Friday, April 27, 2018


Cairns City Council  has  just  approved the cutting  down  of  13 trees in which  flying foxes, also known as  fruit bats, have long  gathered in  droves. The trees are to be felled  near the  Novotel Cairns  Oasis  Resort  in the CBD  as part of  landscaping .While  some  people find  flying  foxes  a  nuisance  because of their  droppings  on parked cars , footpaths , screeching  and  associated  smell  ,  they are regarded  by  others as  cute , even  a   tourist  attraction .
There are  regular public open air  talks-Bat Chats- about  the critters. One of the  signs relating to them , below , informs you what  to  do when you have an encounter. Another  illustrated  sign  highlights the Aerobatic Display provided by  the  creatures .  

You get the feeling  Cairns is batty  when you  stumble across  the interesting Chinese  sign below  about Bats Descending from the Sky .
If you  are a  real fan of bats, you can venture out to  Limberlost  Nursery , below,  and buy a White Bat Plant for your villa  or cave  . There is even a "Bat Hospital" at nearby Tolga where patients hang upside down sucking  down/up  stimulants.  
Abra, Vallis  flighty report.


US Army base set up  in WWll , used  by Australian Air Force and Army 

North of  Cairns . Vallis  and  Abra  photos .


Vallis photos .

Thursday, April 26, 2018


Abra photograph of  Cairns waterfront .

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


While Anzac Day was being marked in Townsville , the above  open hatch design   German owned  general cargo  ship , Eike Oldendorff , was  in  port . Sailing  under  the  flag  of  Portugal,  the  Australian  flag was fluttering  overhead  while  alongside .
And  on Magnetic Island   at the same time  was a young  Turkish man  who had  recently  arrived   to  meet  his  dying  British  father-in-law for the first time .  

Our  S(h)ipping Reporter, the only one north  of  Streaky Bay , said the  name of the German vessel alone should have been enough to lure an inquisitive  deskbound   reporter  to the  waterfront  to investigate .

Launched in 2017 at the  CSC Jinling Shipyard , China , Eike Oldendorff  is one of  13  vessels of the same design  ordered  by  Oldendorff  Carriers  from the Chinese , all ending with Oldendorff , such as -Eckert, Emma, Eibe, Edward, Elsa, Ernst , Edgar . The 100 percent  family owned  company has  two main offices,  one in Lubeck, North  Germany , the other in  Singapore .  In September  2014  , the company was reported to be one of the world's largest  dry bulk carriers, with  500 ships under operation  at any one time ,  which was  able  to  trade "without deficit "  while   others   were   struggling . 

A few weeks  ago a large  Japanese vehicle  carrier   came  and went   without mention by  the  local  media .  

And the  day after  Anzac Day in Townsville , at the start of the Civic Pride Trail ,  there was  still  broken glass behind the Victory in the Pacific memorial fountain, which this blog had reported a week or so before .   In  addition,  there were  four   cans  in the top chamber ; a bottle , pieces of trees, straws,  a child's  T-shirt or  piece of   green cloth  in the bottom chamber . Cans ,  take away drink containers , sauce sachets , and  many cigarette butts  were scatted about the nearby   bus  shelter  on which  graffiti is again  appearing . There clearly  needs to be a   rubbish  bin   at  the  shelter.

Memorials  are  local and  national  shrines  and deserve  daily attention  by  the civic authorities.     How this  obvious  neglect  has been allowed to continue  for so long   reflects  badly   against   the  garrison  city .   

Monday, April 23, 2018


Whilst slurping  latte  at  the popular  Cool Spot, Fannie Bay, Darwin , a blog correspondent   was   informed  that   it  is has been suggested a   television series be made about the  bygone  misadventures of  photographers and  reporters. The informant was none other  than  Darwin's   famous photographer , international  ice  hockey champion  and roving Vegemite ambassador ,   Barry  " Bazza " Ledwidge .

If anybody deserves  to star  in such a series it  is  he .  Recently  the adventures of   Ledwidge and  Brian Dawe ( of Clarke and Dawe on ABC TV )    during  a  ramble overseas in  much younger  days were  discussed  late at night on Radio National.   The  plot  for the proposed series would  centre on   the  extraordinary,  often bizarre  happenings when  a  photographer and  a  reporter  go   together  on  assignment. Chronicling  Ledwidge's  experiences  alone  would  make  the  series  bigger  than  Ben  Hur .
He nominated a  friend , Ray Sharpe , above , wherever he may be ,   another veteran newspaper photographer , with experience  in Sydney , Vietnam and  the  Northern Territory , as  a  snapper  who  should  be included  in  the series .  That is  not  a  modern reporter , paid peanuts,  working  with  Ray, it  is an inquisitive  monkey , which had illegally entered  Darwin on a  yacht ,  examining his camera . Ray famously said you have not lived until  you have experienced a monkey  stick  its  fingers  up  your nostril.
The owner of  the yacht became known as Monkey Bob  who  , with the help  of sympathetic other yachties , dodged  authorities trying to   impound   the   friendly  monk .  The   photos were   taken  by  Ledwidge ;   both he and Ray did not come down with rabies  due to contact with the monkey , although  they  felt  crook from  time  to  time   over  the  years  , especially  at  sunrise .

Barry, Charles Darwin University official photographer ,  wishes it  known that he is not the person of  the same name who says he is a retired psychologist interested  in  the  meaning  of  life.  

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Special  feature marking reopening of the Waltzing Matilda Centre, Winton, North Queensland , destroyed by  fire three years  ago .   
New  Zealand  artist Violet  Bowring  drew a  portrait of   A.B. " Banjo" Paterson who contributed to the  archetypal image of  an  Australian , encapsulated   in  the song   Waltzing  Matilda  and the  famous  Man from Snowy River  ballad .  Her  drawing  featured  on the  above  front cover  of   Banjo  Paterson verse selected   by   bibliophile  Walter  Stone . 
 By Peter Simon
 Bowring   died  in  Townsville  on January 21, 1980, aged 90. In the many treasures  stored  in the    Special Collections section at  the  Eddie Koiki  Mabo Library  at  James Cook  University  is  the  Bowring   archive .
It contains the Paterson portrait  and  interesting information  about  her  early days in New Zealand; studying art  in London ;  her artwork  run on the  ground  breaking  cover of  a 1914 German year book  ; involvement  in  the Sydney art scene  ,  during  which  time  she did portraits  of   well known  people , Paterson  one  of   them.

The 1930   portrait was commissioned by  Paterson's wife, shown at  an exhibition of   the Women's Industrial Arts Society , with which Violet was associated,  bought  by  the  Australian   Club  of  which  Banjo was  a  member .    
It seems a  pastel portrait  was also done of Paterson's  son.  One of  those  in Bowring's  illustrations,  simply identified  as   Admiral" Teddy" Evans, turns out to be  Edward, lst Baron Montevans ,   highly decorated   British  naval officer and   Antarctic  explorer  ( Mount Evans  named after him  by Scott ) , appointed  Rear Admiral Commanding  the  Royal Australian Navy Fleet  in 1928.  After a life  full of  adventure , two world wars ,  he  chaired a commitee to   formalise  rules for  professional wrestling  in  the UK, known as  Admiral Lord  Montevans  rules.

( The  above  naval story  is  another indication  that once you start   going through the wondrous  material in Special Collections  you could find yourself   on a phantasmagorical  voyage  to  the South  Pole , chatting to Amundsen along the way ,  followed  by  some  arm  wresting in  a  Pommie  pub ) 

It is not at all  clear , but Admiral Evans  may have  married a  relative of  Bowring's ,  Hilda Russell ,  daughter  of  a  local solicitor and  niece of G. W. Russell, member of parliament for Christchurch , New Zealand . There are  photographs of  Violet  in  Christchurch  with   parents   and  relatives and of a brother in the Bay of Islands .           
I was  delighted to discover  that Bowring had drawn a pastel portrait of the daughter  of   Sydney newspaper tycoon  Sir Hugh Denison . In my odds and ends  is a 1936  presentation copy  of  a  book to  Sir Hugh and Lady Denison    from    another  talented and strong woman  from the same era  as  Bowring ,  Florence M.  Taylor, a town planner , writer  and  publisher . 
 She was the first woman in  Australia  to have a  glider pilot's licence and cast a  critical eye over  Townsville and Magnetic Island  when she passed through on a voyage to  Asia . Why, she asked , would they  have  large clocks on  the war memorial in Townsville...those  clocks have since disappeared.  
Taylor  sailed on  recording shipboard romances and observations  and wrote the presentation  illustrated tome , A Pot-Pourri of  Eastern Asia , 396pp, which warned  about  the  rising  aims and secrecy of  Japan .
The  New Zealand content in the university collection  includes  some details of Violet's  early artistic  output,  winning  certificates of  merit  for  drawing in 1908 and l909  , political cartooning , involvement with  the Canterbury Society of Arts . 
Her husband , Auckland born artist  Walter Armiger  Bowring , born 1874, like Banjo Paterson,  was highly regarded as  a "true colonial artist "and to some extent   had a similar  life to  Paterson . At  one stage in Auckland  he worked with the  satirical artist  W. Bloomfield  whose  depictions of Kiwi life  were  popular .
 A  portrait painter and illustrator, Walter   covered   the NZ involvement in the  Boer War  and  his 1916  grim painting  , above, of the first  New Zealand   troops arriving  at Wellington  from  Gallipoli  aboard the  Willochra  was  an  event in which  it was said   civilians  experienced   loss  of   innocence  about the war when  confronted by the grim reality  of amputations,  other  injuries, broken  men . His request to become a war artist  was turned down .

In London Walter  had   studied     under Augustus  John   and William Orpen . He also   contributed  black and white drawings to the  London Punch, Graphic and Sketch .   There  is  a  portrait  of  him  in  the university collection . 

Arriving in  Sydney  in 1925 , he was  soon busy doing portraits. He and   Violet  , above , received  write ups , she presented as  a modern woman , fashionably dressed , often  posing  for  her  husband. Many of his works were hung in Archibald exhibitions ; his  portraits of  members of  the   Fairfax newspaper  family were bought  by  the  National Portrait Gallery . He died in  1931. 

In 1941 , one of Violet's drawings  became  the first  four colour illustration in  Woman's Day magazine.  Despite the  fact  that  she  was well known in Sydney, vice president  of the  Society of  Women Painters , she seems to have been  almost  forgotten  as  has   her  husband . A New Zealand  article about him, without mentioning  Violet, said despite his skills  he seemed to have suffered  from  being regarded as  too  commercial . 
For  some unclear reason , possibly because it was cheaper to live there ,  Violet moved to  Townsville  in  1950 , aged 60 . At one stage she shared a flat on The Strand with Jessie  Macqueen , who  ran a Townsville  bookshop,was into women's rowing and  rifle shooting  and wrote   The Real Magnetic , about Magnetic Island .
Both wrote to the Townsville  Bulletin deploring the lack of an art  gallery in the city  . There is a photograph in the university collection of  the two friends dressed up for a party , Violet  like a man , with a moustache, in a suit with a hat . In colonial times in New Zealand   Walter , regarded as a  larrikin in some ways ,  had  dressed   as a  woman  for  theatricals . That's  him  below on  the  right.
Violet's art collection  and personal papers suffered as a result of  two events- a huge fire in the bulk sugar storage  terminal  in 1960  which showered the city with  gunk  and Cyclone Althea in 1971. Some of her artwork was hung in an art gallery in   Bowen  Road .  At  the age of 70 she had  a  motorscooter.

There is mention of  a person in Townsville  related to  Oliver Towns Osborne, of  Adelaide , said to be the great great grandson of Robert Towns , after whom Townsville  had  been  named .   

Moving to  the Garden Settlement  home for  the aged , she kept her possessions  in  a small  suitcase and  a  carton . By 1981 the Encyclopedia of  Australian Art  contained  a  six line listing   for Walter  Bowring, no mention of Violet . 
A  puzzle  emerged during  perusal of   Violet's collection . The  portrait  of a  man was  said  to possibly be  a  parliamentarian . Wonder  who ? Later on  he was identified  as  John Murray, formerly of Townsville , manager of the Orient Station  outside Ingham ,  an MP , the portrait  done about  1960.

Saturday, April 21, 2018


There was  a  dramatic operatic  development  after  the  ashes  of  Australian art researcher  Margaret Vine  were  scattered  at Alma  Bay, Magnetic Island : at   distant Cape Cleveland ,  a  fire  broke out , a  column  of  white  smoke visible .

The  person who first spotted  the  conflagration, island  resident  George  Hirst , revealed  he  had  been somewhat overawed  by  Ms. Vine when  he first encountered  her   at  the National Gallery of Australia , Canberra, where he  had been information officer early in his career, which  brought him to Townsville's   Perc  Tucker Regional  Gallery in 1989  , responsible for  collections, curating and installing exhibitions. 
 Then, with partner Penelope Sheridan ,  running the  island  newspaper, Magnetic Times , later  branching into  Cranky Curlew Productions, making  films dealing with environment issues ,T-shirts.   

When the smoke cleared  , it was disappointing  that  there had not then been   the  sudden   spectacular appearance  of   Verdi's massive Aida  cast-Egyptian  priests,priestesses, slaves  and  a  Chinese elephant as  in a  modern performance, but it  would have severely taxed  the budget for the occasion .
The   wake  consumed  champagne and  caviar, swapped  anecdotes about  Ms. Vine , a  great opera  fan , partial  to  bubbly .
Her  ashes had been  cast into  the  sea  with native   flowers not far from the above swimming  sign   by  the president of the Magnetic  Island Museum, Zanita  Davies, and  Tony O'Malley. O'Malley , involved in natural resource management in the wet tropics,   lived  nextdoor  to  Margaret  in   Olympus  Crescent  and  had  many dealings with  her.  He read  messages from those  unable to   attend , including  one in  which she was  described as having contributed  so  much  to Australian   art  research .  
Present at the wake  was  carpenter and sculptor  Andy Frost who had been commissioned by Margaret to make  her coffin .  Margaret , he said , had   regarded   her  many pets-Wallabies , Curlews, Possums , Kookaburras-as  her  children . Some of the  wallabies had  been named after politicians, according  to  a  woman,  conjuring  up  an   image  of  unusual  bounders.  
Another  point of interest that surfaced  during the wake  was the  fact  that on the island is the  Harrod's dog blanket  which  had  once  belonged  to  Margaret's pet  Beagle , Ponsonby, and  there  is  also  a  special  Ponsonby  recipe  for   Christmas  cake .   
Some of the women present wore jewellery and clothing  in colours that Margaret  favoured .This writer was given  a  packet of  seeds  to plant and attract  butterflies .    

Friday, April 20, 2018


After imposing a moratorium on  fracking , a hotly debated subject, the NT has given  approval  for  it  to  go ahead.  

As far back as the  l970s ,  Darwin  was involved  in  the practical use and research into  solar  power .   There was  an active  group in which  American  journalist, historian , author and  environmentalist  , the  late  Barbara   James , was  a member , which promoted  the use of solar  energy  in  the  Top End.  A small   village was  established  which used  solar panels   and    Barbara   featured on the   front  cover  of  a  government  publication  using  a most unusual  sun  powered  stove .  

 Ms.  James  co-edited  volume two of  the  Northern Territory Dictionary of  Biography  and wrote  a number of books including  No  Man's Land : Women in the  Northern Territory , The Little Bush Maid , the history of the  NT Law Society. A lifetime member of  the Australian  Labor  Party , she was an  adviser  to  NT   politicians  Senator Bob  Collins and  Chief Minister Clare Martin. She died from  cancer aged  59.

The  Barbara James  Memorial Lecture  was  delivered  this month at the  NT Library  by  Senator Malarndirri  McCarthy, entitled My Culture , My  Story .


Gambling  rife  at  Townsville  media  Last  Supper

As hard  copy  newspapers are threatened  with  extinction partly because of smart phones ,  so called papershops , newsagencies ,  are  closing , surviving  ones   relying  mainly on lottery ticket sales ,  drinks,  souvenirs , lollies,  soft  toys , trinkets , special occasion  cards . 
A newsagency in a large   Townsville shopping  centre  is  now  offering   a  range of  holy figurines   strategically   located   on   top  of  a  cabinet , looking  down on   sinners  carrying  an  array of   good  luck  charms .  As  Australia now seems to have an  economy  like Mexico where there are strolling lottery ticket  sellers, the  holy range  may  be  bought  by  devout  punters who  pray  each night  that they will  win  the latest  $30million  draw.
To buy an actual newspaper  you  often have to fight your way through a throng of  jostling  lottery  ticket  buyers.  

Like the diminishing  papershops , the Murdoch Townsville Bulletin  has been offering an ever increasing  range of inducements , from  magic (or was it radioactive ?) crabs  to  hams , to  get  people to  buy a  subscription .
Engage North Queensland shopkeepers  from Townsville  to  Cairns in  conversation and they all  agree that  the  local  paper, all owned  by  Murdoch,   will   undoubtedly  be reduced  from a daily to  a  biweekly, probably become online only .      

Thursday, April 19, 2018


Australian   Unions and  Australia's Industry Superfunds  have combined to  bring out  a  daily online newspaper ,The  New  Daily , that is honest and free from spin , providing fair and balanced coverage of  national  and  global events. 

Announcing the  interesting move , Australian  Unions  says   the nation is suffering from a media diversity problem , news  media too concentrated in  the hands of  few people .  Each morning  it provides  a   news bulletin  from The New Daily  team covering national, world, finance , sport, entertainment, lifestyle and weather in  high quality  text,  pictures , audio  and video . Always free, you are  able  to unsubscribe if  you so  wish.  


Up  there  Kodaly !

Recently discovered  in a pile  of culled   folders  containing  items   relating to music , including early Australian  Music Examination Board theory of music examination papers , was the  1979   monograph  CREATIVE MUSIC-THE KODALY WAY-by Pamela Burton , lecturer in music  at the Kelvin Grove  College of Advanced  Education, Brisbane .

 In the International Year of the  Child , Australia had been   the venue  for an international  symposium  devoted  to  the  ideals of  the Hungarian musicologist  , composer  and educator , Zoltan Kodaly , who spent  much of  his   creative life  writing  music    for  children .
The Kodaly philosophy  was that music should be accessible  to everyone  and that singing is the way  to achieve  this ideal . His technique  was described as being essentially a vocal method  in  which no child learns  a melodic  instrument until he or she  can sing in tune  and is able to read and  write simple pentatonic tunes .
A pilot program was started in  New South Wales primary schools  which by  1979 was in its eighth year. Other  pilot  programs were  set up in Victoria, Queensland  and South Australia .        

Kodaly was  a  contemporary  of  Bartok at the Prague Academy of  Music ;  the two went  into the countryside  collecting  and preserving  old  Hungarian folk songs . The monograph says  Cecil Sharp and Vaughan Williams  carried  out  a  similar project in England. Kodaly succeeded  Vaughan Williams  as chairman of the  International Folk Music Council  60 years later . 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


Award  winning   political  journalist and  freelance celebrity  chef  Argus Tuft  provides helpful   tips on  how  to  cook  a   goose .
One of  Australia's great  cartoonists , David  Rowe  of  the  Australian Financial Review , soon to be deported under armed guard  to Manus Island , cooked  this  tasty recipe , showing  painfully  plucked PM Malcolm Turnbull being inserted in  the  oven by  babbling   Barnaby  Joyce , the  ex-Nationals  leader and    former Deputy  Prime Minister , the  timer set  for  Christmas .

Yuletide was the jolly  deadline  by  which  Joyce said  Turnbull  should  exit , cut the umbilical cord,  if   it   was  evident  he  could  not  lead a  winning  team to  the  political grand final .  Looking on  with  a mouthful of fangs  like a white pointer  shark  is   the booted out  former  Liberal  PM   , trick cyclist  Tony Abbott  .  The tall  figure   in the background, looking like  a  funeral insurance  salesman  , is  Springboks  footie  fan  ,the  Honourable  Minister  for Home Cooking and  MKR Affairs  ,  Peter  Dutton , who admits he would  like to  be  cock  of  the walk .

The  midget   figure in  the  cartoon  could represent  any of  the  many  lightweight  members in  the   Coalition .

Turnbull was recently  faced  with a  farmyard  insurrection   by  a  strange group  , 20 strong ( in   number only ) ,  in which  leading    gobblers  were   dubbed  The Three  As  ,  promoting   the   spread and   use  of   charcoal  burners  when   roasting   Christmas  poultry  and  the  planet .

Glad to be  free  from the  heat of  the Cabinet  kitchen , perpetually smiling   Turnbull rocketed overseas  and  left   the  Deputy  PM, Fred What'shisname?,  in  charge of  the nation .  The average KFC punter  was surprised to  learn the acting PM  is  the new  Nationals    leader   Michael McCormack , a  former Wagga Wagga  newspaper editor , who used to dress up  like  Elvis Presley in  a white silk jump suit  and  black  wig .  

As  a result of him being in charge of the ship of  state, the nation was soon all  shook up. Feisty Christian  Treasurer  Scott  Morrison  had to  "slap down " McCormack / Elvis   for  saying  the  forthcoming budget would  make  the  happy  clapper  "Santa Claus ". Santa will  obviously not  fill  the stocking of a certain   naughty  boy  at  Wagga  Wagga  this  Xmas.   
At the   rate   the  Coalition   is  simmering ,  heating  up  internally it will  implode  like  the  turkey carved  by Chevy Chase  in National Lampoon Christmas Vacation,the  only part of  the  desiccated  bird   the  unsightly  parson's nose .     

Monday, April 16, 2018


Another  S(h)ipping  Reporter  broadside  directed at  civic authorities, the RSL, Navy League , assorted  armchair  generals  and   local  media.

Proof that Townsville   still  can't  get its act together  in respect of looking after  war memorials in  the  city  has  surfaced .  In   a  combined naval  operation , this blog  invoked the  name of  Admiral Harry Harris , the  new US ambassador to Australia, to finally get  the  authorities to  clean up  the  Victory in the Pacific  memorial fountain , the graffiti covered nearby  bus shelter,    and  the rusting , graffiti attacked   giant  anchor off   the  aircraft carrier   USS  Coral Sea,  a gift  from America  .  
However, last week , it was back to the  normal  abnormal situation in  the  garrison city when it comes to caring  for   war  memorials .  Last  Thursday to be exact , the Victory in the Pacific   fountain had  broken  glass , above ,  and rubbish at the back of the structure , assorted   take  away food  containers  and  plastic  eating utensils were  in the  twin  pools ; a  hard  to  identify  sheath like object , which could  have  been a  birth  control device , was   bobbing  about  erotically  .  The   fountain  also appeared to  be  leaking .  
The situation was  uniquely  summed up  just across the road at  the  Great Northern Hotel , which  has  not  operated   since  an  arson attack , displaying  the    above   banner  for  the  Little  Shop  of  Horrors  show  , which   had  ended its  run   nearly six months ago . On  the other hand , there could have been an extended  season  due  to  popular  demand .    
On the  same  day , at the  North Queensland  Garden  of  Remembrance, the above  plaque  headed Townsville during the Second World War , detailing involvement with our American allies , was  extremely difficult  to  read , badly  in need  of  attention. The lettering  at  the nearby  large  memorial  to  the Coral  Sea  Battle  also  requires  touching  up and  Anzac Day  is almost  upon  us .   


Another interesting event  at the Northern Territory Archives Centre  will be the launch on  April 19 of  an exhibition by Huni Bolliger   dealing  with  Darwin's  old  tin-walled prison, the Fannie Bay Gaol.  With an Arts NT  grant  , Ms Bolliger will discuss the process of using  archives  to learn NT history and transform  images and  documents  into  short  narrative  animations .  
Entitled Under Lock and Key , An Insight into Fannie  Bay Gaol,  it  will explore the history of the prison by telling the  story of three  inmates  during its long history   from 1883 to 1979. Films  will be  screened  in conjunction with the exhibition of  the  original  archives  which   inspired them .
 Creative in  Residence  at   NTAC , Ms. Bollinger is  a film maker  and  animator, has a  wide range of experience, including   video production, script writing , editing , eLearning  and  art teaching .  Her  films have won awards in Australia and  overseas .

 A former  inmate  of  Fannie  Bay  was  injured  when he tried to climb  INSIDE . It was  in the free and easy days when  prisoners were allowed to go into town for a  bit  of  socialising , as  long as they returned  before the entrance  to the slammer  was   firmly  shut   for  the  night . Arriving late , he attempted to climb in and fell  .  Crippled as a result of  the  fall, the man set up a shop called the Curio Cottage , in which he sat at the counter , and  with the aid of  mirrors ran what  was  said  to  have  been  an  early  Australian  self  serve, even offering postcards .

Sunday, April 15, 2018


Yet  more  intriguing  anecdotes  and  discoveries  continue   to  surface  about  the    art  researcher ,  collector, onetime  Canberra statistician  , Margaret Vine , who  died  recently, aged 81, her  ashes soon to be  scattered  about  Magnetic  Island .
A small photograph of her pet  Beagle , Ponsonby , above ,  mentioned  previously in  this  blog , shows  him  sitting  on  a lounge , possibly three or more  decades ago ,  in  Coronation Drive , Toowong, Brisbane , books, some  pieces  of  pottery and  wall  hangings  in  the  background .  
 By Peter Simon
While helping   Margaret  cull  and sort  her impressive book collection  last year , I  mentioned   that  during  the  mad  Poseidon  share  boom   period of l969-l970   in  Australia  I  had covered  the so called  luxury beat  for  the  Sun  Herald,  the nation's  then  largest  selling Sunday paper .

This  involved going to auctions ,  mixing with the  jubilant  nouveau  rich  in  the public gallery at the  Sydney Stock Exchange ,  contacting  leading  jewellers such as  Prouds, Hardy Brothers, Angus and Coote -in Margaret's numerous reference   books  was   By Appointment, the history of Hardy Brothers , 1780-1980, by Gail  Franzmann, the company commissioned to  make a  gold trowel and mallet presented to  King George V  in  1913 , the l934 Centenary Air  Race Trophy , a tea tree spray  brooch  for  Princess Alexandra  and  started on  its first  Melbourne Cup in  1980.The high flying former  finance   journalist   Christopher  Skase  took  over  the company  in 1979  through   Qintex  Limited ,  then  departed   for  Spain  faster than Phar Lap  when  the  crash  came .  

 On  my  rounds  I  had  been  shown  large diamonds,  picture  opals , sapphires in various colours  ,  rarities  and  oddities  held    in   strongrooms, sworn to secrecy by a  jewellery firm  making  life  sized  copies of  Australian  animals  in  gold and  gemstones  for   a  Sultan .
 Even got  an invite from  Junie  Morosi  to  a  Christmas  party . Her  later involvement with Dr Jim Cairns helped bring down the Whitlam  Government; recently she came out and attacked the media  for  their treatment of  Barnaby Joyce  and  his  staff  member.

I told  Margaret  of  an  episode  that   took  place when I attended   the  first    auction  conducted in  Sydney by  the international   firm   Christie's .  An Australian  painting  owned by  James Fairfax, of  the  Fairfax media family, had been knocked down for  about  20 grand . However , a member of  the  well  heeled   and   attired   crowd ,  complained  to  the  auctioneer  that  he  still  had  his   hand   up, wanting to  bid.  The  auction resumed , and   the painting went  for  several  thousands   more .

Margaret  responded    by  giving  me  catalogues for auctions  and invitations  to various galleries and exhibitions.  On  quick  perusal  some time later , a  l998  catalogue for  a   Sydney auction  of  20th century art  and  design  was found  to  contain   handwritten  notes by  Margaret ,  corrections to  the text , plus penned in actual  sale prices ,  for the  pottery  offerings , which  included  a  Madoura  pottery vase  designed  by  Pablo Picasso , expected to  fetch  up  to  $9000. There had also been a large  number of  paintings  by Northern Territory Aboriginal  artists   in  the  auction.

At  the time , I made a mental note to ask  her about  this  auction and  others she  may have  attended. Because of  her  deteriorating health, the opportunity to  pursue  this  subject at length  ,  like  so many  of  her brief  anecdotes, unfortunately,  did  not arise .
Just this  week ,   again  glancing through   that  same   1998  catalogue , with several seemingly unconnected   inserts , you  could  have  knocked me  over  with a  proverbial feather . There ,  in  a  fullplate  illustration ,  above, was  one  of  the  pieces of  pottery  behind Margaret's Beagle : a  Brett  Whitely cobalt blue   rendition of   Madam Lash  on a glazed white  Derek Smith  stoneware vase !!!!  Ex  the  Kim Bonython Collection, it was estimated  to  sell  for   $9000-$12,000.

It is a good thing  that the Beagle , which exchanged Christmas  cards  with the female Dachshund owned  by the couple who  ran the  Johstone Gallery in  Brisbane , mentioned previously in this blog covering   another interesting  part of  Margaret's    life,   did  not get excited  while   having  his   photo  taken  and  wag  his  tail , or  else  Madam Lash  could  have  been whipped  into  a  pile  of   worthless  shards.   
A folded   photocopy  of  a   Sydney Morning Herald  article by its arts editor , Peter Cochrane , dated  October 15, 1998 , inserted  in  the  catalogue,  then was found to  have  relevance  .  Headed   WELCOME  TO THE FROCKY HORROR  SHOW : JUST A LITTLE  SOMETHING  I WHIPPED UP  , it  included  a bondage outfit  designed by  Sydney artist, fashion designer  and  dominatrix ,   Gretel  Pinniger , for  her alter ego, Madam Lash , on  the  right . Renowned for  throwing lavish parties at Palm Beach , she it  was who  inspired  Brett  Whiteley's  stoneware  vase,  which  in  recent  times  has  rocketed  in  value .    
The report  covered   a National Gallery of Australia exhibition ,Wall to Wall, which included a pair of  Mary Quant vinyl red shoes , a hat from the London production of  My Fair Lady.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


 Papua  New  Guinea  Plight  Neglected

In  the   typical cargo  cult  reporting style  of the  Townsville Bulletin, the  commencement  of  regular  Air Niugini  flights between  Townsville   and  Port Moresby was  hailed  as  leading  to  money  making possibilities , even  PNG   rugby  league  fans  flying  in  for  matches .

Right now  about  200,000 people   in PNG  are living in  difficult  conditions  due to violent earthquakes which    killed  120 people   in one  shake , destroyed many buildings,  swept  away roads  and  village  gardens , started   tribal  fighting  because of  the  dislocation of groups  . The  ABC  has   run reports on the  grim situation , but  scan the  Townsville  Bulletin  and it  is  hard to find anything at  all  about  the tragic  situation .  Why?

The ABC   reported early on   that  the  Australian  Defence  Force  helped  as  did  the   New  Zealand  Air Force  in  flying  in  aid . No specific  mention of  assistance coming  from   Townsville . Helicopters  in  particular are  needed  to get  aid to  villages  in  the  rugged  terrain  
As Townsville is  a nearby  large  defence  base  , with helicopters ,  you would  think the local  paper  would  look for  the  possible  local angle to  the  human tragedy  just  up the road .  If  no Townsville military  aid  was / is  being provided , why ?  

Defence  Minister  Marise  Payne made the front page of the Bulletin when she announced  in  Townsville April 12   what   the   paper  said   put  the city on the  brink of  a defence  jobs boom.  It  seems  no local  reporter  took the  opportunity  to  ask  the minister for an update on  the latest  ADF involvement in  the PNG  disaster and what exactly the  local garrison  is contributing , if any . The minister could also have been asked  if she envisages  Townsville, on  many fronts,   playing   a  large part   in   helping  our  close   neighbour  in the long road  to recovery . 

Friday, April 13, 2018


Bleached coral  has been used  on Magnetic Island, North Queensland,   to  build  a  variety of  garden  structures  on   and  in  which  are   placed   plants, ornaments, butterflies , pieces  of  crockery .   

At the rate mankind is  cooking the Great Barrier Reef there is no fear of running out of  bleached coral as a  building  material . Indeed , it would not be surprising if  blocks of  mined   bleached coral  are  soon used to build  skyscrapers  along  the entire east coast of  Australia . In a Nordic  twist to this exclusive post,  one of Townsville's  ghost  fleet , the Singapore  flagged  vehicle  carrier  Viking  Coral, capable of  handling 4200 cars ,  is  seen  below  slipping out of  port , without  the  local   media  noticing,  except for our S(h)ipping  Reporter , the only one north of  Coogee .