Thursday, April 30, 2015


In his well illustrated book AUSSIE-OSITIES , cartoonist , book designer , author and reviewer Vane Lindesay, examined the Australian emerging identity  before Federation in  buildings, homes, hobbies and applied art. One section dealt with  genuine, creative bookmarks and the wide range of other items from  bus and  tram tickets, confectionary  wrappers , live matchsticks   inserted in books for  that   purpose and  left  there  for  many  years . While this blogger  was searching  books  for a  certain volume , out  dropped  this circa 1930s photograph  which   had  been   used as  a  bookmark . Writing on the  back says the  well  dressed   girl is  four year old  Elvie Cox.  She  is  holding sprigs of wattle in one hand   and the paw of a  Kangaroo on a leash in the other . A blanket  forms the  background, possibly taken  by a  travelling  photographer on Wattle Day . Another interesting old photograph  from our collection is the girl below dressed as Australia in a backyard  garden .  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


As  part  of  the  campaign  to  free  East Timor  from  Indonesian  occupation , this message  was  placed   alongside  the  Darwin  Airport   in  1992. Activist  Rob Wesley-Smith  provided  the  white  powder -gypsum- for  the  lettering .  


Vallis Photograph

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


The recent  illustrated  post   about the  sample C1930s  plate  for customised crockery resulted in  another interesting serving – a  famous  Kiwi  restaurant renowned  for  its  fish  dishes .
One of  the businesses  shown on the  plate was the above  Rio Grande Cafe with  the name  Fail’s Ch. Ch.(Christchurch ) in the  centre .
George Robert  Fail (1866-1937), at the age of 15 was a  cook on the steam tug Suffolk which towed sailing boats from Dungess  at the mouth of the Thames to the east London  docks. He arrived in Christchurch in 1884  and  was registered as being the keeper of a fish shop.

Five years later he opened  a fish, game and poultry restaurant . The  Canterbury Heritage   website says  that in 1907  he and his wife, who had four sons  and five daughters , moved into the Rio Grande which was enlarged and sported “ bespoke dinner ware ” made by W.H. Grindley and Co, Tunstall, Stoke On Trent , England .  The  sample plate shown  in our  blog  is hotel ware  by Johnson  Brothers , England.

Fail and his wife lived in an apartment above the cafe . When “Pop” Fail, who had  an astronomical observatory,  died in 1937, his eldest  surviving  son  took over the business and renamed it Fail’s Cafe , the ground floor and facade of the 1870s building  remodelled  in  the art deco style . Pop Fail’s telescope was commandeered  by  the Army  in  WWll.
Famous for its fish and unique chairs, it  was  a  Christchurch institution.  New  Zealand’s  oldest seafood cafe was closed in 1980, its distinctive furniture and fittings  auctioned.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Shipping  reporter   scoops   local   media - again . 
Undergoing work involving removal of  part of  the fuselage and  concentrating on the tail  area, Townsville's  popular  Red  Baron survived  the  weekend of  military  hostilities  and will  soon be  available  for  joy flights  and epic movies.

Friday, April 24, 2015


War  on  the  cheese  front , snakes on  move
Dracula , facing  competition from Currawongs who  try and  steal  his  Dutch cheese,  stops the  traffic  by hopping onto a  car bonnet  to  check  windscreen and wipers  for   tasty  insects, watched by  Magnetic Island residents and  a cluster of Curlews, the latter regarding the pheasant looking Coucal  as an interloper .   At  times  he  and  the  Currawongs are  seen   glaring  at each other , either  side of  the plastic  container in  which  the  bite-sized  cheese  pieces are  kept  by the kind  German  Queen of  the Jungle. A  regular visitor to her  leafy abode , a Kookaburra, below, has  also joined  the  cheese  dogfight . 
Seen slithering away at speed from  the Queen's pad was  the Yellow-Bellied Tree Snake, below, which was pursued by  a lumbering blogger  trying  to keep it in camera focus  before  it disappeared down a stormwater  drain. A  nearby resident  reported   finding  a  python  curled  under  a  wheelie  bin .  My son spotted  a "black looking " snake.  



Top two photographs show women and men involved  in  British factories producing   shells  in World War l   and a  first day cover  highlighting  Australia's  World War ll effort. On  the western front, Germans  fired more than 3,000,000  shells  during  a  five  hour  bombardment. During the Ypes salient  battle it has been reported that the Germans and Allies fired a staggering  300 million projectiles.  


LONDON: The  BBC today announced that the popular TV show Top Gear  will in future be  conducted by  three  frig magnet pigs , seen here  hamming it up on an  early hotrod  bought at  a garage sale  in  Townsville, North Queensland . One of  the  playful  Pommie  porcines can be seen   acting the    part of a  mascot  on  the  radiator and could end up  with  a  crisp  pig's  whistle  if  he  does not look out .  The   most cautious    pig  is seated at the rear like a  back seat  driver  while  its  rash(er)  pal,  Porky,  is  at the wheel , revving the engine  for a  flying start . Meanwhile  sacked  Top  Gear  presenter Jeremy Clarkson  announced  he intends  to  lead a  Russian bicycle  team  in  the next  Tour de France, stopping at every café  along  the  way  for  some  tucker .               

Thursday, April 23, 2015


One  of  the  many items of  interest in the Magnetic Island History and Craft Centre  Dinkum Anzacs Exhibition is  this engraved brass  postcard , a souvenir  le guerre , Belgium,  dated 1/3/19 , sent by a  member of the  48th Battalion, AIF,  to "my dear  wife and children" , postal address : Mrs C. Andrew , 111 Vivian Street , Boulder  City. Western  Australia . The obverse is an  engraved leaf.  The postcard is just  one of many items contributed to the exhibition  by  island resident   Gary Davies . Of particular interest are the well researched  posters he made ,   using    many  postcards and other ephemera,  covering  the war  from 1914-19 , under  headings such as  : Training ; Troopships; Disembarkation ; Egypt; Gallipoli , Anzacs ; England; France ; On Leave Paris and London ; Advance Australia; Patriotism ; Away from Home ; Coming Home;  Back Home .

A separate showcase display of his  deals with the white feathers  sent  to people  who did  not  go away to  fight. Another rare item is the  October 1918 edition of the Kia Ora Cooee  magazine , official organ of the Australian and New Zealand  fighting forces in  the field .      

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


A  sample  plate  showing  potential new  customers how they could have crockery bearing   their  own  insignia , trade name . One  is for  Sydney's Hotel Metropole, much used  by Pacific travellers ;  West Australian companies shown  are  State Shipping , York Cafeteria , Albany, Soldiers Welcome Committee  and  perhaps MacRobertson  Miller Airlines ; New Zealand is represented  through the  Seddon Technical College , Auckland , and  the  Rio  Grande Café , Christchurch. South  African  companies shown are the Royal Hotel, Uitenhage , the Pretoria  Normal  College  and the Roan Antelope Copper  Mines , Zambia .   Colombo is  also  there along  with  individual  monograms .



Vallis Photographs

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015


The   spectacular exhibition ,  held in  Christchurch, population 70,000,  had  a  big impact far and wide  on the appreciation of  arts  and crafts , industrial development , architecture  and  armaments.  The   above  well  illustrated  book , 355pp, was  published  in   1908   and  is  from  the   Little Darwin  Pacifica  Collection .

A large number of the  exhibits  in  the  British art section  were  bought  by  the art galleries of  NSW, Adelaide, the  New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts , the Canterbury Society of Arts ,   Auckland City Council and  numerous private  individuals  .

Among the  arts and crafts  exhibits  purchased  were  candlesticks, panels, reliefs, a  silver and coral brooch, silver belts, stencilled prints, a  mahogany bookcase , a silver mother of pearl  bracelet and  necklace , vases, tiles,  an Irish crochet collar, lace ,smocks from six  English counties and linen made  by  crippled and  invalid women, appliqué lace , woodcuts, a wrought iron toasting fork , serviette rings , an embroidered  chamois leather bag , an illuminated page of Keats , a carpet, smocked  and  emboidered  frocks, Limerick lace , hatpins , silver mounted decanters, Ruskin Ware vases .
In the extensive British drawings, etchings ,engravings ,statuary , paintings and  miniatures  was the above self portrait of  one  of the most famous black and white artists of his  time , the late  Phil May, who in 1886-8  strongly influenced the style on the Sydney Bulletin  and  was  prominent  in the Melbourne art circle before he moved back to Britain where his  drawings and portraits   became so  popular, despite the fact that  he reportedly  described himself  as  " the most unhappiest man  in London."
There was a large naval and military section with a model of the battleship HMS Swiftsure, a War Office  exhibit, a  Palestine Exploration Fund display and meteorological  charts  and instruments . Canada , Australia  ( NSW, Victoria and South Australia ) and  Fiji (firewalkers) contributed  to  the  exhibition .
New Zealand  highlighted  its  agriculture, labour , mines, tourist and  health  resorts. A special attraction was  the Maori Pa  (village )  occupied by  Maoris making  traditional handicrafts,  growing crops such  as kumera , performing poi dances  and hakas  .  A  magnificent Maori canoe from the Waikato in the North Island  floated in  a nearby lake .
Above is  the  opening  day main entrance scene .  Nearly 2,000,000  people attended  the  exhibition  and  a  message from  the King on its closure   said the exhibition would not only  provide a permanent advantage to  New Zealand   it would strengthen  the ties which  held  the colonies to  each other , the throne  and  the  Mother  Country. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Jivey , pluckable replacement 
CANBERRA : The  Liberal Party Funk  Bunker and  KFC franchise  is  plotting to parachute  a  dancing  scrub  turkey into the Queensland federal  seat of  Herbert  to replace  lame  duck  LNP  incumbent,"I'm a fat man " Ewen  Jones . The  turkey has  a long  association  with  Townsville,  is a graduate of   James  Cook  University and has been  thrown  out of several Full Moon parties on Magnetic Island for dancing the  wild  Watusi  on  tables , spilling  drinks  and  treading in the  finger  food, causing sensitive  Irish  backpackers  to  chunder and  complain. 

A Funk Bunker  spin doctor this morning said the party  recognises  that drastic action  has  to be taken to keep the  seat in conservative  hands  and that is why the  fast footed , defrosted Number 10   turkey  has  received  the  nod . 
There are reports that   Ewen  is  shellshocked   by  the number of  high calibre  ALP members  intending  to  line  up  for  preselection   in   his  electorate...Cathy O'Toole ,  Patricia Schluter , Mark Enders .    On  top  of  that ,  Field  Marshal   Senator  Jacqui  Lambie  has expressed  the desire to  pot  Ewen  with  a  Gatling  gun  and   turn  him  into a  two-headed Tasmanian  teddy  bear for  failing to  come out  against  the Abbott Government's  cutting  of  ADF  pay and  conditions .
The embattled  pollie  is shown at the top  doing his imitation of  a knock-kneed Patagonian  Trotting  Duck with a wonky wing  and , below,  the Dance of  the  Burdekin  Sugar Plum  Fairies.These astounding  photographs appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald , taken  in  Canberra the morning  of  the  spill  against  PM  Abbott  which  saw  vice-regal  Tony  goosed.    

Friday, April 17, 2015


Ruhleben showing racetrack with horseboxes behind the grandstand . 
A rare find  in South Australia  by  this  blog  is  a  bound  in volume of magazines  produced  by inmates of  the  civilian    internment  camp ,  Ruhleben , west of  Berlin .  Although   intended  for  English  civilians , it   also  held   Australians,   Canadians,  French,  Irish,  South Africans,  Russians  and  Spaniards .  Some were  honeymooners,  others had been studying in Germany and some were   off  ships caught  in port  at the outbreak of  war . The  camp , on an old racetrack ,  included  a  casino  and   was  largely   run   by   the   4000 -5500  internees  .  The  inmates   had  their  own   police  force,  printing   works ,  operated   several  shops  and  ran  a  university   and  a  school  which  had  75  classes  and  more  than  1000  pupils  who   were  given instruction in  languages, literature , philosophy,  engineering, mathematics   and  commercial   subjects.
They  built  their  own  cinema, had   a  large  theatrical society  which staged regular plays  and an  orchestra.   The  captain of  one  of  the  camp’s   tug-o-war-teams   did   a  roaring  trade   selling  genuine   English  toffee.  In  stores  run by the  internees  you could buy  butter, margarine, cheese, ham, eggs,  vegetables ,pickles, bacon,  Californian   fruits  and  breakfast cereals .  There was a Japanese  laundry  which   promised  to   take particular   care of silks   and other  delicate material, a  Russian   tailor, a  carpet maker,  a raspberry  wine and    lemonade  stand,  several  shoe  blacks,  an exchange market, a  watchmaker, a  man who darned  socks and  several  enterprising   domestics  who   ironed  and    starched  washing.
Note  the  stores  are   located in  fashionable Bond Street .
Growing   lads  in  the  need    of extra   nutrition received   a  daily eggnog. There  was   even a  service   which  did   the shopping   for  inmates  so that goods   were delivered  in   time  for  lunch and tea.  In this  way  it did away  with the need   to  join long  queues  in  cold  or hot weather.   And  in  a  camp  with a preponderance of men ,    the  camp  commander’s wife,  a  baroness, presented   prizes  at   the  annual sports, to  the  accompaniment  of  hearty  clapping  and   subdued   wolf  whistles.

If  it  all  sounds   too  good to be true, there  was  a  drawback-many of the   internees  lived in  cramped    horseboxes , each holding  six  men ; the horse lofts held  200 .  Even  so,   carpenters  could be hired  to  make  the   boxes " more   like  home " with  curtains   and windows.  The accounts of  all  the   communal  enterprises   were  checked  by auditors arranged   through  the   American  Embassy  in  Berlin.
Drawing of   a  converted horsebox .
Run along  democrat  lines,   there  were  frequent   mass  meetings to discuss   camp  developments.    Discontent  over how money was spent once  led  to a  strike. Letters were written to   the  camp   magazine  claiming  that   the people running   the  place   through  various   committees  and societies   were   becoming   autocratic  tyrants. 

A  letter writer   complained   about   the  arty  farty  section  of   the   prisoners , described as  long-haired   devils ”,  who  wanted  to  flood the camp   with Ibsen and  Shakespeare ,  when   most   were   sighing  for  the  light- hearted    musical   Charlie’s Aunt ” .  The  camp   erupted into   heated  argument  when   there was a move   to  get  the   British  government   to sanction  a   medal or  badge for   Ruhleben   prisoners.   An  Anti  Medal  meeting said  such  an act   would divert  money and metal   from  the war effort  .   A   campaign  was  then   run  to  raise funds   for  a   Ruhleben   Bed  in  a  British  Red Cross   hospital.
With   its   printing  press,  the camp  produced   posters  , a  football  guide , postcards  and a  special  Christmas   edition  of the  camp  magazine.  When  it  came   to   football  matches ,  Australians  were  included  in  a  team  designated    Scots-The Colonies.  An   Australian  mentioned by  name  was   Gordon  Short , a   gifted  pianist  from  Melbourne, a  member  of  the   Musical  Society .  A   violinist, Leslie Harris, could also have been  an  Australian but  it was not  absolutely clear  this  was  the case.   Both  musicians probably  appeared in a   full  page cartoon about  the  musical group.     The  camp’s  reference   library   was  run by  Dr  Ettinghausen  who  donated  many  of his  books  to  the   collection .    Talks  on  Chinese   beliefs   and  superstitions   were  given   by   Mr  Pogson.
After  the  cinema   opened  for the  first  time  ,  people  wrote to  the camp magazine  with  ideas for other   desirable amenities.     An  article    headed  Towards  a  Complete  Concentration Camp   suggested    a  handsome   billiard room   with  three  Continental  tables ,   an  English up  to date   roller skating rink  , an Oriental  dancing hall,   a Turkish bath,  a wintergarden   with a  few palms and  attractive    waitresses ,  a  soda  fountain , a deer park,  a night club and  a branch of   Madam Tussaud’s   would  be   nice additions            

And  no  concentration  camp  should  be  without  its  own opium den.  Recent  developments,  wrote  another, made an  inebriates’  home an absolute   essential  . On wintry  days ,  the  bleak  area in   front of  the casino  was  known as  the Esplanade  Les   Anglais.     When     heavy   rain  fell ,  huge pools   formed about the camp and  caused   debates  about   whether  Germany or   England   had  the worst   climate in  the  world.  
Through   the   pages  of  the camp  magazine , a  mock  bye-election   was    run  in  l915.   Beer,  champagne   and   members  of  the  fair sex were offered as  inducements  to  eager  voters.    A    member of  the   Liberal  Suffragettes’ Party   was  one  of  three  candidates  standing for election  and  attracted  much  support.  However,  a  telegram   purporting  to  be  from    the British  Wives and   Sweethearts’  League,   London,  warned  that  if  any of   their men  voted  for the  Liberal  Suffragettes’  candidate   immediate   divorce  proceedings   would   be   instituted  and   pocket money  and    food parcels  stopped.  As it turned out, the Suffragette  won  with  1220 votes  . 
A  cartoon  in   the magazine   suggested     the  ideal  “retreat” for  the liberated  but “henpecked”  Ruhlebenite .    It showed  a   man  resting   inside a   barb-wire  topped  cage,  reading  the  paper,   Scotch and  soda  nearby,  with  his wife on  the  outside. 

It  was   suggested  inmates  writing home   for  food    parcels   should send a  sketch of  themselves   showing  them   “pinched  and   haggard ”,  a practice which    resulted    in  a “bumper hamper ” every  time . Ruhleben boasted a large  vegetable  garden  and  received seeds from  the  Royal Horticultural Society  in  Britain , some of  the produce   displayed  in the  photograph  below.

The last edition is dated  1917 .  It  seems  inconceivable  that  this self run camp was  being conducted on  gentlemanly lines while the  world  was  tearing itself  apart outside. ---- (Peter Simon ) 

Thursday, April 16, 2015


As part of the Townsville CBD redevelopment, the old Cat and Fiddle Arcade has been demolished . Our pic taken this week showing  work  underway on  the site , Castle Hill in background , left. 


The latest Northern Territory  Geneological Society newsletter mentions the  University of New South Wales Global Irish Study Centre recently launched   an Irish Anzacs Database which aims to produce a comprehensive record of  every  Irish born soldier or nurse who served in  the AIF during World War One. 
The database is the result of an in-depth research project that identified almost 7400 Irish born enlistments from the National Archives of Australia’s service records as well as  the Australian War Memorial's  Roll of Honour and Red Cross documents.  Further sources and information will follow.  Hosted  by the University’s FASS Repository ,  the site slows you to filter results by birthplace county, town, enlistment date, record type, enlistment type and date, religion, award and even their fate. Below is the link---