Saturday, June 30, 2018


Born  Townsville in 1899 , Edith  Mary England had  her first poems  run in the Australian Town and Country Journal in 1915 . Illustrated above  is her  first published collection of  poems, The Happy Monarch and Other Verses  (1927) , one of  her eight  novels , House of  Bondage  , and  a collection of short  stories ,Tornado ,circa  1945.

These  examples of  this  now little known writer's output  surfaced  at  a garage sale on Magnetic Island . Described  as  a  pioneer  poet of  the  Queensland landscape , England's  first novel was run as  a  serial in  The Queenslander  in 1928 -29. The books had belonged to a well read woman , born 1900, a teacher of  typing and  shorthand , who had attended school with  Edith  England in Queensland   and  was  also  said  to  have  gone  hiking  with  her.   

The England  book of  verse , held together with tape, is  dedicated to her mother.  Of special  interest is the  taped in E.M. England  bookplate  showing   a  sailing ship   with  the caption that  the inspiration for  this bookplate "of  the well known  Queensland woman writer "may have been the opening  lines of  the  poem  on  a certain page ....The  plate by Pixie O'Harris,  illustrator of  delightful  Australian children's books .
Apart  from containing  poems about Queensland -Queensland Night, Queensland  in  December -there are  thoughts on  Sydney (where she spent  some  time and was married  ) , the joy of  any scribe working away in a room , wanderlust , the  teamster's wife ,  the  bare  brown  land ( a touch of  Dorothea Mackellar-l885 to 1968  ), Moon magic , Venice.

Published about  1950 , the novel is set  in a  town north of  Brisbane .The  dustjacket illustration of  a car   racing through the  town causing people to scatter   could well  represent  Townsville today , where  car stealing  is  rife . The   blurb says  the background  to this drama of human relations  centres  around   some  characters  frustrated  by  their  environment ;  a New  Australian family is  worried  about   a  son  rapidly becoming a dinkum Aussie; the editor of the  local paper gathers  interesting people about him ; there  is  secret love , a  sadistic ex-husband .One of the group  is a talented musician . England is said to have  taken  a degree in music .
A taped  in review , apparently from a Queensland paper ,  said  the  novel was about love and  unhappiness,  set  in a  small town.  The author had centred her story on an unhappy marriage and a collection of artistically minded people who gather round the  editor of the local newspaper and feel a common frustration of  their  interests .

A great deal of sincerity was behind the writing and   despite  the fact that  it  was " free of the  sickness of  many a woman's  magazine   story ,"the depiction of emotion and character  was  not above that level . Penned along the side of the review was the  comment ...sounds like "Strange Sequence " she wrote  for Mirror 

When our resident   family  history researcher  was  given the task of  fleshing out the  life of Edith  England , on July 1 , she  came up with  the  coincidence  that she had   been   born  on   July 1,1899 , so  it was her  119th  birthday .
At the age of six , Edith  left Townsville with her parents and went to  live  in Boonah ,south  east  Queensland , attended   Ipswich  Girls' Grammar  and became a  teacher .

In 1922 , in  Christ Church  ,  St. Leonards, North  Sydney , Edith, 23,  married   Boonah  farmer  Schomberg   Montague   Bertie , 34. The  marriage   certificate  gave  her occupation  as   teacher , her  father  a  poultry  inspector  at Boonah .

The  marriage  produced  two  daughters;  her husband died in 1937. In 1941, she married  Harry  August  Anders, another  Boonah   farmer , who had  been  born  the same year as her, 1899, on  August 16.
 She was a keen member of the  Queensland Authors and Artists Association up into  her  70s,  her last publication  in 1970 . England is covered  in  the Old Queensland Poetry  website  and  is mentioned  in By the Book , A Literary History of Queensland , edited by Patrick  Buckridge and Belinda McKay, University of Queensland Press , 2007.

The  National  Library of  Australia has  a taped, extensive interview  with Edith late in life  , transcribed it  fills  31 pages , described thus :
 Edith M. England, poet, talks of her family background; parents; education; childhood; WWI; ambition to become a writer; entry into freelance journalism; various jobs held; her poetry and novels writing; research done for novels and use of own experiences; characterisation; opinion of Patrick White as a novelist; life in the country and effect on her writing; method of working in collaboration with Ray Albion for "Road Going North", satisfaction with own work; contact with other writers; inspiration for stories and poetry; problems encountered when writing and having work published; attitude to criticism; literary grants. Works include: The Happy Monarch, Queensland Days (verse), The Sealed Temple, Where the Turtles Dance, Road Going North (with Ray Albion), House of Bondage, Where the Ded Road Ran (poems).

The novel   Road Going North ( with R. Albion ) , a romantic work  with exciting  scenes  set in the  great Australian loneliness , written in a racy style , revealed  the   contrast between  Sydney's  King's Cross and Kanangra ; Where the Turtles  Dance  , about a woman   who  inherits  her uncle's vast cattle station in Queensland , described  as  a book certain to interest  woman readers  who  enjoy  a  romance  well  told .
England's  short stories and  poems were published widely. As  proof of this , her  1927  book  of  poems  thanked  the   following  periodicals for  permission to  use her verses : Sydney Bulletin, Woman's Mirror, Australasian,Triad Magazine (  originated in New Zealand ) , Smith's Weekly, Daily Mirror ( Brisbane ), Aussie Magazine and The Spinner .
It also  thanked the organisers of the   Australian Natives' Association Eisteddfod , Brisbane , indicating she  may  have   made a  recitation  there .


Set up and printed in Australia  by the Worker Newspaper  Pty. Ltd., Dunstan House , Elizabeth Street, Brisbane , the  cover  illustration  by Ian Gail , bearing  the handwritten   name of  a previous owner in  East Ipswich, dated    1945,  it contains a  penned  message  on an inserted  envelope ,   signed  E, which could have been  the author. Acknowledgements  include  the  London Evening News , the Sydney Mail,  Sydney Morning Herald , the Australasian ,Melbourne  and the   Brisbane  Telegraph .-( By Peter Simon ). 


A classic case involving an  Australian  bank , ANZ,  a  conman and  Territory government  officials    which  brought   a   Darwin  business  to its knees  and  caused  great  financial  loss and  stress to those associated  , covered  by  this  blog in the past ,  has  been  raised  with  the Royal Commission. Whether or not   it becomes  the subject of  public examination  is  not  known .  However,  a  television  investigative  team  has   asked  for   information .

Another  Darwin   case which deserves  forensic examination ,  covered in  depth  by this blog  over the years , concerned  the  Australian government  backed   Bank of  America Down  Under   Tour across  America  in  the   lead  up to the Sydney Olympic Games , which became a disaster for highly regarded  Aboriginal art  gallery identity  Shirley  Collins .

 The   Australia Council had recommended   the  Australian Tourist  Commission  invite  her to participate in the event. She  had to take out a $160,000 loan  from   the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission ,  after  the international marketing  consultants   Auslink   looked into the  viability of  the  proposal  and  painted a  glowing  picture  of  a  profitable tour of  the USA in a  tent replica  of the Sydney Opera House , selling   NT  Aboriginal  art.

However, upon  arrival in the USA, having laid out  a large amount of money, it was discovered   that  under the   Bank of America  sponsorship , the  entire proceeds were to got to  the  US Olympic Council .   Nobody in the Australian government  and  the  financial  report  had   picked   up   this  vital  fact .  
Collins had to pull out of the tour , resulting   in a  long   drawn out legal  battle  which saw her stock seized, closure of the Raintree Aboriginal  Art Gallery and  the forced  sale of  her  house .

John  Morse, managing director of the  Australian Tourist  Commission , who was at the launch of the  tour in America, said   Collins had  been made the scapegoat   for  the mistakes  and misinformation of  others  in Australia and America .  She had been made to suffer   due to  many factors, including  an unrealistic   commercial  assessment  by  the consultants  and  the  hard line attitude of ATSIC , its board  later sacked  by  the  government .     

Friday, June 29, 2018


America's loss . 
Acquisition  of  this    book  about   American actor  Hayes Gordon,  who  had  a  major  influence  on Australian theatre, acting  and politics  , unleashed  memories  dating  back  to  the  l950s , when  I was a copyboy on The Sun  newspaper , Sydney .  For  a time , I  worked in the   PIX magazine  library  with  another  staffer , Jan , forgotten her surname , who  one  day  enthusiastically  spoke  to  me  about  an American  actor  called   Hayes  Gordon .

By Peter Simon
 Although  I  had studied  for  a part   in  a French  play  at  the North Newtown  Intermediate Demonstration  High  School ,  the  opening  line  going  something  like ,    "Allo , allo ,  Madame  La   Marquise ", which ,   on reflection,  sounds like something out of the  much later  BBC  TV  farce   about  WWll ,  I  had not heard  of  this Yank, Hayes Gordon .  In   my  pimply  ignorance , I  possibly   thought  he   was   related  to  Speed  Gordon.
 Eventually , I  became aware of  Hayes Gordon , this  fiddler on the roof   of  Australian  politics  who  even   coached  our   politicians  how  to perform before  television  cameras . My  mother  attended  one of  his  productions .
Gordon's  promising    career   in America   suffered when his name was mentioned in a newsletter called Red Networks which  specialised in naming alleged  communists  and sympathisers.  He was  ostracised  because he refused to sign the notorious  Senator Joe  McCarthy "Loyalty Oath. "

He left America  and  arrived  in Australia  in 1952 , appearing in  the musical , Kiss Me Kate, in Melbourne . Author Lawrence  Durant   tells how  Gordon  used to see a  large man standing at  the stagedoor  in  a  trenchcoat  with  a trilby.  In  conversations he had  with the man, who only gave his name as  Charlie , he  seemed  cultured and interested in  theatre .   Hayes  had eventually  invited him to have a cup of coffee   and Charlie  one day  asked him an odd question - what  he  thought of  President  Richard   Nixon .   

After making  a lighthearted  response   that  he, Gordon,  wouldn't buy a used car  from  Nixon , they  both  laughed ; there were  no further meetings .  The  man in  the  trench coat was  later  identified from a newspaper photograph as  Charles Spry , head of the  Australian Security Intelligence   Organisation .

Unfortunately , the  book  does   not  say if  Spry was  waiting for a female cast member . To  put  it another way , was  he  intent  on   kissing  Kate ?

For his services to the arts , Gordon received  the Order of the British Empire and  the Order of Australia .

What makes  the Hayes Gordon   book  doubly interesting is  that  it  is stamped DO NOT REMOVE  , Colin Roderick Award  1997, FALS ( Foundation for  Australian  Literary Studies .) Professor Roderick , of James Cook University , Townsville , launched the  award  , one of the nation's oldest, in 1967 to promote  publication  of  books on  Australia . He wrote  several   on  Henry Lawson , one on  Miles Franklin  and  Banjo Paterson . 

His book on the Prussian explorer and naturalist  Ludwig Leichhardt was closely read by the late  journalist  , publisher and historian  Glenville  Pike . Pike had  discussed  with Roderick his own  theory about  what had    happened to  Leichhardt's party , which  vanished ,   later  backed up  by  an overlooked  item  in  a South Australia museum .  

Roderick died in 2000  and  part of his  personal  collection  was donated to  Darwin, thought to have ended up in  the Charles Darwin  University .

At the time , the   late  American journalist, author  and political advisor , Barbara  James  , told me  she  felt   Roderick's  collection   should  remain in Townsville   as  there  was no one  looking after special  collections   in  Darwin , no  funds available .

On  a subsequent  visit  to Darwin , I found  items from Roderick's collection  on sale at the university  and  bought  books  relating to  his research on Henry  Lawson's works  , plus  other   items , one an early West Australian  literary magazine.

Thursday, June 28, 2018



As you enter the main entrance of the Townsville  Public Hospital you are greeted with  a large  sign  which  asks  if  you have  private  health insurance ; if not , have you ever  thought  about  taking it on , information available  there.

Is  this  sign being displayed  throughout all  Queensland  public hospitals  or is it just Townsville ? Opportunity here  for local media to ask  questions: How long has this been going on ? Why ?  Who supplies the information...a member of the hospital staff  ? Does the hospital get a commission  for referrals  to private insurance ? 
How come a  public hospital appears to be  touting  for   private  health  insurance?  Ladbrokes next ?
The Federal  Shadow  Health Minister  ,  Catherine  King , has just  drawn attention  to  ballooning costs  and  the  declining  quality of  private health  insurance.

She said a new ACCC report showed complaints about private health insurance  had soared-up 30  per cent-and  that more Australians are  choosing to downgrade  or  ditch  their  cover in response  to relentless  price rises , unexpected  out  of  pocket  costs  and  growing  exclusions .  

The affordability of private health insurance is now second only to electricity prices in terms of cost-of-living concerns, King continued . The Productivity Commission would be asked to make a sweeping review to find long term  sustainable  ways  to   bring down costs and  improve quality.

Thousands of people had  responded to Labor’s “People Not Profits” survey, providing a valuable insight into why people are choosing to abandon their cover. Others wanting to participate in the survey are  invited to contact to have your say.

Under the Liberals, premiums had  increased by 27 per cent since 2014 – costing families an average of $1000 more. Meanwhile the insurers remain extremely profitable:  they’re pocketing $3.7 billion more  than  they’re  paying  out  in  benefits.The  Turnbull  government's  health insurance “reforms”–designed by the industry itself- had  resulted in  a  double-inflation  price rise   this  year.
After a woman underwent a recent operation  in Townsville Hospital , she received  a  follow up letter  on how to continue  recovery  and   instructions on how to  attend  a   clinic . Only trouble  was   that  as she turned the pages it became clear the  instructions  related  to another  woman , not her .  It  referred to  care  of   a non existent drain   and    named  a  far away clinic  she  should attend  which  would  require catching a  ferry  and bus/ buses each way,   while  the  obvious  one  was  a  short  drive away .  The  hospital reaction , at first, was to deny there had been a mix up , then agreed   there had been  an  error . 
If you are aged, have a number of  conditions which require occasional  visits  to see  a   doctor  in various specialities in the  Satellite Surgical Clinic  at   Townsville Hospital ,  you  receive  a pro  forma  notice  to  attend an appointment  without  stating   what   for .   Is  it  for  your most pressing problem , just  a  go through the  motions  check up , one of  the other  ailments  you  suffer  from ,  the  result  of  the  latest  referral   by  your  GP about  a new  concern ?
You do not know , a situation likely to make your  blood pressure rise  and cause you  to  mutter uncouth  comments  about  the  hospital . 
It  helps to know in advance, instead of turning  up  at  the dogbox like crammed waiting  room   not  knowing what the appointment is  for so that you can have  an intelligent conversation  with  the  medico . This  situation   was pointed out a long  time  ago  by this  writer on a visit to the hospital - without  any  response.  The  unsatisfactory situation  was also   drawn o the attention of the  ALP Member for Townsville , Scott Stewart ;  so  far  the  hospital seems not to have got the message  about  modern, desirable  communications with   patients . 
This blogger recently  tried to clarify  what  an  appointment   was  for  and rang the number on  a notice , got a recorded  message . Past  attempts  to  ring  the hospital for   information  have   resulted  in  repeatedly   being   put  on   hold .
The pro  forma notice  includes  a  request  to  bring along  such  things as  X-rays  which   are  not   applicable  to  this  writer.
 Going on a report in February that  there had  been a  terrible smell in the palliative care unit  at Townsville  Hospital  for  ages - years ???-due  to  a malfunctioning air conditioning unit ,  filled  with mould  that  is  a health hazard, you have to wonder what it takes to get the message through  to  health  executives and  hospital  board members . Relatives of patients had  complained . It  took  a  union  to  make this issue public . The sniff test obviously  did  not apply in  the corridors  of  power  within  the hospital .  Incredibly , it was stated that  it would  take more than  a  year  to   fix   the  problem .
Like so  many  other  subjects , the local  media  appears not to have made  any  progressive  follow  ups  to find  out what  is  going  on  in  the  interim , the situation  right now,  for example .  Does  palliative care  pass  the  sniff test today? Is  mould  still  forming  in  the  airconditioning ? If  so , what  kind? And so on .   


Expected to sell like SBS hot cakes is  this astonishing  piece of  furniture designed for millenials and  couch potatoes  who  aspire to  get  at  least  five bare feet up  the Coalition  ladder of opportunity  leading  to  an affordable  tree  house  in  downtown  Taronga Zoo , Sydney, where the rent  is  peanuts  and the  neighbours  noisy  chimps , aping  Young  Liberals who want to flog off the ABC .  The  lounge, which will undoubtedly receive much  attention on Gruen ,  will come with a warning  that  the  hard  torsos are  not soft,  plastic blow  up dolls , which  could  injure  Dave  Allen  types  . 

EDITOR'S NOTE : All of the above text is a figment of  the twisted mind of a  person  who  has overdosed  on Turkish  figs . The striking  photograph  is  an  actual corner in  part of  the   art  gallery section  in  Townsville's  superb, sprawling   establishment  known  as Virgil's , packed to the rafters  with  an  extraordinary  range of   offerings.   
Items of interest  from Virgil's  will  feature in  this  blog  from  time  to  time .


An exclusive  from  the diary of  our  salty S(h)ipping Reporter, the only one  north of  Coffin Bay . 
A sleek ship, looking like a  stretched out greyhound , attracted  the attention of  ferry passengers  in Townsville , but did not rate a mention by the local media . It is  operated by  KGJS  Cement Holdings, of Norway , a shipping  company which owns and  manages the world's largest pneumatic cement   carrier  fleet. The vessel in port, named   Capri Cement  , sailing under the  Bahamas  flag , used compressed air  to  discharge dry cement in  bulk , with built in dust collectors  to protect  the environment . Built in 1985 , it was converted  in China  in  2002 , is 129.5 metres long, with a  beam of  20 metres.

Our waterfront  roundsman  associated Capri  with the  famous  British  singer Gracie Fields  , not cement .  She retired to  the Isle of Capri , where she  died .   During WWll   , Gracie  entertained troops , including  in  New Guinea . One of her  hit  songs  was  Sally , made into another  called  Sally in our Alley in a  film she made  in the  l930s.

The Little  Darwin cluttered den includes a Sally in our Alley jug  bought at a garage sale .  
Is the cement unloaded in port  needed   for   the  construction  of  Townsville's stadium, solar   and   wind  farms , mining  expansion ?
 Across the way from  Capri Cement  was PAN Bonita , a bulk carrier , sailing under the Marshall  Islands flag , 189 metres by 30 metres .
In recent weeks,  the result   of   nature's awesome  annual event ,   coral  spawning , has been  visible  on the sea surface ,  swirls  seen  about  Magnetic  Island  in rock pools  and in the wider Cleveland Bay.  Dolphins have also  been sighted   near  the  breakwater  entrance  to  Townsville .  

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Phoenix , by  Kate Rohde , of  Melbourne,  in   Cairns  Art  Gallery .

Cranes popping up in Cairns.



Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Victory in  Pacific Memorial Fountain  runs dry
On a visit to Townsville Public Hospital  to see  if he had  grown any new  barnacles on his well sunned, rusting  body , our S(h)ipping  Reporter , the only one north of Lord Howe Island , recently  discovered  both  parts of the  fountain , below , were not  working .
It was  good, however,  to see that most of the rubbish had been removed from within the fountain  and the broken glass which had been there for weeks  removed from behind the brickwork. The suggestion by our S(h)ipping Reporter  that  the  nearby bus shelter  needed  a  rubbish  bin bore results . A bin appeared nearby and  was  soon  filled to overflow. Like the fountain, it requires  daily attention.The  fountain  should be treated as  a  national, international   and   local  shrine -especially as Townsville is a garrison town . 
The  Townsville Bulletin runs a regular Defenders   supplement   but  seems oblivious to the state of  the  Victory in the Pacific fountain  , just down the road from its office , as well  as  other  wartime memorials  in  the  city which this blog has highlighted .      
Not far from  the badly neglected  fountain is the fine old railway building ,  the roof of which  was replaced at  great cost,  the old  ticket office  part  open  to the public  with  its roll of  honour for  railway  staff  who  served  during  war.
On the day the fountain was not working the interesting  ticket office area , below , needed a sweep, many leaves visible , a cloth  standing out .


S(h)ipping  Reporter finds   another  example of  sinful  Townsville  neglect.
 Fast vanishing from sight are the facial features of Australia's  first  Catholic saint , Mother Mary  MacKillop , in  her  huge portrait  atop  St. Joseph's School , facing  busy  Ross River Road .  It seems the  tropical heat and occasional rain  is  causing her  to  fade  away with the stars of the Southern Cross  , making her  look somewhat  spooky , an apparition  in  a  midnight  horror movie.
 The  S(h)ipping Reporter's file photograph above  of  Mary MacKillop  taken more  than a year ago shows her beaming down  in all her glory on  the  passing throng . Born  in Victoria in 1842, she set up an order of nuns  which  established schools and welfare organisations  in Australia and New Zealand ,  specialising  in education of  the rural poor . The sainted, feisty  lady was given the run  around by some of the   male  Catholic  hierarchy , especially  in  South Australia, where she was even excommunicated for a time.  On medical orders, she  took a drop of wine from  time to time and was branded  an alcoholic by  her enemies in the church . 
 The portrait  of  Australia's  first Catholic  saint   deserves  a  prompt  make  over  by  the powers  that  be. Local media  are  free to  follow up this story , as long as they make a  blessed  donation  to the parched  S(h)ipping  Reporter's  sinking refreshment  fund at  Molly  Malone's Irish  Pub  in  the  seaside  nightclub  precinct . Our  waterfront  roundsman  once  followed in the  footsteps  of  Mother Mary MacKillop   in South Australia  where he pruned   vines in  a vineyard which  made  altar wines  for  the  local  and  export  market , with  the   Romanesque  name of   Seven  Hills .  

Over the  years Mary MacKillop  inspired a  film, a play , a dramatic musical and a novel  .  In   modern  Townsville this exceptional woman  is being  allowed to  fade  away  in  public   without  the  myopic  local  media  noticing .

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


Treasures  from Townsville  University  Library  Special  Collections ,  # 1

Currently on  display in a  showcase  are  items connected to  James Morrill (1824-1865), a  sailor who lived with Aborigines  for 17 years after being shipwrecked  near Townsville   in  1846  , and   the  journalist  beachcomber of  Dunk  Island , Edmund  James  Banfield  (1852-1923 ).   
Published  Brisbane  1863 , Morrill's account .
Covered in green suede, with decorated brass edgings, the above  l857  Book of Common Prayer,  the initials IHS on the cover ,  presented in 1865  to  Morrill's  only son , James  Ross Morrill,  by his godparents , Robert E. and Mary Pym, of Bowen , Queensland , where  Captain Pym  was  the Harbour Master .    
James Morrill was  22 when he was shipwrecked  at  Cape Cleveland   and rescued  by  a  clan  of  Birra-Gubba  speaking  people .

The Beachcomber of  Dunk  Island
 Cover  above of   1866 book  presented to  journalist and author Edmund James  Banfield  by his mother.  Banfield's father owned the Ararat, Victoria, newspaper  , where  Edmund received  early training . In 1881 he went to  North Queensland, worked on the Townsville  Bulletin , moved to  the  then  uninhabited  Dunk Island   with his wife , where   he  wrote  The Confessions of a  Beachcomber , published  1908,  regarded  as  an Australian classic . His grave on Dunk  is  on  the Queensland  Heritage Register .

The  rare  items  in  the  display   were  donated  to   Special Collections  by  former  Townsville  antiquarian   bookdealers , Paul  and  June Tonnoir .


The  path of  self government in the  NT  will   be the subject of a talk by Ken Parish on June  28  at the Darwin  Archives  Centre . When self government was  granted in 1978 little  thought  had been given  to what legal and institutional  relationships  needed  to  be established  between  the  Territory Government, the Land Councils and  traditional owners to enable a  smoothly functioning  system .  Parish , a legal academic  at Charles  Darwin University, with research  areas  in public law,   a member of the  NT Legislative  Assembly in the early 1990s, is also  in the Friday Club .   Photo: Galarrwuy Yunupingu , chair of the  Northern Land Council , and  Chief Minister of  the NT , Paul"Porky"Everingham . Galarrwuy was the 1978 Australian of  the  Year .

Monday, June 18, 2018


 Cairns  Art  Gallery  
Made from wool, raffia and Tjonpi (desert grasses) , entitled   I am a Tjanpi Woman  2017, this is the work of  Tjunkaya Tapaya. Another photograph by Abra below provides  a different  perspective  and  greater detail of  the intricate work.
Tjunkaya , born 1947 in the  South Australian  desert,  brought up at the Ernabella Mission , is internationally  renowned   for  her  batik . In 1974 she and  other  Pitjantjatara  women  went  to Indonesia to study   batik  making . She  also works  in  acrylic, painting, weaving , ceramics  and wood carving . Her work has been exhibited  widely overseas  and is in  Australian galleries  and  the  British Museum

Sunday, June 17, 2018


Aurukun Airport, Gulf side of  Cape York , Abra Photograph.

Saturday, June 16, 2018


A dealer in oddities( including  Rhesus monkeys  and Penny Blacks  ) , a  book from a garage sale , a  famous  cartoonist  and  James Cook  University  Special Collections   combined  to breed this  Little  Darwin  brumby which romped  home  at  odds of  100-1 . Puzzled stewards  are  still   investigating .
Knowing this blog's interest in Australiana , ephemera  and assorted   oddities , no matter if grubby , a South Australian  dealer  recently  sent  a broken and battered   copy  of  the 1904 edition  of Phil May in Australia, being  drawings  by the British cartoonist for the Sydney Bulletin . One of the many  great   full-plate drawings, above , covered the toffs, bookies , jockeys ,  possibly  politicians at  the  Randwick, Sydney, races.
Tucked away, almost overlooked , at the bottom   right corner, was a panel showing  a flash looking  cove , possibly a  bookie or punter -with  a cravat?!!!-  on  settling day  at  the far away races  in   the booming goldmining town of Charters  Towers , North Queensland  ,  bearing a  racy caption .   
Things we see  when we haven't got a gun was a line often used by May in his  cartoons .   
Horses  which bolted during an  electric storm led to the   Charters Towers  goldrush .  A  young Aborigine , Jupiter , out looking for  them , came across  gold and  reported  it to the  group of  men  he was  travelling with , on Christmas Day  1871  , who  were searching for  gold .
 A jockey club was started early in the Towers  and  held its  first race  on Queen's Flat ;  a racecourse  was  formed   in 1874 . An assayer for the   Bank of New South, the first bank  on the field,  Thomas Buckland ,above, was interested  in horseflesh ; he cashed in on the boom , made pots of money, later   knighted   became  president  of  the  bank .  
There was so much gold  dug up at Charters Towers that one resident is said to have had a  nag  shod with golden horseshoes. The Towers  became the state's  second biggest  city , supported   90 pubs , had its own stock exchange on which  fortunes were won and  lost. It had so many modern conveniences , including gaslighting in the streets , that it called itself  The World.
Numerous sports were supported, including  footracing . Fast off the mark  between l887 and 1902  was    Fred Erickson , nicknamed  " Carbine "  after  the  famous Melbourne Cup  winner .  
One of those  who made  a  fortune was blacksmith  Frank  Stubley . He bought into a  reef named St. Patrick, which proved extremely rich .  His personal  wealth was estimated to have been  400,000  pound .  He invested in other  mining ventures , was  extremely popular, threw money about   and  became  the MLA for  Kennedy  from 1873  to 1878.
Known to  bet  thousands on  a racehorse ,  he eventually   went  broke , became a swaggie  , died   wandering  along  the  track .
Between 1885-1911 the annual output of gold never fell below 100,000 ounces , 319,572 in 1899, yielding $60,000,000 during  its  lifetime .  The Charters  Towers  1872-1972  Centenary book , printed by the Northern Miner,  had  gold covers .
 A surprise find  turned up  this week during a visit to  Special Collections  at  the  James Cook University Eddie  Koiki  Mabo Memorial Library - a ledger  for  the  Charters Towers  Amateur  Hack  Club  from  1932  to the  l950s .
The ledger , above , includes the names of  members  over  the years  and  letters stating  the  balance of  funds  in the  bank.  On a  marbled  endpaper  is the trade sticker of  a  Brisbane firm of book binders and stationers, the  date  13.5.9  . 
Annual races held by the  club were  written up in Townsville  and Brisbane newspapers  during the  l930s.  The grass fed  hacks  had names such as  British Queen, Spanish Scholar, Bang Whiz  and Gulf Boy . The  Ladies Bracelet  Race  was  a  major  event    

Friday, June 15, 2018


British cartoonist Phil May defined  the  settling  of  Australian  in  this  circa 1900 drawing for  the Sydney  Bulletin  depicting  the  centenary of the arrival of  the  first  fleet  in Sydney in 1788 . It is  captioned "Poor Pfella Me!"  ... Whomever Australia is for, it  is  not  for the Australian  Aboriginal . John Bull,on a plinth named Australia 1788-1888 is shown  delivering  the  boot to Aborigine derisively  named King Billy ; others in the group  represent  Germany , China , America  and  France.   Prime Minister Malcolm  Turnbull  recently  delivered what was described as a  " kick in the  guts "  when he  rejected  the  Uluru Statement  call  for  an  indigenous  advisory   body .


Thursday, June 14, 2018


Formation near  Sphinx on Magnetic Island , which way to the Pyramids ?