Maoris , who   lived  near  the Whakarewarewa  Maori  village  and spent much time  helping Maori children . It was said he  also taught a number of  Maori  girls to  cook   a Sunday dinner  in the  European style and some of them  obtained  work  as  a  result.
When the  photograph was run in the newspaper , I asked readers  for any  information  they  could   provide . A  Maori  in the printing  section of  the  newspaperer  , who had served  in the Army , identified  his  father as  having been one of  the billiard  players . Subsequent  correspondence  revealed  that  copies  of  the  photograph  had  been   displayed  in  many billiard  saloons throughout New Zealand .
Due to the response to the article , I  began to write  a regular feature  called  Yesteryear  which often  contained  an old  photograph  from  Stafford’s  collection.  Stafford went on to write   Te Arawa: A History of the Arawa People,  published  by  Reed in 1967 ,  awarded the Elsdon Best Memorial Medal  in 1970 by the Polynesian Society. He presented me with a copy which sustained water damage during  Darwin's Cyclone Tracy in 1974  and is now in my Kiwi reference section .The book  sold  more than  40,000 copies and  Don wrote 22 books  about  the   Rotorua  area he  knew so  well .

In 1982 he was  awarded an MBE and in  1993, a  CBE.  His book, Wild Wind from the North, published by  Reed in 2007,  addressed  the  controversial story of  Hongi  Hika , who  fought many bloody battles , making use  of  muskets , visited  Sydney  in 1814  and  later sailed  to  London  where he  was  introduced to  King George lV .  Don  Stafford  was  82 when  he died on April 5, 2010 ; the Rotorua  Library has a room named after  him which contains his vast collection of  photographs   and  books .  -  ( By  Peter  Simon .) 

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Last year  LittleDarwin  pointed  out   that  by  and  large  newspapers  no  longer cover shipping  movements . It  detailed the  number of  interesting vessels coming  into Darwin , large  tankers  seemingly  being escorted  by  Navy  vessels, unnoticed  by  the  local  media. We  harked  back   to designated  Shipping Reporters  in  Sydney who  many   years  ago kept  close  watch on  all  vessels , large and small , coming  into port , gathering  many  great yarns. As a result of  that  post, the ABC  started  a  fortnightly shipping  news  report.

Many ships  from all over  the  world  come into Townsville  and  rarely get a mention . The  nautical  series  following  this  post  is  a small indication, me hearties,  of  what  is  floating by the desk bound reporters who keep a greater watch on vaporous  social   media  than  the  local  waterfront .

Photographed  earlier  this year  in  Townsville   is   the  above Maltese  bulk carrier , Adfines East  , which  was written up  in  an  American newspaper in April last year  as  "the  troubled cargo ship" .  The Oregonian reported that the skipper  of the vessel, Russian Valeriy Sharykin,62, had admitted to  being drunk while in charge of the vessel .  Members of  the US Coast Guard  carrying  out  a  routine search  had  noticed that the captain  seemed intoxicated .Tested,  his blood- alcohol was  four times over  the limit.

The newspaper carried a  photograph of him handcuffed . In  court he pleaded guilty, was sentenced to two years' probation during which time he  may not sail in US waters. On  top of  that , he had to pay $1000 to the court and another $1000 to a community alcohol  treatment facility . A spokesman for the Coast Guard said  the skipper was also  banned  from operating  a  jet ski on  the river .While the captain was still in custody, his vessel, fully loaded and  ready for departure, broke free from  moorings  and drifted some 1.5 miles into Columbia River, The  crew managed to start the engine and drop  anchor. The  chief officer tried to  take the vessel back to  the terminal, but it ran  aground on Davis Bar.

The  620ft long  bulk carrier    waited   for a  new skipper to be flown  in  to  take  over   control. There  are a few questions the  local  media might like to follow up. Was  the skipper ever in  charge of runs  to Australia  through the Great Barrier Reef?  Did   he  make  any  trips to Australia while he was  barred  from  plying US waters ?  There are  other questions , but  that  is  the  job of  the  local reporters  


In  the  romantic days of  sailing ships , Clippers  carried a mountain of  gleaming white sail. The  modern clipper , like the  above Dutch flagged  general  cargo  Clipper Avalon , is  a  lean greyhound , its  masts replaced  with  cranes , calling at many  ports,  including  here  in  North Australia . Vallis Photograph .


Non - superstitious mariners , Townsville .  ( Vallis  Photograph.)


Old  bank  building  in the Flinders  Street East nightclub  precinct closely resembles the New York Stock  Exchange  and  casino  in  Wall Street .
During the  19th century, Flinders Street ,Townsville , was described as the Wall Street of  North Queensland  because of its  impressive bank and insurance buildings. Thankfully,  many  of  those  superb  buildings  still exist and the  extended  Flinders Street  is  a most interesting  heritage  area reflecting  the   substantial boom- time early  architecture , making   its CBD   more   interesting   than  Darwin ,  Cairns and  many other  Australian cities   .  In  recent years ,  Flinders  Street has had its ups and downs , shops closing , grandiose  new developments  failing to  eventuate . As a result , clusters of buildings  remain  empty  and  forlorn  looking . 
Some , unfortunately , are badly in need of care and attention, just shutting the windows to  prevent  rain  and  birds  getting in  is desirable as in the case with the building on the left of  the  above bank.  Another of the  early banks always seems to have its upstairs windows open, displaying torn and weathered  blinds .  On  the other hand, the former Samuel Allens and Sons Ltd, merchants, 1872-1910, building  was recently  restored at a  cost of  $600,000 .  

At one  stage  Flinders Street  was  turned  into a mall , but  later  converted  back  to   two  way-traffic , closed  off  again  for  a regular  Sunday  market . Some shopkeepers have  hung  on ,   hoping  for  better days  to  come  . One , however, will  close  its   doors  on  June 30  after  first opening  in   l959.

With  much fanfare ,  it was  announced  that  a  touch of  Melbourne lifestyle  is   going  to help rejuvenate   Flinders Street  in the  form of  City  Lane,offering  coffee, tucker and  bars .A  James Cook University office is  also  bringing  new life to  the  area . When  you  take  the  big  picture  tour  of  Townsville you  cannot help but notice  the   large number of   shops  and  other  businesses up  for sale and lease, the  art deco style  Newmarket  Hotel  one  of  the  latest places on  the   market. Dating from 1872 , the  present building was  erected  in 1932  and  upgraded   in  1994.       


Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Oink! Oink!Oink!  The  Punxsutawney , Pennsylvania , Senate scene  as  people eagerly  look  to  see which  way   the  emerging  Groundhog   will  turn.  President  Hogg ,  no relation  to  the  critter  , with  Polish  drop in , has  pen  poised to record  the   momentous occasion . Laughing Penny Wong believes  the  cute Groundhog would  make a  nice soft  toy.
CANBERRA : If  you are a masochist , like me,  and have been  watching  Senate  debates  on TV of  late ,  you  soon  understood  why  Paul  Keating referred  to  the   Upper House as “unrepresentative swill ”the way the government side stuck to  the repetitious  message ad nauseam .  Talk  about  deja  vous ... over and over...again and  again ...Coalition  slogan  after  slogan . Senate  President   John  Hogg , like  a  recording : Order! Order ! Order ! Order ! Order !..  Hogtied  Hogg , time  and  time again,  stated  he  cannot   force  a  minister  to  answer  the  question  and  supplementaries . If  that be  the case , what is the use of  asking  a  question and   what  is  the  use  of  the  Senate? Ditto in the House of  Reps.

 In  a much  needed  piece  of  slight  relief , the  head  of  a  visiting Polish  (pork?) sausage  eating   political  delegation  was   allowed  to  share   the   throne  next  to   Hogg .  Before  that  elevation , the   Poles   probably  thought  the  Senate  resembled   one of those rowdy  strike meetings  outside  the  Gdansk Shipyard   which saw Lech Walesa  rise   to  international  fame, become  the  Polish  PM  and  receive a  Nobel award.  Looking somewhat  apprehensive  at  times, the Polish visitor  soon stepped down  and  departed  the chamber with  the  rest of  the  bemused  party. It  would have been interesting to learn what they  thought about proceedings. 

 After  continually shouting  order  and   repeating again and again  that he  cannot  force a minister to answer a  question, the  stressed President  normally  steps  down  for  his deputy so that he  can  take a  Bex  and  a well deserved  rest on a pig- leather  couch  to  watch  Bill Murray in  The Ghost Busters.   

The  soon to be sworn  in (and at ) new Senators -one holding a struggling  Groundhog-who will  have  the  balance  of  power  in  Canberra.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Global Trade Deal for Corporations to Operate with Impunity

 (At  a time when  the Australian federal  government  and  the  state  governments of  NSW  and  Queensland  are hell-bent on  selling off   public assets  , here  is  a special report by Mike Ludwig from the  not  for profit  American journalism  website,  NationofChange , revealing   plans  to  carve  up  the  world . It is  time for Australian politicians and  journalists  to  ask questions  in parliament  and demand  that   this  and   massive  tax  dodging  by   corporations  be  raised at  the G20 in Brisbane  or else it will be seen  as another worthless , costly  gabfest  . )
Embattled WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange announced last Wednesday from London the publication of a secret draft text of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), a controversial global trade agreement said to make it easier for corporations to make profits and operate with impunity across borders.
The whistleblower and transparency website WikiLeaks published on Thursday the secret draft text of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Annex, a controversial global trade agreement promoted by the United States and European Union that covers 50 countries and is opposed by global trade unions and anti-globalization activists.
Activists expect the TISA deal to promote privatization of public services in countries across the globe, and WikiLeaks said the secrecy surrounding the trade negotiations exceeds that of even the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that has made headlines in the past year.
Demonstrations erupted in Geneva in April as diplomats met in secret for the sixth round of negotiations over TISA, which would cover international trade in a wide range of service industries ranging from finance and telecommunications to transportation and even local utilities such as water. Protesters demanded that the draft text be released, but it has remained secret until now.
Public Services International (PSI), a global trade union federating public service workers in 150 countries, has reported that TISA threatens to allow multinational corporations to permanently privatize vital public services such as healthcare and transportation in countries across the world.
"This agreement is all about making it easier for corporations to make profits and operate with impunity across borders," said PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli in response to the leak. "The aim of public services should not be to make profits for large multinational corporations. Ensuring that failed privatizations can never be reversed is free-market ideology gone mad."
The leak comes two years to the day that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange began hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after the country offered him asylum to evade prosecution in the United States for publishing secret US government documents. Assange is also wanted in Sweden for questioning over sexual assault allegations lodged against him in 2010.
The secrecy of the TISA negotiations "exceeds even the controversial Trans-Pacific Partner Agreement (TPPA) and runs counter to moves in the WTO towards greater openness," wrote Jane Kelsey, a law professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand who analyzed the leaked documents on behalf of Wikileaks, which leaked portions of the TPPA in the past.
The same governments that installed the failed global trade deregulation models in the World Trade Organization that lead to the global financial meltdown are now promoting TISA, according to Kelsey and WikiLeaks.
Kelsey's analysis also confirms the concerns of trade unions like PSI that the TISA agreement would lock governments into and extend their current levels of deregulation and trade liberalization, thus preventing governments from returning public services into public hands when privatizations fail and establishing greater regulations to protect the environment and workers safety.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which supports privatization and global trade deregulation, has said that the "payoff from TISA could be huge" for domestic service industry firms and presents "a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tear down barriers to international trade."
The Chamber has recommended that TISA "eliminate regulatory inconsistencies" and ensure that private companies are not put at a disadvantage when they compete with "state-owned enterprises."While TISA negotiations are being held outside the WTO framework, the countries involved are WTO members, and the negotiations are being crafted to be compatible with existing global trade services agreements.
The current negotiating countries include Australia, Canada, Chile, Taiwan, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States and the European Union's 28 member states.
This article was published at NationofChange at: All rights are reserved.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


 In what  amounts to  a  special edition about the South Pacific  , the   June  edition  of  the  New  Zealand Genealogist has a detailed  article about   Kanakas  brought  to that country , like they were in Queensland ,  as   cheap labour .  Headed  Melanesians in  New Zealand , by Christine Liavala’a , with photos ,  it opens with the 1870 arrival in Auckland of the schooner Lulu with 23 men from  Vanuatu. Newspapers  denounced the arrival of the “ niggers ”.  An editorial in the Wellington Evening Post  said bringing a party of  Kanakas , nominally coming of their own free will  to work at  a  flax mill ,  awakened  grave  reflections.  The introduction of this labour in Queensland , it  said, had inaugurated a  species of slave trade  , which had  proved  a disgrace to the Colonies  and  to the age  we live in . Mention was   made of  the  Daphne affair in which the captain and owners of  the vessel had escaped the meshes of law , yet there was  no doubt that they were  guilty of  trading in flesh and blood  .There is reference to Sir George Bowen, the Governor of  New Zealand who, from his experience in Queensland , felt there was no need to bring in Melanesian labour in a temperate  climate where there were no sugar or  cotton plantations. Other articles  deal  with the Pacific and  the Great War , Germans in Samoa , Researching  the  Pacific Islands , Pacific Images  at the  Auckland Museum .  Again, a  good read .  

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Leader of  the  NT  ALP Opposition , Jon Isaacs , addressing  a  group at an Aboriginal settlement in  Central  Australia , circa  l980. The person on  the  left in shorts is award winning   journalist  Duncan  Graham , who worked for  Isaacs  , and was based in Alice Springs . Now  he spends  time between  New Zealand  and Indonesia   and  runs the  blog   INDONESIA NOW...Interpreting Indonesia  with a Western perspective : Expanding inter-cultural understanding  and mutual respect.    Born in England in l938,  he worked  for the ABC  and  has written  books on  Indonesia and  Aborigines in WA.