Thursday, December 31, 2015


A  recording of deafening  frog  calls at night  on  the above serene looking  man-made lake at Howard Springs , filled by monsoonal rain , could  inspire a special concerto by noted composer  and former  Sydney Conservatorium of Music  lecturer, Martin Wesley-Smith.
The pool  is on the rural property of egotistical  activist  and agronomist, Rob Wesley-Smith , Wes for short , who calls it Lake Wesley after himself , in which he  swims from time to  time in the Wet, tempting crocs ; during the  Dry , it resembles a dusty lunar  crater .
We at Little  Darwin like to think that as  a result of our recent post about noisy  frogs driving a  Darwin man mad , see  FROGS FLY WHEN THE RAINS COME AND GARY TAKES OVER THE WORLD ,the recording of his  resident   frogs  was  sent   to  a number of surprised recipients across  Australia, including one of  his musical  twin brothers , Martin, with a  suggestion he  write a  croaking concerto.  Martin  joined in the frog chorus by  saying he  would  hop to  it.
 As a concerto is for an orchestra  and one or more solo instruments ,there could be a part  for  Wes  to  blow his own trumpet.  
Martin Wesley-Smith , who returned to Australia from England in 1974 to teach composition  and electronic music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, also founded the  first computer music studio in China at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 1986, taught at the University of Hong Kong in 1994-5.
He might be tempted to  throw in a crocodile or two  in  any concerto he composes  about  frogs  which  would give it  an  added  Territory  touch.


 Curious  Curlews, an odd  big bird and digits of  a giant  hand .  

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


At  first glance , one expects this  slim volume, the first collection of  Solomon Islands  lullabies , produced by  the initial Solomon Islands Women  Writers workshop in 1980, to contain soothing  sounding  chants likely to induce  slumber. But no.  Among the 20 poems,  printed in language  with  English translation, is  an apparent mention of  blackbirding   and  a definite  echo  of  the   South Pacific  war .

One brief four line lullaby tells the baby to  sleep and  stop crying or else the aeroplane will soon  arrive.  An explanatory note  says after  WWll in the Solomon Islands many parents  told  their children  how planes  dropped  bombs  and  the baby is told  that  if  it does  not  go to sleep  the  planes  might  come  back  soon and bombing recommence .

In other,   the child  is  told to go to sleep or  the boat  with  Captain Derry aboard will come and  take  it  away . The big eyes of owls are used to frighten some babies to sleep. Designed to  scare children who  tease  and  bully others , another lullaby  is  about a giant  who gets about  with a knife  looking  for teasers to put in a sack.  

The missionary  influence is reflected in a lullaby which calls on Jesus to protect the  sleeper overnight . Published  by  the University of  the South Pacific , our  worn , insected , illustrated  and  decorated  copy  found  by  a  runner  in  Cairns , North  Queensland .

Sunday, December 27, 2015


Darwin  former bank and newspaper  office , where  it  was common to  have  a  croaker  tickle  your  clacker, which  sadly  went   down  the  gurgler decades  ago .
There can  be  nothing more  glorious  than  the sound  of monsoonal rain -after a hot , humid, sweaty  build up - when  it finally  arrives and  pounds  down during  the night . Above the  soothing roar,  neighbours  can  oft be heard  cheering  with  relief , dogs  bark  hysterically, but they  do anyway during  the dry .  Some exhibitionists  even  run  about in  the nude, dancing in the  rain like Gene Kelly. 
In  Darwin, capital of the  Northern Territory ,   renowned  for a  widespread  condition  known as Mango Madness, it  experienced a trying time  before the  rains finally  arrived  this  year , evidenced by   the  CLP government   making  the insane  decision  to lease the Port of  Darwin , front  door  to what appears  to indicate we are  becoming  a   giant Australian  Cuckoo Nest ,  to  the Chinese   for 99 years .[ This crazy decision has   been  followed  by  awarding  the contract for the opening ceremony at  the  Commonwealth Games  in  Queensland   to  an American  company.]
The  heavy Top  End  rain this year caused Darwin's zillion green tree  frogs to express their joy by deafening  croaking . One  prematurely baldy resident  we  know   was  driven "mad"  by  an army of  frogs in  a  rock garden near  his  bedroom  stentoriously calling GARY!GARY!GARY!GARY!GARY!GARY!GARY!GARY! GARY!...,like a continuous  stereophonic  tape played  at  top  volume .  

Putting his head under the pillow   did  not help-GARY!GARY!GARY!GARY!  still came through loud  and  maddeningly clear. In his demented  state, he thought he heard  one raucous croaker with  a  variation - HARRY!HARRY!HARRY!...

The  frogs  nextdoor and  throughout the district  were  singing to the same  music in the downpour  causing  the man's bedroom  to   sound like a cross between  a CIA water torture  cell and an echo chamber .  The carport reverberated and amplified   the assault on  his eardrums and sanity .  Unable to stand the waterboarding  anymore , he jumped out of bed  , ran  outside , grabbed  frogs left , right and centre  and hurled them  into space  over the  fence . The  newly launched  astronauts  respond  by shrieking:" GARY!GARY!GARY!-whee!, I can fly !- HARRY!-Ring  the  RSPCA!"

FROG  FLASHBACK : Back in the l950s , when this blogger was an inmate of the Northern Territory News  leaking old  tin bank premises, with wartime bullet holes in the roof ,  there was  a large  colony of   resident frogs  which  lived in the  toilet /shower room .They  bellowed  during  rain . Some of  them lived under the  lip in  the  toilet  bowl  and  protested loudly  each time  it was  flushed. The  drunken office cleaner  also protested when he was locked in  a wardrobe  one night and a large python  once slithered  in  through a  rear  window  and was chased  by a man armed  with  a  speargun. You have not lived until you have experienced  deadly  King  Brown  snakes sliding into your toilet  bowl to pick off frogs .

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Stylish great-grandchild, Ivy , with  clothespeg  in hair , plus butterfly  clip , pointing  out  roaming  Curlew  chick  staring  at  her  unusual  coiffure. BELOW : Chick , not  to be  outdone in  the  fashion  stakes,  poses  with   hibiscus  flower  and  very   protective   mother .

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


It  was a wise move not to buy 10,000 party lights with which to drape the house for the festive season  as the way things are going in the run up to Christmas a Chevy Chase lighting problem would almost  certainly have ensued .  Things started to go awry  when  one  of  the  two latest  baby  Curlew  chicks  disappeared  overnight .

The trap set up to  catch  feral  cats  which could have  contributed  to the now five Curlew  deaths over  the year   caught  nothing but  annoying  possums which  each night  stage  noisy  re-enactments  of  the Melbourne Cup on  the  roof . Our  resident backyard Curlew  family  posed  near the trap , below , the  smaller of  the  chicks  the one  which   vanished.
Then Cockatoos attacked fruit on the mandarin tree , so risking life and limb and against  medical advice , took a bundle  of  bird netting from the  shed, in the process making much noise  just in case there was  a snake holidaying there , and  clambered up on  a rickety ladder bought for $5 at a garage sale, and roughly wrapped  the  tree a  la  Christo under the influence of  a surfeit of potent  Christmas  punch.
Then shrieking  Cockatoos frequently  dived overhead and  hung  in various playful positions, including  upside down , on  power lines  and  trees ,looking like balls  of  snow  from  a  distance , an indication  that  you are going troppo as there is no snow in  these parts and  certainly very little rain, twitch  twitch .

Then the Curlew  family started  regularly  turning up at the kitchen  door  about 5.30am expecting  to be fed, which  it was. The mother made its presence known by hissing , the surviving  chick  putting in an order for  a  Continental breakfast, while  its  father , its injured leg much  improved, stayed in  the background.

Then, horror of horrors-it was  discovered  that somehow the deep freeze  chest in the  laundry had  been  turned  off , and  was immediately turned back on . Days later, more horror. On placing more  tucker into the deep freeze, it was discovered that when it was  turned off  the remains of  a bag of crushed ice had melted, leaked out and  turned into a  block of ice on the bottom, one of the  hams and  a  packet of  tarts  firmly imbedded  in  the glacier.

Using a   chisel , a hammer , screwdriver  and boiling  water, it  took  an  hour  to free  the  ham  and pulverise  the  packet  of   tarts , stretching  hamstrings so much   that  I  walked  like  a  ruptured No. 5  duck  for  days.

Then , lurching out of  bed  after  5am   to feed  the Curlews , discovered they had vanished, including the chick . Because there was a  barrier  to  prevent the chicks from venturing out into the cold cruel world , it was felt  , once again, something had  taken  the  young  bird .

A thorough search of front and back failed to find any sign of the birds , other  Curlews  down the front  , yes , but not " our"  ones .
Then , late in the afternoon , there they were , down the front. Attempts to  lure them  to the relative safety of  the backyard  failed. Making  friendly clucking noises, and throwing  food to the chick , I got close enough  to make a grab  for it  , but missed. The  parents then  ran off  with it  across the dangerous  road  and  another  attempt to  catch it with a  large cloth   also failed, causing it to  sprint off  and  disappear  in  a dense Jurassic Park   garden  further up the  road.

While  this  drama  was  being  played out, down the road , at the residence of the Queen of the Jungle, Larry the Cussing Lorikeet  was venting his anger at the fact that  his  Purple  People Eater , in which  he slumbers  inside his cage , had been  washed  in  readiness  for  him to pack  his  kitbag  and  spend the Christmas period   at sea with his owners . Bugger! Bugger! Bugger! said he on inspecting  the  freshly cleaned  sleeping bag .  

Then , next morning , the  Curlews were  lured  home  early, by making clucking noises  and  tapping my cereal dish with a spoon . Watching  the blighters eat, thankful that  they and  the chick  had  come home like Lassie  ,  there  suddenly  appeared a CAT!!!  Grabbing a sandal  and roaring  like a cross between  a mountain  lion  and an Irish wolfhound  , I  hurled it  at  the intruder ,which fled over the back  fence . It  took some  time to   find the sandal as it had lodged in a clump of  golden canes .
Tail  and  paws of  possum  with  do  not  disturb sign  presents repulsive sight  which  could  scare    Santa's   flighty   reindeers and  cause them  to  stampede.
Then , that very same  day , it was  discovered , above ,  that not one but two blankety-blank  possums had taken up residence  in a   narrow space on the back verandah,  where  sheets  of  iron  meet  the  facia  board.  

Daytime  attempts to  get the slumbering  possums , tired  from  all the  Flemington  training  gallops for   Gai Waterhouse  during the night ,  failed  to get them to  quit the premises .  To show that man is smarter  than  possums , before sunrise , the possums still running about on the roof  like cobalt doped nags , this  grumpy blogger  stumbled out of  bed,  again mounted the rickety $5 ladder and  (hopefully)  blocked  off  the entrance to the  roof cavity with several  stone pavers  and  a  chunk of  heavy  building material wrapped  in  cloth . 

As the pile of masonry is above where you step out of the kitchen to go to the laundry , my  wife was  advised to wear a crash helmet whenever she goes to the freezer during  Christmas-just in case the possums manage to gain reentry from another  place  and   achieve  egress  by  energetically  pushing out  the  dangerous  blockage.  

A Cool Yule and a Frantic First   from Little Darwin and two of our typical readers in Ireland , with cat , who shall remain  anonymous...for obvious reasons . Below : From  atop  the  Eiffel  Tower , Little Darwin regulars  Peter and  Judi  Burleigh , send  best  wishes  and  blow  bubbles  for  the  festive season.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


From  the  Daily Drone , celebrating  the great days   of  Fleet Street, London, composed by  Robert  Richardson  to  entertain  troops  at  The  Observer Christmas bash .
Circa 1930s sub-editors , copy boy in seat at back .
It was an ancient sub-editor and  he stoppeth many libels,

Fowler's Modern English Usage and the ODWE* were his bibles.

We met in the Bodoni Arms, it was his favourite venue,

He sat alone, a pint in hand, and made corrections to the menu.

"Pray tell me, master sub-editor, your secrets and your tricks,

"How many prima donnas you have saved from looking pricks."

He raised his head and gazed at me with a piercing, bloodshot eye,

"'Twould be my pleasure, sir," he said, "but I am rather dry.

"A double brandy will suffice; it helps soak up the ale,

"You get 'em in, then I'll begin to tell my subbing tale."

I hastened to the bar and bought the drink that he desired,

Convinced that what he told me would be sober and inspired.

Returning to the table, I set the glass within his reach

Then sat, a humble acolyte, as he composed himself to speech.

"In the beginning was the word, but which word we'll never learn

"Because a sub deleted it to avoid a widow turn.

"And in the Gospel of St John, one chapter seems too terse,

"Where the two-word sentence 'Jesus wept' appears as just one verse.

"A sub-editor did that, my boy, and I shall tell you why:

"He had to make a par somewhere 'cos the text was one line shy.

"And so it goes, from age to age, in every realm and land,

"You'll find the diligent sub-editor, a style book in his hand.

"We guard our Mother English tongue, keep her pure and unalloyed,

"Just see what dreadful things go wrong when our talents aren't employed.

"We'd have asterisked out those filthy words Lady Chatterley learnt from Mellors

"And if Dickens had but had a sub, his books would be novellas.

"We know 'can' from 'may' and 'may' from 'might',

"And never say 'less' when 'fewer' is right,

"We punctuate punctiliously and are alert for innuendoes,

"We can all spell 'desiccated' and don't rise to crescendos.

"Of grammar and of syntax our knowledge is formidable,

"Though frankly we don't give a toss about an unstressed syllable.

"To denigrate the sub-editor is the action of a moron,

"A word that very nearly rhymes with that little twat Giles Coren.

"When it comes to writing headlines, polysyllables we eschew,

"We have a taste for shorter words, like 'mull' and 'ire' and 'rue'. "

"Your wisdom overwhelms me, no counsel could be finer,

"But can you explain to me, I beg, the role of the designer?"

"Don't speak to me of that lot!" (He gathered spit - and spat),

"A paper needs designers like an oyster needs a hat.

"Oh they'll draw you pretty pages, you can't change them 'cos it's art,

"Then once you've made the copy fit, they rip the thing apart.

"The reason why they do that is a mystery to man,

"But I've a shrewd suspicion that it's just to show they can."

I feared I had offended him, my question had been crude,

But a treble double whisky put him in a better mood.

"And tell me of your colleagues, whose work is so essential,

"That I might dare approach them with demeanour reverential."

"Right across Observer the subs are brilliant, off the scale,

"The Times can only dream of such - and fuck the Daily Mail.

"But even with such talents, sir, once the story's in the queue

"And is eighty-six lines over, what magic can you do?"

The old sub smiled and shook his head as if he were amused

At meeting one so young and green and easily confused.

"Nothing is writ that can't be cut, that is the Subbing Law,

"Give me the Ten Commandments and I'll trim them back to four.

"Thou shalt not miss the deadline, or write in 'Subs please check',

"And if perchance you use a fact, don't get it round your neck.

"But the first of all commandments you must follow to the letter:

"However good your copy is, a sub can make it better."

"And yet," I ventured cautiously, "can what they say be true?

"I've heard tell that the management wants to get rid of you."

'''Tis true," the gloomy sub replied, now glugging down red wine,

"They got rid of the NGA, now we're the next in line.

"But mark my words, young journalist, the cup they drink is bitter,

"Mistakes will sprout like dandelions and literals will litter.

"Comment it may still be free, but faith in facts will shatter,

"Whatever garbage fills the space, that's all that's going to matter.

"And there will come a day, I fear, when one sub shall remain,

"Facing those damned accountants and battling in vain.

"He'll stand astride the subs' desk like that Dutch boy at the dyke,

"Until, professional to the last, he falls upon his spike.

"And as those bastards stand and jeer, a golden age shall cease,

"But not before his dying words: 'Has the lawyer seen this piece?'

"They'll bury him with honours, even Murdoch will be there,

"FoC will read the Lesson, Rev Indent will say the prayer.

"Good Spot will start the banging out, as flags fly at half mast,

"A choir of solemn hacks will sing 'Oh Sub, our help in ages past'.

"And in the years that follow that tragic last defeat

"You'll find the Tomb of Unknown Sub in St Bride's upon the Street.

"On either side shall angels weep, and proudly in between

"You will see a pencil, blue, crossed with an eyeshade, green,

"And  on Carerra marble, carved in ninety-six point caps,

"You'll read subs' eternal question: 'Who wrote this piece of crap?'"

*ODWE=Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors .This  post forwarded by Little Darwin's Chief Sub Editor , Kim Lockwood .

Friday, December 18, 2015


New  invention  tipped   to   make  billions !!!

World's  only  living  Shmoo ll  outside  guarded , secret   incubator  near a  yabbie  farm  in  downtown  Sydney.  After  this  exclusive  photograph  was  taken,  it  multiplied into the same number as the  human  population  of  Australia and  is  expected  to  continue  to  expand  exponentially, leading to massive  exports  and a  new  golden  age  for  the nation  in which   nobody  will  have  to  work and we will  be  riding  on  the  Shmoo's  back  and  its  incredible  obliging  nature .  

Brilliant  Australian  scientists , entrepeneurs  and  new  age  carpetbaggers  have  combined   to   take  up  PM  Turnbull's call to launch  innovations with a startling  plan  to   grow  genetically  modified  creatures  called   Kanga  Shmoos.
Extinct  Shmoo
The original Shmoos , which  bred faster than rabbits and skunks ,  were  once  all  the rage in America  as  they would turn themselves into anything  an  owner  wanted- great wads of  money , mink  coats, limousines, hamburgers, diamonds , piles of  gold bars ,  chocolates and mountains of bling  -   doing  away  with  the  need  for  people  to  work, thus  undermining  capitalism  and  freeing  wage  slaves to unleash  hidden  artistic  talents .
As a result , captains of commerce  hired a  hit man to  exterminate  all  Shmoos , and  the  world went  back  to  becoming  an  ever expanding  salt  mine-ideal  for capitalists, hedge funds , monopolies , robber  barons  and  banks  , slavers , corrupt regimes .
Kanga  Shmoos  can  only  be  seen  by  persons wearing another wonderful Aussie invention - Dame Edna Gamma Ray glasses-which   is  why  Industry, Innovation, Science  and  Adelaide Pie Floater Promotions   Minister, Christopher  Pyne , is  regularly   seen   making  a  horn-rimmed spectacle of  himself  on  commercial  TV. 



In Chiangmai , Bucklee  Bell  raised a  glass of  grape juice for Gough Whitlam who  attended  the  hanging  on Magnetic Island  of  BB's painting , Parliament.  ***Australian  friends travelling  in  Thailand   report a welcome surprise ... as  part of  urban revitalisation   some nondescript , rusty roofed  buildings, near  the hotel  where  they  often  stay ,  have been  knocked down to reveal  part of  the old  Bangkok  19th  century klong  (canal) underneath. The  banks have been  paved  and  planted with  bougainvillea  and  trees. Much to the delight of locals, large monitor  lizards  have  been  seen  cavorting  . The  neighbourhood  blessed the reclaimed area during  Loi Kratong, the festival of light, the canal covered with hundreds of  floats  bearing  candles.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


An ABC report  recently stated more than 2000 Australian   journalist  have   lost  their jobs since  2012, some  now  driving taxis.  Apart  from  that,  it seems a  large  number of veteran reporters have died  or  become infirm.  During  the  year , this  blogger  received  sad news about old journo mates  in New  Zealand  and  Australia who have met the  final deadline ,  gone  into  homes  or   are  exceedingly ill .

Somehow, the death of ace reporter Toni McRae  a year ago had  escaped my attention . When  emails sent  to her "pixstories " kept on bouncing back saying address  was no longer  valid , I sensed the worse .      After  coming home  from a  double mastectomy  operation  with a  so called  clean bill of health , Toni  celebrated  with  her  partner , Kiwi reporter  Les Wilson , and  was found dead  the next morning .  In her day, Toni  was   a multi media star , who worked in NZ , Sydney , Canberra  , Darwin ,  and Queensland  ;  her exclusive  story about the  relationship  between the leading  anti Vietnam War  figure  and  Treasurer  Dr Jim   Cairns  and  Junie   Morosi  had been a  sensation ; Toni's autobiography , EXPOSE  Scandals, Stars and Scoops, was  reviewed in this  blog  and she had  done much research into another  book  about Jack  the  Ripper,  with an Australian  connection.

Wondering  how  reporter Mike Driver ,  an   old friend  from the  hilarious Cairns Post  newspaper   in  the early  1960s , is  getting along , a  Google search revealed he  had only  recently died, and contact was   made with  his wife ,Natalie, in Canberra,  herself a  top  journalist  who once  worked   for the dynamic and controversial   media  publisher and journalist  Maxwell Newton,  founding editor of The Australian  , later finance editor of the New York Post.She  had an  unusual interview  for  the   job  with Newton ... he was stretched out on a table, resting  after  putting out  one of  his  many  publications. 
Mike  was  the son of  a former  Northern Territory Administrator , 1946-1951, Arthur Robert "Mick"  Driver  , a  West  Australian   engineer , who had served  in Darwin before the bombing , was later  in charge of  rebuilding  the wharf  over  Neptuna , carrying depth charges and explosives , which  blew up  in a massive explosion  in  the  first  Japanese  raid .
 I had moved down from the Northern Territory News  to  the Cairns Post  when I first made contact  with  Mike . Over   the    years we  met up  in various places  and  always  reminisced and   chuckled  over  the  goings  on  in  the   Cairns Post, which  included  some "bastards " who  had   placed  a  large dead snake in Mike's car , which had  frightened  the  daylights  out of  him .
At one stage Mike was  a military PR  in Butterworth. The last  face to face contact  with  him  was  in  Darwin  in  2009 when he came  up from Canberra with  his  wife to  see two  daughters  off   to  military  service overseas.

 At  the  time we made an  arrangement  for him  to provide me  with  details of his  early life   in Darwin,  living in Government  House , for the NT Police Museum and  Historical Society  publication, Citation , which  I edited .

He subsequently  sent me an account of  how he , young  son   of   the   Administrator who was also the NT Police  Commissioner, had  been stopped by police  on  dusk , riding a  bike  with  a  rifle slung over his shoulder .

With him , also carrying  a  rifle and mounted on a bike , was Bas  Wie  who, aged 12, had stowed away  in the   wheel  nacelle   of   a military  Dakota  in  Kupang , Dutch  Timor , and  when   the  plane  landed in  Darwin a ground engineer placing  locking pins in the  undercarriage found him hanging in the struts .  An account of  the  episode by journalist  Douglas Lockwood  won  the 1000 pounds first prize in the London Evening News World's Strangest Story competition. There were calls for Bas to be sent back, but Administrator Driver  said the boy could live in Government House while  his future was  being  decided  , which  he did  for  five years .

Mike and Bas went out shooting wallabies with their rifles and were stopped by police coming back, asked for their  names,  address,  both stating Government House. Mike said  his father sent a car  to the police station , and a verbal kick to the posterior was delivered when  they  were  delivered  to  Government  House .

Other exciting adventures he and Bas experienced  included  one of  them  taking shelter in a  wartime  pillbox , of which there were a number ,  while  the other  fired  shots  at  it  from  a  rifle. Not a game  recommended for  modern  Darwin kids. Natalie  Driver  has  souvenirs of  those days,  framed Darwin  Government House   menus  drawn  by  cartoonist and  illustrator  Eric  Jolliffe , creator  of  Saltbush  Bill  and Witchetty's  Tribe .

Mike  had  once worked   underground   in  the mines  in Kalgoorlie  and  said  an unnerving  experience  had  been  hearing  the  earth  groan , talk. Underground   workers  tended   to   drink  and  swear  a  lot, he observed , no doubt due to the hard  labour , but  also  because  of  the fact  that the  earth was  moving about them , might  collapse . --- (Peter Simon)

Friday, December 11, 2015


In 1938 the  elegant  American  band leader  and composer , Jay Whidden ,  a violin player with  the tips of   his left hand missing, came to Australia . Over the years, he had  passed himself off  as a  cowboy from Montana where his cattleman  father  had cut off  his frost bitten  finger tips  with  a  knife.  In addition, Whidden  entertained audiences with  accounts of  exciting  life in the  wild  north west-Indian raids, stampeding horses .

In  fact, he had  been born in Brooklyn in 1890 and lost his  fingertips while working with  his  father  on  the docks in New York . He got the chance to play cowboy when he entered into a bigamous marriage  and  his second partner  had a ranch in California , where Hollywood friends dropped in  from time to time .
Whidden apparently picked up the desire to play  the violin from  his father who  entertained the  family playing  Irish jigs . Early in his life, Jay teamed up with a talented young  composer  and  lyricist, Con Conrad, and  they toured  together in  ragtime vaudeville  shows  and  played  Broadway .

Going to London , they became the darlings of the West End, playing  jazz, attired in sophisticated   Saville  Row clobber . In 1934 Betty Grable was  the leading  female  vocalist in  one of   Whidden's  bands in  San  Francisco .   

Whidden  was invited to come to Melbourne   by  the  ABC  and performed at the St Kilda  Palais de Danse , broadcasted nationally over  3LO and encouraged  young talent , including the Lester Sisters , Nola , Betty and Olive. He  also performed at the Tivoli , Sydney. 

A Little  Darwin scavenger  recently  found  in Townsville  the  above  1938  piece of Australian  sheet music featuring a photo of him posing with his violin. Advertisements  on  the  back  are  for Gone With The Wind , The  Girl In The Alice Blue  Gown , songs from Snow White and  the Seven Dwarfs and the smash hit of the year and  the most played song on  air...WHERE  THE  DOG SITS  ON THE  TUCKERBOX ( five miles from Gundagai ).

Thursday, December 10, 2015


The  BBC documentary about  German Jew  Erwin  Blumenfeld, once  the highest paid  photographer in the  world, mentioned  that  he had contributed to  the lavish  French  art magazine Verve  in  the 1930s , and that  artist and sculptor Henri Matisse  had admired  his  work.  British fashion , portrait and war   photographer and interior designer  , Cecil  Beaton , impressed by  Blumenfeld's  Verve photographs,  arranged  for him to do work for French Vogue , one  famous shot showing  model Lisa  Fonssagrives  balanced on the edge of  the  Eiffel Tower , her dress swirling out  into space .
After viewing  the superb BBC  film, this blogger decided to dive into Little  Darwin's  two  early copies  of  Verve , 1938 and 1939 , bought on Magnetic Island , to  see if  they contain   examples  of  Blumenfeld's camera artistry.
Placed on a trestle table  on  the  back  verandah , the  magazines were examined page by  page  , while an impatient  Curlew  mother  waiting  for  a  feed   hissed  to  draw   attention , her fast  growing  chicks  close  by ,  awaiting  a  Continental  breakfast. 
Alas,  no  Blumenfeld  shots were  found . However,  there  were  many  beautiful women  from history  , above ,  one  being subjected to extreme violence ,  within  the  covers  in  tipped   in  lithographs  and  full  page  colour  plates and examples  of   Matisse's  paintings  and  sculptures.

An  interesting , illustrated , article  dealt with  Abraham Lincoln's favourite photographer , Mathew B. Brady, whose New York studio, The Valhalla  of  Broadway, was  the  meeting  place  of fashionable  America  from  1841 to 1860.
Brady spent  his  fortune making  a pictorial record of the Civil War  and rumbled about  the  battlefields  in  a darkroom on wheels which the enemy is said  to  have regarded  as  some kind of  new-fangled  war  machine .
Blumenfeld  went  to America and became famous for his  fabulous Vogue and Harper's Bazaar photographs of women and  fashion , dubbed  the most influential  photographer of  the  20th  Century .

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


One of  this  blog's scruffy  roaming correspondents  spotted  the  unmistakable  full  figure of  Ewen Jones ,   LNP Member for  Herbert ,  Queensland ,  hands in  trouser pockets , swirling   into  a Townsville  beauty parlour , R2 , Australian Hairdresser of the Year ,  which offers  a $150  ultimate  makeover. Our    reporter  subsequently caught a glimpse of   Jones in the horizontal , sans  specs, draped  in  black  cloth , looking  like  Star  Wars  collateral  damage.   Jones,  who  prances  about  like  an   astromech  droid with a malfunction  for the   media  during  his early morning  jogging sessions when  in  Canberra , recently  had  his  moustache , much to his wife's delight, removed  to  promote men's  health .   
Up  against  Cathy O'Toole (ALP), whose parents once ran  a chain of hairdressing  salons  ,  Jones  is  likely  to  emerge  a nude nut ( tonsorially speaking )  after  next  year's  election .


Tony Abbott  brought along a  chocolate  cake to a  Monkeypod Table  meeting and said  it  had been made by  his  landlady - his  former chief  of  staff , Peta Credlin.-News item .

The extremely agile and nimble SBS television management has shocked commercial  station carpet strollers  by signing  up  Peta Credlin for an exclusive  new cooking  series which will  kick off  in the Chinese New Year .

A  finger lickin' SBS PR told Little Darwin  Credlin will be more popular  than  chocoholic  TV  star  Nigella Lawson and  ratings will  be astronomical.

Our exclusive photograph shows Peta mixing  up  the messy ingredients for  former PM Tony Abbott's favourite cake , the Dame Nellie Melba Comeback  Sponge, with a liberal sprinkling of crushed nuts . A  feature of the prime time series will  be background  music played by  the  Monkeypod  backbench  band , below , playing  the  1812 Overture

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Going on a  recent  lively  conversation  at  an  Alice Springs Turf  Club event ,  the next election  in the Northern Territory  will  see  more  whipcracking and   billowing  bulldust  clouds  in  the  Dead Centre   than  were  seen  in   the stirring  1946  movie The  Overlanders.

The  film  starred  Chips  Rafferty ,  Daphne Campbell   and two Aboriginal stockmen , Clyde Combo and Henry Murdoch, from  Palm Island, and others  . The  British Ealing  Studios movie   told  how during  WWll  a  large  herd  of cattle, under the threat of Japanese invasion , was driven   from  Wyndham , Western Australia , right across  to    Queensland ,  shot  in  Sydney, Alice  Springs  and   the  Roper  River.  There  was  much  dust ,  cracking  of  whips  and  cattle  stampedes. 

At a special Young Guns meet  held  at the Alice race track  near  the end of  last month , it  included  bands ,  gallops  and   high  temperatures.  Some of  the  young  and   older  guns  felt  the heat  and said  more shade  should be  provided  at  the course.

Straight from the horse’s mouth, our   dehydrated man  at  the  track , who came away  with just  enough  money to  buy a  pith  helmet to protect his  pate  ,  heard   this  interesting story.  Seems  various Territory racetracks applied for a special  grant from the government  for  shade  cloth  tents  for  hot days – but  the Alice Springs Turf Club  missed  out. Why ?

According to  stable gossip,  it was  because  the club’s   chairman  is the  husband of  Robyn  Lambley , who  resigned  from the  Country Liberal Party government , where she had  variously been the Deputy Chief Minister ,Treasurer and Health  Minister,  became  an   independent and  threatened to  stand against   the Chief Minister , Adam Giles, at the next election.  In media reports , she applied the  spurs  and   riding  crop  with scathing  comments  about  the CM and   the  party’s “boys' club”.    

Before  getting  involved in  the CLP , Ms Lambley and husband  ran Mad  Harry’s retail  store, which one  would  think  should    have  helped  them   cope  with  the mad goings  on  in  the CLP government...failed coups , leasing out the port to a Chinese company, a failed attempt to remove the  Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, who  had  herself   resigned  from the  CLP , the Attorney-General  saying he would like to  slap  a  female , then announcing he is going to quit politics... another  former Health Minister  failing to  get  pre-selection...   

FOOTNOTE : As a result of The Overlanders, Chips  Rafferty went on to become a well known  film star  here and overseas .  In the case of  Daphne Campbell , this  was her first film   which led  to  possible  Hollywood tests , but  she married WWll air ace  , Sam Calder , who  was Connellan Airways  chief  pilot  in Alice Springs,  later a member of the House of Representatives, founder of  the NT Country Liberal  Party and  favoured the idea that the Territory should have nuclear  energy .