Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Being odd scraps of  knowledge, snippets and slogans , half absorbed pieces of information , updates , clarifications.
Queensland  Holocaust  Base
Historian   Inga  Clendinnen stated that much of her 1998  book Reading the Holocaust  had been written on a small island off the coast of North Queensland , remote from metropolitan libraries . That place is Magnetic Island  which turns up  a surprising number of interesting books and pieces of ephemera , including  volumes which appear to have once belonged to her, a copy  of  Holocaust, for instance. One wonders  if a small volume about concentration camps and another  about the Berlin Wall also  came  from  the same source .Who else would have an  interest  in such things on the island ?

Bowditch / Murdoch
Many incorrect statements were made after the death of  Northern Territory crusading editor Jim Bowditch whose serialised biography appeared in this blog. One  commentator who had a close relationship with Big Jim made particularly  incorrect  statements specifically saying that Rupert Murdoch had sacked him and that had broken Jim's heart, causing him to die soon after . Wrong on all  counts  . Bowditch  was  kept on by Murdoch as a  special correspondent  and lived  in a  News house until destroyed by Cyclone Tracy and  time  and continued working for years , in television as  well . Journalist  Kim Lockwood, if I remember correctly , noted something  like 11 incorrect statements  about  Bowditch .
Bowditch , right , with  former  NT News photographer, at  that stage  one armed Joe Karlhuber , at the Darwin University launch of  Jim's book Whispers from the North.Photo  by  Barry  Ledwidge . 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015



Dame  Mary Gilmore, one of the two contributors to  this sheet music ,  was  a  proud and  fierce  Australian  whose   adventurous life  included  strong involvement in labour organisations ,  time  in  the  New Australia  settlement  in  Paraguay in the  1890s where she married a Victorian shearer , writing poetry  for The Bulletin  and  editing for  more than two decades  the Women's Page  of  the Sydney Worker campaigning for the welfare  of  the young, old , sick and  helpless during which she   frequently expressed  disgust at  privilege  and corruption in high places .

After the fall of Singapore  to the Japanese , Dame Mary, who now appears  with "Banjo" Paterson on the $10 note , wrote a defiant  poem No Foe Shall Gather  Our  Harvest ,which appeared in the Australian Women's Weekly.

In 1952, nearly 90, she  wrote to  a   Darwin  newspaper recalling how she and a baby brother  had accompanied her father and mother on an epic trip in a two horse  spring cart  from Sydney   to Brisbane , into the Northern Territory , Arnhem Land  and back via Ayers Rock, Lake Eyre , Mount Gambier and Melbourne  to  Sydney .

She  added  that  she admired the work of Bill  Harney for Aborigines and recalled that  when she was a teacher at a school  in Neutral  Bay, Sydney, she had taught Jessie Litchfield, Darwin  journalist , editor  and author , who financially backed  historian  Glenville Pike  to   launch  the  North Australian Monthly,for which she also wrote .
Dame Mary, in black , is seated with Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira .To his  right  is ALP  identity  Dr  H. V. Evatt and  author Frank Clune's wife, Thelma  .  National Library of Australia  photograph.
Joan  Mackaness , a soprano ,who wrote the lyrics for the other  song, was the daughter of  George Mackaness, a leading literary identity and massive Australian book collector who  mixed with  Dame Mary Gilmore . Marjorie  Hesse,a prominent pianist, lectured at the NSW Conservatorium of Music .

The sheet music , in the Little Darwin Collection ,once belonged  to prominent  Adelaide baritone  Ansbert  Campbel l , said  to possess a  beautiful operatic voice , active in the l930s , who took part in WW11  fund raising  concerts , Christmas Carols  and  judged  amateur shows . 

Monday, September 28, 2015


Inside the Big Picture mind of humble Spanish  labourer Salvador Torrents ,with an insatiable  thirst for knowledge, who came to Australia in 1915 and  tilted against  numerous  injustices and  oppression  in many forms. 
Proudly declaring  the above  product  is   manufactured in Queensland by Queenslanders , this Queensland  Exercise Book , one of  a number kept  by  Torrents , is crammed   with  cuttings  dealing with religion and  politics .There  are  other  similar  ones   containing   cuttings ,  items    from overseas  and local  newspapers , in three languages , dealing with  a diverse range of subjects  such  as global  atrocities , injustices , racial discrimination  in  Australia , the  first eight hour day in Victoria,Japanese aggression against China,war debts, disarmament and  the Tolpuddle Martys who were transported from England to Australia in 1834 for unlawfully administering oaths of loyalty  to a union which they had  formed . 

An unexpected  snippet  is  about  a  former  ALP  Queensland  Premier and  Federal Treasurer, "Red Ted " Theodore , his reputation  sullied by the  Mungana Copper   Mine  Affair  ,  catching a  record sized  marlin  off  Sydney .

Theodore, founder of the Australian Workers' Association , later the AWU , was involved in goldmining ventures in Fiji   with  Frank Packer , became chairman of directors  of  Packer's Australian Consolidated Press ; his son , John,  also worked for  Packer , became the first managing director of Channel  9.
In Spanish , there is a handwritten  book of   poems by  Torrents  ,  an account of his trip to Australia, romantic  short stories. His  scorn of  religion is a striking feature .
His many books in   Special Collections  at the   James Cook  University Eddie Koiki Mabo Library  ,Townsville,  include an account of the failed 1890s  utopian settlement set up  by followers of  Brisbane journalist  William Lane  in Paraguay .  There are  several novels by crusading American socialist  Upton Sinclair who exposed the excesses and injustices of the  capitalist   system , the plight of the poor ,  the  muckracking  of  American yellow journalism  and  limitations of  the press .

Titles include  four bound in volumes of  the  1925-l934 Encyclopedie Anarchiste,  edited  by Sebastien Faure ,dedicated to all those who, braving privations, slander and persecution ,work wherever they might be  in order to ensure and hasten the coming of an anarchistic society :  Neither gods nor masters ;  Spain in Revolt , The American Testament. A flick through a scrapbook reveals  a  1950  advertisement   featuring  a  worker under the  heading THE AUSTRALIA I KNEW , which appeared  in The Worker .

For something entirely different , there  is  the  early eye catching photograph below of men  with   huge  snakes   from   the  North  Queensland  rainforest.

A   letter from a  person in Coolangatta , Queensland , is full of fascinating    personal information  about  strikes  in North Queensland's  sugar and  timber industries   during   the  period from  the 1920s   to  1930s.

The  fierce  1932   "riot"  of unemployed  at  Parramatta Park  , Cairns ,  is  mentioned  along with  the crusading communist  lawyer  Fred Paterson  , later  elected to the Queensland  parliament , who defended  men charged over the   affair . Years later , the writer of  the letter  gave communist  author  Frank Hardy  "some material "  relating to  the Parramatta Park  episode  for a book  and arranged to meet Hardy in  Cairns . ( See Hardy's The  Loser Now Will  Be Later To Win and chapter headed They Eat Their Babies in Russia...a  key figure in the Cairns battle  , beaten up by police  , went to Darwin , was involved in  fiery union  matters  there  and author Xavier Herbert  worked  with  him .)

There is criticism in the letter  of  the AWU ,with  the claim  that the  Colonial Sugar Refinery and the union recruited  200 men  from the Northern Rivers  to crush  and victimise  canecutters   involved  in  a  strike.

 The  1934 strike by canecutters   in Ingham over the threat of wiel's disease from rats is covered . During construction of a road from Innisfail  to the Atherton Tablelands in 1933, some unemployed who had been carrying swags for years, were  engaged  and there was  a strike   when the foreman sacked a man whose horse, used to drag logs away , had broken into  his  tent . The foreman agreed  to reinstate the men , but not the horse . The men refused  to accept the ruling  and , according to the letter , the job was closed  down . 
Torrents, undoubtedly, was aware of  many  of  these events and in all probability  knew  many of the men  involved . His  newspaper cuttings  cover  strikes, disparaging references to men as "Dagoes" and  communist   troublemakers . Delve  further into the Torrents archive and  another  of  his apparent early  Northern Territory photographs , below, surfaces . 

NEXT : Involvement with  the  family who built the Spanish castle at   Paronella Park, a prominent  Chinese  family in  Innisfail  and  a cyclone .

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Being arrested outside the  Darwin Indonesian  Consulate  in 1999  is longtime  East Timor supporter  Rob Wesley-Smith  who recently  raised the  plight of  West Papua at a Freedom Forum in the Northern Territory capital. In a talk he outlined the takeover of both countries by Indonesia and developments , with statistics of  deaths , more  than 200,000 in East Timor , a claimed 500,000 plus  in  West Papua . On  Radio National late one  night months ago  several callers made sensational claims  about  events inside West Papua  including misuse of  aid   by a  member of  an official's family  and  a fight among Indonesian troops  in a café  in which  bullet holes  were   covered  and  the matter  hushed  up. The Australian media  apparently did not think  this worthy of  follow up or turned  a deaf ear, preferring  the  mindless Kardashian  handbag  beat, sport and more sport, celebrities , crackers up the clacker . It would be nice if Foreign Minister Julie Bishop buttonholed Indonesia about the situation in West Papua .


Ants are coming out of the computer ,blood pressure going up and down like a yoyo, recovering  from a severe reaction to an antibiotic which  made me look like a leper,now  two Curlews  have hatched , days  late . Last night there was much screeching  outside , so feeling as if I was whirling through space  in Dr Who's telephone box, stumbled out to investigate : could not see any cause for the disturbance  , no murderous Barking  Owl, cat  or   dog.  Is  there a  doctor in  the  house ?  Will  go to bed with a club  and  torch  so  that I can leap up  at any hour of the night   to  clobber anything   which  threatens the  chicks . Apart from losing the two earlier  chicks , several people  have reported  that  young  Curlews  hatched  on  their  selections   have  disappeared  or  died , it being a bad year for them .

Friday, September 25, 2015



Surveying his favourite  purple toys, Larry the Talking  and Cussing Lorikeet ,experiencing some more shore leave , ready to do some heavy honey drinking  and  yoghurt slurping at the Queen of the Jungle's residence .  

Thursday, September 24, 2015


 Spanish Civil War Comes to Australia

From  a  cane farm  at  Mena Creek ,  near Innisfail , anarchist  Salvador Torrents  campaigned  against   fascism   in  his homeland during the  brutal Spanish Civil  War which raged from 1936-39. From one of  his wide ranging  scrapbooks  in the   Torrents  archive  at   James Cook University  Library  Special Collections , Townsville ,  is  part  of  a unique, emotive , faded  leaflet  that  circulated in the north  highlighting  the  danger to  the world. 
It is not known if Torrents,president of the Innisfail Spanish Relief Committee , a widely read , self educated man ,wrote the  text , although  he contributed  to overseas  anarchist  publications  and Australian newspapers . In  summary, the leaflet  called  on Australians as lovers of freedom and democracy  to help  the  Spanish people during the conflict which saw the Republican government supported by the Comintern and other left wing and anarchist groups overthrown by General Franco , aided by fascists, Hitler and Mussolini , and other right  wing  groups . 

Printed by  the Innisfail Advocate , it described fascists  as "the most horrible  of prehistoric beasts," who had risen up  against Spanish  Republicans,  long oppressed by the ruling class and the church , who had legally  won many seats in municipal elections.    It  went on to say that  in Germany, Italy , Portugal and Spain anybody  who dared show humanitarian  feelings ended up in a cemetery or  gaol . It  asked  readers to consider if it was better to have fascist governments who would continue the methods of  the 15th century Catholic Spanish Inquisitor-General ,Tomas de  Torquemada , and  Nero, or the system of  democracy, liberty , freedom and  justice    

Torrents corresponded  with influential  Australian writers Nettie and Vance Palmer , closely involved in the Spanish Civil War, a  daughter , Aileen , serving with the British medical unit and medical service of the International Brigade in Spain 1936-38. A prolific writer, Nettie Palmer moved in international writing circles in the l930s and became deeply involved  with refugees  and immigrants, especially during the bloody  Spanish war. She wrote two pamphlets Spanish Struggle (1936) and Australians in Spain (1938).
Interesting correspondence between Torrents  and the Palmers is  stored in the National Library of Australia and  Special Collections , James Cook Library. One Townsville letter , apparently written in July 1947,   from Nettie Palmer to  Torrents,   reveals  the close relationship  between   the  two , covering  a host of subjects ...Spain, the plight of Jews in North Africa, the Palestinian situation,Saudi Arabia ,Syria  and  concerns about  her daughter, Aileen .

1940s American  anti fascist publication Cultura Proletaria  in Special Collections, Townsville, mentions  New Zealand . Copies were banned and  seized  by the Commonwealth Investigation Branch . Torrents  and  others , including Italians in North Queensland  , were  investigated , Salvador's mail censored as  revealed  below .  

 Handwritten, the letter  from Nettie Palmer  opens with her saying she had just been reading an article in "your Cultura Proletaria "(  to  which which Torrents contributed ), by the brilliant Angel Sanblancat, an anarchist, novelist , journalist, which was  so  original her ordinary Spanish  dictionary could not help...And his phrases!

"When he calls the flag of England  the 'Union Jack the Ripper ' I can gather the meaning ; but when he invents something based on a Turkish idea,or an Italian proverb ,I can only guess." In  thanking  Torrents for ordering the office in New York to send her Cultura Proletaria, she went on to say she would like to talk it over with him. 

This year, she confided ,she did not look like being able  to visit Queensland  (the  Palmers journeyed to    Green Island, near Cairns , from time to time ) because  of a great number of unusual  difficulties  and responsibilities. One reason being the health of her father's sister , on her "last dreamy  time to be peaceful."

Their real anxiety, however, "don't mention to anyone ", was the condition of Aileen who had been in hospital  for some months.Her difficult years in Spain and London  during the German  blitz had  put a great strain on her . She had only been 21 when she went to Spain  for two years and had been Involved in  the retreat with wounded in 1938.
Nettie Palmer expressed concern for all those young people who had been attacked and  crushed by the  forces of  darkness . Aileen, like "many young  resisters of her generation", had refused to  join the abortive onslaught. "Surely there has never been so many crusaders ,in the best sense ," she added."It has not made their lives easy in the years that followed."

In another part , she said she had not forgotten Salvador's  kindness , friendship and passion   for liberty. Both she  and  Vance were  writing  a good deal,  and she asked if Salvador had read  Vance's  short novel  about   the  Cairns  cyclone and  his  play, Hail Tomorrow. Nettie had nearly completed  a manuscript based on her journal ,1925-1939.The letter signed off " with warm thoughts." 

NEXT: A miscellany of  interesting items from  Salvador's  scrapbooks,  library, letters  and  photographs.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Top  End photographers, Beat   Erismann , left, and  Barry Ledwidge , were present when  the massive  Cyclone Tracy smashed  Darwin on  Christmas  Eve 1974 and their record of the event is captured in the booklet below .
In the case of  Ledwidge ,68, he has  had many rare adventures  , some  hair raising  and  shaving experiences,  in  his career . One such memorable occasion was  the time as a 17 -year- old photographic cadet at the Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser,  he sat in a  darkened room  in a motel and watched in wonderment the Moon walk  with the editor , Geoff Dixon,  the man destined to become the Qantas chief.   Dixon   later  sent  Barry  to Darwin  with  the Australian News  and  Information Bureau  where  Bazza   became a  famous newspaper  reporter, celebrity , rock sitter ,  official photographer at Charles Darwin University  for 22 years .

Beat, 62, worked at  the Northern Territory News at the time of Cyclone Tracy and became a TV cameraman  freelancing  for Swiss television  for  25 years . He and Bazza have had a long and colourful  relationship.

One of the many unusual shots in the brochure shows Ledwidge sitting on a toilet seat in a ruined building photographing Prime Minister Gough Whitlam holding an open air  press conference .The two photographers are shown celebrating New Year's Eve in the wrecked city  after the  cyclone . The  dramatic  photographs present  a unique view  of  the  natural  disaster .  
 More of Barry's camera  magic is displayed in this booklet produced in connection with an exhibition at the Northern Centre  for Contemporary Art, Darwin .The cover photo is  of Vivienne Paspaley, matriarch of  Paspaley Pearls.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


A gun-toting buffalo shooter , his hat over the end of his rifle, was present when the first talkie  was screened in The Star Theatre , Darwin , captioned 24/5/1933,the  film strangely penned : As The Clouds Roll By ,which seems wrong .  Some members of the audience covered  their faces,  fearful  of losing part of their  being  when  photographed. It is believed  the audience included a party from the  Aboriginal   Kahlin   Compound  where  author Xavier Herbert and  partner Sadie spent time . During one night at the  Don Pictures ,about 1924,  an angry man whipped out a Colt Peacemaker and fired a shot at  a  theatregoer, missed , killed a Chinaman . Author   Glenville Pike , in his early book   Frontier Territory , wrote  the  jury  returned  a  verdict  of  accidental  death .Pike also mentioned an episode in which a police officer fired a revolver shot into  the Administrator's flagpole for a bet .

Hollywood Duck Shooter Hits Darwin
Jory poster with duck hunting  party .

Another major screening in  Darwin in  which  the theatre took on an Oriental look.


Book collecting  produces many  surprises . One such  unexpected delight  jumped out  at me when opening   the  book , 1901 Australian Life  at Federation  An  Illustrated Chronicle  , edited by Aedeen Cremin , UNSW Press , formerly owned by a prominent  marine archaeologist , bought  at  the  Magnetic Island annual  bookfest.
There in front of me  was  the above striking frontispiece , the  cover of  the   official  Sydney programme  for  the inaugural celebrations  marking the formation  of  the Commonwealth  of   Australian.
In New Zealand  I was once  given  the scrapbook of Australia's " clean bohemian," the British sculptor Nelson  Illingworth, who did much to promote art on both sides of the Tasman  and sculpted a life sized "Father of  Federation ", Sir Joseph Parkes ,  and the bust of  the nation's first Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun. His scrapbook included the programme and it is felt he had a  hand  in  the  celebrations.
Other subjects of interest in the book are coverage of  Darwin's Fannie Bay Gaol and government house  , goldmining towns in Queensland , race relations(including Chinese in Darwin  and Japanese  in Broome ), the Boer War, Aborigines , riding on the sheep's back, the opening of parliament,coal and steel  and  even  a  Chinese mining company .   

Friday, September 18, 2015


Odd musical instrument made from  bamboo clump washed up on Magnetic Island by bespoke builder Terry Gaffney , a veteran drummer  in a Townsville band , Midlife Crisis ,  and former high ranking civil  official in the prawn  town  of  Karumba , in the Gulf country . He and  wife  Lauris have transformed  this 1930s built cottage  into a most attractive abode . 

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Exclusive Little Darwin  photograph  of  a charming infant dumped by a  runaway mother  with  a  heartrending  note  on  the doorstep of  parliament house. Her  tragic, tear stained  message  says her  lovechild   is  named  Malcolm Meerkat , and she would like to see him baptised in the historic Ebenezer Uniting Church , on the Hawkesbury River , near Sydney,  and  circumcised  with  the  claw of  a  yabbie  by  Annabel  Crabb .  

Wrapped  in the basket with the  babe was an autographed  Tom Hughes cricket bat used  to  drive anti Vietnam War protestors off his lawn when he was attorney general . Canberra insiders predict this bat will be needed to defend  young Malcolm from the  nasty right  wing  jackals  who will  be after  his  guts . 
Another exclusive snap is believed  to be Malcolm's parents in a passionate embrace before they were attacked  by scrawny necked  media vultures and separated  forever .

Meanwhile , in  the  much anticipated love in  at  Adelaide Zoo , the city of churches  has been placed in instant  lockdown after  the male Panda Bear  escaped  through  a  window of  opportunity in the  love nest  cage .The randy Panda is now chasing anything  in skirts  in the city and was last seen lumbering up  Hindley Street  heading  for  the smelly  pie floater cart.

Honey Bait
 Brave Christopher Pyne, decked out like a female Panda ,  has volunteered  to play seductive  tunes on his  bamboo flute and lure the lusty Panda back to  the  zoo  like the Pied  Piper of  Hamelin. The recently dethroned  Speaker  of  the House of Representatives, Bronwyn Bishop , linked  to  another Canberra  political  lovechild  , George Dubya Abbott , has  told  Pyne  she  would  be only too happy to clutch the latest  lovechild  to her ample bossom and  teach him  the art of politics  and how to play Monopoly, present him with a stuffed  Panda .


Vale   Graham  Rees: Tribute  by Peter Simon 

Working as the volunteer  editor of  Citation , journal of   the Northern Territory Police Museum and  Historical Society in  Darwin  brought  me  into  contact   with   Graham Rees , highly efficient  and  jovial  secretary of  the Retired Police Association of the Northern Territory.

We operated from the same building  and over the years  had  many diverse discussions, especially  at  morning  tea. At some stage  he  mentioned he had  once dressed up as  the Fairy Godmother  for a  fund raiser... and  dropped the teaser that I might find   a photograph of  him decked  out in  pink as that  dear old lady... knowing that  I  spent  many  hours   going  through  the fabulous museum  files  and  other  archives about  town . The idea of finding a former traffic cop  dressed as the Fairy Godmother spurred me  on.

Naturally , from time to time , I addressed  him as The Fairy Godmother when I spent so much time  in the museum , surrounded  by filing cabinets, spears, exhibitions from famous  court   cases   , a  storage room  packed with items of interest, including handmade  weapons  made in  East Timor ,into which I burrowed .  A  scribe's  veritable  paradise I so felt .
Arriving   one morning  at the  museum , I parked the  car outside , noticed  men running about,  walked up the stairs, saw  some dodgy looking character  sitting outside on the porch , went inside . Graham Rees  informed me  we were in the middle of  a pretend  siege  .  Yelling , thumping  was  heard  . A bang ...
The Fairy Godmother walked in and laughingly announced they  had just blown up my car .  Never in  all the  fairytale  versions of  the  Fairy  Godmother had she  made a  funnier statement ...which required another cuppa  and some more Scotch fingers , bought by Saus Grant,  another   dear departed  cop, in bulk at Woolworths.
 Graham also produced a newsletter for retired police officers and we exchanged notes. He  was  interested in books , and we  discussed  some of the notorious cops and politicians in  New South Wales , where he had  started his police  career , Tennant Creek, where he and his wife had lived , Big Jim Bowditch , the crusading editor  of  the Northern Territory News,  and many colourful  long gone officers.
When I moved away from the  Territory to Magnetic Island we continued contact  by phone and email . At times he rebuked me for bad spelling , and  dubbed  me Captain Curlew because of all  the items I wrote about  the birds .
Graham  rang  and told me he  had a short time to live due to liver cancer .  Recently, I thought I should ring  Graham and ask him to  grace the island   with a  visit in a Fairy Godmother  outfit and represent the tough cops of the NT  in a jitterbugging contest, which  would surely have  knocked  the socks  offa  the  locals.   I failed to do so...and then came word from Darwin that he  had died. As I write this, Curlews have started wailing outside-Captain Curlew feels that self same  sorrow.  

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Smoke from raging  bushfire  blankets agronomist Rob Wesley-Smith's property at Howard Springs .The  fire swept  through  the back of his  rural block   but  did not  engulf the  house  and  cargo container  with  its invaluable East Timor  and  NT Civil Liberties  files , extensive array of protest T-shirts .
During the Wet , a swamp , now bone dry , forms at  the back of the property and Wes, above, developed a special  corner  post  arrangement ,which  enables  wire strands  to  be quickly  adjusted   to  limit  flood damage  to fencing , which  he says could be applicable  in  many parts of  Australia   where  flooding   occurs. Wes describes this shadecloth lined fence destroyed by fire as his crocodile and toad barrier.Wes was down south,shivering, getting about in a new pair of Ugg boots when  the  fire hit.
Not the  Middle East , another fierce fire in suburb of  Marrara.
From Sky Tower  in Darwin CBD, view out  to  tinder  dry suburbs  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


A  move is afoot in Darwin to start a new political party, possibly called ONE TERRITORY  PARTY. A  key figure  in  the group is said to be  former president of  the  Country Liberal  Party who left  in disgust .   The  current  basket case  Adam  Giles  Government  is a  tattered  minority  outfit    hanging  on  by  a piece of dessicated  speargrass , the situation   worsened  by Speaker of   the  Legislative Assembly , Kezia Purick , who threatened  to apply a  round rubber castration  ring  on the now Defence Minister Kevin  Andrews , likely to  be sunk  by a Liberal midget submarine in the near future , got so fed up she recently  resigned from  the party . People   from the two main parties, and others , hosed off by the way the NT Government  lurches  from one  disaster to another , are actively signing up people at markets  and  running petitions  against  such things as fracking;  a novel petition asked  residents  if   they  think  politicians should be   tested for drugs . 
It  is hoped  to  contest  both  the  Senate and House of  Representatives.  


Soon after  the death of the second Curlew  chick, the parents began to show signs yet again of  turning broody, resuming the relentless , wondrous  cycle of life . They got about together, made   familiar  clucking sounds , tossed leaves  and  twigs  about , became very territorial . Late  each afternoon   they dashed   from the   backyard , down the side  path and  chased off  the property  the  at  times up to  15 opportunistic  other  Curlews  hopeful of  getting a  feed , which they sometimes  do  in a  scrum of  balletic leaping, fully extended wings and screeching . 
However, a slim  bird, who may have been from an earlier clutch , suddenly appeared  on  the back verandah , seeking a  feed in the afternoon.  The male from the  nesting  would chase it  away. Still it  persisted  and  came back  for  tucker , chased  about  the  yard  until   forced  to fly away .
One  day-there it was...another  egg, bigger than  any seen before , like a bantam's. As we once had some loveable Bantams, with names like Blondie  and Little One,  in Saddleworth, South Australia, that used  to nest at night in an apple tree  away from foxes ,  the egg  brought back memories. Then  another  large egg . From time to time the female  bird  took   time off  sitting on the  eggs to  join  the male  chase  the  other  birds  away down  the front .
The male also began to come to the back door  early in the morning to be fed . During the day he would stay near the  female on the eggs , drop  flat when you went near , and  hiss if  you came close. 

 Sunbirds started  to  appear in  numbers, sucking  nectar from  flowers .  Currawongs  came out  in force  , stealing  Curlew  food , dive bombing them , in turn  being  chased by angry , defensive,  much smaller birds .

Monday, September 7, 2015


A special documentary to  mark  half a century of counting and protecting  Torres Strait Imperial Pigeons on the Brook Islands, north-east of Hinchinbrook Island , North Queensland, especially  the work of  Margaret and  Arthur  Thorsborne , has  been screened  at  Cardwell. Margaret Thorsborne AO, naturalist , conservationist and environmentalist, was  present  at  the event  which was attended  by many people   involved in the  count  over  the  years . 
 Decorated  with  pigeons in flight  , this  envelope contained  a letter from  Margaret Thorsborne  to Tania Schuett on Magnetic Island , on whose property  the  birds were raised and  studied . A  Little Darwin  continuing series  on  the  Thorsbornes  and   their supporters  is  underway .

Sunday, September 6, 2015


Seen  relentlessly  searching  for   books  relating to Napoleon  at  the annual  Magnetic Island bookfest   was Australian bushranger  researcher   and  filmmaker, Gary  Hunn . Why Napoleon ?  Hunn  is a fan of  Bonaparte  and  twice visited  the Napoleon  Exhibition in Melbourne .  This   envious  blogger  was  only  able to  snaffle  one  Napoleonic book from  the clutches of  Hunn  , Britain Against  Napoleon , by  Carola Oman , Faber and Faber, London , 1942, 372pp.  It contains the bookplate of  St Patrick's Catholic College, Manly, Sydney , and  the ex libris  sticker of  B.J.McGrath  B.A., B.Science, 1959.

It seems McGrath was  a legal eagle  who  in  the  early 1930s  with   O.J.O'Sullivan , LL.B., presented Sydney University with   a copy of their  joint work ,The Laws of the Commonwealth of  Australia , as a  special prize for  proficiency  in political science .

 A member of the Australian Catholic History Society , McGrath  opened  the 1953 year  there  with a   talk  on   Charles   Badham  and  William  Bede Dalley.
Badham  (1813-1884), born England , a professor of classics, came to Sydney University  where as dean of the faculties of  Arts  and Law one of his students was Edmund Barton , Australia's first prime minister ,1901-1903. An industrious person, Badham contributed much to the colonial education system and development  of  libraries .
It seems Dalley (1831-1888) , son of convict parents  , a politician and barrister, the first Australian  appointed to the Privy Council in the UK , was  a  friend  of Badham's , and   a  leading  lay  representative  and  champion of  the Catholic community until  he  married  an  Anglican  who died of  typhoid .  
A point of interest  for  Gary Hunn's  bushranger  research is that  Dalley  supported the petition  for Frank Gardiner who went into exile (more later ). He also defended Henry James O'Farrell who attempted to assassinate Prince Alfred . The  plea of  insanity was rejected and he was  hanged .
The Britain Against Napoleon book contains much underlining and margin notes in pencil , some highlighting of  text  in yellow . Whoever was responsible , possibly two people, one  was  obviously  well  versed   in  the subject, inserting  dates , additional   information  about  key  players  and  events. One of the six volumes  Gary bought at the bookfest was about the uniforms of Napoleon's guards ; in his existing library  is  a  book on the Little Corporal's  marshals. He enthusiastically  tells how  the adventurous French  explorers took back 6000 specimens  from  colonial Australia, including  black swans  and  gumtrees. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015


A   freshly baked / frozen  news scoop

When it comes to  breadmaking  , the  two  major chains , Coles  and Woolworths , are a crumby  lot.  Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett  sparked an ACCC  inquiry  when he discovered that freshly baked  bread-sourdough and muffins-had been  made  from ingredients  in  Ireland, a wee bit difficult  to  freshly  bake . A  Queensland person complained   a loaf of " freshly baked" sourdough   was  frozen  inside. ACCC  ordered  Coles  not  to use this freshly baked  form of advertising for  three years .     

And now , in Townsville , at  the large  Stockland shopping centre  , the Woolworths  store, without explanation , no longer sells  sourdough . Sourdough customers  are  peeved  and  crusty. Staff   there   could not provide an explanation for  the strange case of  the  missing sourdough  and   said  customers had complained .  
One  disgruntled  Townsville  sourdough customer was  told to  try  the Woolworths  Select  stone baked Ciabatta , with Kalamata olive , one of " a  range of rustic  artisan breads " which  is baked  AT HOME   for 18 minutes...just like you  would get from a bakery. Bunged in  the  oven  and heated up does not  sound like the act of an artisan to  this blogger who finds it hard to boil water  let alone turn on an oven  and has  fond memories  of  deliciously smelling  real  bakeries  in  New South Wales  and New Zealand  before  breadmaking  was  crushed  and sliced up  by combines  and  supermarkets.  Ah, capitalism and advertising combined to leave  us  with  the tasteless  crumbs. Somebody  in Woolworths  deserves  to be  beaten over the knuckles with an  Irish  shillelagh  or  the frozen  staff  of  life.      

Friday, September 4, 2015

THE MYTH OF ‘MEN’ IN MENOPAUSE: Learned male chauvinist pig speaks out

By Doctor Phillip Oppian, O.N.A.N (Hons),

Middle Eastern Fellation Fellow of the Eunuchian Institute, Oxford (Street), Sydney.

Author of Mellowness Interruptus – ‘Me No Pause’. 

Assisted by:Piotr Bewleyvivov, University of Slobovigrad,  Komerongsibersk, Iceland (NSW), soon  to  be certified and struck  off  by the medical board .
Doctor  Oppian's  own  hormone  replacement  case  study .
To clear up a question at the outset, the writer of this article occupies the high ground in any study of men in their declining years because he is an exception to what such men call ‘THE RULES’. Firstly, I am not declining, except when declining a Fluffy Duck, a lift from a stranger or A Long Slow Screw Against The Wall. Secondly I am not and nor is my body, aging. I have refused to permit this since my late teens.

My vigour is undiminished throughout and has never been enhanced by drugs or surgery. Indeed, using the ageist convention of adding up birthdays to make a judgement about a man’s compos and mentis, I am unashamed to reveal I am in my 80th decade. Thirdly, I like women and am reasonably sure they eventually will find their rightful place in society.
Predictably this essay will be misinterpreted by certain reactionary elements who feel I am being deliberately ironic. Far from it! I‘m aware of the dangers. Many ironists end up as victims of their own irony; for example, look at the debates of the ‘Womens Lib’ era. Well, there’s not an ironic ulna or tibia in my entire body.
Women potentially have a great future but cannot advance until they shed their resentment of men, so it’s way past time (and in women's own interests) for the feminist conspiracy against us to be exposed. Menopause as generally accepted is an exclusively female milepost on the road to old age, but rather than accept this as a normal part of their lives women have successfully exfiltrated this most troubled stage of  their existence into ours.

Over generations women have focussed their resentment of their monthly sufferings and the physical and mental difficulties caused by the end of their reproductive cycle on men. They have transferred new types of guilt into men's subconscious. It’s natural to want to punish your torturer but men are not to blame here – if women should blame anyone, they should blame their creator.
But this essay is less of an indictment against women than an advance warning to men aged roughly between 18 and 43. Regretfully those over 43 are lost forever. Men-o’pause is not an Irish malady, despite the (now redundant) o-apostrophe in the middle of the word, but it does maintain the original warning to ‘pause and consider’.
Because we love women, mens willingness to shoulder the imaginary ‘blame’ for menopause has come at a high cost in stress, hair loss, weight gain, flatulence, intolerance, lack of manners, and general social disengagement. All are commonly accepted by men to be the result of their own menopausal aging. In fact these distressing symptoms result from psychological pressure as men try to shape themselves into the kind of ‘punching ball’ that women can transfer their frustrations to.
Men have tripped over themselves to appease their women for so long we haven’t realised ‘middle age’ is not our natural state. Consider the validity of the symptoms we suffer. Falling testosterone levels. Failing eyesight. Viagra. Falling sperm counts. Sex drive fading to neutral. Swelling man-boobs. Spotty hands, turkey necks. Incontinence. Lack of self-esteem. These are medical and psychological manifestations, not evidence of an aging process (and note this stuff doesn’t apply to women and is therefore used to assert their ‘stronger sex’ argument.)
Women supply the insistent background voice men hear in the back of their minds every waking minute:  ‘don’t fall over, don’t drive so fast, don’t set a bad example, you were told about this months ago, you never say thank you, how could you forget, avoid taking a stand, be cautious what you say’, and so on….this is not the voice of conscience. Women have learned that words can wound at least as well as a sharp blade. Their reaction to their own menopausal destiny prompted their ruthless centuries-long study of mens’ weaknesses.
 No longer are women female Spartans, fierce supporters of their men against outside influences.  When men are weakened nowadays women feel a sense of victory over them, and can be pitiless in exploiting it. Men are, as a matter of fact, somewhat naïve and innocent. They Trustem Ergo Sensitivave (I trust therefore am vulnerable: Eumenades). 
Are there any men who have escaped ‘men’-o-pause? Only a few. Dwayne Johnson, actor/wrestler. Arnold Schwarzenegger, aspiring actor. Mickey Mouse, actor. Henry VIII, TV personality. And Raquel Welch. To be scrupulously honest, I am unsure about The Pope What is their secret? The answer is obvious. What’s the one thing that makes us different from women? Our penises. Be kind to your penis, it’s the only one you’ve got. Let it speak for you. Let it stand up for you (and you didn’t know about Raquel Welch, did you?). 
The seven ages of man may be a myth, but the Seven Stages of Man in today’s female-induced menopause is very real. I recently re-viewed Disney’s ‘Snow White’ and was struck by how the personalities of the Dwarves corresponded with my observations of menopausal men. My Seven Menopausal Dwarves have different names from Disney’s: Twitchy, Sweaty, Gloomy, Bitchy, Cranky, Bloated, and Forgetful.

As long as we swim in a sea of androgynous youth and artificially-enhanced women, it will be difficult to regain our self-respect. The Australian Prime Minister, the self-appointed Federal Minister for Womens’ Affairs, is believed to be preparing a White Paper which encapsulates everything he has learned about the opposite sex. It is expected to be brief. Australian men need a champion and for a time hoped Tony Abbott might be the one to restore their pride; but he wasn’t and he isn’t.
As a result, several men of my acquaintance have adopted Buddhism in an attempt to avoid menopause, but sadly there is no evidence they will succeed unless they are reincarnated as a cockroach or a Skink. No, there is only one way to recover our real personalities and that is to confront our false menopausal guilt head-on.
Using the squeaky wheel strategy which dictates that the one who complains the loudest gets the hearing, women have dragged men into their own ‘change of  life’ territory. They’ve made us feel guilty about what can be for women a glorious transition to calmness and serenity – but the lie is that menopause is natural for both sexes. Men have swallowed this hook, line and sinker.

If men can emerge from stressful transitions such as puberty, loss of virginity, and recovering from car accidents as calm, assured, prepared, wise and helpful people, why can’t women? We men help ladies across the street, love our pets, set good examples for our grandchildren and support our family values. Why is this not good enough? What goes wrong?
Thanks to the machinations of women, men now display symptoms of physical and mental decline once they pass the age of 43 because our bodies fail to produce the tsunami of testosterone we once claimed as a basic human right, our skin loosens, our hair recedes, our muscles soften, our bones creak…basically every part of us will retreat and refuse to reappear.
Our nobility of mind and body go into ‘denial of service’ mode because our brains have been infected by a Trojan Virus introduced by the very people we should be working closely with: women. So be prepared for this. When you have an episode of rudeness and irritability, remember that none of it’s your fault. It’s not that you’re misunderstood, you’re deliberately being misunderstood! 

Despite the differences between male mellowing and female menopause, one similarity is shared: all women and most men suffer from hormone depletion past a certain age. If we can reject false menopausal thinking we can once and for all reject the idea that both men and women must share a physiognomicalanian fate.
It is clear that hormone replacement, the discredited artificial ‘normalcy’ therapy for men and women, is not a natural process. Without the intervention of HRT, what would happen? I suspect we all reach a certain age point as we pass through our lives, which inevitably marks a genderless phase of life in both women and men. Women will have low or no estrogen levels and men, (since the number suffering from so-called ‘male menopause’ is allegedly increasing) will eventually lose their testosterone.
After this point the elderly will become an androgynous part of the human species, having only the remnants of once-operative reproductive systems. Eventually society will recognise and reject today’s trivial gender war and gender discrimination. If we eventually all become simply human, what is the point of stereotypes, ideas like ‘male menopause’, and unequal pay and feminism?
Our first move toward enlightenment is to find out Who put the ‘men’ into menopause? 1984 graffiti on a toilet wall, signed ‘IrasciBill’.

Next Week: Dr Oppian examines issues surrounding androgynousness drugs, new trends in androgynous plastic surgery and whether bisexual elites are plotting a gender takeover.