Thursday, March 30, 2017


The  border between Hong Kong and  mainland  China  produced  interesting  ruins,  landscapes  and surprises  for  our  hiking  correspondents , one  unusual event  being the  encounter , below , with  an  animal   out  for  an early morning  jog . Being  vegans , our   team   wished  the  beast  all  the  best .
 Our correspondents  were drawn to   derelict  buildings and surrounds which provided   good   subjects  for  their  cameras .  

A brick lined , meandering   stream  , with a  two storey  dwelling in the distance , a  picturesque  lake  nearby .  



Taken  during a butterfly shooting safari  on lucky Magnetic  Island  after  the  passage  of  Cyclone  Debbie  which  only  caused  a  short  disruption  to  the ferry  service.


Photographs by cat lovers  Michael and Sarah  who  have two pampered , tech  savvy  cats , in  Melbourne ,  who  will freak out  when  they  view  these  close  encounters   on  video .  


By our wandering correspondents,Sarah and Michael
Sign on top of  building centre, background : HOUSE  OF  THE  YEAR  20 .

Scaffolding on  building .

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Sunbird  Drama  turns  into  Rum  Event

Although Cyclone Debbie did not hit Magnetic Island , strong winds   sprang up and  sent the   Sunbirds  nest  rocking ,  rolling  and twisting ,  causing  concerns about the  safety of  the  two chicks inside  and  the  very  survival  of the  nest . 
Placid scene , pre  blow ,  one  chick  visible  inside nest.
Wind  still gusting ,   about  9.30pm , a  check of the  nest was made   before  making ready to  hit  the sack ...Oh no ! Most of the nest was missing . The  bulk  of  it  was  found on the  ground , blown into a  corner , the birds  still inside . On picking up  the nest, intending to perhaps  tie  it  back to the light  cord from which it  hung, one of the  chicks  flew off into the  dangerous  night . A hand was   clamped over the entrance   to prevent the other  from  doing  the same . However, it  wriggled  free  and   flew  inside the  house, coming to rest next  to  a wastepaper basket .
Into a shoe  box , with a  circular   hole   for air , went  the  nest and its restless occupant ,  placed  near   potplants  brought inside  the house for  protection shoul d the cyclone strike .  A search , to  no  avail , was then  made of  the garden for  the  other  tiny  bird .

Up at  6am , the shoebox was  tapped response. On opening   it was  discovered  that  there was  no Sunbird . Thence  began  a  search  at  floor level   with a  torch...not  in  potplants, bookshelves  ; not  in the box with the elephants; not in the box of seashells  behind  the  lounge ; not in  the  wastepaper  basket ...Puzzling . The bulk of the  nest  was  attached to the   cord   with string in the hope that it would attract the parents, and maybe the bird which had  flown  into  the  dark .
My wife , with sharp hearing , detected  the  distinctive  sound of a  Sunbird outside  in  shrubs .  While searching in  the area  where the tiny   bird  flew in the night , an adult  Sunbird was  seen  where  this blogger was recently bitten on the  hand   by a spider and  ended up with a colourful and swollen hand . Gingerly, shrubs were  pushed aside  in  the hope  that  the  baby  bird   might  be  found . No such luck . 
Then  my wife shouted that  she had  spotted the    bird  we had been looking for  inside the  house .  It  had  been sitting up high  next to a   Beenleigh Rum Toby  jug  while  we  had been  searching   down  low , behind furniture .  It could also  have been  on  high  snuggled up to  a  Venetian glass  swan with  a  smashed   beak while I crawled  about  on  my  hands  and  knees  with  the  torch  looking for  it . 
When I dashed inside, the bird  fluttered down behind  a writing desk where   it was  caught with a  cloth, carried to the nest , released - and  darted off into the  nearby trees , quickly joined  by  a twittering  parent.
Much later, in the Little Darwin den , a distinctive  , repetitive  sound was  heard  , which  was almost certainly  the  call of a  Sunbird , described in What Bird is That ?, by Neville W. Cayley,  as "Tsee.tsee". On investigating, nearby was  a Sunbird chick, almost certainly the  one  which  had been  on  the ship's ration ,  calling   for   its  parents .
It was able to  be caught ,  did not want to  be  inserted  in the re-erected nest,  released  and   took  up  a position  on  the  car windscreen wiper, above . From  there  it  flew onto  a  fence , called , a  parent  promptly responded and darted  in  with  food . It was last seen flying after its "mother" .  Sunbirds are distributed along eastern Queensland  from Cape York  to Gladstone ; New Guinea , Admiralty  Islands , Solomon Islands  and  the Celebes .

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Magnetic Island, off  Townsville, North Queensland ,  has been flooded with  the above  DVDs  proclaiming  that  evolution  is a  " Fairytale for the Na├»ve "  and that  the " Bible  contains  Truth  for  the Sceptic."     Each  disc   contains an attached printed message   addressed to   Dear Magnetic  Island  Resident/ Visitor ,  from  Dr Piet van  Rensburg , of  Mackay , an apparent   lecturer  in engineering ,  who  mentions a website listing more  than  3000  top scientists  and their credentials  who publicly reject  evolution .  He  also  mentions another  website  www.creation. com . , said to be  an internationally  respected  group    operating  from  Brisbane .

He  goes on to say "our family "  is  busy  with a  non-denominational  project   to distribute  two excellent  Christian  DVDs throughout  Mackay and  neighbouring  areas ..."This is not  about getting  anyone to  join a  church , but rather   to  give God   the glory  that is due to him . " Magnetic Island  is   hardly a  neighbouring area  of  Mackay , being  323  kilometres  north  by  road  from there.
Island residents are urged to swap  the DVD deposited in their letterbox  with  immediate  neighbours as  they  should  be  different .  Recipients are  urged to   contact him  if   they  would  like  to arrange a seminar on  the topic .  Here endeth  another fire and brimstone  parable , not  yet  detected  by  the  sinful , fork-tongued  local   media.

Monday, March 27, 2017


From far away Aurukun on the Gulf side of Cape York Peninsula came this captivating photograph of a  non-laughing  Kookaburra  studying  the ominous  black  clouds .

Meanwhile , in Townsville  , where  residents  have   been praying for  rain over  the  catchment  area  of  the  city's evaporating  dam ,  it seems  that while it  will not  be battered by  the cyclone , neither  will  it  get  a  deluge  and  continue to  be  dubbed  Brownsville   due  to  water  restrictions . One  is reminded  of  a  certain  poem  recited by a  bug eyed ,  thirsty mariner   who spoke of  water , water, everywhere (on  the Queensland coast ) -but not a  drop   for  the  Queen city  of  the North .  
The  view   south , above , towards the cyclone threatened areas , from  Picnic Bay  on  nearby Magnetic Island , which  received  six  spits  of  rain  overnight ,  shows  the  high tide  and   heavy, low  clouds .  More obviously  dehydrated  butterflies  were   spotted in the garden , including   the one below ,  seemingly  confused  by  the  weather , who  did not move when  approached  by   this  blogger  armed  with  a  camera and allowed itself  be snapped   from  various  angles . 
Another  insect seen  hovering  for lengthy periods  , despite the  gusty  wind,  was  a  Dragonfly. This  is a  bad  omen   for  Townsville because   in  the Northern Territory  Dragonflies  are  a  sign  of   the  start  of  the  Dry Season . 

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Sky   Displays  / Tie  Me  Emu  Down , Sport / More  passengers  for   Noah's Ark /Gone with  the  Wind .
Fiery sunset over Magnetic Island .
Rain  sweeping in over Atherton Tableland.
Another call was made to  the residence of the  Queen of the Jungle to see how she was continuing to  batten  down   against  the  blow .  There  was  a   similar zoo situation  to  the  previous  day's removal of the heavy  concrete Rhinoceros  which  had to  be hauled to a  safer place on the island veldt . It involved a  concrete  Emu with  strong  steel   legs ( Reo reinforcing rods ).  Could it  be   tied   to  a  nearby post ? No , the post was  loose . Solution : Emu  tipped  on  its side , an  ungainly position , below .   

Importantly ,  the  Queen's prized  car was  wrapped up   like a  Christmas plum pudding  to  prevent it  from being scratched , for  which  she rewarded the  head wrapper   with   a   carrot  cake , near  its  use  by  date , the  price  reduced .  
For our services during  the lead up to the   cyclone  , her gracious  majesty presented   this  blog  with a dusty  , framed  print, under   glass ,  of  colourful  South American  birds , monkeys and  a  frog , bearing the   name of a Californian   gallery , bought  at  a  garage sale  many  moons  ago . If any more animals  surface  Noah's  Ark  will  surely sink  or  begin  to  list .
An indication of  the  strength of the  winds on Magnetic Island  is indicated  in this   exclusive  (dubious )  photograph . 

Saturday, March 25, 2017


A cross between  a  noisy Noah's Ark  Boarding Party , a  Hard  Day's Night and a  Book Fair  

Having  been through  Cyclone Tracy  in 1974  in which  our  house   was  badly damaged , the  roof  torn off  , and  had  to be  demolished , our children  evacuated   to  Sydney ,  we are  now  awaiting  the  approach  of  Cyclone Debbie   hovering  off  the  Queensland  coast  in  the Coral Sea   with the  threat  of  destructive  winds  equal  to  Tracy .

In  preparing for  the  coming  event , time  was spent yesterday  packing  things away , removing  and  storing   objects  which  could  become  missiles . Along  the  way  there  were  unusual  and  unexpected  diversions .

On helping  the   nearby Germanic   Queen of the Jungle to clear  her  veranda, which included  two  cases of   Kiwi  wine ,  a  wildlife  carer  friend   arrived   bearing  a   limping   Curlew   seeking   the  royal  person's   opinion  on  what  to  do .

Assorted   items  were  stored in  a  large , empty  Torres Strait Pigeon  aviary which  the  Queen  used  for  research  some  years  ago .  Placed  in a  safe  place  was a  large  pot   containing  the   remains of   Beep-Beep , a  pet  Lorikeet ,  the Queen had   for  22 years .  A stream of green ants  was noticed  moving to  the heights . 

Due   to  a  prior  arrangement , there was a  quick   trip  to see  a woman with an exciting  65  boxes  of  books   and   returned  to  Little  Darwin  with   four ,  which included  an  extensive run  of the  ABC  magazine  24 Hours , Australian National  Library  journals , Australian state of  the art magazines , crime  novels , classics  and even a photocopy of  a  Dad and Dave cartoon which  had appeared in the Sydney Bulletin . No  time to  peruse  the  treasure  trove  because of   the  cyclone threat , but a   quick peek  raised  great  expectations. 

 While moving  objects  about   our  backyard   Kookaburras  were   giving  voice  and  darting  about , at times  dive bombing our resident  Curlews . Crows were also heard  making  a racket . 
Beaks  of  Sunbird  twins  visible . 
Then , noticed missing  was  the Sunbird  nest  blowing in  the  wind, above,   near  the front  door, with two babies inside , from  the  light  cord  to which it was artistically  attached .  On  investigating , the nest was  found   on  the   ground  and  , fearing  the  worst , picked  up  and  once more attached  to the cord . On close examination with  a  torch, the poor chicks  appeared  head  down  inside  , their  backsides up in the air .  Carefully moving them  one  by one  and examining , they  appeared  to  be  okay   and  were  placed  right  way up .  Poor little  birds probably thought I was an  awful creature  from another planet  carrying out  an  anal  examination , which happens to so many Americans whisked  away  in   UFOs.   No sign of  any  parent Sunbird .

It is possible  a Kookaburra  cut the  nest down as  they  are known to do so  and  one had been   seen   darting  nearby.  Fortunately , a  parent  ,  not eaten by  a  Kookaburra, was  later seen  at  the nest .  This morning  it was seen sitting in the nest with the chicks . Now the  worry  is   how will the  birds and    the nest  fare  in  the  winds   which could  be  up  to  250kph  if  we  experience the   full force . 

In  preparation for   Cyclone  Tracy , I  specially stored away  in a   cupboard   a  two volume   set  of  the 1880s  Picturesque  Atlas  of  Australasia , hoping  it would  survive ; it ended  up in a pile of  debris in  the  yard . In  the bottle  collection   packed  away  yesterday were   some  dug  up at  Pine Creek  in  the Northern Territory , including sensual   Dutch case  gins ,  Chinese  Samsu jars  and   hotel   soda  siphons   from  New Zealand and  Australia .  An essay on  Miss  Olive  Pink of Alice Springs  in   an edition   of     the  anthropology  journal   Oceania , recently obtained at a garage sale on Magnetic Island ,  was   tucked  away  in  the  hope  that  it  will  survive the   cyclone  and make an entertaining   read  in  the aftermath . 
A second  visit to  the Queen  of the  Jungle  involved  moving  a large concrete  Rhinoceros, which  had  survived  Cyclone Yasi ,  to protect its   ears,   valuable horns  and  tail  from being  damaged  in   the  tempest .  A  large  Curlew, above ,   rushed  in  and   took  up  a  position near the  Rhino, demanding  a  feed  . 
Then  a   Curlew , made  from driftwood , was  found in pieces , and assembled    for  the  above  photograph  before  being stowed away in another   aviary .  What  to move next  ? Scores of  horseshoes   used for  artistic purposes in a  basket , a   rock containing   fossils , Cinderella's  dainty  shoe  (another garage sale find )  and  surprise , surprise...a multiple amputee    John   Lennon  figure (bought at a garage sale years ago)  with a  dismembered  crocodile , a terracotta   clown's  face  and   a  Cockatoo .    
Several wonderful  birdwing butterflies   have been seen fluttering lazily  about the garden this morning and if they are  caught  up  in  the cyclone could find themselves  flying  faster  than  the  speed  of  sound . 

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Another  in  our  Hong  Kong  series  by  ace photographer Michael .


Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Sporting  a  stunning new hairstyle ,  angry  President Donald  Trump  is shown in the White House rose and prickle  garden , warning his press secretary , Sean "The Sheep "  Spicer ,  he  will  be  fired  and   replaced  with a  smart  Australian Merino  if  he cannot stop  the  media  from  writing  factual  stories about the  chaos  and cock ups in the  Trump Circus .   Our exclusive photograph, taken  by an FBI  spy camera inside  an Abe Lincoln   garden  gnome , was  received  when  the  microwave  oven was  switched on  to  heat  up  a genuine, imported, duty free   Chinese  spring roll  in the Little Darwin  greasy  spoon  canteen.


TOP :  Pedestrians . Followed  by two shots  of  sign makers in the open  with examples of their handiwork  and   assorted  stencils   on display  next  to heavy traffic . Photos by Michael .

Monday, March 20, 2017


When you  are at  the age of  this  blogger  you   try  to    dodge  the  Grim Reaper's  knockout   blow ,  roll  with  his  punches ,  so  end  up  on  a  seemingly  never  ending  medical  treadmill  with  bits cut out , blood tests , pants  dropping ,  CT  scans , ultrasound  probes, a variety of  pills , etc .    In  this  writer's   case , it   involves occasional   trips  to  the   Townsville   Hospital  where  the  packed waiting   rooms  usually  feature  a   mind  numbing   commercial  TV  channel   polluting  the  freezing   air , the screen  spewing   godawful  adverts  for  exercise gadgets,  weight reducing  offers ,   idiotic   interviews  and   utterings .   

There  is , however,   one positive side  of  such  ordeals  - the  chance to  peruse  two  trolleys  of   books   on  the  ground    floor  of the  building, said to have been  designed in  Canada, capable of  withstanding  a   record snowstorm , which is good to know ,  and  also  protection  from   marauding   polar  bears . Only  joking  re  the  bears  -  dingoes  have  been sighted   in  the  parking  area .   

 While  most  of  the  books  for  sale   are  ubiquitous  crime  paperbacks ,  some   delightful non-fiction  hardbacks  have  been  unearthed...the  Barry Humphries  autobiography , More Please , in a  silver fished  dustjacket , the  opening  piece  headed  Alzheimer Remembers ;  a  large , lavishly illustrated  tome on the  world's mythology (subsequently presented to the  artistic  Queen of the Jungle  ) ; most  recently ,   a real treasure, Blood and TinselThe Miegunyah Press,  Melbourne, 2008,   a memoir   of  the  Australian  director of plays, musicals, films  and  operas  here  and  overseas ,  Jim Sharman . The    very   sighting  of   his  name on  the  dustjacket  sent  my  blood  pressure  up  with  the  strong belief   that   it  would   contain     information   about  a  number of  subjects  of   interest . 
In particular , I hoped it would  contain something  about  boxer    Rud Key ,  the  subject   of  a post  in  this blog    on  December  1  last , headed  CHINESE  BOXING CHAMPION  OF  THE   AUSTRALIAN  UNDERWORLD  .
That yarn  told how  in a  slim booklet , Ravenswood Remembered , by  Mary Crow , born 1915,  there  was  mention  of   a Chinese family which   ran  Lee Gow's bakery in the Queensland  mining  town  . One  child ,  "Choonga ", keen on boxing , had joined   the  famous touring  Sharman Boxing Troupe , fighting under the name  Rud Key  ,  his  ashes  supposedly   returned   and   scattered  about  the   town   by   his  brother . 

Following up  this  intriguing  story  , a search of the  Chinese  section of the Ravenswood Cemetery  listed  storekeeper  Key Jung , 56, who had died   in  1927, a possible  relative ?  

 Further  research  in Trove and  boxing   books  provided  additional  information, unfortunately not very extensive ,   about  Rud  Key / Kee , even billed as the  Champion  of  All  China , fighting   in  numerous  places  in  Australia , including Tasmania . He  had  been with the  Sharman Boxing Troupe  for  35  years  , in various roles , including beating  the  drum  to  attract  people  to   the   fight  tent  at  shows  and  ticket  seller .

On taking   the  Sharman  memoir  home   from  the  hospital , I  stretched out on the bed and began to  read  . On  reaching   page 9 , I  gave a yell , which  caused   my wife   to  ask  what was  wrong . It  was  a cry of exultation , not agony ,  nor  my last gasp  ,  for there  was mention  of   "  Rud  Kee" , described as  the Sharman  ticket seller  and  troupe manager ,  in  print.     It went on to  affectionately  call  him " Old  Rud, " who had been with the organisation   since  1911, through two wars and the Depression ,  his  little  known real   name   Cheong  Lee.  

 Later on  in the  book  , the author   said his  paternal grandmother  may have made an unexpected  cruise on  the Mariposa  to  Hong  Kong and  Japan     due to "wise old Rud Kee  ".   She came back   with  lots  of watches strapped to her body , under  her  corsets .  It  is  a  wonder  brilliant  Jim Sharman  did  not turn Rud  into  a fabulous stage  show  or  musical .      There  is  clearly a  bigger story   to   be   dug   up  about  this   character  Rud  ;  the  hunt goes on .  
Building  from  early  days  of  Ravenswood  where  the  boxer's ashes  could still be blowing in the wind . Stepped  up   mining  in  the   town  will  require removal of  old  chimney  stacks  in   the  area . 
The   palpitations   caused  by   the  Rud  Kee  revelations  in  the book were  minor   compared  to   the  surprise  on  reading  further   that   Sharman's   father   had  sent packing  a  crooked  cop -Terry Lewis -who  became the   Queensland  Commissioner  of   Police ,  eventually   jailed  , stripped  of   his  knighthood.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Like Darwin , in the Northern Territory  of Australia, Horn Island , in the Torres Strait , off  the  tip of Queensland, recently  marked the  75th  anniversary   of  commencement   of    Japanese  WWll   attacks  .
By  Peter  Simon  

Situated  800  kilometres north of  Cairns ,  the island's airstrip enabled Allied attacks  on Papua New Guinea and  other  Pacific  targets  . As a  result , it became  the  second most  attacked  Australian  target  after  Darwin .

A  longtime  Territory  resident ,  the  late  Les Penhall , was not only in Darwin the day of  the first attack , he   later served  on  Horn  Island   as  a  signaller   with  the 74th Mobile Anti-Aircraft  Searchlight  Battery .
I met Penhall  in Darwin in the late  1950s when I covered the Darwin Police  Courts and the  Supreme Court   for  the Northern Territory News  and  Les  worked  for  the ( Aboriginal )  Welfare Department, appearing  regularly at  the Monday morning  court  call  over ,  representing   Aboriginal  clients. 

Penhall  first   came to  Darwin from  Adelaide  on November 29,1941 ,  an 18 year old   clerk with the  Native Affairs Branch , his work involving contact with  bushman  Bill  Harney,  later a  popular author ,  the first caretaker of Ayers  Rock (Uluru).

On the morning of  February 19 , 1942 ,  he made  arrangements   with  Iris Bald and two of  her  girlfriends  to   attend The Star Theatre  in  the  evening .While sitting  at his desk , the drone  of  planes was heard   and  the bombing began . He ran  out of   the office  , past  the police station-bombed  , heading for a  cliff which fell away to the beach . As he  raced   for  his life  , he saw a bomb  fall on the  Post  Office ,  killing   nine staff  ,  including , Iris Bald   and  her  parents.
A piece of shrapnel   tore  a  hole in his shirt  and caused a minor  cut .  One  vivid memory was  seeing the USS Peary  sinking  , an anti-aircraft gun  still firing  as   it  sank  from  view.  Bullets  from   Zeros   could be heard  zipping through the foliage , there were   violent ,  deafening explosions   
He travelled  overland in a police party  in a truck loaded with rescued  Works  Department  files  and  ended up  in Alice Springs  where one of his many jobs was to sort out the files brought  down  from  Darwin . He also helped draw up a list of  crewmembers    from  ships sunk in Darwin  who  were evacuated  south in road convoys , many of  them Chinese and Malays  , who wore name tags .

General  MacArthur  in  Alice  Springs
During the month he spent in  Alice he had  meals at the Stuart Arms  Hotel and was there when  General Douglas MacArthur , his wife   and  son , passed through , having  fled the  Philippines. The son, about   four , had  a three wheeler  bike   and "made a nuisance of himself " by  riding it  round  and  round  inside the hotel, running  into  people's legs and   sideboards.
Drafted  into the  Army, Les  went  by train  to  Adelaide, underwent  training , and was  sent to Horn  Island ,  which the  Japanese  first bombed  on March 14, 1942.  The main airstrip  had been completed in 1940   and work then  started on a  cross  trip.
Penhall arrived aboard the   SS Islander  which was  later  sunk  by  the Japanese  . The feeling at the time was that  the Japanese, in  New Guinea ,  would island hop  down through the  islands to the mainland .  Allied bomber and fighter raids were launched  from  the island , which  resulted  in  stepped up  attacks  by  the  enemy .   
Searchlights , he said , were  set up on  nearby Tuesday and  Wednesday islands  to help   protect  Horn Island  from  attack . When   planes made  night raids on  Japanese targets  , a  searchlight was positioned   vertically into the sky  as a  beacon  to  guide returning  pilots.  Each searchlight group  consisted of 12 men .  
The 2002 book, Horn Island 1939-1945 , by Vanessa and Arthur Liberty SeeKee  , mentioned  Penhall . In a  special  presentation  copy  to Les ,  the inscription read :  Thank you  for what you did  here in Horn island  during  World War Two . The 74th Mob SL Bty  and yourself  won't  be  forgotten .

Saturday, March 18, 2017


 Evacuated  from  Darwin  with   his mother, sister  and three  brothers   aboard the MV Montoro  before the Japanese  first attackEric  Lee , who died recently, resulting in a  huge funeral , was a jovial   raconteur  with  seemingly  endless  yarns  about  wharfies  and colourful  characters  and events .    He  regularly met  with a small group  in  the noisy food hall at Casuarina , Darwin ,  and the  Nightcliff  shopping  centre ,  where  bygone  days were  discussed ,  passers  by  asked  for  racehorse tips.    
 One member of the group   was  frequently  chiacked  about the time , he  firmly declared ,  he  had  a close encounter with a  UFO ; he would  be  asked   to repeat  details  of  the episode from  time to time to liven  proceedings  over cups of   coffee  and  tea .
Fred Corpus 

This blogger sat in on several  such gatherings  at  both  venues .  A person  who chatted with  Eric  was  barrel-chested Fred Corpus , slow in gait, on a walking stick, who carried   in his wallet a  photo of himself as a  young man in a diving suit when he was a famous hard hat  pearl diver , mentioned  in several books .  In the Senate in  October 1952 it was recorded that Corpus and Joe Hunter fished four tons four hundredweight of pearl shell in one neap tide , thus breaking a  pre- war record set by the Japanese . One year, during the Broome Festival of  the  Pearls , , Fred Corpus was the Shinju  Matsuri  Patron  who visited  the  luggers .
A member of the Northern Territory Genealogical  Society, Eric Lee  told me he was seven when evacuated   from Darwin  in January 1942.  He regarded the  voyage as  a n exciting adventure , the  vessel , escorted by mine sweepers ,  calling  at Thursday Island, where  relatives  took  the  family for a car  tour . On January 27, all civilians   on Thursday Island were  given notice   to    be evacuated  the  following  day  on  the  Zealandia and Ormiston    for  Brisbane . The  Zealandia  was   bombed  and sank  with the loss of three lives  when  it returned to Darwin .
When  the Lee  family  went ashore  during the  Montoro  stopover  in  Townsville  he  experienced  jelly , which he regarded as  wonderful tucker ,  for  the  first  time , a  fan  for  life . In Brisbane , the  family stayed at a  place  where the woman who  owned  the property  had  given instructions to hang out a  white  sheet   in the  event of  an  invasion  as  she  wanted  nothing  to  do  with  the  Japanese.
While in Sydney  they went to Luna Park  and that night  the  Japanese    launched  a  midget  submarine attack  on the harbour .
At the age of  17,  Eric returned to Darwin and got a  job as a  wharfie , pretending  to be a  year older .  His love  of  jelly was such that he used to take  jelly crystals  to work , mix  some  with  water  and  put  it  in  the  frig  to  set  for   smoko .
During our  discussions , I raised the  subject of  the well  known  Darwin   civilian who had  been  incredibly   brave  during the   bombing  of  Darwin, driving his truck  up to the wharf ,  saving many lives , on the  waterfront  and  in  the  harbour ,  who   later in life  had  abducted  and  sexually assaulted a   five year old  girl , the  court  proceedings   I  had  covered .  Eric , who knew the  man ,  shook  his head  from  side  to  side , put his  hand  up  to  his  head .   

We discussed  and  compared notes  over an  incident  in which a  man,  who  had obviously had a  heavy  Saturday night and just wanted to sleep it off,  fired a  shot  at  a  wretched  neighbour in Fannie Bay  who was  out mowing  the  lawn  early on  the  Sabbath .  

Friday, March 17, 2017


Viewed  from Magnetic Island . Townsville , in the dry tropics region , adjacent  to the Great Barrier Reef , Australia's largest urban centre north of  the Sunshine Coast,  is  on water restrictions after  another  poor  Wet  season .


Thursday, March 16, 2017


Another  Shipping Reporter  Scoop

The Townsville Water Police   vessel  Brett Irwin  has   a  new  weapon  mounted on the  bow  deck - not a harpoon gun  -  a   hard  to see , small , mock  bird of prey , seen   peeping over the chain  across the  railings  in  this exclusive snap. Also hard to see , near  the stern , on the poop deck ? ,  is the small  owl  scarer  first  placed on  the  reportedly $4million  floating  police station   to  frighten  real  birds away.  It is  suggested  a  life sized  sea  eagle  like this  one  off  Magnetic  Island  would be more effective  .