Thursday, August 31, 2017


A  classic example  of  French  with  tears .
Captain Burleigh and Rope Girl Judi cleaning up  after messy  visitors .
The third and hopefully the last canicule (heatwave) of the French summer ended last night, when rain pounded on the canvas and Perspex surfaces of our boat for almost eight hours. These are the times when the human brain is at its worst. Mine has trained itself to wake up early on sunny summer mornings when the birds are drunk with song and the Nespresso machine is straining at the leash, and it’s incapable of understanding that rainy days are a rare chance to rejuvenate. Instead of remaining comatose for a few extra hours, it chooses to think about things it considers important; for example, the role visitors play in canal life.
Yesterday we completed a 12-day tour for two tranches of visitors/friends, back-to-back, and instead of my usual antisocial snarling I am delighted we all enjoyed ourselves and worked well together. I get that most people don’t know what living in a small boat means in terms of co-operation and privacy, but with a little forethought… our friends made sure they had the minimum of luggage and they helped cook, helped maintain the wine cellar (wine bilge?) and helped with other on-board jobs.

They were determined to pull their weight. They made us feel good to be with them by simply treating us as equals, not servants. With other visitors this hasn’t always been the case. If only the supermarkets stocked a Visitor Repellent Spray.

Visitors come in all shapes and sizes. Through the mist rising above my morning coffee, I see tourists wrapping up their summer shopping before boarding their trains, buses, camping cars, and boats. Their faces are pinched and tense, as if their final bout of retail therapy failed them by falling below their compulsory level of expenditure.

Like Russell Crowe in Master and Commander, we must be ruthless with those visitors who get through our stringent qualification process, whatever their race or creed. We must introduce a strict induction program – no stealing novels from the bookshelf, no writing smart comments in the margins of the canal maps, no staying silent when the Vodka and/or Gin drops below two-thirds of a bottle, always making regular changes of underwear, and no singing Mariah Carey songs after 6pm. If you’re too accommodating your visitors will take advantage.
They’ll use you and your boat as a destination rather than a stepping-stone, consuming your food and grog and shamelessly dirtying your linen. They ask us to be their travel agents. If they stay for five days or more, they will ‘own’ us because we’re so socially responsible.

 Before you open your door to more visitors, consider what your not-negotiable Rules for Visitors might be. Of course your family relatives might be a different proposition, especially if you are currying favour from an ancient Aunt to be remembered in her will.
Nevertheless, a list of rules for visitors can deepen their understanding of your needs. You can develop lists of rules under several groupings:Friends,Friends with Children, Tradesmen, Relatives (individual and en masse ),Authorities (police, paramedics , Mormons etc ).
Don’t be put off – after all, Christianity came up with the Ten Commandments for Visitors to the Manger and they’ve been around for a couple of thousand years. All your rules for potential visitors can be gathered in a ‘Naval Regulations’-type file. In the Royal Navy of the 18th century most breaches of regulations were punishable by death or flogging. Of course, they used ‘Press Gangs’ to kidnap people to keep up crew numbers, but this is not the intention here; rather it is to reduce the number of crew members.
*    Each morning before your visitors scrub the decks, call them into the main saloon and read them the regulations and the penalties for failure.
*   If you have visitors you don’t like, tell them the lice infestation in their cabin may lessen as the weather gets cooler later in the year, and meanwhile to have their antibiotics close to hand as doctors are impossible to find.
*Issue a list of daily visitor-purchases, including food supplies and wine & spirits, to be on board by sunset irrespective of the environment (this is effective in rural areas). Remember to keep a supply of fois-de-gras and lobster pate in your own stateroom.
  *   Organise visits to repulsive locations to encourage visitors to leave before their schedule requires. For example, take them to a horse-meat abattoir, or an edible- snail farm, or to a wine bar frequented by criminally-insane lock-keepers, or a Charcutiere who makes Tete-de-Veaux (look it up).
*   Ensure you offer the option of marooning them in an attractive town to make desertion their preferred outcome.

*  Organise stomach-turning activities like communal colouring-in books, bingo (using verbal French numbers), joint laundry-washing on the banks of the canals,  cheese-inhalation races and so on.

When I tell a visitor that I write a  blog ,they immediately expect to be entertained by tales, intelligent quips, clever asides and quotable witticisms. Some ex-visitors ask “why haven’t you put me into one of your blog pieces?”

“Oh, but I have,” I reply.“It must have been your inaccuracies that put me off,” they say, dooming themselves to eternal banishment.
They expect spontaneity, but spontaneity takes time. They expect Cordon Bleu cooking but when served the French Supermarket’s idea of a Thai Red Curry, complete with neon-coloured sauce and wan frozen vegetables, they complain.

A good visitor is someone who has a black Amex card and tells you to ‘help yourself’. With a black Amex card you can buy a canal boat as big as an aircraft carrier, the island of Sardinia or a South American nation beginning with a ‘V’. When you have one of those, money doesn’t just talk, it shouts…and you’re welcome everywhere.
So, this should give you an idea of how to manage the expectations of visitors to your boat, caravan or asbestos-clad beach shack. Imagine how different the story of the Bounty would have been if all their problems had been handed over to American Express.

And tomorrow we resume our journey.  An unbidden vision of a cranky lock-keeper appears behind my drooping eyelids. He glowers at me. He’s the favoured candidate to become the ferryman over the River Styx after the incumbent retires. As dozing submerges into dreams, a woodpecker begins tapping at the timber boat moored beside us. Not a woodpecker – someone is clacking away on an old typewriter. Not a typewriter – it’s rain, tap-tapping on our roof again.

After Peter Burleigh posted this brilliant  rainy day  inspired   dirge ,  his shocked wife, Judi ,  insisted  he promptly  send out an apology  to  all  their  friends , relatives  , visitors (past and  future , including  Pete Steedman )  , Mormons , even Little Darwin, lock  keepers , etc.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Packed with  great  biographical details  and photographs  of  the  women whose  work was  exhibited  in  the national tour of  1981-1982 , the above  accompanying publication  brought  to light the  little known  extensive  involvement  by  women  in  this  field .  

 It states that  a Mrs Oswald Allen ran a photographic studio in Sydney  with her husband in 1871 ; nine other women had their own studios in Sydney between 1860 and 1900.  The first Australian Exhibition of Women's Work , held in the  Melbourne Exhibition Buildings , October  1907, displayed  16,000 entries , 98 photographers  from   all  states  entering  298  shots .

In  books  about the  history of  the  camera in Australia, the work of women  received  little   coverage .
 Adelie Hurley , born  1910 ,  daughter of  Captain Frank Hurley  the  famous  Australian  still and newsreel photographer, won  a  prize when she was 11  with  a Box Brownie . Self taught , she became a freelance  photographer  for  Pix magazine in 1938,possibly one of the  first three  women  press  photographers  in  Australia .
She stowed away  on an overland  troop convoy and   got  photographs of Darwin  before the civil  evacuation of  the city and  the Japanese bombing . Off  to America she went in 1947, came back and worked on The Sun, Sydney , also  the Daily Telegraph and  the Australian Women's Weekly . Her assignments included overseas  trips , outback stations and  Aboriginal sacred  sites in Arnhem Land . One husband  managed  a resort north of   Bowen, North  Queensland .    
 Sarah Chinnery (1887-1970), born Sarah Johnston Neill in Belfast , Northern Island , she  was  sent to England to  housekeep for  three of  her  brothers, all dentists , when her father remarried. Given a  Little Nipper camera , she became a member of three postal camera  clubs  and  won several prizes. 
In search of  subjects, she rode a motorbike , said to be  the second woman in England to have  a  licence. Like her brothers, she studied  dentistry and  did  work on Australian troops . In  1919 she married Australian anthropology student  E.W.Pearson Chinnery , studied town planning at Cambridge and attended anthropology lectures in preparation   for  moving to   New Guinea with her husband  when he became  Government Anthropologist there .
 She spent  16 years in New Guinea  from 1921 , travelled far and wide with her  camera  , her  photographs  published in Australian  newspapers  , three pages  in  the New York Times  in 1935. 
 Present  at  the 1933  first session of the  New Guinea Legislative  Council , she also captured the  1937 volcanic eruption at  Rabaul. On trips to Australia to have her  children , before settling in Melbourne ,  she met several arts and crafts people. She knew  Ellis Rowan , the intrepid   painter of wildflowers and birds   who travelled  through New  Guinea and  North Queensland.
Bernice Agar 1885-1976, born in Bowen , North Queensland,  after  training  in the Bain Photographic  Studios, Toowoomba , went to Sydney  and became renowned for  her  shots of  socialite   women  and  leading artists, including Thea Proctor . 
The Moore Sisters . Born  on  a small farm north of Auckland , New Zealand , in the l880s ,  their father a  timber cutter , May and  Mina  , became  prominent  in photography  in Melbourne and  Sydney . May ,  a striking woman , six  feet tall , wore Bohemian dresses; her  photographs were  run  in The Home, Triad  and The Lone Hand . Her husband , Harry Wilkes,  a dentist , gave up his practice to fully support  May in her  studio . They shared  an interest in Australian art and books and  had  a substantial library .
At one stage May   had a  studio in the Bulletin building in Sydney where she photographed  cartoonists  such as  "Hop " ( L. Hopkins )   , other  well known identities, the  Melba Opera Company  .
Both sisters  photographed   many young men going  off  to fight in WWl. The highly detailed commentary  in this  most interesting  catalogue  said a number of  women photographers   had   never married after young men they knew had been  killed  in  the  war . 
The  three enthusiasts  responsible for  pulling  the exhibition together and compiling  all the biographical information  were  Barbara Hall , born 1946, Victoria ,  television ,  radio and  print journalist, researcher . Founding member Women's Art Movement , Sydney . Organised  two  exhibitions  as  part of feminist  collectives:  Self  Image and Women's Images of Women , 1977. Contributed  to Lip  magazine  1976-1980. 
 Jenni Mather , born  1946, Victoria ,  a former  librarian , working  photographer. Christine Gillespie , born 1944, Victoria , gave her  nine year old daughter  Emily a  Box Brownie  camera   in 1980 , which she used to take the following  shot of  the  three , from the left , Gillespie, Mather and  Hall .   

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


In the numerous treasures in  the Special Collections section  of  the  Eddie  Koiki Mabo  Library at  James  Cook  University, Townsville , are these  two books  by Mrs  Aeneas (Jeannie )  Gunn   who wrote  the highly successful  1908  autobiographical novel We of  the Never  Never ,  about  life  in  the  Northern  Territory  of  Australia .

The above  books   are    from  the library  of   university benefactor  Miss  Edna  Shaw , in  memory of her father , John Vernon Shaw, which  consists of more than  4500 volumes  on  Australian  art  and  culture .
A pasted inclusion  in the  Little Black Princess of  the Never  Never is a  newspaper clipping from the  Melbourne  Argus of  April 24, 1907  about   the Princess ,  called  Bett-Bett   , visiting   Mrs Gunn , living in Hawthorn ,  Victoria  .   She  had  come down   from  Port Darwin with a woman and was met at  the  Spencer  Street railway station  by  Mrs  Gunn . From the Little Darwin Never Never  file is a  photo of Bett-Bett  and  dingo looking  dog from a  battered book  which had once  been  in the library of a passenger vessel which ran between  Australia  and  Britain .   
The  report  said  Bett-Bett , a servant ,  had developed from "the  little  bush niggar  girl " when  Mrs  Gunn first  met her    at  the  Elsey cattle station , on the Roper River,  into a comely , intelligent  child  with  a  wonderful  command of  the   English tongue .

During her  time  at Mrs   Gunn's residence they had  discussed Elsey Station  life  and  people  there .  Bett-Bett  had returned to the  Northern  Territory with many souvenirs  and the hope that if Mrs Gunn returned to the Top End they would "go bush " together .
Mrs Gunn , born in Melbourne , where she taught at a  private school , had married  Aeneas  Gunn , described as an explorer, pastoralist and journalist . Newlyweds , they  set out   for  Port Darwin  in 1902  so that Aeneas  could  manage  Elsey Station , at Mataranka , a  former  part  owner  having suicided  .

Mrs Gunn  was  said to be  the first white woman  in the district and  was  called the  Little Missus , her husband  The Maluka . 

Her husband  died   from malarial dysentery  in March 1903 and she returned to Melbourne  where she  wrote  the  novel  , first published in London , translated into German in 1927 , adapted for  Australian schools .   It  was made into a  film  starring  Angela Punch McGregor  as  Jeannie  Gunn , Arthur Dignam as her husband  and  Sibina  Willy  as  Bett-Bett .Executive director was  Phillip Adams , now of  the ABC Late Night Live .   By   l990  the book  had notched up sales in excess of  1,000,000.      

 Mrs Gunn  gave  special thanks  to  W. "Wallaby "  Holtze  of  Katherine  River  in the NT  for  the  courteous  and  practical  help  he  gave  in  posing  and  photographing   groups of   natives for   publication .

When Mrs   Gunn  died  in June 1951, the  ALP  Member  for the NT in the  House of Representatives , Jock Nelson , said she  had  depicted  the life , the spirit  and  the  north  as  no  other  person before  her  or  since .

It was thought that  the Aboriginal  servant  girl  who featured in  the books  had died  . However , in the   l970s ,  Mrs  Dolly  Bonson , of Darwin , revealed she had been  Bett-Bett , the last  of  the Never Never  characters .  After a tough life , she  had  married an  Englishman , the Bonsons  now well known in the Top End . She  died  in March l988 , aged  95,  and  there is a monument to her  in  the  Elsey  Cemetery .


Forty years ago the Newcastle  Regional Art Gallery in New South Wales ,  with the  help of  defamation barrister  Clive Evatt, staged   the   above  pop  art exhibition  which  dealt  with  mass  media  comic strip  and  other superheroes in Australian  art.  Naturally,  The  Phantom  was well represented   ,  but   Prime  Minister  Malcolm Fraser ,  Ginger  Meggs   and   Superman , with  his  zipper down ,  also  got  a  run .

It  introduced up and coming artists of the Australian art world  to Newcastle , including  one of  Australia's  greatest psychedelic artists , Martin Sharp ,about whom  more will  be posted at  a later  date . 

A longtime collector and  friend of  artists ,Clive  Evatt  owned and ran the  Hogarth Gallery , Sydney, which closed  in 2010  after 38 years . The Ghost Who Walks Can Never  Die  Exhibition  which ran from  September  1 to October 2, 1977, included  works  by  painters  and  sculptors a number of which  had  been displayed in his  gallery .
Over the   years  he  has  been the subject  of  much   media  attention .  Evatt , above ,  struck  fear into newspaper owners   because  of   defamation  cases he brought  against  them  . In  newspaper  interviews   he  comes  across   as  a larger than  life character: A  portrait of   Lenin on  a door ... a set of  Little Britain dolls  leering   from   a  table  near   his  desk ... six  telephones  ...gambling wins  which enabled him  to  fly overseas and  buy paintings ...early forays into Aboriginal art  .  
 He   explained  he  took on  defamation cases against the Press  to avenge his relatives   who  were smeared  by  them   as  Communist sympathisers ..."My  father (a barrister  and  NSW politician )  and  my uncle  ( Dr  Herbert  Vere Evatt,    onetime   Labor  Leader  of  the Federal Opposition ,   a NSW Chief Justice  )   really  copped  it  from  the media ." 
They had been treated cruelly , he said ,  and he welcomed  the chance to  kick back against the media . One of his many interests  was running a  toy and railway museum  in  the Blue Mountains .     

Recently   the Newcastle Regional Gallery staged a  similar   exhibition ,  The Phantom Show ,  one of the  curators,  Peter     Kingston,  had  exhibited  in the  1977  one .  At  the time of  the earlier  exhibition  he  had been a cartoonist  for  Oz Magazine  and Tharunka   and  made the   film , Mr Walker  in  Paris .  The film had been made  in partnership with  artist, cartoonist  and  filmmaker  Garry Shead , who had  worked  in Sydney, Paris , the cover for the above catalogue  half   his 1974   work , Orpheus .
 It seems  true  that the   Phantom  lingers on and  on ...In a Townsville barber  shop  last  week ,  there  was  the  Phantom , in a rack , watching   the    annual   shearing  of   this  scruffy  scribbler. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017


Art  correspondent  Ponsonby  Willis parachutes in another unusual special  , the  1980 catalogue for the  exhibition   at the National Trust's  S.H. Ervin Museum and Art Gallery , the  cover illustration  , entitled Moths around the  Quay , a 1932  linocut  by Ailsa Lee Brown  depicting Tiger Moth aircraft  flying over  the Sydney Harbour  Bridge  and  Circular  Quay .

It  highlighted  the  impact of the  construction of the  Sydney Harbour Bridge  and  use  of    art deco  design  in architecture , cinemas , the Anzac War  Memorial, Luna Park with  its floating  art deco ballroom , incinerators , the Trocadero  Dance  Hall , photography ,  paintings ,  woodcuts , linocuts , pencil  drawings .

Outlined  was   the  art deco vision for  Sydney in  the  1930s , the buildings  emulating  the skyscrapers of  New York , such as the   Empire State  and  the  Chrysler Building.   




Abra  study  ; Cairns  Library  building .  

Friday, August 25, 2017


As promised , art  correspondent  Ponsonby  Willis  has  produced  a  most unexpected   Brisbane  connection  with   legendary  King  Arthur   and the  Knights  of   the  Round  Table.

The above bookplate portraying  Sir Lancelot in  an assignation with Queen Guinevere is  from the    great art  library  of  pioneering  Queensland  medical  practitioner   James  Vincent  Duhig (1889-1963)  , nephew of   former Catholic  Archbishop  Sir  James  Duhig   of   Brisbane .
During   WWl  James  served  with  the  AIF  in field ambulances and  general hospitals , demobbed   he  became the  first medico to set   up  as a pathologist  in Queensland .

With a brilliant mind , he attacked all forms of  hypocrisy , supported  free speech  and  opposed  book  censorship . Despite having been brought up as a Catholic , he became president of   the  Queensland  Rationalist   Society. It was  said  he  delighted in publicly baiting  Archbishop  Duhig,  saying  religious  beliefs  frustrated  honest   thinking .
 During the Depression he took part in "radical causes " and led deputations demanding help  for  unemployed . He advocated prohibition and said reform of military drinking should  take place in officers' messes. 
He  campaigned strongly  for a medical school to be set up in Queensland   and became the Professor of Pathology  at the University of Queensland    from 1938-l947. Poisonous Queensland  fish were  one of his many interests, especially the highly venomous  stonefish .

 A president of the  Royal Queensland Art Society for 10 years , much of his art collection was  left  to the Queensland  University .  (The  Archbishop, who   also  had  a  large  art  collection  and  loved  literature  ,  spoke out against  the Chifley plan to  nationalise banks  and supported the  vote to  ban the Communist  Party .)

The bookplate  is  in  a well illustrated  book  by Robin Ironside  about   Wilson Steer , a painter in the  British Artists series by Phaidon Press, 1943.  It was  drawn by  New Zealand  born  painter , commercial artist , Albert  Collins (1883-1951 ) , a teacher in New South Wales  secondary schools  (1906-1916 ), director of an advertising company and also conducted  the   popular  ABC children's  radio show , The Argonauts .


In a  just released book , former Northern Territory  Administrator and   entertainer , Ted Egan , gives  a  reappraisal  of  the controversial , dogged by  bad luck   Scottish  veterinary scientist ,   Dr  John  Anderson   Gilruth ,  the first  Commonwealth Administrator of  the NT ,   forced  to  flee Darwin  in 1919  after   the  so called  Darwin Rebellion .  Gilruth went on to become a  founder of   the  CSIRO.  One of  Egan's better known songs was  about  bloody good drinkers in the Territory . He will deliver  a  talk on Gilruth in Darwin on  September  8.  


WELLINGTON :    A  surprising  number  of  people  claiming to be long lost relatives of  the   Kiwi    Deputy  Prime Minister of  Australia ,  Barnaby  Joyce,  have   contacted  New  Zealand   newspapers  .  They and  others  are prepared to  supply  exclusive   information  and   anecdotes for   a   fee, deposited   in  a   Bank  of   Nigeria  account.
One of  the most  intriguing   stories  to come to light  is   about a person  only known  in records  as    J. Joyce  head  gardener   for   a  member of  the  landed  gentry in  the South Island , Sir  Heaton Rhodes  ,   on  the Elmwood   estate  at Otahuna  , near Christchurch .  It  became one of  the most famous  private  gardens in  the Dominion ,  with  vast  areas  of  daffodils , more  than   excited  the  poet  William    Wordsworth

 Gardener  Joyce  was mainly responsible for   planting   the   daffodil   bulbs and  as a result  was   supposedly  nicknamed  both  “ Daffy” Joyce  and  “Bulby” Joyce. It is suggested that  Barnaby may have been so named  after  old "Bulby"...the  Kiwi  accent  responsible  for  the  error .
 Heaton  was a  member of a  prominent   family which at  one stage   dabbled in  alpacas   which  were  found  to  have antisocial habits-kicking ,  spitting.  Readers of   this  blog   know that   Barnaby  is   also  wary when  dealing  with   alpacas .
Not  only did   Heaton serve  in the Boer  War , he  turned to politics, held  several ministerial  portfolios  : Postmaster General , Railways, State Forest , Public   Health , Tourist  Department , Defence ; even Deputy Leader  ... Nearly as many  jobs  as  Barnaby  Joyce . It is interesting to note  that  Sir   Heaton   had a   massive , rare stamp collection  and   swapped  part of   it   for  a   red  poll  bull .   
Another dubious would  be informant  ,    Keith Holyoake  , above,  has   been  convicted  numerous  times   for  making   Hokianga Hooch - moonshine -   from   illegal  stills  out  in  the  hills where  members of the All Blacks run about with   bags of cement  on their shoulders .  Holyoake,  who  claims he is related to  a  former  NZ PM  “Kiwi Keith” Holyoake  ,  insists   the   Joyces   bred   like  rabbits and possums  when  they moved  to  New  Zealand  from  the  Old Dart in the l9th century  and   muscled  in  on  his  great-grandfather’s  market   for   rotgut .
“There was a lot of a feudin’ and a fussin’ between the Joyces  and the  Holyoakes, '' he  claimed . It  only ended when  the   pioneers   drew   straws ,from behind their ears, to  end  the   war - the  Joyces   got  the  South Island , Bondi  and  New England ,  the  Holyoakes , the  North  Island, Wagga Wagga   and   the   Gold  Coast .

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Things may well  be crook in Muswellbrook, but   Castle Hill , above,  overlooking  the Queen City of the North , is looking  glum,  down  at the mouth , as if  suffering  from  toothache ,  epitomising  a  feeling  afoot  in  the ville .

There  are  clear  signs   that  Townsville is  going bonkers , cracking under  the  strain  of  water restrictions , the  Cowboys being smashed by  Mexicans , Thurston's shoulder  refusing to  heal despite the laying on of many hands , the coal fired Murdoch  Townsville  Bulletin  rabbiting  on   about  the  same old issues ,  more yapping    dogs  being  abandoned  , unemployment  high , signs of  an  early  trying  build up to the  Wet season ,  not one  of which  has    filled the   city's dam catchment  area  since    the   crossing  of   the  Red  Sea  by  the  fleeing  Israelites .

Evidence of  the  stressful situation   is  the  action of  a prominent , well respected   resident   we  know  who punched  his  Epson  copying  machine , only two months  old,  and then  threw it into the wheelie bin  because it would not work  properly.  This is more drastic behaviour than Mr Fawlty belting his car with a branch for not working .

 Another person , who shall remain anonymous for obvious reasons , was  seen  parading  about  wearing an imported, expensive  replica of  Napoleon Bonaparte's  cocked   hat .  He is expected to be  dragged off  soon by men in  white  coats. There are indications of an early mango crop , so the annual outbreak  of   Mango Madness  can  be expected across  the entire  north , not only in Townsville , so medical  staff  will have to  cancel  drug company  skiing holidays .  

 On reading  that  the  Townsville Bulletin  had  once more  gone to  The  Strand  to photograph  and  ask  a  curvy  piece  of   visiting  eye candy in a  bikini ( didn't Rupert  declare  P3 girls  old  hat?  )  if  she felt  there  would be rain ,  a  woman  yelled,  threw  her arms  up in the air, said she would never buy the   bloody paper  again .   What would  a  backpacker   know  about  predicting  North   Queensland  weather ?

Exactly . And while on the subject of aliens  from  another planet , the  Bulletin , Bully  for short , has started  running   the    column  of  bombastic Paul  Murray  who anchors another fair and balanced   Murdoch owned  television  show  in Sydney ,  joining   the  array of  southern  syndicated  ear-bashers writing   for  the  paper , and  other Murdoch publications  ,  the price of  which  has  gone  up  more  than  14 per  cent . 

Murray  came to  Townsville   during the recent  V8 Supercars , his pending   visit  written  up  in  the Bulletin  as if  news of  the   Second Coming . The reaction  to the   Murray column   is like that of  the   tragic event when  freezing locals  at  the opal mining   town of   Coober Pedy , South Australia ,  were induced  on  an  early  morning  television  show  to  sing happy birthday  to  Ray Hadley , another  Sydney  babbler  : Ray Who ?...Why do the gods  and  the crumbling  Coalition   punish  South  Australia so much  ?  
Instead of rain , an indication of an early , trying build up to  add to the misery .


In  recent   months our peripatetic art correspondent  Ponsonby Willis has been in  an  absolute  seventh heaven.  Lucky fellow  was  given  the rare  opportunity to   peruse  the contents  of a long line of   Ansett Wridgways  storage  boxes, a small number   above,  which  had  not been opened  for   30 years , containing  a  treasure  trove of   books , ephemera , journals , magazines .
Subjects  covered  in  the  eclectic  collection included  world  art-Australian , British, French , Canadian , Chinese, Japanese, Russian-some  presentation copies by authors of  books  on famous  artists  ;  Australian  and  American  architecture ;   antiques , silver , Oriental carpets ;   Australasian  and  American  art  journals ; Australiana , including a  tome dealing  with  documents relating to Australian international affairs  1901-1918 ; feminist literature ;  a  box  of  Melbourne  Age monthly reviews  from  the  l980s and several containers of  ABC radio  guides  for  the same period ; a run of Australian  National  Gallery Association   journals .  When   Ponsonby  comes down to earth from this thrilling experience , he promises   to knock out  a  swag  of  offbeat  posts   for  the  blog  , inspired  by  the grand  contents of  the  boxes .       


Littledarwin  resident  Curlews  spring surprise in  Ikebana  class .

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Dressed in black  like a  mourner at  the imminent  funeral  of   the   Turnbull Government Foreign Minister  Julie  Bishop revealed  the  little known  fact that  she  is a  polished  stand up  comedian , as  shown by  the above reaction when  she  accused  the  subversive Australian Labor  Party of  colluding  with  a  foreign  power  to  bring down  the  Coalition. The  popular  image  of Ms. Bishop is  that  of a hard nosed , gimlet  eyed   person  with a fierce  glare  that  melts  garden  gnomes,  captured  in  cartoons  with  unfunny fly in the  ointment Tony Abbott , a   former   Pommie .  
Yet  her   hidden giggly  side  came  through in the House of  Representatives/    Canberra  New Zealand Tourist Bureau   booking office and departure lounge  when she went on about   the perfidious Bill Shorten  conspiring  with   the  Kiwis   to despicably  prove  that  Deputy PM   Barnaby Joyce , an admitted  New Zealander , is  a  New  Zealander, not  related after  all to  the  swaggie  with a penchant  for  getting  up  close  to  sheep  , who   fell  in the water , as in The Goon Show ,  and   inspired   the   great Aussie patriotic   song , Waltzing  Matilda .
It is tipped that  Bishop will   head  the  ( Bill)ing  at the  next Comedy  Festival in Melbourne along with another Bishop  who performs acts with  assorted barnyard  animals .   
The very next day, by popular demand , FM Bishop was  back entertaining the  troops with her  zany patter  , accusing  the  guffawing  ALP  of  conspiracy  and   other  treasonable  plots  with   the   puha and  pakeha   eaters  across  the Tasman to undermine  the  sovereign government of Australia . On  that occasion , she wore  a nifty sackcloth outfit , below , in  readiness for  the  inevitable  Coalition  burial  ,   the  following  wake  a  real  hoot , like  the smashing  party  held  when  the Mad Monk was booted out  by   his colleagues  and   Malcolm  Turnbull   foolishly  took   the   helm .
The cheeky  New Zealand Herald  joined in the  fun by  depicting   Barnaby Joyce , who overnight  no longer calls Chateau Tongariro home , sitting in  parliament , arms  folded,  his  head  a  sliced  in  half  Kiwi  fruit .

BREAKING NEWS : Two non-nuclear vessels  from a New Zealand  invasion  fleet were this morning sighted  in the  Magnetic Island marina . One was  flying a pennant indicating  all out war on Australia-an All Blacks   flag , the  other  a  fern or an  extinct  Moa  feather , below .