Saturday, September 30, 2017


Correspondents who  roam  about  Asia , knowing  this blog's  interest in ephemera  and  oddities,   keep an eye  out  for us.  Their latest finds include  some  first day  covers  from  a  tiny stall with a range   of offerings  including   stamps and  coins  in  Kuching, Sarawak.  One  , above,  marks  the  40th anniversary of  the re-formation of  the   No.5 Squadron  of the   Royal New Zealand Air Force  in   Fiji on July 10 1944 . Inside was a  printed  card  with  history of  the  squadron  and details of  the versatile  Catalina  aircraft  which did a mighty  job  in the South West Pacific .
The squadron  was  formed in Fiji as a maritime reconnaissance unit in November  1941 ,  equipped with four Short Singapore biplane flying boats . Disbanded a year later, it was  reformed  on July 10 , 1944 , its aircraft the  Catalina  flying  boat  , known  as  the PBY by  the Americans .The first four crews  to arrive that  date   were  commanded  by Wing Commander J. W.H. Bray with  Squadron Leader A.L. Cochran  his  Flight Commander . 
The aircraft undertook  anti-submarine patrols , escorted  ferry flights, mercy missions  and  dropped food and supplies to  isolated outposts.  RNZAF  squadrons  rescued  more   than  150  downed  aircrew.
Another of the finds is for the   flight  by  chartered accountant  John Fisher , pilot and adventurer , who flew  his   1942   Tiger  Moth   from   London  to  Sydney in 1996 , following the  route  of  aviation  pioneers Sir Ross Smith, Bert Hinkler, Francis Chichester and Charles Kingsford-Smith , to raise  funds  for  CanTeen and  the Marie Curie Cancer Care  Fund . He carried  1000 specially numbered   covers , this  one  of  them .  


Friday, September 29, 2017


S(h)ipping  Reporter  scoops  pea  green  Townsville  media  yet again
 Gone , without being noticed  by  the  local media , is the prominent longtime  CBD  hotel ,  the Chifley Plaza .  It  is in the process of being  converted into the Madison Plaza Hotel .  Gone is  the  large Chifley Plaza  name , above, over the entrance  but the new  one  has not  yet  been  inserted . However ,  attached  to    poles  on the footpath  outside are  temporary , small  signs  declaring   Madison  Plaza   parking .

By  Googling , our  S(h)ipping Reporter, the  only one north of La Perouse , discovered that  there is a  Madison  Plaza  Hotel site , but  it   shows  exterior  shots of  the  Chifley Plaza .  Confusing ?  Sure is.  Especially   for   some people who stayed  in the hotel recently and wrote that they found  the name   change  confusing , because they had booked  into a place with  another   name . And  driving about  the CBD with  all  its  roadworks , the  hotel had  been  hard  to  find .

 Another  recent  guest   from  Sydney  said  the price was  right  for  his stay of a few  nights   but the premises  were  a  little old  and  threadbare  , the  staff  good , the place exactly what  he needed  for a  few  nights.  He  had  done some  diving  trips   and   the  bathtub had   been " great "  for  taking care of  his  dive gear .  

It  has been suggested the hotel was   named  after  Ben Chifley, an ALP  federal treasurer  and   prime minister  from 1945-49, but way back when  this  question was  asked  and  again  yesterday  , nobody  knew .
A CBD business  to  finally   sink  this very  weekend  , after  33  years' trading , again  without   being  noticed by the  media pack,  is Doug  Kemp's Camera  House  in  Flinders  Street . A camera  bought  from  the  shop has  supplied many a  photograph  for  this blog, despite  being  borrowed , dropped , knocked about , the automatic lens   cover   lost,  by  the   rough S(h)ipping Reporter  as he lurches  about  the  waterfront  taking  candid  camera  incriminating  snaps .Not far from the Kemp shop is a photographic sign  from the  past -Kodak-on top of  a building .  
UPCOMING : Local  media  misses  royal  visitor .      

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Apart from praying  for the Cowboys to hammer the Storm  at the weekend in the true spirit of  sportsmanship and  Christian belief ,  many residents living  in the  dry tropics of  North Queensland  also  want  the  heavens  to  open ASAP.
Their  fervent prayers this week  are mainly concentrated  on  smiting the southerners at the  footie  grand final . However, prayers  for  rain   may also  be answered  as  soon as  this  weekend  because  Rain Orchids on Magnetic Island , above ,  are  in  flower . So will it be 40 days and nights of  weeping and  wailing   due to the Cowboys  being  beaten or  joyous dancing in the street  after  the  same  length of  time  of   heavy rain and the  lifting of Townsville  water restrictions  ? 

The  first  person to  break  the welcome prospect of rain   was a  man  walking  a  greyhound , with an Irish name , Boyo , who informed   us that  his Rain Orchids are  flowering and  we   could expect rain  in four days' time . That  was  Wednesday .   On  the  four day reckoning , welcome rain could be  falling  by  Sunday .

The Queen of the Jungle  rang a  day later and said her   Rain Orchids   are  in flower and  there  could be  rain  by  Sunday  or  Monday . Last  year, the orchids flowered and  four days' later  there was  a  slight drizzle , certainly not a  heavy tropical downpour.

Armed  with  the office  camera  , a parched  , intrepid  Little Darwin  staffer  called on the  Queen to  inspect and  interrogate  her orchids . Sure enough , the   two  bunches  of  orchids were  a  mass of   white flower .  But  what  was  that   hidden  behind one  clump in  an  aviary  ? Gadzooks ! A brazen ,  topless, Playboy centrespread  garden  gnome , above , who  made our  man's  puffy  eyes  water .    

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Intriguing  information  has been received as a result  of  this blog's  post  dealing with a Townsville  connection with    the  WWll  episode  in which  an  intercepted  coded  radio message   enabled  the American Army  to shoot down  the  bomber in  which  Admiral Yamamoto was   travelling   in  1943, extracting revenge  for  his  planning  of  the  attack  on   Pearl  Harbour.
After reading  the item , Darwin agronomist  Robert Wesley-Smith  said   the  late  Sam Kruger, a  Russian Polish   Jew  ,  claimed to have  to have been  personally  involved  in  the  Yamamoto  affair when he worked  for the  US  as  a  radio engineer  on  Guadalcanal .

 Kruger, somewhat  of  a  mystery man ,  was present at   the dramatic  event  in  Dili, East Timor , when  a   home-made flag   produced overnight by Rosa Buonaparte ,  she  killed  by  invading  Indonesians ,  was  bravely flown  at  the  declaration  of  the  Democratic Republic of  East Timor  on November    28,  1975. 

Near the leaders , just in from the left , obscured, in the above photo , Kruger is shown side on looking like a Darwin public servant at that  historic   event   in shorts, long  white  socks, with a Portuguese military cap. In the throng  was  Australian journalist  Roger East ,  who had  worked in  Darwin,   shot  dead   by  the  invading Indonesians   and   thrown  into   the  sea  soon  after .  (This  killing was re-enacted in Darwin , Wesley-Smith , a major  campaigner for  East Timor freedom from the very first ,  his  arms tied  behind  his  back , playing  the  part of  East.)    
 Because of  Kruger's stated connection with the dramatic Yamamoto event , Wesley-Smith  became interested in the episode , carrying out  research , reading  much  about  the  shooting  down  of   the  Admiral's  plane . He  and Kruger even  sat together  in   Darwin  watching    the screening  of  the Japanese -American movie,  Tora!Tora! Tora !, about the  attack on the US naval base at  Pearl  Harbour on  December  7 , l941 .

Kruger , a man  of action ,  had  an interesting background ,   supplied by Wesley-Smith .   Born  on January 1, 1912  ,  in   Lodz, Poland , he was  present  at  Saint Petersburg , Russia ,  when  the Czar's troops  fired on people, his  father  pushing him into  the gutter  . To escape the revolution , his  father brought the family  to Australia.   Sam  was brought up in Melbourne and  studied  radio  engineering .

With the outbreak of WW11  , Sam   Kruger, who   wore glasses , was not accepted   for military   service,   so  he  offered  his  services to  the  Americans  who  snapped him  up .
 Kruger  is said to have been at   Broome,  West Australia , when the  Japanese raided the town  and  shot up    flying boats, carrying many civilians ,  which landed there  after fleeing   from the Dutch East Indies . He   forced a  port official at gunpoint  to go to the rescue of  passengers  in  the  burning  planes  in  a  boat .

In dramatic detail , he told of  there being   little  freeboard  because of  people  dragged aboard, when a   woman was  spotted at the door of  a flying boat with a child in her arms .  He shouted   at  her to throw  the baby  out , which she  did , but she went  back  in  and the plane exploded .  Kruger  told Wesley-Smith   the   heat  scorched the back of his hands  and that   was why  there was  no hair  on   them .   

There are many tantalising  gaps in the Kruger story  . He emphatically  claimed to have been  on Guadalcanal , from whence the  attack  to get   Admiral  Yamamoto was  planned and launched  , specially  fitted  out  planes with  long range  tanks   from   there  hunting  him  down . Kruger told how  he had  seen  the   coded  Japanese  message  with details  of   Admiral Yamamoto's  fateful flight  from  Rabaul  to  an island off  Bougainville .
Sensing  the message  was  highly important  , he  refused to just  put it  aside ,  insisted  he  inform  the   top  brass  immediately , which  he did  .      

 According to  Wesley-Smith , Kruger  told him he had the  rank of a major  and  soon after the war  was  in  charge of  a US  radio  station   in American  Samoa .

 At some stage after  WWll,   Kruger  supposedly went to Israel , offered his services  and  became involved with none other than  the  famous military leader and politician , Moshe Dayan . The story  goes  that  he and  Dayan   were personally  involved  in  an operation  after fighting on the Golan Heights  in which a number of   female  Israeli soldiers had been killed.

 It involved  flying  into Syria in two helicopters  to locate  the equipment   directing  shelling of the Golan Heights.  It ended mission accomplished , but as  Kruger  dashed back to  get a vital component he was almost  blown  into  the helicopter because a  delayed  explosive had  been  placed   inside  the  building .      

Then , somehow, Kruger, single,  turns up in  Darwin  working as a  clerk in  Water Resources .  On a pension , short of  money , he moved to  East Timor  in  1974  because he  figured he could live more cheaply there . During  that  time he mixed  with  Portuguese military  men  in  the capital , Dili . 
With the collapse of the Portuguese  colonial  empire and  the Timorese  asserting  themselves , he got involved in attempts to  train  a defence force when  Indonesian was clearly going to invade.  In particular , he directed the setting up of  their only machine gun, possibly an old German model, placed  behind sandbags on  top of  the  airport  tower.  
During the fighting    for supremacy between    UDT  and Fretilin   in Dili in the early breakaway period ,  Kruger  came upon  a  warehouse  in which  woman and  children of  UDT  members had  been imprisoned .  He  went to Fretilin and said  they should  be  given water  and  released .
Then , with the Indonesians sweeping in , Kruger was  evacuated back to Darwin  and  lived  in  Kurringal Flats ,  a housing commission block , in  Fannie Bay .  He joined  demonstrations   in  Darwin against   the  Indonesian invasion and wrote  long letters to  the local paper  on various  subjects , one  on the need  for a  saltwater  public  pool  in  Darwin , eventually established  years later . 
In this photograph from the Wesley-Smith  file , it shows Darwin activist  Brian Manning , with loudhailer , addressing a protest meeting outside the Indonesian Consulate in  Darwin. In a white T-shirt  is Wesley- Smith , Sam Kruger on his left. In another demonstration, below, Kruger , holding  an attaché case ,  which he  regularly  carried about with him, is brandishing a  sign calling for the downfall of the Suharto junta .  

Australian Intelligence called on  Kruger and warned him that Indonesia  knew  about his involvement  in helping  the Timorese  to   fix up  the machine gun  and that he should not  consider travelling overseas, even to Singapore , as they would get him. The  same warning applied  to  Kruger's  four eyed  mate...  "moi", says  Robert Wesley-Smith.
Kruger  featured in  two embarrassing events in the Darwin RSL  . In the  first , a  visiting  American  told   the gathering they were not  fit to be in the same room as  this  man  Kruger. In the other, he was asked to leave the RSL  because he had served with  American  forces ; later invited back, he declined the offer . Kruger joined  the Parap branch of  the  Australian Labor Party ,  Wesley -Smith  standing as an ALP candidate  in an election , but  left  after a  while .

During his  time in Kurringal Flats , since pulled down ,  he   was  called  upon  by visiting  Israelis  who brought  him  presents , a  shirt passed  onto  Wesley-Smith. When Wesley-Smith called at the flat , lonely  Kruger invariably responded  by saying  , "You  have saved  my  bloody  life!"  
Once , while intoxicated, Kruger  spoke of Israel's nuclear   weapons  and put his fingers up to his mouth  as  if  to  say  do not speak about the subject . When a visiting  nuclear powered  warship , the Bainbridge , came to Darwin , he was invited  aboard  , tried  to  have  a  look  at  the  power plant.

As he aged , very  lonely,  the flat, in which he kept many files ,  became untidy ; there were  lots of  papers in a cupboard ;    he was delighted when a Russian speaking woman   was  given the  job of cleaning  the  premises. His war  medals were  stolen when  the  flat was broken into .
 In this special  photograph from the Wesley-Smith collection , Kruger , left , is next to Jose  Ramos Horta , then  Wesley-Smith  and  Warwick Fry , son of   Ken Fry , ALP  Member of the House of Representatives, awarded the  Order of Timor Leste posthumously for his  championing  of  the Timorese  .   It is signed : To Sam Kruger ...I hereby appoint  you  Field Marshal of the East Timor  Barefoot Army ! Jose Ramos Horta , 24/1/98. 
 A glimpse inside  Kruger's flat  is revealed in this  photograph which shows him shaking the hand of  Ramos Horta , the  Nobel Peace Prize  recipient  . Sam rejoiced  at  East Timor's Liberation  celebrations  in 1999  then , on  his last legs ,  moved soon after  to Alice Springs , where he  had  two friends  from  Darwin , and  died  August 11, 2000.    
Weathered gravestone of Samuel Kruger in Alice Springs , recently taken by Wesley-Smith.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


While sitting on an egg, take a plump   green spider, add  parsley  and ... A fluttering  Coucal , which looks like a pheasant , therefore  a possible  main course dish ,  interrupted this  filmed   cooking  session  by making a noisy  landing on  a  nearby tin  shed  roof  with  a  tasty lizard  in  its  beak .  

Monday, September 25, 2017


It  is great to start  the weekend  by hurrying along  to  a moving  garage sale -especially  one   run  by  a  person who  has  had  an  interesting life  connected with the sea  , including  teaching    mixed  gas  diving  to great depths  in  Egyptian waters  ,  an important safety  role in  a dive on a  shipwreck at exceptional depth ,   involvement  with  the Western Australia  built   replica  of the Dutch  vessel Duyfken   which  in 1606 under the command  of  navigator  Willem Janszoon  made the first authenticated European  sighting  and  landing on  Australia   and   is  writing  a  book about  his  adventurous life . 

His  book , now up to  chapter   four  , will   tell   how  an  Australian  boy   from  the  Mallee   country , who  liked digging holes and  making toy boats, went on   to   spend   six   fascinating  years in  Egypt ,  at  one  stage  there   being   shouted   drinks  by  a  ravishing  Russian woman ,  becoming   fluent in  Arabic   and  his  part  in  commercial  marine  operations in  Queensland , living on   an island  for   seven  years .
European escape  chariot 
In the near  future  he plans to  move to Western Australia  to build up  his  kitty  to enable him  to ship his powerful Suzuki  motorbike overseas   and   make a  grand  tour of  Europe  until  Gabriel  blows  his  horn .   

This  highly condensed  biog   came to light  as a result of  the  fact  that scattered about  the  garage sale were   many  diving   items-a wet  set ,  goggles , snorkels , jackets with  marine  names, diving publications . The  obvious  leading  question  was   asked  , You have  had   some involvement with  diving ?

Other   items of interest  which  grabbed this  writer's attention were  three   old   etched hotel soda  siphons-E.Rowlands of Ballarat, Melbourne, Sydney , the trademark depicting  early settlers, one with  a pick over the shoulder , another next to a Merino  , poultry and   another  siphon , Bell's, featuring a top  hat ; a  lemonade  bottle from   Merbein  Cordial Works  , near Mildura ,  found during a   dive , sporting  a  bunch of  grapes in the trademark ; another bottle  with a  windmill  image  , property of  the Settlers Club , Mildura ;   an Arab Emirates   coin ,   a  beer bottle   opener  on  a  key  ring  and only one book , The Man Who Saw Too Much,  about  Australian  combat cameraman David Brill . 
 Blocking the  way to perusal of books  in shelving   was  a well known book  addict ,  a reverend  gentleman who turns  90 next  month , regularly seen at garage sales .  One of  the books he snaffled  was a  well  illustrated volume  about Northern Territory history  by  the late   Glenville  Pike, oft mentioned in this blog , his mother ,Effie , recently the subject of  a  post .  

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Special  by  Art   Correspondent  Ponsonby  Willis 

Chica Lowe with  Loudon Sainthill at entrance to Merioola .
The  Encyclopedia  of  Australian Art , under  the  heading  MERIOOLA GROUP , provides  a  six line  listing  for what  is  described as an artists' "boarding house " in Sydney  from 1945 to 1950 , which dissolved  when  some of its  members left  for  Europe . 
An old  house  in Rosemont Avenue , Woollahra , with a  ballroom  and  wide  windows which  overlooked the harbour , it  had been the  venue for lavish parties , one   for   the  Prince of Wales in  1920.
Owned by a prominent legal family,  the Allens  , it was  leased out  in 1941  to a  vivacious   woman , nee Mary Patricia  Edgeworth Somers ,  born in Mornington , Victoria,  in 1902, the daughter of  Dr and Mrs  Edgeworth Somers.  

Married to Sir Gilbert   Boileau , with whom she had two daughters, she separated from her  husband and went to London in 1936 .There she  rented   a house and  let  rooms  to  two   Australians ,  Loudon   Sainthill   and   Harry  Tatlock  Miller , both to  become prominent  and  influential  in the art world . 

Sainthill, born 1919 , Hobart , Tasmania , a member of a  family which  had held  high positions  in   colonial days ,  he   travelled to  Europe in  1939 with  the  Colonel de Basil Russian Ballet Company , where he held  a solo exhibition of his  art  in the Redfern Galleries, London .

 Miller , born Victoria  ,1914,  a member of the  Melbourne  Herald literary staff , edited  Manuscripts  A Miscellany of Arts and Letters  1931-35, also went  overseas in 1939  and in London he organised the British  Council Exhibition  of Art for  Ballet and Theatre  which  was  to  tour  the  commonwealth

 At the   outbreak of war,   she   came back to  Australia and in 1941 rented out Merioola ,    joined by Sainthill  and  Miller .  Then , known as  Chica ,   " from  the attic to the cucumber frame " , she filled it  with  a wide range of  artists  and writers, some  European refugees . Her   philosophy  was   never  to see anybody who bored  her , according to Christine France of  the  National Trust of  Australia . In 1946 she married  an  American ,  Bernard Lowe,  but   he died within a  year .

While individual residents had held solo exhibitions , in  1947 the  Merioola Group  held   an   inaugural  exhibition in the Myer  Gallery , Melbourne.

This was  followed soon after  by another at  Sydney's David Jones Gallery . A copy of the inaugural   catalogue  for  the  Myer event  shows  it  consisted of paintings , sculptures  and  photographs .  Those represented    were   Arthur Fleischmann, Justin O'Brien ,Loudon Sainthill, Donald Friend, Arthur Ritchard, Roland Strasser , Peter Kaiser,  Jocelyn Rickards  and  Alec  Murray (photographer ). The prices for works on offer   were peanuts  compared to modern  day  art  sales .
 In the foreword , written by art and ballet  critic Harry  Tatlock Miller , he described  Chica Lowe as the "chatelaine " of Merioola . Merioola, he went on to say, was  a centre and force  in the present day art of  Australia . Artists who had  at some time lived, painted and sculpted in Tibet and Mongolia, London , Paris  and Prague , were now all gathered there , working  beneath  the one roof .
Miller  wrote  : "Each brings  to his , or her ,work an altogether  individual approach and vision. They share no  common cause or way of  art . One may  paint  the Lhama of Tibet , another the kiss  of Judas, design  a costume   for  a  vivandiere , a ballerina.   Where one will  seek  the satiety of completed  forms, for another  the search may be  beyond  appearance   to  the spirit   beneath ." 

 The  talented  lodgers  were   the subject of  an exhibition  by the   National Trust  at the   S. H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney , the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery and the Geelong Gallery in 1986. In the  above posed 1947  photograph on the  front of  the well illustrated, highly informative  souvenir catalogue , the landlady , Chica, is seen  in the back row , third  in from  the  right , next  to  the ladder.  
At the back of Merioola was  a small shed  painted pink, known as the " Lolly Lodge ",  where   rent was  paid , Chica shown  above outside the building . In the main  hall  notes and  messages  for tenants were  left, often  on  a flower bedecked  rocking  horse .

Visitors to  Merioola included  artists William Dobell , Jean Bellette, Paul Haefliger , Margaret Olley , the Drysdale  family , Sali Herman , Sidney Nolan ; David Strachan  also dropped  in . Hector Holthouse ,chemist , journalist  and lecturer in journalism at Queensland  University , author of 30 books on Queensland history, came by .  

It was pointed out  that  the bohemian  household  ironically  influenced the  revival of  religious  painting  in Sydney , Merioola  artists  dominating   Blake  Prize   awards.

A number of lodgers returned  or went  overseas for  the first time . In the case of  Loudon  Sainthill , he became  the finest theatrical designer  Australia had produced   with  an  international reputation . His longtime   partner , Tatlock Miller , on  returning to London became director of the Redfern Galleries , promoting  Australian artists   with  the first exhibitions  there  of   Nolan ,  Friend  and  Sainthill .    Merioola was  demolished in  1951. Chica  set up another  boarding house , opened  antique shops , sold sandwiches  , died  1983.        

Saturday, September 23, 2017


TOP : Curlew proudly poses with   ceramic covered paver  made in bush  art class  . ABOVE :  Nesting Curlew  in a  Colgate ring of  confidence on Magnetic Island .   


Michaelmas Cay , an isolated   bird  breeding spot off  Cairns , the subject of this print  by  David Stacey ,  has  been   found to contain a wide range of rubbish    from  passing  vessels ,  fishing  trawlers   and  other sources .  The  spoil from dredging the  port of  Townsville  has  long been   dumped  at  sea in a  quaintly designated  exemption zone  by the dredge Brisbane , which is  hard to  believe  in  this  day  and age .  


Friday, September 22, 2017


Australia's only  twitterpated  Curlew  Reporter, dubbed  Captain Curlew by a well known  Darwin  police officer  who dealt with many twits in his long career ,  deserves  a feather in  his cap and a change of  medication  for  this  flighty  post.
Street wise  Curlews scoff at  a  fake  white cat  and a  battery driven  owl which are  supposed to frighten them away from  an empty rental  property on Magnetic Island , most of which is  a national park . At  night , real barking owls  decimate the Curlew chicks  and  stray cats  can  be  murderous .
Recently Owly  was  seen   flat  on  his face ,  raising the possibility that he had been crash tackled by  a pack of   Curlews  who  have been carried away watching through  neighbourhood  windows the  Cowboys  in hard  training  on  television , hoping they will  pluck  the  noisy Roosters .     

Thursday, September 21, 2017


The flamboyant   attire  worn  on stage by   Australian  rock'n'roll  star  Johnny   O'Keefe  has been recalled  of   late.  He was into  gold lame jackets and bright suits .   The  Powerhouse  Museum Collection in Sydney has his  "famous" red  suit ,  said  to have been made by his mother ,  trimmed    with  leopard print velvet cuffs  and lapels .  Known as  the Wild  One , because of  a signature song of  his , he was big time  in Australia , the US  and  New Zealand .
Recent media  articles  about  O'Keefe  , his wardrobe  and the   dazzling  red suit  , failed to mention that  he had  kitted  out  in  gangster  like  clobber  the crusading editor of the Northern Territory  News  , James Frederick Bowditch ,  for a trip to  Seattle   to  see  the  Boeing  jets  being  built . 
When O'Keefe was  performing in  Darwin ,  he and Bowditch hit it off . Jim mentioned he was soon   to  go   to America   and he was asked what he would wear. 
Bowditch replied he  had a  pair of  long  pants and would borrow a jumper and coat  as  his normal attire  in the  tropics consisted of  a  short sleeved  shirt, shorts and long  sox. No ,  said  the Wild One .  Out of his stunning   wardrobe he plucked  a  double breasted, pin-striped, blue black  suit , with wide lapels and padded  shoulders .  Then came a mauve suit , a $1000 Spanish   leather coat, shirts, ties  and built up  shoes . Even provided were  gold  cufflinks which  had  been presented  to O'Keefe  when he appeared on   the Johnny Carson  Show in the  US. No  editor  in  Australia  could possibly  match this outfit .  
So attired , the unexpectedly  sartorially elegant   editor  from  Darwin  first flew to Sydney, joined  the  other  media  scruffs  ,  and  took off  for the  US of A.  Not only did  Jim  rock  the  locals , he also   had  nervous  Qantas  officials  doing something  like  the  stomp on  cigarettes  .  His  wardrobe  got lost along the way , but  that  is  a  very long and  complicated  story .  


Our  intrepid  S(h)ipping  Reporter , the only one north of  Wagga Wagga, discovers the  North Queensland port of Townsville  is on a  frantic  war  footing , yet the local media, as usual , is unaware , because it seems to  suffer  from  mal  de  mer , malapropisms  and  it  and  the  public  are thus   malinformed   about  nautical  matters .
The  first  major scoop is  that the  Red Baron  seaplane  which has been missing from Townsville for months , without   the media  noticing ,  actually snuck back into port  and is in the process  of  being converted, below ,  into a  German  underwaterboten . When  completed  , it  will be the  first  Bananaland   built   nuclear powered  yellow submarine  and   will  sail   for   the disputed  South China  Sea  soon after . 
Following   Donald Trump's fiery speech to the United Nations, all windows on ferries running between Townsville and  Magnetic Island were  blacked over , like clean coal , so  that  passengers   could not see   a  floating  missile launcher   being towed out of  the port , bound  for South Korea , not far from the DMZ.
The boofheaded   Rocket Man  will get a  hell of a fright when he sees the Townsville launcher  , draped  in terrifying  Cowboys  bunting , bobbing  in the  sea. 
Also top secret  is this picture which shows  commando  vessels leaving   Townsville   to carry out a   raid on the  North  Korean  seafood trawler base     similar  to  the  highly  successful one by the Krait  on  Japanese shipping in Singapore  during  WWll.
A  palpable feeling of  war  tension  is evident  on Magnetic Island  where a large fake   owl, which looks all the world  like Kim Jong Unhinged   with an outbreak of measles  and  chicken pox ,  has  been attached  to the  passenger   ramp  in a bid  to frighten  swallows and  sparrows  to prevent them from doing what comes naturally after a long fight . 
All  these photographs , and more , were taken  in  one day in the port of Townsville.  The fabulous  feature article   written about them  will undoubtedly win  an  esky  full   of   Walkley  Awards for  our modest  S(h)ipping Reporter , who spends much of  his  time in Molly Malone's  Irish  Pub , close to the waterfront,wetting  his  whistle .

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Nearly a fortnight after  Little  Darwin  reported that a large dead  bird was  up against  the  Victory in the Pacific  memorial  fountain , the   body   is  still in  the same  precinct  ,  not far from the bus shelter , below . Also in the   fountain is rubbish seen  weeks ago , along  with  some more .
At the  same  time  as  the obvious neglect of the  fountain and surrounds, on what is inappropriately named  the  Civic   Pride   Trail , leaves  were  building up along  part of  the  waterfront Coral  Sea Battle memorial in  Anzac Park  , below , which includes the names  of  Japanese  and Allied  vessels involved in the fierce battle .  Both these memorials are national shrines  and  deserve  daily attention.
 Anybody at home in the  Townsville City Council , RSL , Navy League , Australian War  Memorial , Townsville  Port Authority  , Townsville  Enterprise , political  circles and  local  media ?   More  on     Townsville   neglect  upcoming .

Sunday, September 17, 2017


 Revealed  in this recently released book   is  the  little known  fact that a  19-year-old  Australian , Keith Falconer ,  in a  secret  base  in  Townsville, North Queensland , intercepted  a Japanese  radio  message  containing  vital   information  that  led  to  Operation  Vengeance in which   America   shot  down  the  bomber in which Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto , responsible for the  attack  on   Pearl  Harbour , was   travelling  on   April  18 , 1943 . 
Radio  message interceptor   Falconer  was  not aware  that the  encrypted  enemy message contained the  itinerary for  Admiral Yamamoto's proposed  morale  boosting  flight   to  bases .  The  Townsville  intercepted  message was promptly  passed  on  to Brisbane and  US Navy  cryptographers . (One account , without mentioning Townsville , says radio listening  posts in Pearl Harbour, Washington and   Melbourne  picked up  the  initial  vital  itinerary . )   
Harvard educated Admiral "Eddie" Yamamoto , Naval Attache to Washington  1919-1921,   a marshal admiral ,  commander-in-chief  of the Combined  Fleet, is  shown  here  addressing  navy  pilots in  Rabaul , New Guinea ,  a few hours before he died. The  approval  to "get  Yamamoto "  was  supposedly    given  by   US  President  Franklin  D. Roosevelt .
The Admiral  and his  staff took off   from  Rabaul  in  two  bombers  ,  escorted by  six   fighters ,  and  headed  for  Balala , a small island off   Bougainville . They  were  intercepted   by  US Army  planes  from Guadalcanal , fitted with long range tanks,   and  vengeance  extracted .   
 Author  Collie details how a   fake Queenslander  building was built  near Townsville  to  house  the  purpose built  intercept  station .  Early Darwin eavesdropping  on  the  enemy  is  covered  in  the book , published by Allen and Unwin . 
 More  interesting WWll  history came to light  as a  result of a  visit to the reading room at Special Collections , Eddie Koiki  Mabo Library , James Cook University , Townsville , when  this    postcard   for   Queensland  WWll historic places  was obtained .   
The  Little Darwin  WWll    file  contains  photographs   of  New Guinea , Townsville  and  the  Northern  Territory , ephemera  ;  a Japanese  sword  from Bougainville  and  a  painting .

Friday, September 15, 2017


Early  morning  30kms  trek  on  Magnetic Island
Terminal and  hills

High tide  at  entrance to safe harbour .

Picnic Bay with Townsville  in distance .