Monday, October 31, 2016


It is not surprising that the  day  after  the exciting  inaugural open day at the Special Collections ,  Eddie Koiki  Mabo  Library , James Cook University,  Townsville , our bug-eyed correspondent , Cyclops, was found to have  high blood pressure and  his pulse was  racing  like a  noisy Yamaha . 

The mere thought of a normal  visit  to  the quiet  Special Collections  reading room  to peruse  some  of  its  many treasures  is  enough  to  cause  Cyclops to  develop double  vision.  But a special  shivoo like this  open day , part of the  university's celebration of  Townsville's 150th anniversary , made  him  hot  and  sweaty .

On the well attended  day , our man, with  notebook and camera at the ready ,  was  twitching with anticipation  as  he elbowed   aside  annoying   people  who  were  examining  the  many  items  of  interest  in display cases .

Across a crowded  room , he spotted   the  president of the Magnetic Island History and Craft Centre  , Zanita  Davies , who  had  led  a  party of  five  enthusiasts   from  the island for the  big day . She   quickly  drew his  attention  to an 1899 illustration of Townsville Harbour  , with  the island in the background  , by watercolourist  Bradshaw Barker ,   about whom  little was  known .  Did Cyclops know anything about  the artist? she asked. No-but he scribbled  the  mystery man's name into the notebook and would add it to his extensive  list , which  seems to  double  in  length week  by  week .

 Before  Cyclops  darted away to  continue his  inspection , Ms Davies informed him she was  on  the  track of  a  shipping  artefact .  This  info was quickly jotted  down   in  almost  legible  scribble , to  be followed up with her  later .

Cyclops was accompanied by his carer , a lady who had  recently had a cataract operation ,  so they were a  dynamic  team , their three eyes quickly picking the eyes out  of  the exhibits .

In the  crowded  reading  room , Cyclops kept  bumping into women  and  felt  like Donald  Trump  at a  Miss Universe  beauty contest.   It was  so  packed  he  did not get a chance  to speak to or wave  at a lady  connected  with the Northern Territory  author   Tom  Ronan who  once lived  at Springvale Station,with a radioactive well  , near  Katherine .

Cyclops , unfortunately,  could  not  stay for two  talks , one   about how to protect  ephemera , of  which he is a fan , his  den knee  deep in items that seem to have  been looted from  council dumps  scattered about the  nation .  Before  departing,  he was able to have a  quick talk with  the  librarian , Bronwyn McBurnie , and  promise to  return, like  a certain American general to disturb  the  peace .   If  he can decipher his  notes , the  visit  to Special Collections open day  will  result  in  a  swag  of   feature  articles.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


What  happened  when   Maud and I  were  enticed  into Virgil's amazing garden.

In what should have been  front page  news , Townsville's  veritable  Aladdin's  Cave  of  Wonders , Virgil's Antiques and  junk shop ,  recently re-opened -only on Saturdays - after a  long  break, and Little Darwin  eagerly  rushed  in , looking for   oddities, glasses  fogging   up  with  excitement .  Where to  start  ? A trio  of  unusual  long case clocks , a  vast array of  souvenir  china ,  vases  galore,   badges, jewellery , containers of  books , postcards , a  fabulous  carved  Chinese   bookcase (sold ) , paintings ,  prints,  flags , a black lady lamp (sold), furniture, Toby jug miniatures ,  sheetmusic, records,  clothing , musical instruments,  an  explorer's  pith was  Seventh  Heaven . 

After burrowing into  piles of books and  rifling through a  box or two of postcards , Little Darwin came away  with  the usual odd  assortment  of  battered  items , one of  which  is the  nibbled   1937  Literary Gems I  Love-And  Why, the first in  a series named The  Garden of  Love , selected  by Australian and  New Zealand woman with their comments , published by New Idea, Stanley Street, West Melbourne. 
Maud in  the meadows ,  rather  than  a  garden .
 The editor explained  this little  volume contained the cream of a popular "department "in The New Idea  . Many of the Gems were valued  by their senders , not alone for their literary excellence -some of them would doubtless be scorned by the critic  as having  no literary excellence -but for their association . "It is no uncommon  thing for  a reader  to send us a slip of yellow newspaper that once  was  white, bearing, in print  that once was black , a few verses  that represent  to her  the finest  thing  in literature , because they are associated with some  great crisis in  her life . Other Gems, of course, are sent because their beauty , their truth , their helpfulness , or  their cleverness  have made  them seem worthy  of  being  passed on  for the  delight or  help  of  fellow readers ..."
Further books in this series  would  be  Babyland and Motherhood  and  Comfort and  Sympathy .
There is special mention of Tennyson    and his  love  songs  ,  "Maud " being a particular  favourite    of   a  woman in Richmond , NSW , who wrote ..."What a shame it is  that so many of our best pieces of poetry suffer from that contempt  which is bred by familiarity. Take Hamlet's soliliquy  , for example , that magnificent  bit of poetry , and if you read  the first two lines  to a company , nine tenths of  them  will wonder if  you  are going to give a humorous  reading  . Who recites 'Come into the Garden , Maud ,'without  a smile ? And yet think of the exquisite poetry of those verses  . I am sending  several of them  as my favourite Literary Gems , hoping as many of them as possible will be spared  to see the  light of print ." 
Many of the  items   have  Love in the  title ,  Browning  mentioned frequently . Only identified as T.L.O., of  Townsville , Queensland  , she  submitted Love Much  about  men's souls contracting with  cold suspicion who need warm  love to shine  upon them.  Others -Love is  All  , Made to be  Loved , My Sweetheart, For Love of You,  Those We Love the Most , Spinster, What is True Love, What My Lover Said , A Pearl , a  Girl ,  First  Love.
From Auckland , New Zealand  , a   person   identified as  M.K.D. expressed annoyance "in these days of drooping, flippant flappers  ." A Rockhampton contributor asked why little squabbles  and mean understandings  so often spoil a great romance . Such  blunders in love should read   a poem , You and I , by Emily Westwood Lewis .
Clipped from a  San Francisco paper was a beautiful  love poem written by Homer Greene. J.S.S. of Dunedin , New Zealand , another Browning lover, provided  Life in a Love . Two verses from a Swedish love song were submitted " to prove that  love is love  the world over , whether  under  the  wattle-boughs or up against the (ice) bergs ." The latter position decidedly uncomfortable and  somewhat  frigid ,  you  would  think .  
Near the end  of  the booklet was this controversial  contribution by "A Man " , in Melbourne , who had sent in"  a  fighting song"  that  contrasted    with  the many love ditties , saying  he  believed  love  is "but drifting sands ."

Monday, October 24, 2016


Bushranger  researcher  Gary Hunn  of  Magnetic Island has sent a  surprise  package to  bushranger  Jack Gardiner  enthusiasts  who will gather for the  Back  to   Boro , NSW, event .   He sent two pieces of   broken bottles he gathered   from  the   dump   at  a  roadside   store   Gardiner, on the run  from the law ,   ran at  Apis Creek,  near  Rockhampton .  One of  the  pieces  was  kindly  given  to Little Darwin by Gary .   Disguised  NSW police   came to Queensland ,  arrested  Gardiner   and  took  him to Sydney , where he spent time in prison ,  before  shipping  out  to  America where he  ran a  bar   and was treated like a  notorious  celebrity . 

Saturday, October 22, 2016


Looking as if it has been through  the wars-tipped in  colour plates removed, items  cut out , some pages loose , foxed and bumped- this is  a  special   1914   Christmas  double number  . The first part  was  launched  about the  outbreak of hostilities ;  the second, issued in December , is larger  and  contains   several  supplements  in  which   war, past and present ,   is  the  subject of  some volumes and there  are advertisements  for  the extensive range  of  newspaper books on the  current  war , including  the German spy ring how women  can help wounded  and   how  to  help  Lord  Kitchener . 
The  influence   of  the  war  is clearly  reflected in  the   torn  and  scuffed  cover  illustration  entitled The Glory of Belgium , it having been invaded by the  Germans in August .

Not   knowing that  a  seemingly endless  monstrous   war  would  engulf  the   world  for  years  , the   offerings  included  many light- hearted  books for  boys and  girls ,  one  The Children's ABC  of the War,  with 26 coloured illustrations,   said  to  contain nothing  likely to  alarm  the most  tender imagination , all told  and  pictured "with  humour  and a  touch of  kindness ."

The above graphic  accompanied  the  write up for Belgian Playmates , by Nellie Pollock ,illustrated by  Charles  Folkard , " a  capital little story "of the present war   designed to not only entertain juvenile readers   with its narrative of two heroes who went out with the Expeditionary Force-one to return  covered with glory , the other  to lay down  his  life  for the country , giving them a vivid idea of  the  great  happenings  of  the day .
To this is added "an interesting and  amusing account "  of  the doings of  certain English children  and their small  Belgian playmates in the home   circle   from which the two heroes went to the front , and to which news of  them comes  to  thrill  their   quiet lives  with excitement .
Books  written and  illustrated by   Australians  include: The  Girl  From the Back -Blocks, by Lilian Turner , about a  14 year old   country girl's  experiences at  a school in town , an entertaining  story , lucky would be the  girl who found it among her gifts on Christmas day ; Bushland Stories by  Amy Eleanor Mack , a charming collection  of stories for children , written by author who is an enthusiastic nature-lover , and thoroughly  conversant with  the haunts and denizens  of her beloved bushland ; Scribbling Sue , also by Mack, illustrated by May  Gibbs, frontispiece in colour . Children of Wild Australia  , by Oliphant , which  includes a drawing of  a"  tattooed brave ."
Novels with an Australian   touch  are  :  By  Blow and Kiss , the love story of a man with  a bad name , by Boyd  Cable , which gives  a capital picture of   sheep farming in Australia , and  human passions of  love, jealousy and hate ; Flower O' The Pine , by Ethel Turner , a  quite exquisite  picture of a little  Australian  girl ; A Tail  of  Gold , an Australian mining story written  in  a crisp style , by  David Hennessey . 
Scottish author J.M. Barrie, famous for    Peter  Pan , the boy who never wanted to grow up ,  rates  a special mention ; his  son  , George , was   killed in the war, as   was  one  of  the  boys  who inspired the character  Peter Pan .
One of the many authors  the subject of extensive profiles is schoolteacher  Edith Howes  of  New Zealand , a  Dominion which enjoys a  world wide reputation  as a paradise for the  worker , where  the  schooling system  enables the sons and daughters of  professional men  sit side by side on the benches  with the children of  the  working man .
She  is   tipped to  become as  famous  as Lewis Carroll  and Selma Lagerloff  because of her   works , which use observations of Nature to open the   eyes of   infants to  the fairyland  all around them . After many rejections , Sun Babies became a   hit , then Fairy Rings  told how two children named  Win  and Twin, brought the fairies all the way  from Ireland, over the seas in a fairy ship , and established them  safely in Maoriland . ( Bookman unearthed by Magnetic Island  researcher  Gary Davies .)  

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Exclusive report  and sensational  prediction  by respected  gonzo journalist  Hunter S. Thompson  who  watched  the  third presidential debate   from  atop the Trump Tower  while   also  shooting  loathesome bats   with a  pump   action  shotgun .

 You dudes   Down Under  are  going to see  a  lot of  this bozo Donald  Duck    after he  is nuked   by  the few remaining   sane  voters  in the  US of A .  As  a result of  his  latest  ham-fisted    manhandling  of  Hillary  Clinton  he is going to   be  thrashed  in November.  I can reveal  his secret  plan  B  is to flee to  Australia  and   take  up  several   tax   free  / dodging   propositions .

As soon as I shoot   these  goddam  bats  and  blame  a Fox News outside   telecast van  for  the  extensive dents on  the  hire car  convertible    ,  I will  produce documentary evidence that  will  prove Trump  has  been offered  a  fortune   to appear  in  Australian advertisements  capitalising  on  his   mesmerising  snake  oil  salesman  hand  gestures . 

According  to my drinking buddies on  The Gruen Transfer , the  common erect digit of  Trump's  is ideal for the Coles prices down  , down   campaign , except that  it will  have to  be pointed  south of  the Mexican  border . And his frequent  circular  finger  shape, like  a  malformed  sugary doughnut with rabbit  ears  , could be used in  a revival of the Colgate ring of confidence   campaign which  helped spread the American  Dream  in Australia . 
After   filing this report ,  Mr Thompson was  dragged screaming   from  atop   Trump Tower    by a  heavily  armed  posse   and   placed in a  fashionable   white   back to front  jacket   with  unusual  leather straps. All  the time  he was screaming he  is a paid up member of   the  NRA  ,  Disneyland  and Wally World . Strangely , he   claimed to be  an  advisor to the  gun toting  Australian  government and  demanded  to  have  a  telephone  consultation  with  his new mouthpiece, Attorney-General  George  Brandis .

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Grim Barnaby and beast
CANBERRA: In a desperate move, the Turnbull Government  has   hired  a  sensitive Llama  to warn it about   frequent   dangerous  situations  which make  the regime look  like a  banana republic .  The friendly Llama, nicknamed Ming , is  kept in the rustic office of Deputy PM  Barnaby Joyce , who  has  an international reputation for handling  dumb  animals  since he rightly told  Johnny  Depp  and his  mutts where to go ,  in no uncertain terms . 
Installation of  the   trouble detecting Llama in parliament house has electrified  the Coalition and added to the duties of   the Australian  Federal Police  and   office  cleaners , who are demanding  dirt  money .   
Argus Tuft  Scoop
In an exclusive interview , wearing the latest  retro  Barry McKenzie hat, Barnaby  said  the  Llama  is  regarded  as  a  new lucky   mascot  by  the government  which has  been going from   one  snafu  to  another ever  since  it stumbled  back into power  at  the  election .  Now,  he said , Malcolm Turnbull's situation is like  sitting  in an uncomfortable electric  chair in  Sing Sing's death row , bright and  dim sparks from  the  past  and  present wanting  to  throw the lever and  zap him with 40,000 volts. 
 The latest embarrassing stuff up  is  that nobody seems to know who is the skipper of HMAS Australia-is it Defence Minister Marise Payne, Defence Industry  Minister  Christopher  Pyne  or   Defence   Personnel  Minister   Dan Tehan ?  And just today  the  Health  Minister  forgot  who she was , got up to answer  a  Dorothy Dixer   question in the House of Representatives  , and   thanked  herself for  asking  the question ???? Is  there a  doctor in  the  House- or a  Llama ?
 When  Barnaby is away attending Bollywood weddings in  India with Gina  , the Llama  will be  kept at  The Lodge , Canberra,  flown  to  the  squatter occupied  Turnbull  mansion in  Sydney  for a  seaside  frolic  from  time  to  time .  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Greedy  Generation Y caterpillar , soon  to  make an overseas  holiday  flight , rearranging joss house  on  Magnetic  Island .  

Monday, October 17, 2016


Self made  millionaire  Sir Thomas Lipton , who made his fortune  from tea and groceries , five times  unsuccessfully  challenged  for    the America's Cup yacht  racing trophy ,  between  1899 to 1930 , each time  with  a  boat named  Shamrock . One  of  them  is  shown in  this Bavarian printed  postcard   by renowned marine artist   and  author  Seppings  Wright , posted with  much  love from  Ethel , at  Droxford ,  Hampshire,  to   Miss Hannah Bartlett ,"Abbottsford" (a  private school), Mosman's Bay, Sydney , New South Wales, on March 27 , 1907. 

The postal cancellation  is  for the  Droxford  town  of  Bishop's Waltham , where there  had  been  grim  workhouses  for  the  poor  dating  from the 1700s  right up to the 20th century .

In a moment of fame for  Droxford, it  is claimed that  in   June  1944  a most  important secret meeting was held in a  carriage at the   railway station  at which the date for the D-Day invasion  of Normandy  is  said to have been discussed . Gathered there were  British  Prime Minister Winston Churchill,  Anthony Eden , Ernest Bevan , US General   Dwight  Eisenhower, Charles de Gaulle of France , General Smuts of  South Africa   and the  Prime Ministers of  Canada and   New Zealand , Mackenzie King  and  Peter  Fraser .

 Lipton's parents, Ulster Scots,  had  been forced to flee Ireland during the potato famine  of 1845   and  he  worked  as  a  printers' boy , a  cabin boy  on a steamer between  Glasgow and  Belfast , sailed to the USA, worked  on a  tobacco plantation in  Virginia  and served as  a grocery assistant in New York .  

Even though Sir Thomas  shared his  love of sailing with  two  British  kings,  Edward  Vll  and  George V ,  he was not  admitted  into  the  exclusive Royal  Yacht Squadron  until  just before he died ;  he was  inducted into   the  America's  Cup  Hall  of  Fame  in 1993. 

His America's  Cup challenges  were  in the name of  the Royal Ulster Yacht  Club . The  always interesting   Cairns  retro , collectables  and memorabilia    shop - Crackerbox  Palace - the  source of  this  postcard.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


From a distance,  this   vessel  might look like a  tramp steamer  of  yesteryear , but  it is  the oil products tanker  Chang Hang XI Wang, in Townsville , just one of the many interesting  ships  which  pass in and out of  the  port with  no  media  coverage.  A point of interest is that  it belongs to  a huge  Chinese   logistics , shipping ,  transport and  product moving   conglomerate   with  66,157 employees. The state owned  SinoTrans & CSC became a fully owned  subsidiary of  the  China  Merchants  Group   in  2015. 
The same  day as the  Chinese  vessel was photographed , the Singapore  registered  bulk carrier  Aquarius Ocean  made an early morning departure  from Townsville   with  the  help  of    two  tugs .


Special  editions   of   American  publications  which  covered  the  good, bad , beautiful ,   ugly   and  fascinating  events  and  places  of the   globe  . Life  magazine  closed down several times, eventually   for  the  last  time  this century .
In its heyday ,Life  especially covered the  American  way of  life and  world  events .The  above  book  contains  more than  5000  superb  photographs  ;  an  annual   digest  of   major  events over  the  period   does not mentioned   the  election of   a  Labor  government  in  Australia in 1972 , but  records   a "Conservative "   victory  in  1975.

Still alive is  the  National Geographic  in which  inventor Alexander Graham Bell played  a  large part in its early life .The   above 1988  centennial issue  contains  extensive  fold  out  covers  of  the magazine  over the  period , a  quick scan  revealing  Australia  featuring  on  at least  four-  two relating to the  way of life, a  surfboat riding a big  wave  on one , boxing kangaroos ,  and  the    Murray River . Papua New Guinea  dominates  two  covers. 
In what amounts to a  letters  to the editor section, Members  Forum, there  are several references to  an  article  , Wool-Fabric of History  , published May 1988, Jean Smiling Coyote  of Chicago , Illinois , saying  it read like propaganda from the wool industry , there being no mention of the widespread  destruction of the vegetation (and consequent soil erosion) by domesticated sheep and the continuing massacre  of competing  herbivores  and  predators  in sheep-ranching  areas.
The Geographic's  coverage of the Persian  Gulf , with its vast oil reserves , drew  interesting comments  such as  : Americans will need  to learn more about  the nations of the area  as its future economic  destiny increasingly depended upon it ...The US policy in the area    had  failed  and should change , if the CIA had not overthrown  Mohammed Mossadegh  of Iran  1951-53  and supported the shah  and his SAVAK (secret police ) the relationship with Iran  and much of Middle East would be  very  different .
Fleas , the  widespread  use  of  DDT  in Burma, Vietnam, India  and southern Africa  and   AIDS  were other  topics of  discussion .

Saturday, October 15, 2016


 A soothing  soak  before some  strenuous  tubbing  . 
Dishevelled ,  cool  Curlew  steps out  of  tub  with new identity...
Ghastly creature   in  a  new   Alfred Hitchcock  horror   movie to be shot   in Queensland   about  birds who  become mutated   after eating   Adani  coal  mining  waste  and , in shrieking flocks ,  proceed  to  peck the bejesus  out of  tourists, backpackers , the Cowboys  and  well   known  conmen, blowhards  and   carpetbaggers   from   far   and   wide ... the  latter part not   so  bad  after  all . Vallis series  of  photos.

These  Cairns  Pelicans , one , left,  afraid he is about to be pecked in  the gizonkas , which would be excruciatingly painful,  have  already  been signed  up  for the spooky movie and look  forward   to  monstering   humans , who have  greatly reduced  fish  stocks , and  turning the culprits  into  Peck's   Paste . Astonishing  photograph  by  Abra .

Friday, October 14, 2016


The funeral service   for  Bas  Wie , centre of a refugee story which  captivated  the nation and  England ,  will  take place in  Darwin's  Saint Mary's Star of the  Sea Cathedral on  Wednesday.   In  1947 , Bas , a  12 year old  orphan ,   having  experienced the Japanese  occupation  and  treated  kindly by  Australian  soldiers during  the war ,  stowed away  in the  wheel  nacelle of  a  Royal  Dutch Air Force  DC 3   about to  make  a  flight  from  Koepang  ( now Kupang ) ,   Dutch   Timor , to Darwin .  Scorched  by the plane's  exhaust and  frozen by  the  cold air  during the  flight , he  was  found  in  a bad  way , eyes rolling ,  inside the wheel  well  soon after  the  landing . 

In  hospital for three months, he faced deportation on his release , but the Administrator of  the Northern  Territory , Arthur  Driver,  took him in and  raised  him  with his  own  family in  Government House .

Darwin based  Melbourne Herald journalist Douglas Lockwood in 1957 won the London Evening  News award for the world's strangest story  which was about  Bas  Wie .

 Little Darwin previously  reported  that  Bas  and  young  Mike   Driver , who became a journalist ,  used   to  ride out  from  Government House with  rifles  to  shoot wallabies . At  times , they  took turns to  shelter in  a  wartime  pill box  while  the other  fired  a  shot or two  at  it . Coming  home late  one afternoon  from such an  exciting  outing, they were stopped  by police , taken  to  the police station , and  Administrator  Driver , also in charge of  the   NT Police Force ,  informed .  Taken home by car , Mike said  his  father delivered a strong  verbal  kick  up  the  derriere . When Administrator  Driver left Darwin to take up a new post in Italy,  Bas  remained  in  Darwin  with  another  family .

At  the age of 70 , Bas was a  VIP guest on an  inaugural airline service  between  Darwin  and  Kupang .  Well  liked  and respected, he helped people with   alcohol  related  problems  and  eventually  suffered dementia. Many documents relating  to  the Bas Wie  episode  are  held  in  the  National Archives , Canberra.


The dictionary meaning  of  consultation  and what  form it  did or did not take place  are  important   matters  of  deep  disputation  between   Attorney-General  George  Brandis   QC  and  insomniac  Solicitor-General   Justin Gleeson SC. 

 In   this  jolly  book   "misadventures in English" are   highlighted in a most entertaining and humorous fashion .  Author  Michael  Croker  says  more than 700 million  jabbering individuals speak the language , some of it a bit scrambled in the process ,causing  unintentional  communication   catastrophes.

In a chapter headed  Eating Your Words , it says food is a universal language   but  that  it  is a pity we ruin everything  by making  a  pig's ear  of  describing  it , and  supplies examples    from   menus  around  the world .

Australia  rates  a  listing in respect of  misuse of language  in a   Canberra   cafĂ©   offering DUMPING  SOUP  , which  sounds  repulsive . However, a steaming bowel -Oops!- bowl  might just be  the  thing  if you have just been dumped   by the Prime  Minister for  making a mishmash of your    ministerial   responsibilities .  

The  off  putting  Canberra  clanger  is followed  by a Thai  offering :   Curly Flower , General Chaos  Chicken ( all  the rage in   the Coalition right  now )  , Steamed  fillet of  new zeal ( New Zealand  )  and  orange roughy  (a fish) ,  Fresh thousand  year old  eggs .
In  a  section   giving  examples   of  strange   wording   in  CVs , one applicant   boasted ... Failed  bar exam  with  relatively high grades ,   a  situation which  does not  apply  to  any staff in  the   Attorney-General's Department .
During the Senate Inquiry into the Gleeson / Brandis dispute,  some  Coalition members of  the committee , dumpees,  seemed to have  difficulty expressing themselves  in the Queen's  English ," bullshit " uttered and bleeped on TV  ; somebody  reportedly   brought a  sleek  NSW  greyhound , named Lexicographer,  on  a  leash  into the  hearing  and  it   chased   and ferociously  savaged  the  slow moving  northern  rabbits  as  they  came out  of  the  warren , seemingly suffering from a mixture of  myxomatosis   and  foot  in  mouth . 
In  the above named  lively  column by  James Jeffery in the  Weekend Australian  he mentioned the "title fight " between the  law officers in the Senate inquiry, in which "the floridly  blustering Coalition senator  Ian Macdonald " came to the fore , and had to be pulled into line by the chairwoman , yet  there was  a "resumption of hostilities " .  Jeffrey recalled the episode when Senator Macdonald  entered the Senate wearing  a hi-vis vest  bearing the slogan  "Australians for Coal", sent  to him by the Minerals  Council  of Australia , which had caused  his  colleague Senator  Heffernan  to blow "a  head gasket" . 
Incidently,  at the end of the ABC TV Insiders  Talking  Pictures  segment , photographer  Mike Bowers of the Guardian  and  cheeky Jeffrey dropped  their daks and revealed  smugglers which  said , Back to you Barry !- the presenter of the top political  show, Barrie CassidyStrewth!  What  next  on  the  public  broadcaster ?     

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Rotorua  venue  for  tulip festival.  Photos by Kay.Below : 1965 view of  daughter   tiptoeing  through  tulips in  Rotoru...just over half a century  ago !

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Thinking the  Northern Territory News   would   be interested in an old  article about its former great  editor , Jim Bowditch ,  who had served  in  the  Z Special Force  in the Second World  War,  Darwin  activist  Rob Wesley-Smith   took  it  along  to the newspaper.  His action was  prompted by   the fact   that there  had  been  a   recent  special  ceremony in  Canberra  at the Australian War  Memorial   to  honour the  brave   group  , who  took the fight to the enemy behind their   lines .  Jim Bowditch ?  Two reporters  had  no  idea  who   he  was or  the extraordinary  things  he  had  done  both as  a  soldier and  a crusading editor. The  media  in general did not pick up  the  interesting fact  that  the Bowditch  family  were involved in  various ways  in  the  recent  Northern Territory election...the  Bowditch spirit  lives  on, Jim having once stood  for the ALP  in the seat of  Fannie Bay.
American  medal awarded to Bowditch for his wartime service in Pacific ; he also received the Distinguished  Conduct  Medal ,  Mentioned  In  Dispatches .  
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It seems  that in all  the  coverage  given to the  Wave Hill walk off to Wattie Creek  by the  Gurindji  , little , perhaps   nothing ,   was said  at major events  marking the anniversary  and  book  launch  about  the fact " Big Jim"  Bowditch  kept   the struggle   alive  for  years before  the  famous event in which PM Gough Whitlam was photographed  making  that symbolic act of  pouring the sand   into the  hand  of  Vincent   Lingiari , in  the  important Aboriginal   landrights  case.  Years ago , the late  author Frank Hardy personally acknowledged  Bowditch's  tireless  efforts  which eventually led to a  major win .   Another  opportunity  for  the  NT News   to recall  the  extraordinary   work  of   its  former extraordinary  editor ... if  anybody  knew , or  cared. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Vallis  photograph.


Currently circulating  far and  wide   is  a    series  of  historic  photographs   of   the  clandestine  resistance  radio    set  up  in   Darwin  which   kept   in   contact  with  East Timor after the  1975  Indonesian   invasion  , eventually  shut down by the  Australian government . Radio  National  has produced  a  special  report on  Radio  Maubere,  parts of  the radio equipment  now  held  in the National Film  and  Sound  Archive, Canberra .  
One of the  photos shows  the radio set  in the  flat of Darwin  activist  Rob  Wesley-Smith  who at one stage , with others, was arrested at  gunpoint  on a  boat and charged with  attempting   to  run  supplies   to  Fretilin.

Monday, October 10, 2016


Sand crabs  clearing  out holes after tide receded   created   this  ancient  Persian figure at Mission Beach , North Queensland .  BELOW: Dead  tree  shaped  by  cyclone  and  borers , etched against  the sky ,  nearby  in  Nature's own  gallery . ( Photos by  Vallis ).

Sunday, October 9, 2016


After all the  outrageous  things done and  said by  Donald Trump , the latest dirty   trick  act  a  media conference  he staged   with  women  who made allegations against  Bill Clinton,  it is surely only a matter of  time before  Donald  gives a  crying  baby  at one of his  meetings  a  bunch of  fives  before  500million TV  viewers  , a  dead  cat  and  hair consultant  Shane Warne .

From our  Only  In  America   file , comes  the above  scene  from the    hilarious , satirical  film , The Campaign ,  about  an  American  election  in  which the filthy rich , scheming  Moch  Brothers  back   some   poor little  guy , Marty Huggins ,  against  a sitting  Congressman , Cam Brady  .  Our  apparently  pirated  copy , bought  in  Bali , caused  convulsive laughter and had to be  turned  off  because of   repeated  bad language  which  we  hoped  the grandchildren  nearby would never ever use.  The  baby was  socked when  Congressman Brady ( Democrat)  missed when he went  to slug  Huggins( Republican ) .    

Cam retaliated, we are told ,  by making out  Marty was an Al Qaeda terrorist;  Marty exposes Cam as a fake Christian by asking him to recite the Lord's Prayer, which he fails to do. Cam attempts to restore his religious image by visiting a church of snake handlers, but he gets bitten by a snake. A video of the bite is leaked into the Internet and goes viral, increasing Cam's popularity.  As they say , only in  America .  See  the  brilliant  film  for  a  surprise  ending. Believe it or not, be warned  , there are some adult  themes  in this  bizarre  movie the events  in which are  tame by comparison  with  the  present  presidential   campaign .