Sunday, October 25, 2015


The  dominant  feature of Townsville , Castle Hill , normally looks like  a face  requiring  dental  treatment , perhaps why there are so many dentists  in the city and the main  footie oval  is named after a dental firm  , but  now  the  monolith has  surprisingly taken on the appearance of  Miss  Piggy, with  a  prominent,sexy porcine  snout .  


With so much of Queensland-80 per cent-experiencing  drought  conditions , large numbers of birds can be   found  where  water  is  available .  In  this case,  Magpie Geese  can  be  seen  congregating  in  the  Burdekin  region of North Queensland .
In Townsville , where there are household  water restrictions, Whistling Ducks about to take  the morning  plunge in Anderson  Botanical  Gardens  where there is always a  good supply of  water .


Postcard  from  the collection of  Mike O'Connor

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Over  the years Little Darwin has collected odds and ends , including  this circa 1927  Elgin National Watch Company, U.S.A. ,  pocket watch  which bears the initials RRR engraved on  the  front,  a present to "Bob" from Grandfather and  Grandmother, on his 21st Birthday, 25/2/28. 

It has an enamel face with Roman numerals  and under the  winged  logo of  the American  Waltham  Clock  Company , Canada , declares  it  is a gold filled  case  guaranteed  for 20 years .
1910 advertisement .
Elgin has an interesting history going back to 1864 when it was  first incorporated  and  for  nearly a century  its factory in  Illinois was  the largest  in the world, its   timepieces  used  at  railways throughout  the  country . 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


On  a cloudy night , Cairns waterfront. Photograph by Abra.

Monday, October 19, 2015


Recently emptied out of  office, two  familiar   backbenchers , eyes down  playing Bingo...actually  studying   overseas   flight   plans .  
Parliamentary  cleaning  staff  are  puzzled  by  the  increasing number  of   green   bottles   and  scorch  marks   being   found   on  the   Coalition  backbench   side  of  the     House   of   Representatives .
Each night  jovial  cleaners now  enter  the chamber  singing  the  naughty Sydney University   footie club  version of   Ten Green  Bottles  Hanging on the Wall  in expectation  that  they  will  find  more  dead  marines ,  charcoal streaks and  vampire  teeth  marks   on   the  desks .

Award  winning  cartoonist   Peter  Broelman , soon to be deported to Manus,  provides clue to  source of  charcoal and  odd  fang  marks . 
A    large  pickle  demijohn   was  found in a  pile of empties and  one crude ,CFMEU  manipulated  ALP  member   said  it was  an apt  container  for a former  high flyer in government who  bounced about like a fart in a pickle bottle . No bottles are returnable .  
Several  pieces  of  imitation Italian marble   have  also  been   found  in  the  backbench  litter and  sold  on e-bay  for vast amounts , the proceeds invested in a  vulture tax  haven  popular  with   Australian  working  stiffs  who  aspire  to  be  plutocrats.
BREAKING NEWS : Plump, fat fighting  American  celebrity , Oprah Winfrey , now a  major shareholder in Weight Watchers,  is  kindly  offering a  special  deal  to Australia's  rolly polly  politicians  who  risk  injury when they  get  the uncontrollable   urge  to  dance  the mutated Macarena on  office  furniture when  tired  and  emotional.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Touching  photograph of mourning Curlews  the morning  after  the second  chick in the latest  clutch  disappeared overnight shows parent at  back  with  sunlit  tear   appearing  like white  spot  under the eye , left,  and  the  bird  in  front  has  saliva  running  along  beak .

It was the  second batch of two chicks which failed to survive this year .The  parents wailed  and  ran about  the property , tapped  on  the kitchen door , one even  came  into the  computer room  as  if  looking for  or seeking help to find the  missing  chick . 

The  door knocking has continued for days  and  this morning  both birds were outside the computer room , one  pecking  insistently  at  the  door .
No  Barking Owls were  seen or  heard but there has been  a   cat  in  the  area .  One night  Curlews down the   road  were  shrieking  and the Queen of the Jungle investigated  because of concern for  a   young  Curlew  chick  nextdoor .

While unable  to see the cause of the commotion ,  there was a  sudden sound of  wings and  what  appeared   to  be  an  owl  flew  overhead.

Curlew at computer room door

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Kiwi born photographer Oliver Strewe and  author Blanche  D'Alpuget  combined  to produce The Workers , a record of men and women toiling  throughout the  nation ,  part of  Australia's  1988  Bicentenary  celebrations.  
 Strewe had covered the Portuguese withdrawal from Portuguese Timor , independence ceremonies of New Guinea  and Vanuatu, photographed  the production of ceramics in China  for the Department of Foreign Affairs , produced a book, Bondi, and became a founding member of  Wildlife Photo Agency .
In the case of  journalist  and  author D'Alpuget , she  lived in Indonesia in 1966  and  Malaysia , wrote the highly acclaimed  novels  Monkeys in the Dark  and  Turtle Beach and  the biographies of  Sir Richard Kirby and  Bob Hawke ; on marrying   Hawke she  became  a  member of  the  working  team   dubbed  B1 and  B2 after Bananas  in  Pyjamas.


See the American  online NationofChange  post  of October 12 headed What You Should Know About That  Completed TPP 'Trade Deal' by  Dave Johnson  for another detailed  explanation  why it  is facing  strong opposition  in  America , while being praised to  the high  heavens  by  the   Coalition  choir.  A surprise is  the  photograph  at  the head of  the  post shows President Obama lined up  with  the  leaders  of  the  countries being sucked  into the dodgy secret  deal, one of them being  former Australian PM  Julia Gillard...hang on a moment , didn't Andrew Robb negotiate this deal  himself as part of a winning trifecta, the nags now  being   closely examined by stewards and  vets? Once again, this blog recommends the independent NationofChange website for well written articles , many  of particular  significance  for  Australia  . 

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Herr  Porsche reveals VW secret  


There are  no factions, no back room deals in the broad church Liberal Party and Tony Abbott  walked on  water - great  comedic  patter   by  Prime Minister    Malcolm Turnbull   at  New South Wales Liberal  conference , which  caused  groans  of  disbelief  , jeers  and   panic in cigar smoke  filled  inner  sanctums. It also  clearly illustrates  why  he would have been  a failure as  an  ambassador  in Washington had he taken up the kind offer  from  his  now  marching to  another  drumbeat  predecessor .
Likely future view of new look  Liberal Party  stepping  out  in one adoring mass  before  PM's  viewing podium  at  Sydney  Opera House .
CANBERRA:  Liberal  Party Funk  Bunker spin doctors have had  secret  talks with North  Korean  dictator  Kim Jong-un in a frantic bid to get the party and  entire nation marching together  in  strictly ballroom  goose-stepping  fashion  while   hysterically  expressing  admiration  for  our  new  Dear Leader.

Two average looney tune NSW Liberals, Heckle  and  Jeckle , said Turnbull's speech had also generated some real belly laughs . However , Heckle  warned   that with a  christian name of  Bligh, the PM should not make further similar speeches  as this could bring on  a mutiny  in  the rank ranks  of  the  party .   

 Funk  Bunker head  spinster , Fritz  von  Waffleburger, said it would be wonderful  if every man , woman , child , the  David  Rowe  turkey   and   various factions  in the Liberal  Party could  be induced at the end of a barrel to all march  together  into a  glorious 21st century future, following   PM Turnbull  at the  wheel of  the Volkswagen diesel  tank.
The business end of  the Trans Pacific Partnership  drug addicted, pill extruding,  American turkey  held by its scrawny neck by dynamic, insomniac   Trade  Minister ,  Andrew  Robb , drawn by  brilliant Australian Financial  Review  cartoonist , David Rowe , soon  to  be deported  to  Nauru .   
 Waffleburger  pointed out that PM  Turnbull and Kim Jong un's father were alike  in some ways . Kim's daddy, for instance , liked live  lobsters  air lifted  daily  to him while he travelled about China and Russia  in an armoured  train ;  Malcolm  loves yabbies .
While Malcolm  established  a  political fashion trend  by wearing a leather  jacket , the late  Kim Jong-il , not only promoted  a  personality cult, the obedient North Korean  News Service, which  some extreme  Liberals  want  the ABC to copy,   said  his distinctive clothing set  world  wide fashion trends .

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Scene  after  an explosion  and   fierce  fire involving three vessels in the Magnetic Island  marina  in which a man  died . A  boat  sank at its mooring  with the body of Manny Bates  inside  and the nearby  speedboat was  badly charred .   Below : Bandaged owner of launch , Geoff Byers , who received burns, viewing  fire damage  on  side of  the vessel . Nearby Nelly Bay  residents heard  what sounded  like two loud explosions in the early hours of  the morning .


Three  days  short  of  his  100th birthday,Tony  Rafty ,seen above with his late wife,Shirley,and two of their five children , died on Friday. An insight into his adventurous life , with  added  material, is provided in the following article by Peter Simon  which appeared in Little Darwin .


An   infantryman   sent   to  Darwin  from  Sydney  in  WWll  soon  found   himself   in  hospital   with   unsightly   blotches   on    his    body   that   would  not  go  away . He  suspected   the   tasteless    porridge  dished  up   each   morning  was  responsible  for   him  appearing   to   be  covered   in   camouflage.  A   nurse  suggested  he   had  an  allergic  reaction   to  some   chemical   in   his   uniform  material .    While   in   hospital  he   entertained   patients  and   staff   with    rapid   sketches  which   were  displayed  about  the  place.  
Wartime  cartoon by Rafty  for  Jungle  Warfare covering the rail trip to Alice Springs.
The   subject  of   one  of    those  drawings   was   a   man   who  looked  after  a  water  tank  into  which   potato   peelings   were  thrown   to  make  jungle  juice .   A   visiting   officer  inspecting  conditions   in   Darwin   saw   the  drawings ,  declared   the   person   responsible  a   better   artist   than    soldier ,  and   arranged  for  him   to  be   sent   back  south .  

So , after  less   than  five  months  in  Darwin,  another  exciting  chapter  began  in  the  action - packed   life  of  Tony  Rafty,  nifty golfer , newspaper  illustrator ,  war   artist  and  correspondent,  acclaimed   caricaturist ,  Sydney  journalist    club  stalwart  and   contemporary  of   former   Northern Territory   News  editor , the  late  Jim Bowditch.     

Of    Greek  descent – surname  Raftopoulos-  Rafty , born  Sydney   l915,  had  been  interested  in  art , drawing  and  woodwork  at  school  and   earned  money   as  a  caddy .   His  golfing   prowess   was   such  that  at  17  he  was   off   scratch .  During   the   Depression  he  often  caddied  for   the   architect   who  designed  the  Commonwealth  Bank   building  in   Martin  Place ,  Sydney.  The  architect   played   golf   with  several  cartoonist ,  including  Jimmy  Bancks  who  drew   the  famous  Ginger   Meggs   comic  strip  .  Rafty    told  the  cartoonists  he  was  as  good   an   artist  as  they.  As  a  result  of  his   boast ,  he  was  asked  to   submit   some  of   his  work  to The  Bulletin  magazine . When  one   was  published  he  was “ on  top  of   the  world ”.   

His  involvement  with  golf  was  such  that  he  organised   higher  pay  for  caddies  and  helped  plan   a  state   competition  for   them  .  In   l935   he   hitchhiked  to  Adelaide  and  caddied   for   Sam  Richardson ,  giving  him  winning advice  in  a  semi  final  game  at   the  Australian  PGA  championship .   Richardson’s opponent , an aggressive professional  ,  was  so  annoyed   by  his  defeat  that  at  one  stage it  looked  as  if  he was  going   to  dong   Rafty  with  a   club.  

 Rafty  obtained   a  job  for   a   year  as  an  illustrator  on  the  sporting  newspaper  The  Referee,  but  it closed  on  the  whim  of   its  irascible   owner,  Ezra  Norton.  Out  of  work ,  Rafty   went  back  caddying  until  he  landed  a  job   as  a  creative artist  on  The  Sun  newspaper in  Sydney .   

Rafty’s  younger   brother,  Stanley , dux  of   Sydney  Boys’ High School, joined  up  soon  after  the  outbreak  of  war  , was  captured  by   the   Japanese  and   sent  to   Singapore .   Tony ,  who  had  been  in  the  CMF,   went  into camp at   Liverpool,  near  Sydney ,  where  he   met   an  Aboriginal,  “Darky ”  Barnes ,  a  good boxer,   who  arranged   Rafty’s  first   ride of  a   motorbike, a  Harley Davidson . That  unnerving  experience  convinced   Rafty   he  never  wanted  to  ride  a   motorcycle again.  

The  two of   them  were   posted   to   Darwin  and   eventually went   different  ways  . Barnes   trained   as  a   commando  and   itched  to  mix  it  with  the  Japanese .   Rafty  caught  up  with   Barnes in  a  war zone  and , with  the  aid  of   a “looted camera” ,    passed  him   off   as  a   cameraman . This  stunt  led  to  Barnes   taking   up   photography   because  he  became   a   Sydney   street   photographer  in  civilian  life .  

 From   wartime  Darwin ,  Rafty   was  sent   to  the Australian  Military  History  Unit,   St  Kilda  , Melbourne,  where  he   became  a  war  artist,  designed   jackets  for   the  Army   and  Air  Force  journals ,  and  contributed  to  the  propaganda  effort   .   Posted   to   New   Guinea   by   a  “Pitt  Street  commando ”,   he  was  sent  on  patrol  from  Port   Moresby  with   a  small  party  which  included   artist  Sergeant   William   Dargie,  later  knighted ,  winner of   eight   Archibald  Prizes  for  portraiture.   

 Told  not  to  speak  and  make  as  little  noise  as  possible,   Rafty  became  concerned   when  he noticed    foliage   moving.   He   tapped    Dargie  on  the  shoulder  and , whispering,  asked   him what  he thought   was   making  the  jungle  move.   It   was  an   ambush .  Bullets  were  soon  flying  thick  and  fast.  As   Rafty   said,  it  was  no  good grabbing   the  sketchbook  so , despite   it  being  customary  for  artists and  correspondents   not   to   engage  in  combat  , he  opened   up  with  an   Owen  gun  .    Rafty  accounted for  eight    of   the  enemy  and   Dargie ,  three.   A   member  of   the   party  was  wounded  and  he was  carried  back to   base  on an  improvised   stretcher.  

From  that  close  brush   with  death  ,  Dargie  did  a   painting  entitled  something  like,Saving a  man’s  life, and  it  is  now in  the Australian War  Memorial  collection .  In  another  New Guinea   incident  ,  Rafty   and   others   came across  an   abandoned    Japanese   camp  behind  enemy  lines .  An   American  PT  boat   came  up  and  the crew   demanded  to  know  who   they   were  and   what   they   were  doing . When  they  informed   the  Americans  it  was  an abandoned   enemy  camp , the Yanks  rushed   about  looking  for  souvenirs.  One  grabbed   a  sword.  Then   they  discovered   the place  was  extensively  booby -  trapped ;   they   were  lucky  not to  have been  blown up .  

Booby trap  Rafty cartoon in Khaki and Green

 Rafty   was   present   when  General  Blamey  took  the  surrender  of  the  Japanese  on  Borneo.    He   recalled   that   war  artist  Donald  Friend  had  somehow  fired  a   revolver   during  the   surrender   which  was a  stupid   thing  to do  because  everybody  was  tense  and   it  could  have  sparked off  widespread  shooting.    Eager  to   find  his  missing  brother  , Rafty    flew  into  Singapore  in  a  commandeered  Japanese plane  followed  by   another  Japanese   plane.   In  the  uncertainty  around  at   that  time , it  is  a   wonder   they   were  not  shot  down.   

His  brother  had   been  a   prisoner  in  the  Changi  village , a  huge  area , where  prisoners  were  kept.  Rafty  insists  that  it  was  the   village, not   the  prison  where  most  of  the  POWs   were  herded .  He  was  told  his  brother  had   attempted   to  escape  with   two  other   prisoners  but  they  had  been   betrayed  . The    Japanese  had  shot  dead   the  two  men  with   his  brother .

Savagely  beaten , Stanley   was thrown  back  into  the  camp.   Later ,  he  was  put in  the  Rakuyo Maru  bound for  Japan  to  work  in  coal  mines  .   However ,  the  vessel  was  torpedoed  by  a  US  submarine .  The  submarine   surfaced   and   after  91  survivors  were  taken  aboard  the  captain  said   he   could   take  no  more  because  he felt  they were   a  sitting  duck  in  the  event of   a   Japanese  attack.     Rafty  subsequently  learned   from   two  of   the  submarine  crew   they   could  have  rescued  more  .   His  brother  was , in  all probability,  one  of   those left   behind  to  perish .   In   a  strange  twist of  fate ,  Rafty   came  across  men  rescued   by   the   submarine  in   Penang   and  included   drawings of  them   in  his   report  which   brought   welcome   news   to  anxious   relatives   .  One   thankful   ex –POW   wrote   a   message  across  a   sketch  of   himself   :  The  best   Christmas   my  mother  ever  had .   While  in  Singapore   Rafty   stayed  at    Raffles  Hotel  , witnessed  the surrender  of   the  Japanese  and   sketched   Lord  Louis  Mountbatten   and   many    emaciated   POWs  . 

 Rafty   has   vivid   memories  of   the  fierce   fighting  that  took  place  in  the  Dutch  East  Indies   which   saw  the  rise  of   President   Soekarno   as  leader of  the  Indonesian  republic.   Sent   to   cover  the   Indonesian    war  of   liberation , he  was   in  a   plane  with   Soekarno ,  a  Dutch captain   posing  as  an Australian   soldier , and  some  commandoes.   The   plane   was  shot  at   as   it  came  in  to   land  and    bullet  holes  were  found  in the  fuselage . When    Soekarno   bounded   from  the   plane  to  calm   the   large , armed  , flag-  waving  crowd , there  was a mighty roar  : Merdeka ! Merdeka! - Freedom !   

 Fortunately ,  Soekarno  had   taken   a  liking  to  Rafty   because of  his   rapid  artistic  skill  .   He    ordered   Rafty  to  get  into   a  truck with him  and  they   drove through   three   armed  checkpoints . When  Rafty    inquired  about   the   army  captain    who  had  been  on  the plane , he  was  informed   he  had  been  shot  because he  was  a  Dutch  spy.  Soekarno  took  Rafty  to  a  village  and  introduced  him  to  a   self  taught   artist ,  Affandi.    Affandi   gave  him   six   paintings  and Tony  responded  by  handing  over  a  bag   of   Japanese   Dutch   guilders  which  he  had   “souvenired ” .   Affandi   became   Indonesia’s   leading   national    artist  .  A   Rafty  pen  and  ink  drawing  of   Affandi    is  now  in  the  National  Library  of   Australia ,  Canberra .  Other  wartime  sketches  are  in  the Imperial  War  Museum , London.  

Rafty   found   himself  in   the  thick  of  fighting  when   British brigadier,   A. W. Mallaby , attempting  to  negotiate a  ceasefire  between  the  British  and  Indonesians ,  was  shot  dead on  October   30,  l945  at  Surabaya .   Seven  Australian  correspondents   were  trapped in  an  hotel  by   Indonesian  rebels  and  a  British war  artist  shot  dead . Rafty   informed  Soekarno   of   the  situation  and  he ordered  a  ceasefire.  Rafty  then  negotiated   the   release of   two  correspondents   to   break   the  news  that   Mallaby  had  been  killed.   The   British  navy  steamed  in  from  Singapore  and   bombarded   the area , killing  many  people 

  Rafty,  perched  atop  a  high   tower,  watched  and  sketched   the   action .  Later  he  was  informed   the  warships had  been  using  the tower  to  line  up  their   attack.  [At  the  age of  95, Rafty was  invited back to  Surabaya as a special guest to  a  ceremony and  display commemorating  the  struggle for independence .]  After  covering   the   war  for   five months  , Rafty  returned  to  The Sun   newspaper.     

 In  l946  he    reached  the  third  round of  the  Australian  Amateur  golf  title at  Royal Sydney  and   was  beaten  by   the state  champion ,   Kep Enderby  . Enderby   went  on  to  become  the  Australian   Attorney–General,  a  Minister  for   the  Northern Territory  , a  judge  and ,  like  Fidel Castro,   supporter  of   the  international  language  Esperanto.  Of   particular   Territory  interest  is   the  fact  that   Enderby  also  favours   euthanasia . 

During  his  reign ,  President   Soekarno   amassed  a  large  collection of  spectacular   paintings,  mainly  Indonesian,  many  of   them   village  life  scenes .  Rafty   described   the  collection  as “ remarkable” and  said   Soekarno  “really  loved   paintings . ” The  Chinese  government   produced   a  lavish   limited   edition   book  from  the  collection   for   Soekarno .  I  had  a   copy of   this  magnificent   volume   when  I  ran a  bookshop  in  Adelaide  and   spent  many  hours  gazing  at    the  spectacular    plates.  Uncertainty   surrounds   what   happened  to  the  art  collection  following  Soekarno’s  demise  and   the   bloody  upheaval  that  took  place  when   Suharto  took  over.  It  was  stated  in  some   quarters   that   the Chinese had  kept  the  collection .   

 Rafty  became   famous  for  his  caricatures of   world  leaders , celebrities  and   top  athletes . He  also  did   cartoons , a   weekly  comment   and   produced  comics , one called    Muggs   the  Golfer  , another  about  a   boxer .     A   portrait  he  did   of  the  poet,  author  and  journalist    Dame  Mary  Gilmore was   bought  by  the  Australian  government   for  the  National   Art   Gallery  .

Many  of  Rafty’s    drawings  of   the world’s  best  golfers  were used   in  the   l975  book  Tony  Rafty’s  Golfers  A Treasury of   Stars   in  Caricature  by   golf  writer  Terry Smith.  .  It   was  dedicated  to   Rafty’s  younger  brother,  Stanley,  pictured   as   a  young  caddy.   One  of   Tony’s  sons ,  a  lawyer,  was  named  after  Stanley. 

 But  for  the  Moscow  meet  , Rafty   had covered   all  the  Olympic  Games  since  l948 .   His  caricatures  of   sporting   stars  have  featured  in  several  exhibitions .  Many of  his  drawings  appeared  in  the   popular  Sporting  Life  magazine   and  he  knew and  mixed  with all  the   top  Australian   cricketers . A  Don  Bradman   bat, autographed on  both sides ,   is  one of   his   prized  possessions.    Over  the  years  he   went  on   many   car  rallies   and  vehicle  test   runs   throughout   Australia , producing  numerous  caricatures  and  cartoons  .  For  Pix  magazine  he  provided  a   detailed  route  map  across   Australia    for   contestants  in  the   London  to  Sydney   car   race .   Rafty   said   the   audacious  rally   driver   “Gelignite ” Jack   Murray,  who  livened   things  up   by   hurling   sticks   of   explosives  about  ,  terrified   some  of   the  overseas   contestants  when  they   arrived   in  Perth  from  Bombay   by  informing  them     they    could     be  speared    by    wild  Aborigines,   attacked  by   giant   kangaroos   and    perish  in  the   trackless  wastes  of   the  outback  .  

Rafty’s   skill  at   rapid  sketching   saw   him   cover  court   cases   for  Channel   7.  He  is  a  founder  member  of   the  Black and White Artists’ Club  and  a  longtime  president of  the Australian  War  Correspondents’ Association  . For  23  years   he   was    deeply  involved  in   the   running  of   Sydney’s   Journalists’ Club , its president  for  a  time ,  which   caused  moments  of   lively   debate   on   the  home  front .    When   the  former  NT  News  editor  Jim  Bowditch  went  to   Sydney  he  was often  entertained  by   Tony  Rafty  and   former   war  correspondent ,  poet , journalist    Kenneth  Slessor   at   the  club.   Rafty   inquired    about   Bowditch’s   well-being   after   Cyclone  Tracy
Rafty  was still playing  golf late in life   and  was  patron  of  St  Michael’s Golf Club  , Sydney  . For services  to  the  media , he  was  awarded  the  OAM . Another  honour  bestowed upon  him   is    the  Greek  Gold  Cross of  Mount  Athos.   Rafty   led  the  Australian  war  correspondents   group  at  Anzac Day  marches.   On  a     trip   to   Canberra  in recent times  he  toured the archives   and   viewed    sketches   he  made  when   he    was  an  itchy  and   scratchy  soldier   in    Darwin ,  and   was   presented   with   copies  of  several.