Wednesday, January 31, 2018


North Australia's only S(h)ipping  Reporter spots another  Townsville  ghost fleet   oddity  and   yet  more  examples of   civic  and media  inertia. 
On the very day that the Liberian registered  bulk carrier  Waimea  was in port , not far away ,  there was a  yacht  with  the  very  same name , Waimea.The odds against such  a  situation occurring   on the same    day must be astronomical  , not even listed   in  the  waterlogged  Lloyds of  London records,  one would  think.
In the nearby Anzac Memorial Park  our nautical watchman  once again  discovered Townsville's   50th anniversary of the  Battle of  the Coral Sea  memorial  was  neglected, leaves  piled up at the base of one part , a few small weeds growing in cracks  at the other  half .   
Sadly, the ejaculating  fountain  which  celebrates Queensland  breaking away from  New South Wales  looked seasick  the   same day , lots of chunderous   green  detritus  swirling  about  in the  big  pool. Glancing about the fountain  surrounds, he spotted a  surprising  host of-not romantic, golden  Pommie  daffodils , dancing in the  wind - large  mushrooms.   
 Needless to say, over on Magnetic Island , much of the  remaining wall  of  scrim signage   was  still flat on the  ground, Townsville City Council unable to get on top of the situation, keep a simple daily check on it ,  so it has been going on for months , without mainland  media coverage ,   showing  the city's Jewel in  the Crown  is  indeed   subjected  to   rule  by  inward looking, desk bound cowboys . 

UPDATE:  The Townsville Bulletin finally caught up with a P3 story  headed MAGGIE'S UGLY LOOK  -no photo-which included the claim that the Townsville City Council is going to place more banners and flags on  the island next week .This morning(  Friday, February 2  ) a large part of the  banner   wall  was  still  slumped on  the  ground .


Darwin  dusk  panorama . Photograph by Peter Mandalay.
Submerged outrigger canoe  in rural  area . Wes photograph .

Monday, January 29, 2018


S(h)ipping Reporter, relaxing  on a 10-day cruise aboard the luxury yacht  Hesperus , is  planning  a stunt   in which he will  invade  Townsville  and  rename it  Snoozeville  because  of   the  epic  Magnetic  Island pictures on the wall  cock up  .  
Early morning  scene  at Magnetic Island  shows   launch Adrenalin picking  up   passengers   to  experience   the   thrill of  diving on the wreck of the SS Yongala  which sank during a cyclone  in 1911.
Heading out to the open  sea  with towering cloud  making  a striking background , the  launch left   behind  the  embarrassing, long  running   wreck of the Welcome to Magnetic Island  wall of  banners  placed about "the hole "  near the  ferry terminal,all these  pics taken  January 30.
Incredibly , the   Townsville  media   has  not picked up  this  banner / hole story which  has been running  for months , including the  key festive season; the Townsville  City  Council   and Townsville  Enterprise which  had  a  big PR  hand in   the production  and  erection of  the  banners, were made  aware of the    ripping , collapsing and   blowing in the wind  but  remained mute ,  have  not  been able to rectify the situation, arrange a  daily check to make running repairs, remove the decaying  bodies of  ripped  fauna , hose down the rancid  smashed  avocado.
It is a similar situation  to this  blog repeatedly  pointing out the neglect of key monuments  in  the   city  which  reflects poorly on assorted authorities, the media . Anybody home on the mainland -or has it been taken over by single cell  aliens  from Mercury  unable to invade  the  Northern Territory because of the heat  ?

Sunday, January 28, 2018


During the late l950s,  British writer Jean Heal  travelled about  Australia  intent  on   gathering material  for a  book  about the nation and  its  people. It  resulted in A Thousand  And  One  Australians, published  by Michael Joseph , 1959. A copy of  the book surfaced  recently  during a  visit to  Darwin ,  which  rated  10 pages  in  the book , and  I spoke  to  longtime resident  and  friend , Betty Bowditch  and   family  members  .
By Peter Simon
Betty actually  drove   Heal   about  Darwin and introduced her to many interesting  people . Written up were  playboy diver  Carl Atkinson who was negotiating to  buy the  wartime wrecks,  former butcher  boy  Mick  Paspalis  with a  30,000 pound house , Mrs Mazlin  who had  prospected  for  uranium  .

For  helping the  author  ,  Betty  was  not mentioned by name ,  just  described  as  the  "softly pretty coloured wife" of  the Northern Territory News   editor , Jim Bowditch , a good  newspaper man.

 Good-hearted  Betty  gave a laugh when she pointed  out   her  description in  the  book , and gave it to me to  peruse  in  coming days, on the understanding that it was  a  boomerang. Of  the Territory people mention  in the book she is probably the  only one alive today .  

The author's  abiding  memory of  Darwin  was  that  although  it was in cattle country, the beef was  the toughest she  ate .  And  despite the fact  that she  put out a  do not disturb sign  on her expensive  hotel  room , presumably the Hotel Darwin , she was  woken up at 6.45 am with a  cuppa . It would have been nice to have  had water in the water  carafe and  the  coathangers  in  the cupboard not be  broken . For men on the run , Darwin  was a place  where   they asked no questions .
 Reporters mentioned in Darwin were  Percy Burton and Peter Ross, the latter  she described as having  such charm he could become  an international  radio figure.  He died recently after a long  and  distinguished   career in television and radio . 

Heal was photographed  with bronzed  Bondi lifesavers and compered a  fashion  parade  in Melbourne  attended  by  Mrs  Bolte , the  Premier's wife . Other places and  points of  interest:-   

CANBERRA : In the  Australian Capital Territory  she noted the circular  road system   and  was  impressed by the many portraits  by  Australian artists  on the walls   of  parliament house .  Guided by the  Liberal Member for  Perth, Fred Chaney ,  she listened to debates in the Senate and House of Representatives , one issue raised  being   a  call  for the  Northern Territory  Member  to have  more voting rights. Funding for the Snowy River scheme also raised. Chaney  was   later  made Administrator  of   the  Northern Territory.

ADELAIDE :  Described in England  and other states  as being " very old fashioned, quiet, proper. Adelaide is beautifully laid out , but then she's been   a long time dead ." There the  first  person   Heal  spoke to was the  great- granddaughter  of  cattleman  James  Chambers  who  in 1862 financed an expedition  to the top of the  Northern Territory . Somehow, the township which was established along  the way  should   had been  named   Catherine ,  after  his  family , but  became  Katherine . 

Adelaide, she wrote, was proudly conscious of the Northern Territory, selling   bracelets made of  NT stones  and offering   NT  tours. The chairman of the  The Advertiser, Sir Lloyd Dumas , proudly pointed out  South Australia had been the first place  in the world to give women  the vote .
One of the Advertiser writers was  cosmopolitan  Sidney Downer,  " with a sweet, smart  wife   with   lovely legs-Marlene Dietrich -type legs ".   It would be worth the  journey to  Adelaide  just to  see Margaret Downer again , a  very attractive person . (Sidney subsequently wrote  Patrol Indefinite   about the  Northern Territory  mounted police .)
Another person who made a big impression on  her was the dashing  jazz musician  with a   record shop ,   former  airman, ex-Australian  speedway champion  , with  his  own hydroplane and a house filled with  one of the finest collections  of contemporary Australian paintings  in the world ,  Kym Bonython . 
As she walked about the well laid out city, she noticed  The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll was having a return season at the Theatre Royal ; Rundle Street was  a cross between Singapore's  Chinatown  and something out of a Wild West movie.
 Surprising were  her observations  about the young  people of  Adelaide :" The flashiest youth I had  seen in Australia waggled its hips on Rundle Street. Every girl seemed to have stiffened petticoats , stiletto-heeled shoes, blonde hair , glittering costume jewellery, lashings of  rouge. The boys were the nearest thing  I had ever seen across the  world  to Teddy Boys. Gangs  of  youths roamed  round the streets or loitered  over the corners -more youths than I had seen anywhere else in Australia, youths of every colour  speaking  many languages , especially Italian ."   
WESTERN AUSTRALIA: At the Highway Hotel in Perth the hospitality was superb-a bowl of fruit  provided on the  veranda  balcony of her  room, calamine lotion  and  cotton wool  on  the dressing table  for  mosquito bites on her arms .
She was taken  to see  the greatest philosophical  figure in the West , Professor  Walter Murdoch , 84, after whom the Murdoch University is named , uncle of Sir Keith Murdoch, Rupert's father,  in a  white linen jacket, who served  sherry . There were  many books spread about ,  good pictures , and  more  sherry . With a  spry mind, he was amused by everything ,  irreverent about most  things , immensely well  informed. His daughter , Catherine King ,  prominent in  radio ,  had  taken her  about.

The pearling town of Broome did not rate well : Nights in a tiny oven of a room  too hot for pyjamas, a sheet pulled up  for protection against sandflies. There were, however, handsome men , friendly women and  great acts of kindness.  Final  assessment-pure beauty and excruciating ugliness.
QUEENSLAND:On the Gold Coast, the first person of note was  an unnamed  American evangelist-probably  Billy Graham. She had bypassed him in Melbourne, and now he was   having a rest  at Lennon's super luxurious hotel, exhausted  from  the effort of  saving Australians, and no wonder, she  teased . It must surely   be  impossible  to  save Australians-they  are  not   lost. 
 On to Townsville,  she  wrote that it was a town  which   felt like a  potential  city , the centre of a  great developing area ... Sugar, minerals, timber , cattle . Majestic scenery;crazy pioneers-Townsville is the apex  of all of these ...Townsville the only town in the world  with  orchids growing in the main street ...The  mayor  a bookseller, Angus Smith .

The Queens Hotel , said to have the largest frontage of any hotel in the world, overlooked the harbour ,where silver lead ingots were being loaded aboard  a Swedish ship .

The annual swim to Magnetic Island, described as  scrubby with  palm trees and undergrowth , a  faintly seedy dingy air  so  typical of the unromantic tropics, was   taking  place  ,  girls  in  16ft cages  to  protect them from sharks .
Readers were told that Townsville was an ideal place for children, the wife of an alderman saying her son went to a state  school  just in a shirt and  shorts, no socks , no shoes . There was a free library , a record club, chess classes and coaching, a camera  club, a puppet club , pen pals.

Her travels included  Cairns and the Atherton Tableland , a trip to Green Island where the underwater observatory had  been  built by Lloyd Grigg  and Vince Vlasoff.   

Lobbing in the mining  town of Mount Isa,  she met  Rupert Murdoch , described as a newspaper proprietor from Adelaide, with his   London editor , a mining engineer  and two stockbrokers , in an air conditioned  guest house where   mining  executives  entertained  visitors.

In the conclusion to the book, back home in England, Heal  was shocked by the newspapers which she wrote were  full of  sordid trivia  and pettiness , with little hard news . She found herself missing the   blanket of stars and the Southern Cross at night , the gum trees , empty beaches ,  passion fruit , the space .

Also missed was the complete lack of snobbishness  everywhere in Australia and  the no class system .There was much to learn from Australia  with its world-mindedness , tolerance, and  give it a go  attitude.   

Saturday, January 27, 2018


 Rocks not seals , no Pelicans. Abra  study.
After three days of  torrential rain in Darwin area, Lake Weslee , at Howard Springs ,went  from  bone dry to 3.5metres  deep , see below . There was talk of possibly having  to evacuate  residents from the flood prone   Daly River  and  a crocodile  was  seen surfing  at the  mouth  of  a  creek .  
Rain , patchy,  light , 50mm  over one week  recorded on  island . Clouds  like  build up   this morning  from  island  lookout  which provided an  Easter Island rocky aspect .

Friday, January 26, 2018


News  ain't  news  anymore-another bizarre story in  a Murdoch  publication.

The Northern Territory News of  January 22 ran a front  page pointer to a P4 report about  glowing  UFOs  over  a Territory town . Across the top of the page , with a photo of a woman gazing  into space , it was headed :  Something's out  there .
It told how Batchelor resident  Sue Fitzgerald had  seen three  giant   UFOs  fly over her home in December . They were egg shaped , bright red , like fidget spinners .
The  newspaper  said  it was not her first encounter  with  the "supernatural". In  1999, in a Darwin suburb,  a giant floating  egg had "taken her back  to the beginning of  time". 
Checking that  this was not April 1 ,  readers  continued ... Communication  with her  had  been through  her mind , not  via voice .  It is not clear  how "the other being"told her  it  was  from "Mercury". They  couldn't come  to Earth   " because  it  was  too  hot  and  they  had  to  wait" .

Somewhat  up in the air , the story zoomed along : " He was as big as the Rock ( Uluru) , dressed in polar bearskin, with a  big, big nose and white skin-and the bluest eyes. " Ms Fitzgerald was quoted as saying  she  suspects  the aliens  are  coming  for something in the water , looking  for  a  mineral , could  be  uranium .  Batchelor  is  the township for  the  early  Rum Jungle  uranium  mine . 

In late December , the NT News announced the appointment   of a new political reporter . Strangely , it  continued running job vacancy adverts  for a  political  reporter  on  the paper , the work atmosphere  in the newsroom  described as "fun." Going on the UFO  story , it  sure  is funny  . Troppo  might be more appropriate .  Then again , two political reporters are probably needed  to keep  an eye on the many pie in  the sky  political  promises  for  North Australian  development .

NOTE :  In 2008 , the Darwin newspaper's obsession with UFOs and  knocking of southerners and  soy milk  latte  drinkers  resulted  in  the  launch of  this blog , Little Darwin. The  masthead  graphic , by  multi skilled  Royle Salt , drawn at our  direction ,  includes  an  alien  with a  bowtie and ray gun  , a    cup of (soy milk?) latte , a cane toad  and  an illustrious , hairy chested editor  maintaining a  high  standard  of   journalism.  There were blackouts at  the time, hence the candle.
Due to a technical  problem , a view out the window  at  the back of the editorial desk-showing Rupert Murdoch being consumed by a crocodile during his visit to Darwin to buy  the  most authoritative , highly respected NT paper-The Cullen Bay Cock Up -had  to be dropped . 
 The  Townsville  Bulletin , another Murdoch  publication , is currently  knocking  them  thar  southerners ,  latte  sippers  in connection  with  its slavish support for  Adani  and  treatment  of   those  against  the  proposed Carmichael mine .  

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Special deals  for authors , artists and   scientific groups , firearms   provided.

From the wide ranging  collection of  the late Darwin resident  researcher  Vern O'Brien -now in the Genealogical Society of  the Northern Territory - comes  this faded and possibly roneoed pamphlet, designed to attract adventurous  overseas   tourists . 
It includes  a currency conversion table  for  the  US dollar , French , Swiss and Belgian francs , South African rand,  German  Deutschemark, Austrian schilling, Japanese yen, Italian lira  and  Sterling .  Ladies  desirous of  venturing  into the Outback  were advised  to  pack jodhpurs;  gentlemen , shorts , smoking  facilities , binoculars  and   a  notebook .

Rifles  provided  by the experienced  guide  were .303 and .22 calibre ; no pistols  allowed .

 Itineraries   for  1963  four wheel  drive  trips   to Central Australia , Birdsville and  Strzelecki Tracks,  Sturt  and Burke and Wills Expeditions  are  provided in detail . Started by  Jeff  Findley in 1959, Back of Beyond Tours departed  from Adelaide on  trips of  seven  to  22 days , extended  if  required , the most expensive  one  costing  295 pounds. Places visited included the opal mining town of Coober  Pedy, Mount Olga , Ayers Rock (Uluru ),  Alice Springs ,  Standley  Chasm , Innamincka, Coward Springs , Dalhousie Springs , Leigh Creek , Marree , Port  Pirie .
An early stop  for  lunch  on the first day in most  tours  was  Clare ,the  wine making  area  north of  Adelaide.   Even in those days there was no escaping the outside  world  in  the outback . Telegrams or cables could be sent  or received  during the  trips by  transceiver equipment  in  the Land Rover . In the case of letters, they were to be  sent air mail, care of  the  Alice Springs, Oodnadatta  and  Cloncurry Post  Offices. Drive yourself tours  were also  arranged  as  well  as  air  tours .  


North  Australia's only S(h)ipping   Reporter  discovers  an  unflatteringly  named  floating   population .
During a  bouncy  sight  seeing   tour of Cairns  on  land  and  in water aboard  an  amphibious  vehicle, ex  US military Vietnam War , which once operated in Darwin , it  included  a cruise   through  a  fleet of  vessels , the owners   surprisingly  referred  to  locally  as " grotty yachties ".  While  some  vessels look  worse  for wear,   not everybody can afford  mega luxury yachts    like James Packer  , with  a  crew   decked  out in  designer label  marine  clobber  to keep  everything  in  seagoing  order, the  brass  polished .
Admittedly , the   appearance of  some yachts  gives the  impression that  they may have  recently  limped into  port  after  fighting the Roaring Forties  along the  Clipper  Route  to Australia .

A number of them are lived on  and  the residents , an interesting   mixture of sea salts  ,  commute  to and  from shore   in  small   dinghies, some  very basic .  The  cruise commentary  included   the  statement that the grotty yachties  risked  being eaten by  crocodiles  as  they  paddle backwards and  forwards   from  " Centrelink  and the pub"... grounds for class action defamation case?... being ripped from  their  moorings  in  a  blow .  A  beached  vessel ,  in mangroves  appears to  have a  large garden, vines climbing up the rigging -a potential  floating  Garden  of  Eden .   

Eve not spotted  nibbling an apple...could have been inside cutting up a  rejected Queensland pineapple and straightening out the bend in large bananas  which  the major chain stores  will not accept  for sale and end  up  dumped   ."  Hippies"  said  to  be   living   nearby .

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


On the day Prime Minister Malcolm  Turnbull  was in Townsville   announcing   a token  outlay of  $60million  for  Great  Barrier  Reef scientific   research , steps to reduce  runoff   and  an  extended  attack on the  Crown of Thorns starfish , across   the water ,  at  the city's  Jewel in the Crown - Magnetic Island - the great  (extensively  diminished )   Welcome to Magnetic Island  wall  of  banners  was   in  further disarray , collapsed in part  , below , showing how well   an  important  part  of  the  GBR Marine  Park   is   looked  after and  made look attractive and well  run  to  tourists  coming  in  by  ferry .  
The Townsville Bulletin , not surprisingly, ran a  story quoting  the PM as "slamming"    Great  Barrier Reef  "doomsayers " and "green groups "  speaking out  about the condition of  the  reef  and opposing the proposed  Adani  Carmichael   mine , which  would  produce  cleaner  coal  for  India . 
 By this  broadside , was he  referring to  Sir David Attenborough  and Townsville's own  coral expert  Charlie  Veron   as  these   doomsayers ?  The report  did not  say so , but did  any  reporter  present   ask  the  obvious   question  about  the  two   who  raised  very  important  issues , climate change one of them ,  about  the  plight of the  GBR  in  the  recent brilliant  three part   television  series ?  
 One memorable  segment  in  the documentary  showed  the two men  discussing  the   threats to the  reef  , its  grim  future if  prompt and massive action is not taken  ,  Veron , showing signs of exasperation , saying  there was  so much  that  government  could  do  but   was  not . 
Some time back , the   Sydney Morning  Herald  carried an interesting interview with  Veron , dubbed  a  second  Charles  Darwin  by Attenborough , in which it was said he  was planning to move away   from   the  coast  near Townsville   to   the Atherton Tablelands  because of the inevitable increase  in sea  levels due to   global warming / climate change . It  seemed this  uplift  was  prompted  by a  strong  desire to  save his  books  as  much   as  not  wanting  to be inundated . Not the kind of story you would expect  to read  in the Townsville Bulletin, especially as   the city is about to start  building , for hundreds of  millions ,  a limited  use  football  stadium  on  the flat, not  far from  the seaside .  
PS from Malcolm Turnbull  . The latest newsletter from the PM  highlights the new proposed TPP agreement ,   adds a  PS - pointing out earlier in the week he had been in Townsville to announce a major investment to improve the  health of the Great Barrier Reef.  He then invited people  to read the post , which  attracted a large number of  comments , mainly  critical  of  him , the  government ,  Adani .


It is becoming monotonous  reporting  the  ongoing    neglect  of  the  Victory  in  the  Pacific   50th anniversary  fountain  in a  key Townsville position.

A  submerged  roadworks   witch's  hat, above,  was found   in the top  pool   by  North  Australia's only designated  S(h)ipping  Reporter . Still floating  about  in the  bottom  pool was  a  drink container  which  had  been sighted  a  fortnight previously , along  with  other  rubbish. The fountain is #1 on Townsville's  Civic  Pride  Trail  yet  often  displays  a variety of  rubbish , even a large  dead  bird .   
Surely the  Townsville City Council   and  military organisations  in this garrison town  can  arrange  a simple daily routine   to check  the  city's  main  memorials , including  Anzac Park , and  the  rusting  anchor of the  American  aircraft carrier  Coral  Sea, near  the  ferry  terminal .

Adjacent to the neglected and  abused  Victory in the Pacific  fountain is a  bus shelter , increasingly covered in graffiti . Also  nearby  is  the   Townsville Travel Centre  with  the large clock  that  has  not  worked  for   years . The overall  unfavourable  impression  is of  a   rundown  time warp ,where  everything  is standing still , a setting  for a scary  Dr Who episode  , a short distance  from the Townsville  Bulletin  office.
 Across the road  from the fountain is the old Great Northern Hotel , subject of an arson attack ages ago, a  limp  banner visible  thanking   Townsville for its  support and announcing the  intention to open soon. No local media organisations  seem  to  have  asked when  that  opening will  be, what is going  on  inside , no sounds heard  from  within .  Could  be  a  story here .
 Our  exasperated, salty oath  uttering   S(h)ipping  Reporter   has suggested  all those   authorities  responsible  for  failing to  organise  a  basic   daily check  and  maintenance of  the  city's  memorials   should  be  made  walk  the  plank . A cattle  jigger   might  also move  the  little doggies  along  in  newsrooms .   
In another news   tip  for alert   local  reporters to  follow up , our foaming  waterfront   roundsman  suggested  they  ask why  the   SeaLink  passenger  ferry  terminal  now  has  a  large sign  about evasion of fares   and  a  warning  that there are  ticket  inspectors aboard. Longtime  ferry  travellers  unable to  recall any such  individuals . Sounds like a story , but you have to ask questions.  Passengers with  concession  tickets  have  to  flash  a  valid Australian  concession card , student  identification  card  or  proof  of  identification   at   request .
The terms and conditions of  travel  state  that due to work health and safety regulations  ,  SeaLink  crew cannot  assist with luggage  items  that exceed 20kg or  one  cubic meter (sic ) in size .

Sunday, January 21, 2018


Of  four Bush-stone Curlew chicks  born on the  Little  Darwin block in recent times  , two  fluffy balls , located at the front in dangerous territory near the road , disappeared  almost  on   day one.  Kookaburras  were  the  number  one suspects, although Crows had been seen  thereabouts . The two  chicks in the more protected   back of  the property  came  along  well ,  until one morning there was  just one left.
It caused the Queen of the Jungle to  cry  as she had been looking after the Curlew  family while we were away for a  fortnight . She suggested a  blasted cat could  have  been  responsible .
 The   survivor , above,  about a   month  later,  had  grown so  much it was  about due to fly  away . On its  spindly legs , it joined  its  parents  at  the backdoor  early each morning   wanting  to  be  fed.  Gaining in confidence, it came ever  closer,  peered intensely at  me , this  strange creature . In  turn,  I  bent down  to  be more on its level ,   addressed it  in  a  squeaky voice , threw in a few mystifying  bird  call  imitations, lamented  the loss  of  so many  Curlew  chicks  on   Magnetic  Island .

It just stood  its ground and  continued looking at me . Then one morning- disaster. Floundering  about  on  an  injured leg  was  the  chick, its parents   close by , as  if standing guard . A  wildlife carer was  consulted and  suggested it be  left  alone   for  a while  and  to  make observations  to  ascertain the extent of  the injury . If it was about to die,  birds  seemed  to sense  this  and  moved away , we were  told .

At one stage the chick made it  to the back of the property , the parents in tow . There it lay for  quite some time  , watched  through binoculars , its   eyes  closing at  times as if going to  sleep . The wildlife  carer    arrived with a special pet  pack  used  for  retrieving  a  variety of  birds  and  animals . 

 While watching the bird closely, a parent was  seen  rush  over and  gave it  a severe pecking.  Shocked by this action , it was decided to catch the injured bird and  put it  in an old  Ansett  Wridgways  book  box , a blast from the past .

 Pretending to hang washing on the line , it was possible to get close to the Curlew family, whip  around with a   bathroom floor  mat and   throw it over the chick , which was  flat on the ground . Squawking and   hissing  from the parents who   rushed at  me  in attack mode, wings extended. 

 Retreating   to the back  veranda  with  the captured  bird, followed  by  the parents , still in very  loud attack ,  popped  the  protesting chick, wrapped in the  towel ,  into  the box,  closed  the flaps . It instantly  became  silent in the dark interior .

The parents also  became silent . Then something strange took place . One of the adults, presumably the hen  , ran over to the spot under the Lychee Tree where  two eggs had  been  laid , one of  the hatchlings  the now  injured survivor. The bird seemed to perform a  distinctive  dance, as if  broody ,  about to lay an egg . Its  partner  rushed over  and  they  both settled  down, side by side. Had the shock of  the  apparent loss  of  another youngster  caused  it  to  perform an  egg laying  ritual ?  

Taken aback by this  peculiar  and touching act , it was  some time before  it was decided to move the  silent chick into the larger, pet pack , enabling it  to see out . Not a  smart  move .  The parents  shrieked, ran  in ,  one pecked the side of the  container . The chick  responded with  plaintive  calls  and  hopped  about inside, not good for  its apparently  injured  leg  and  maybe  hip .

The decision was made to put the handy container  in the laundry , away from the parents , to try and   prevent the  bird  becoming agitated , jumping  about . The door closed.   Soon  the chick could be heard calling ; the parents  gathered outside the laundry door , near  the kitchen door,  hissed   at us  whenever we came near  , extending  their  wings .  
Things became somewhat quieter  when the laundry door was  opened and the parents allowed   to   come and   go , at  times  one squatting  down  by  the  container .  
Concerned Curlews  
An experienced Curlew carer , from the Mexican Restaurant , with a fractured arm in plaster , came by and examined the chick , said it was unclear  what was the  trouble . She was off  to see  the  vet in a few  days  and  suggested  we  bring  the  bird  along  to be examined .
While this stressful saga was  being played out it was discovered  that Sunbirds had refurbished  the old nest dangling  from the front veranda  and  it was   found to contain three eggs . A wretched Currawong was seen pecking at the nest as if  trying  to tear it down , which they often  do, and  was  chased  away. The Pied Currawong , distributed along eastern Australia, from inland Cape York to the Grampians in Victoria , is regarded as a pest  due to raids on orchards and poultry farms. It is known to destroy eggs and  the young  of smaller birds.

UPDATE: Vet  found  no apparent break  in Curlew's leg  , sent home for two to three  weeks . When the Curlew was  placed  back in the laundry in the carrier  a  large lizard popped out from under the freezer cabinet  and had better  be alert and nimble on  its feet   with  the adult birds  on  high  alert  nearby...   A very large black cat  reported  prowling  nearby - a call to arms .      

Friday, January 19, 2018


World Scoop by Spook Specialist,  Horatio  Bottomley, who was passed sensational   Russian tapes of  scrambled telephone  conversations  between  US  President  Donald Trump  and   Media  Mogul  Rupert Murdoch .

 TRUMP : Howdy doody , Rupert , old  buddy . I want to thank you for  telling the New York Times that I am a Star Spangled  Drongo. There is no doubt you  are God's gift to journalism .  I presume  a  Drongo is a lovable, patriotic  critter like Koalas  Down  Under...that shithole of  a country you  abandoned  years   ago , which is now run by  Trumbles , who  looks and  sounds like the  president of the Jelly of  the Month  Club . 
MURDOCH , seemingly not yet properly awake, it being  nearly midday   : Who is this? -You have  the  wrong number .  Get off  immediately. This  is a direct line to the White House  Rose Garden . You  have obviously  pressed the wrong button.

TRUMP, laughing  :  You are a  born comedian, Rupert .  Of course  it is the  right  number, right  next to the nuclear  attack  button.   I have another  thorny- not  horny- problem that you may be able  to solve .
MURDOCH : Jeesus ! It is you , Mr President.
TRUMP : Yep . Those fake fakirs  of the free press  are claiming  I am bonkers, that my cogs , or some other similar sounding  part of my anatomy , are slowing down , that I am not a fit and proper person to be running the Free World into the  ground. 
MURDOCH : Rest assured none of my reporters at Fox News -the fair and  balanced  service -dare say  things like that ,  Mr  President.
TRUMP : I know I can count on you , Rupert. By the way, did you mother name you after  Rupert the Rabbit , that  oddly dressed   critter  from  a  Pommie  book  for  children  , with the  strange line about there was  a  hole where his tail came through ?...Or  is it  something to do with your religion? ... Would you believe my  mother named me  after  Daffy  Donald  Duck ?... Just between you and me , Rupert , old mate , I have developed rheumatism in my digits due to  constantly  punching out  all  these  words of  wisdom  into  the   twittersphere. Also , my eyesight  is not the best... I have to increasingly  feel my  way around the  Oval Office .  

MURDOCH , after imitating the  call of an Aussie Crow , hangs up  to  hurriedly sell off  the rest of his  empire ,  and reaches for   pills in the  newly installed   executive  nuclear  fallout  shelter .... Clicking  detected on  tape , nervous  Ruskie   heard   ringing   KGB  Travel Agency  and  booking  urgent  one  way  ticket  to  New  Zealand .

NEXT SENSATIONAL  TAPE :  Murdoch offers  Trump key job Down Under !!!!

Thursday, January 18, 2018


Possibly delirious  from a holiday in steamy Darwin , our  S(h)ipping  Reporter , the only one north of Wollongong ,  produced  this  bumper New Year  roundup  of  activity on the Townsville waterfront -renowned for its  ghost fleet which receives little media  coverage- a  tough   area  where  local  scribes  rarely  venture  on  foot  or  in  a  tinny .
From his leaky coracle , he photographed  the large billboard  sign  for  World Rugby League matches played in  Townsville in October and  early November  2017, actually being  removed   on   January  18 , more than two months after the last  event ,  from   the  prominent  site  next  to  the Townsville ferry  terminal . It has  been  replaced  with  a  Commonwealth  Games  booking  sign .
On the same  day , our nautical  reporter was  stunned to see the   Townsville Bulletin  actually had a  detailed shipping report  on P2 , with no photo,   about the first shipment of  1600 cattle  to China . As reported in the past , at  times you can have two live cattle ships in  port and there is not a line about them in the Townsville paper, no information   about   how many are  being  loaded  and  the ultimate  destination .  But in this case, it was a  first, and it seems everybody connected  wanted  to   be   quoted . All  the  media  had  the same  details which indicated there  may have  been  handouts  all  round .  The vessel involved   was the  Bison Endeavour , below, which  had  featured in a  previous  S(h)ipping  Reporter's  post .  
Limping about  the  waterfront  with his pet parrot on his shoulder, also  on January  18 , the S(h)ipping Reporter  noted that   the massive  anchor of the  aircraft carrier  USS Coral Sea still  displays the   red  graffiti   name  RECKLESS , rust   showing through . Pointed  out  several times in  this blog is the fact that this anchor was  a  gift  from America  to  Townsville , deserves better treatment .  Not  far  from the Townsville Bulletin  office  is a derelict  building  topped with   RECKLESS   in  large  letters . Any  landlubber  reporters  noticed  this ? 
The  strangest  sighting , above,  by  SR  the same   day  was in  the heavens over the  port - a  cloud  formation shaped  like  the  side  profile   of  the head of   bushy browed   former  Australian  Prime  Minister, Sir Robert  Menzies , also known as Ming the  Merciless , whose wife  had  an  Australian America's Cup  yacht named after  her , Dame  Pattie . When  it  failed to  sink the  yank swashbucklers  it  was  nicknamed  Damned Pity .  
Bloggers will  immediately notice  the snozzle   of  true blue   Sir  Robert    seems  somewhat  blotchy - our expert waterfront  reporter  suggested  it was   due  to  the  Conservative leader's time as  Warden  of the Cinque  Ports , when  he did indeed   sink   many  a  port  and  numerous  other   libations .

There were other  vessels of interest in port on January 18-cargo ship  Olivia  and Golden Taka , a chemicals/ oil products  tanker, built  2004, sailing under the Panamanian  flag. 


Vallis photograph .


From  lucky correspondents  enjoying  whole squid  in  lemon sauce .


The shameful state of  the grave of  early Darwin  journalist , Fred Thompson , who  lobbed in  the  outpost  in 1914  from  the North Queensland  paper , the Port Douglas Record, as managing editor of the Northern Territory Times,  hammered  the  authorities, and with   lawyer R.I.D. Mallam, later a judge ,  co-founded  the  open  air  debating  society, the  Goose  Club .
 By Peter Simon
Thompson's  lively   contribution to the wild  settlement  is  covered in Douglas Lockwood's  book , The Front Door. Darwin 1869-1969 . He  told how  rotund Thompson , during a campaign against  taxation without  representation ,was sent to Fannie Bay  Jail  from whence  he smuggled out  weekly  reports  about conditions inside,  published in the  union run Northern Standard , entitled Jayle Journal . 

Fred  would  chuckle  at the  latest suggestion  that   the  metal  walled present day  Fannie Bay prison site  should be made  look  more like the foreboding  calaboose of  yesteryear  with  a   watchtower,  perhaps  some  barbed   wire .  
The late author Xavier Herbert, who  wrote  the 1938 Australian Sesquicentenary  Award  winning  novel , Capricornia , about the Northern Territory , and  the later epic, Poor Fellow  My Country ,  knew Thompson .   
That  his  grave is in such a  rundown state  is  deplorable  and  reflects badly on the city authorities.  It also  indicates  local  reporters  have  no  or  little  knowledge of  him  and   certainly  have  not  made a pilgrimage  to the  last resting place  of a very colourful  North Australian   journalism   trailblazer.