Friday, August 31, 2018


Kill a Kanga , mate!
First published in London in 1896, this  battered Australian  adventure  book for   boys  highlights  the  thrill , the  feeling of  achievement  you  get when  you    kill  your   first   kangaroo . In colonial  Sydney , 18 year old  Dick  Morrison  ( not thought to be  related  to the new PM ) receives a letter from a  country cousin  inviting   him   and  a  schoolmate   to  visit  a sheep station , Cooagalong, near Condobolin, NSW,  at   Christmas to  experience  life  in  the  bush .
Dick , only son of a wealthy ship owner , a bright student at Sydney Grammar, intends to  go to university and become a doctor . His  older sister , Jenny , one is   told , is  a fine  specimen  of  the fair Australian , tall and graceful, a  beauty , with a  sweet and   gentle manner . 

There is  not a trace of  the fast and  loud , and often slangy-in-speech manner of the average  modern  young  Australian  in   Jenny . Set an example by her mother and through reading , Jenny appears to have always had a natural repugnance  to  anything  not  refined  or  in  good taste.
While proficient in French and Italian , Dick  cannot  handle   German and does not like the  German master , Dr Wieber ,  a taskmaster , who rants and  raves at students , "curses and  swears like a   trooper".   Sydney Grammar !!!! 
He even called   a student  a thick headed  , gum-sucker and long-shanked  cornstalk ! That  student   got  red in the face,  called Dr  Wieber  Mr Sauerkraut , and warned   that  if he  continued to harangue the  chaps ,  they  would walk out,  not  prepared   to   be  insulted  by  any  German   lager-beer barrel . You   don't  get  fullblooded  exchanges like this  in the  modern classroom   under  NAPLAN .
Dick's plan   to  take   Alf Jones,   the best cricketer, footballer  and junior oarsman  at school , with  him  at Christmas   comes   unstuck  , so   he invites   Tom Flood ,  also intent on becoming a medico , who had not been much out of Sydney , green as a leek as far as  the   country , especially  station  life .
Tom  is  advised to  bring a broad brimmed straw hat , Crimean shirts, and a good gun with  about 300  cartridges . Dick intends to  take a rifle for long range shooting  and there is need for  a breech-loaded  shotgun , providing them with good  sport .
 The  school year ends with a   talk  by  the  governor  and his  wife , she   being of  the  British  aristocracy , able to  ride a  horse  at  full gallop .  The action packed  novel   moves   to   Cooagalong , where cooee is heard  from time to time .

Another visitor  there is  the son of a  rich  Glasgow merchant, Archie  McTavish  , who thinks he is  great rider, lively , jolly, fearless, who  has  come out  from the Old Country  to experience Colonial  life ;   he  and  Dick   team  up . 

To cut a long and fascinating story short , there is an encounter with  bushrangers  during  which shots are  fired , some riddling an  old painting of  the execution  of Mary Queen of Scots . At  some stage  McTavish is  held  prisoner  by  the bushrangers who issue a  ransom note for 300  gold sovereigns  for  his release.

When recued   by police ,  he  offers to  give the ransom money  to them . They refuse , saying it is not allowed by regulations ,  but their superior officer   over rules  them  so  that   they end up  with  a  bag of  sovs each .

Then   Dick  and McTavish  take part  in a wild  kangaroo  hunt  . They are advised  that   you  can bring down  a kangaroo by riding after it on horseback  and bashing it on the head with a  waddy , a cudgel . An experienced kangaroo  killer, an old stockman,  outlines another method -loading  the handle of  a  stockwhip  with  lead , turning it into a handy weapon  , both  a  club  and  a  strangling  device. For  this  advice and use of his  whip, Dick "buttered the  palm of the stockman  with  a bright  half sovereign" .
 In the dramatic  chase with dogs  after fleeing  kangaroos , McTavish , armed with no less a weapon  than  a Bowie knife , pursues   an old man , 7ft  roo , which raced into   water , turned on him and  threatened   the life of the  hunter ,who was  trying to slash his throat  with  the  blade, by dragging him underwater .

Dick, with his stockwhip , dashed in, bashed the  roo on the head  several times  and saved the day. The roo sank like a stone;  Dick then grabbed the tail  of the marsupial , dragged it out of the water,  laid it out on the shore .  Pulling out his penknife,  he  then  scalped the roo , and  held  the bloody souvenir   high , below , as  others rode up, shouted  triumphantly  : " My first Kangaroo , Maggie!" ,  she being  his  cousin .   

 The author , Arthur  Ferres, was  John William Kevin, born Derry , Northern Ireland , in 1843, a school  inspector  in  Australia , involved in the school library movement,  wrote and edited  selections of  poetry for  children ,  died  in NSW  in 1903.

The book's illustrations  were  by Percy Frederick Seaton Spence (1868-1933), born December 14, 1868 at Balmain, Sydney. He was one of seven  children  of English parents Francis Spence, civil servant, and his wife Hannah, née Turnbull, (not  believed to be related to the  former  Prime Minister) .

His father  held a government appointment in Fiji where Percy spent his youth and began painting   watercolours. In Sydney he worked as an illustrator at the  Daily Telegraph ,Illustrated  Sydney News   and the Bulletin . Through his art, he became an original member of the  Brush Club, a group founded by  D. H. Souter , affiliated with the Art Society of NSW .

A painting of his ,The Ploughman, was bought by the National Gallery of NSW and  hung  in the 1893 Chicago Exposition . Robert Louis Stevenson  was the subject of  two  portraits  done in Sydney in 1893 , one now in the National Portrait Gallery, London. In England he contributed to many publications, became a member of the Chelsea Art Club, was commissioned to do portraits , some of his  works ending up in Buckingham Palace. During World War l he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Portraits of his are held in  the Mitchell  Library , Sydney , the  High  Court, Canberra and elsewhere in Australia .  An early owner of this book, in Brisbane , is  believed to have had  Scottish ancestors . 

The 288pp  story has something of a Mills and Boon  ending  with  three marriages  all  due to  that  adventure   at   Cooagalong. The book includes a  32page  illustrated catalogue of  books for  young  people .Our  copy found at a North  Queensland  garage sale .


Arty  pub   goes  flat  ,  turns  into  pale  ale shadow of  its former self .

 With elements of  art deco in its design , this Townsville  oasis, the Newmarket Hotel , stood out , offering a wide range of services, including a piano man  , conference facilities . Then strange things began to happen . A  for sale  sign went  up ; it was announced it was  to undergo  refurbishment ;  the exterior  became  increasingly  bland (below ), and for  a long time now there have  been no discernible signs of activity.  The  piano man has certainly  not been  heard  tickling  the  ivories  inside .

Ring the hotel number and  you are informed that  it is no longer  connected .  A real estate site  says  the  hotel  is  up  for sale or  lease .  What  gives ?
Just across the road  is another pub mystery , the grand   old Great Northern  Hotel,below , shut down   after  an arson attack moons ago ,which brandished a   drooping  banner  saying  it would   soon   reopen. When , nobody knows.  A nearby shopkeeper says  the  hotel  is unlikely  to  open its  doors  because of  numerous problems .  Another  banner   advertises  last year's   season  of  the Little Shop of  Horrors .  
The pub when the doors  opened,  beer flowed . 
 And just across the road ,shamefully  neglected by civic and military organisations in this garrison city, is the   broken  Victory in the  Pacific Memorial  Fountain , still containing  rubbish , part of an old shoe , empty drink  and food containers, sticks , stones , parts  of  the  metal components missing , broken off  when  viewed  by  our S(h)ipping Reporter  last Friday . The  pieces of meat pie had vanished, probably eaten  by  appreciative birds . At the nearby dirty , graffiti daubed   bus shelter, a  beer can in the rafters,  looked  increasingly  like  a  pissoir , a  vespasienne  , in a  village square scene from Clochemerle, sayeth  our  seafront  roundsman .      

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


A  thumping and a  dumping ;   new post for Darwin journo ; bank inquiry video  
The suspension  of the Adam  Giles Show on Sky News after   the G'day  mate   welcome interview of far right nationalist and Hitler sympathiser   Blair  Cottrell  has  again raised  questions about how the  former Northern Territory   CLP  Chief Minister , thrashed at the last election , came  to  be   given  a television  show .  After  he lost  his seat in the  landslide, Gina Rinehart , with a wide range of interests ,   including  shares  in   Fairfax   and television ,  gave  him a   job   riding  the  range  in  her   expanding  cattle  empire .   

Then  he suddenly  gets a  live television show . Why ?    Of course , Sky, taken over by Murdoch , and becoming  increasingly like   Fox News , USA ,   is   obsessed with   politicians, becoming  almost a  retirement home for ex pollies .    However, some  Territorians  believe  Giles got a Sky News slot because of  an  alliance of some kind  between  Rinehart   and  Murdoch . An  interesting theory .
After the outcry  about  Cottrell appearing on the Giles Show ,  and  its closure , Sky news director  Greg Byrnes   issued the following  statement .  Former ALP minister  Craig Emerson withdrew   from  SKY as a commentator   due to  Cottrell's  utterances .
The  young  female producer  of  the  show got  the  sack .

Former  Darwin television  journalist  Casie Scott  has been  appointed  communications and business development  manager  by business  advisory firm PVW Partners, Townsville .  Soon  after moving to  Townsville from Darwin she  stood as the LNP candidate  in the state  seat of Townsville  and  polled well .  Her appointment statement  said  that  since  2012 she had   been a ministerial adviser  to  Queensland  and   NT government  ministers. 
Rather than wait for the  Bank Royal Commission   to make   its  report on the   army of   rogues  and  crooked  institutions  , an  irregular  , drawn  out Territory   bank   case   is   going to   be   launched  in  cyberspace.    Darwin filming   for the expose  has  involved  interviews  with   key  players and  an  interstate   lawyer . Advice has also been  sought  from an expert in  crime and misconduct  investigations . Watch  this  space . 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


S(h)ipping Reporter  Scoop

Since late last week , a huge luxury yacht , 295ft long ,  has been  off   Magnetic Island. It is believed to be  the  $100million   Phoenix 2, once owned by Poland's richest man , the late  Jan Kulczyk , who died of a heart attack in July 2015, aged  65 , in Vienna. Despite standing out like the Titanic, the  mainland  media  have failed to  notice  the vessel , which is  now off  Horseshoe Bay . 


The last  annual    book  fair-the 14th-held  at  the  Magnetic Island   kindergarten   on   Sunday  , muffled  drumbeats   heard  in  the background , a horse drawn  black hearse  nearby , did  not  rate  a  mention  by  Townsville's  moribund   media   before  or  after  the  sombre  event .
By Peter Simon
This  sad and bug-eyed  blogger  joined  well  known  local  bibliophiles ,  artists   , wildlife  carers , conservationists , fellow grizzled  scavengers surging about  the  fair , rummaging  through  the  many  books , CDs , bric-a-brac , prints .

 It was  noticed  that  our friend ,  the   German  Queen  of the   Jungle,  found a  variety of  books  dealing with early Germanic  history , especially the  invasion of  the Barbarians , and  the  trial  and   suicide of   General  Erwin  Rommel ,the Desert  Fox ; Aboriginal art  and   myths , the   Guggenheimer  Collection  and   the   life  of   Australian artist  Sidney  Nolan , ceramics  were   the  subject  of   other   books   that   she   purchased . 
Several  books  about Australian flora and fauna  were   drawn  to  her   attention , but    she replied  that she already had  them , indicating  her extensive interest  in  and   knowledge  of   this  wide  brown evaporating  land.   

With  strict  instructions  on  the  domestic front   not  to go mad  at the  fair , this old blogger  nevertheless   managed to  totter  in  and  out   of   kindy   on  several occasions with  a  swag  of   finds  covering  Australiana, art, poetry , early  New Guinea  writing , militaria , North  Queensland  and  New Zealand  regional histories , the  biography of   Asian   foreign correspondent   Richard  Hughes .

Memories came flooding back  when  I spotted   The Ivanov Trail , by  journalist and lawyer   David Marr  ,  about  the  crisis  in Australian   politics  when   ASIO  claimed  the  cherubic   former  ALP  secretary and  lobbyist  ,  David  Combe , of   South  Australia , had   become a security risk  because of  what  was said  in     taped   conversations  with   Russian Valeri Ivanov, a KGB agent ,  who was ordered out of  Australia .

During  the Combe-Ivanov  Affair , I was employed   by Senator Nick Bolkus, in  Adelaide , and   spent time in Canberra when  parliament  was  sitting.  With Combe under attack , I was  told  to  organise  a   gathering of   South Australian  senators  and  others  in  parliament  to   express   support  for  him .

One of those  who  turned up  was  an old  mate , the  ALP Member for Casey in the House of Representatives, Pete  Steedman , whom I   had  first  met   in  Darwin  after  Cyclone Tracy ,  full of  fire ,  ideas,  combative ,   wore a leather jacket in  parliament , went    without  a   tie ,  named  politician of   the  year by the Canberra Times .
He was known to bait   Country Party members   who attacked him in parliament  by saying  they   had   nothing   to   worry about  because the  ALP was  going  to bring in  restrospective   legislation   making it  okay for them   having   had   sex   with   pet  sheep .

At  the  meeting , Pete's outlandish comment   about   what  ASIO  members did to each  other  did  not  leak out , did not frighten the specially trained  horses of the  Australian  Capital Territory riot  squad .

 Mr Justice  Hope  was  commissioned  to inquire into the affair .  Combe's  senior counsel was Ian Barker , QC , former  solicitor-general  of the   Northern Territory , who had  prosecuted  the   Azaria   Chamberlain  Ayers  Rock  case .  Hope  cleared  Combe . 

The   Marr  book   included a faded Noosa  Book Shop bookmark  with a  P. J. O'Rourke quote : Always read stuff  that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it . 

 At the book fair  it was noticed  that somebody had  obviously been deeply interested in yachting  as there were  many items  on the subject , including    bound  in volumes of  early  sailing   magazines , the  bumper book on  Australian  yachting  by  journalist   Lou D'Alpuget , father of  Blanche, who  had boxed under the  name   Pancho D'Alpuget , a  friend of  the  Sydney Sun  editor  Lindsay Clinch , a  keen yachtie   who had worked in  New York . A crisp copy of  A Maritime History of  Australia  by  John Bach  was  snapped up , only to discover I already had   a  copy .

At  home,  going  through the books  bought at  the  fair , nearly  40 volumes , the Queen of the Jungle , beaming from ear to ear  , unexpectedly  arrived  with  good  news  :  my wife had   won  a  raffle   prize at  the   fair   which  was a   box  containing  a  bottle of  wine , a yoga lesson , a Mickey Mouse  wall clock ,a dinner for one at a stage door production , a  tin of  cream wafers , a smart  grip  cup and  a  pot  plant .
The Queen  said she would like to return to the book fair , soon to close , as there were  some other books she would like to buy , if  they were  still  there . Off  we sped  in her  royal carriage  to  kindy  and rummaged through the  still  large number  of  books  available , now  $10  for   a   bag .

The  Queen and  I  staggered out  with  a  mixed  huge  bag  of  treasures.  A great buy  was  a  boxed  three volume  Folio Society  set, A History of the Crusades , by Steven Runciman,  the   bloody  wars   similar to  the  goings  on  in  the Liberal  Party  during  the  week .   


The legion of  people carrying out   research into  honourable  and not so honourable ancestors in  Australia  are being asked to  take part in a  survey  by social researchers at  the Swinburne University of Technology  and the University of  Melbourne  to find out "what makes family historians tick" . The study is entitled Motives and profiles of  family historians . Of interest will be  the psychological processes of amateur genealogists and their insights  and experiences . Adults who have  carried out  family   research  will be asked to  take part in an online anonymous  survey  covering  involvement , motivation  and outcomes.     

 Find out more (and start the survey if you wish) by clicking on this link:

Monday, August 27, 2018


One of our correspondents responded  to  an email from this blog  by   briefly announcing he was  in the Coral Sea  and  would  make further  contact  on returning to  Australia . Back home ,  he  elucidated ; he had been on a cruise ship  which  took in  such places  as Vanuatu , Noumea .  Sounded   romantic  until  he  elaborated   thus : Most passengers were fat , ugly, bearded, hats on backwards, tattooed, thongs, ugly accents. And  that  was  just  the women...

At least he  did not  catch   a dose of  Montezuma's Curse  which is often a  souvenir  of  carefree  cruises. The same comedian  provided the  following  T-shirt  photo . 

Sunday, August 26, 2018


By our  new  Vice-Regal  Reporter, Barnacle  Bill.

According to my many  contacts  with mermaids  in   Davy Jones  Locker, shucked Foreign  Minister   Julie  Bishop  will become the Pearly Queen   of  Yarralumla , taking over  from bellowing   Leopard  Walrus , Sir Peter  Cosgrove .
I'm all yours in (pearly)  buttons and  bows  Bishop  at  a mad , mad Coalition  clam  bake  in  the Canberra  mudflats .
 Ms.  Bishop  has a massive  wardrobe  of  pearlshell  button decorated   clothing , see above ,  and  1000  sets of Mikimoto pearl earrings . She   will   stun  the  nation  as  G-G when, covered from head to foot in mother of  pearl ,  she   takes part in  grand  national functions , such as the blessing of the  Lake Burley  Griffin  shrimp  boat fleet , the opening of the  Hawkesbury River   polluted  oyster   season .  The  new PM  , Scott Morrison , clammed up ( get it? ) ,    when asked  to  confirm   my   scoop  about  Ms  Bishop . 
Fashionistas  at  the  United Nations  were   impressed when  Ms. Bishop addressed the gathering   wearing  pearl  earrings  and  a special  blood red   Liberal  Party spill party   dress  into which  were  woven  pieces of  Arafura Sea  mother  of   pearl  shell   and  the  jawbone of  an  ass  in  budgie  smugglers .   
A gathering  of   Bishop's  loyal   Liberal Party  supporters , indicative of  the  true  blue  broad church nature of the party  ,  in  Western Australia, some in buttons and bows,  at   the annual  blessing  of  the  Chevy Chase  tight   zippers  and  sharp  daggers .

CRUSTACEAN  NOTE: In  the  top  angry  photograph she  was caught sticking the oyster  knife , teeth  and   tongue  into  New Zealand  Labor and its tasty paua shells  for  revealing  the fact that Deputy PM   babbling   Barnaby  Joyce  was   a   Kiwi . In breaking news, it  has just been leaked  that  Barnaby has a new  job  as  keeper of   oyster mayonnaise   bottles  in  outback  Australia . 


Abra  views  of  Townsville  and  Magnetic  Island . 

Saturday, August 25, 2018


The late dynamic music promoter  and celebrity agent , Harry M. Miller, who died  recently  at  the age of  84,   was   a  smooth operator , never  lost  for  a word . There was , however,  one occasion   this   blog  knows of  when  he was left  momentarily open mouthed . It  was  at  a  function in Sydney's Wentworth  Hotel  where  he  gave a stirring  talk  on how  to become a success  to    Junior Chamber  of  Commerce types , the   organisation clearly indicating    it  consisted of  young men   keen  to  climb  the   corporate   ladder, become  cogs in the  world  of   commerce .

A reporter  was  sent   along  to  sit   in on   the  talk     but    told   not to  worry   about  writing  anything  unless   there  was   something   really    interesting .   Enjoy  the usually   good spread  provided  by the Wentworth , he  was  told .
Salivating ,  the  scribe made his way to the Wentworth , sat  near the front of a fairly large gathering  , not  far from the enticing  refreshments ,   and heard  Harry deliver a slick speech, which ended with him  asking  all   those present who  wanted  to  be  a success in  business  to rise .

En masse, all the JC  types stood up... but not the reporter .  Miller   and   the  aspiring corporate  throng ,  stared in shock  at  he  who was on his  derriere ,  as if a  leper . "Don't you want  to be a success ?" Harry demanded .

The toothy  gentleman  of the Press explained he was   a  reporter , being independent ,  impartial .  As  we  all  know , he was really only  there  to become a glutton .
Born  in Auckland , New Zealand  of  Jewish parents, Miller  became a big cheese in the entertainment and  promotion   fields, handling Judy Garland , the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys , Sonny  and  Cher. His fame spread  with the   great musicals  Hair , starring  Marcia  Hines,   and  Jesus Christ Superstar .
He handled  Lindy Chamberlain  and the  sale of her  story after she was released   from  prison , wrongly   sentenced  over  the  disappearance of her daughter  Azaria   at   Ayers Rock , the child's death  officially  attributed to  a dingo .

Friday, August 24, 2018


Spooky   sightings  in the Australian  outback   are  known as  the Min Min lights . First  reported by a  stockman  in 1918  at a settlement called  Min Min,  between  Boulia  and  Winton, western  Queensland , they  are also   said  to have   featured  in  Aboriginal  myths.
They  have  been described  as  will-o'-the-wisp  balls of  floating   light,  attributed to   refracted   light   from  a   long  distance away ,  marsh  gas igniting . Slow , bouncing  objects  ,  they   float towards  or  follow    an   observer or  vehicle  - then   rocket   away . When  fired  upon ,   it  is  said they   disappear .
Now  weird , spectacular  lights  are  regularly  spotted each  night in Central Australia  with the awesome  Uluru   monolith  in the  background . It begins, below ,  with  a small  number of   lights  popping up , like  fireflies emerging ,  the  Rock  in  the  distance .

Then it  explodes into  Fields of Light, an awesome solar powered    display of   more than  50,000   stems  crowned  with  frosted glass   spheres  designed by international   artist   Bruce Munro . The event is so popular that it has been extended  to 2020 . 

Visitors  to Uluru  are offered  packages which include the opportunity to stroll through and interact  with  Fields of Light , retire  to a mound to take pics  ,  down  vino  and  canapés , full of Dutch courage, blow  raspberries at the Min Mins. Another Abra photographic  special .

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


 Scenes  from   a   major  art  exhibition   held  in Darwin  by  Shirley  Collins , of the  Raintree    Gallery, who on Sunday  will  celebrate her 80th  birthday  at a bash  entitled  Eighty and  fabulous .  Her  contribution to  the  appreciation  of   Aboriginal art, crafts and  fashion  has  been  truly  fabulous , even though  it  caused her   grief   due  to  her  participation   in  the  poorly   organised and  run   Bank of America  Down Under  Tour  in  the lead up  to  the  Sydney Olympics  in  the  USA . 

 Wearing   a shimmering  white  dress, looking like a stunning Motown singer ,  she  is pictured  at  the  top with Harold  Thomas, designer of the Aboriginal flag , and his son . In the other shot she is with  the Northern Territory Administrator Commodore Eric Johnstone  and  Lady Susan Renouf, former wife of  politician Andrew Peacock , who opened  the  exhibition . Lord  McAlpine , who had bought a large part of Broome, Western Australia , flew  in  aboard  his  private  jet  and  bought  most of  the  exhibition .  
Shirley's Raintree   Gallery  promoted  Tiwi fashion  nationally in 1986. As part of  the  America's  Cup   celebrations,  she  organised  a  display of  Aboriginal art  at  Rhode Island  and she  also promoted  art and crafts  in  Japan. 

The daughter of  a  Stolen  Generation child , Bridget Johnson , of Borroloola ,  placed  in  Darwin's  Kahlin Compound , Shirley  worked  in a  Chinese softdrink  factory  then saw a  position for a Girl Friday  in the   Northern Territory  News  tin  bank  building where she became   a  book  binder .

Of  Shirley , it was  said in  recent years that  she always looked   elegant , even if  wearing  something  she  bought  from  an  op shop .

Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Our  S(h)ipping  Reporter,  the only one  north of   Coogee ,  has received interesting news  via  the   latest Genealogical Society  of the Northern Territory   newsletter  which  will help people  track down  missing old salt   ancestors  in   Queensland . Entitled Queensland, Seamen 1882-1919, it is an index  of  seamen  compiled by the  Harbours and  Rivers Department, with info  about  the  ships they served on and  dates of  service.
The  irascible   S(h)ipping  Reporter  wonders when somebody from   the  Townsville  media  mushroom  club  will  ask  if  livestock shipments  from  the  port   now   have  an  independent inspector on board  , as  is the  case with   all  shipments  out of  WA after  the shocking  treatment  and   deaths  of sheep   were  revealed  and cancellation of the Emanuel  export  licence .  If not , why?  If   yes ,who was that  person , from whence did he come ?  What   was   the inspector's   first  report   from  the  initial    shipment   from Townsville     under the new   regime ? This,  says  the waterfront  roundsman  ,  is called  obvious  follow  up   journalism .
 Livestock  movements out of  the port seem to  be  clothed  in  secrecy , yet   the  smell  and  trade   even  manages  to  get  a mention from  time to time in  the   Murdoch  Townsville  Bulletin  via  texts and   letters , not a  reporter  assigned  to  the   subject . 


Abra  Safari  photographs of  tidal  flats and  mangroves.

Monday, August 20, 2018


The  Little Darwin  resident   Curlew  chick  population  grew  to  four   when   two more  hatched  at  the  front , dangerous   unfenced  part   of  the  plantation .  Sadly, it  now  seems  none  have survived.    Predators  are many - Currawongs, Kookaburras , Crows , Barking Owls   and  cats .    A  black cat has been  seen  prowling  about  at  night  in  a  main Curlew  area   in  Nelly Bay ; another cat  spotted   walking  about  the   Foodworks   parking   area  and yet  another  white one nearby . 
TOP : One  of the earlier  two  chicks  peeking out  from  mother . ABOVE  : Newly born chick   from  the  front , second   batch , an egg  blending  into  background,  near tail  of  parent, from  which   the  other   hatchling  emerged   soon   after ; all  four gone  within  days .  
 With so many   young  Curlews failing to  survive , adults  the  victims of roadkill , dogs , cats    there  are concerns   that  the island's  colony of   Bush Stone-Curlews  is   facing   gradual  extinction . Because  adult  birds   can live for long periods ,  perhaps more  than  20  years , it  can  give the misleading  impression   that  a  local  population  is   in  reasonable  shape ,  when in actual fact   it  will   undergo  a  sudden  crash . 
In  other parts of  Australia  where  Bush  Stone-Curlews are no longer prevalent , there  are  efforts to  protect them  in  specially  built  enclosures  , encourage  reintroduction .  Visitors  from southern parts of the nations where  Curlews are extinct  or rare   are  delighted  to find them on the island. Overseas  visitors  are also  impressed  by  the  birds.
 However,   On  Magnetic Island , part  of  the  Great Barrier   Reef  Heritage  Marine  Park  ,   the  burden  of retrieving and   looking  after much of  the  wildlife, including Curlews ,  falls  on the  shoulders  of  a  small  band  of   dedicated ,  unpaid  wildlife  carers .   There is a koala  hospital on the island which receives publicity  and  money ,which is good ,  but  it is the  wildlife carers  who often rescue, retrieve   the  sexy   koalas ,  who were introduced to the island ,   that  end  up   there.

One   wildlife carer , a  woman ,   recently  received a  call at 1am via  police emergency  radio   to   rescue  a  wallaby  tangled  in  a  fence . The same woman, returning from a hospital appointment , no sooner got home than she was called out on another rescue .  

 It is not clear  exactly what  is  the role   of  the  Parks and Wildlife  branch on the island . There is talk that it  is small in numbers , short of money and has to  cover a  large area  , now seemingly more  involved  in  marine  patrols  and turtles .
The Townsville  City  Council   got rid of the resident pound keeper  and    requests for information  about the replacement  arrangement  have  gone unanswered .  It  is  believed  somebody  comes  over  from Townsville   in a   car,   drives around  ,  then   heads  back  to  the  mainland .  A councillor  was   asked  if   traps are  set at the   island  dump to catch feral  cats , rats   as is done  interstate . If so ,  what  has been the  catch  ?   No  reply . 

It is clear to Blind Freddie that Magnetic Island   needs  an updated, modern  approach  and  facilities  to   look after   all  the  island wildlife , which does not put  the  burden  on  a small   number  of  dedicated  women . This  view has been    put  to  the  Queensland  government , so  far  without  a  satisfactory  response .   


News of the  death of  Australian artist  Charles  Blackman , 90 , brings  back memories  of   Julia  Owen , known as The Bee Lady of Bromley , England, with whom I  had  dealings in Sydney , back in the  l970s. An Austrian  with a medical background , she was a  woman   with strong  convictions and  deep animosity towards the  medical profession , she unexpectedly came  into my life when  I wrote  a  report  in  the  Sun-Herald newspaper  about a   doctor who  said she was getting out of medicine because the profession  was  more interested  in  making  money  than  looking  after  patients .
By  Peter Simon
After publication, I received a telephone call from a woman with an accent who averred  doctors   were  pocket  picking  bludgers, and she was coming in to prove her  statement. She arrived at the  Fairfax building  in her  chauffeur driven Daimler , with a BEE numberplate .  Thus  I met ,  for the first time , the    great   Bee Lady of Bromley , the subject of  much media  coverage   and  controversy overseas.
She  had treated many people , some in high places  , with    medicated bee venom    and  herbal packs  for  rheumatoid    arthritis, skin and eye conditions, gout , lumbago , sciatica , fibrositis , neuritis  and   nervous   disorders.

She branded as  evil  the  General Medical  Council of Britain  because it allowed  doctors to  inject patients  with  gold and  cortisone  for such  conditions, of   little use  and  treated  her as a quack , a charlatan .   Cortisone, she  protested ,    produced  terrible moon-faced  patients.

I was  invited to her  house  at Turramurra on the North Shore of Sydney , where she lived with  her  English  husband , Jack , member of a  family which  had supplied  the United States of America   with    prime  cattle  breeding stock  in the early days.  He had  been  almost a   cripple, treated  by specialists , until she applied her medicated  bee  venom  and   had  him up on  his  feet , so he married her.

She  sat me down   with  my portable typewriter  at  a desk which  had    once belonged to a Russian Czar  , an auction house sticker attached to  it and told me  details of her life  ; nearby was a   clock presented to her  by a  former patient, the last King of Italy  and a   Charles Blackman painting ,  along   with   large paintings of  prize   livestock  which  had   belonged  to her  husband's  family.

Julia  knew Blackman's wife, Barbara  , a poet , writer and librettist ,  and  openly discussed  her  blindness. Her   poor eyesight had been  diagnosed as   optic atrophy at the age of 22,  which  deteriorated rapidly until she became totally blind . Dramatic  eyes  are  a  feature of   Charles   Blackman's  renowned   paintings of  Alice  in  Wonderland  and  schoolgirls .  

There was nothing,   Julia   told me ,  that she could do to  help  Mrs Blackman  and  explained the reason why  .  I interviewed  people  she   had   successfully  treated, including  a stockbroker  and a banker . A prominent  politician and  his wife  asked her to look  at a their  child   , but  she honestly told them his condition was   due  to  a  petit mal , a brain seizure , and she    could not help  in  any way .

I was taken into the backyard  at Turramurra and shown  Julia's  beehives . From what I gathered , they were  fed on  a  special  mixture  before   being used to sting  a patient .  She discussed  the   possibility of   opening  a clinic  in  country  Bowral  to carry out    bee venom treatment.

My wife had  suffered  from a sore left  hip  for quite some time; Julia  applied a  poultice  with a   base  of   potato  on  the  spot  for  about  two  and a half  hours and she   has  not   experienced   pain   there  ever since .  One day Julia  turned up unannounced   at our house  in Coogee  in  the  Daimler  with  a pair of chandeliers  to  add to our  semi detached .
At her request, I contacted the  great  ALP  politician, former  NSW Premier, Jack  Lang , nicknamed The  Big Fella , who experienced  the ribbon slashing  event  by  Captain Francis  de  Groot of the New Guard   at the opening of the  Sydney Harbour Bridge . Lang was  later   sacked  by   the  governor during the tough  Depression  when he  said   English  bond holders  should wait to be paid  to  protect   jobs  and  conditions  in  Australia .   When I called on  Lang   he  was  still running  his newspaper, The Century , started in  1938 , the very day I was  born .
The  Bee Lady felt  he  was  a  strong minded   fighter who  might be interested in her  story . When  informed  about her , he was open minded ,  said  new ways of   doing  things  had to be examined ,  he knew a  woman  who  could  benefit  from   her   treatment .  

Sunday, August 19, 2018


Women  ruined Rome , New  York next .
The Little Darwin den is overwhelmed by  so many  items of interest, including emails  from correspondents containing  tips  and  photographic  treasures , scraps of  paper , books ,  garage sale oddities , the  finds  from  op  shop   trawling,  pestering Townsville's  James Cook University Special  Collections  staff   and  disturbing  the tranquillity of  its  reading room   that  it  is  hard  to  know  what  to   next  insert  in  our  bespoke online  hall  of   fame .

 Under this  extreme  pressure  , it is difficult to  sleep , one  giggles and  talks to oneself   from  time to time , utters  oaths  and  threatens  to beat  the computer a la Monty Python  with a palm  frond when it   refuses   to  keep  up , causing me to   make  garbled ,  annoying   statements  on  the  domestic  front  , misplace  for  the umpteenth  time  reading glasses ,  and  wonder  if   I  will  live long enough to  knock out  all  this  never  ending  cavalcade   of   golden  prose  .  Modesty  shows  through  .

By Peter  Simon , married  to  a  smart  Kiwi

The  latest  unexpected  acquisition is a  battered  bound in copy of  papers  read before the  Queensland Women's Historical  Association   at Newstead  in  1960 , full of  fabulous  material  about   early pioneers, interesting  observations about  Aborigines ,  bushrangers , convicts , massacres , tragedies , an  extensive  coverage of the history of libraries  , particularly the  Queensland  Parliamentary   Library .

Pounding  out  the  above paragraph , I   had  to suddenly stop as it was felt that a green ant or a spider  had run across my  foot , probably from the  jumble of books and  papers in boxes  and  papers  scattered  hereabouts  .  Could not see  a death adder about  to strike  old  ankle  , so  resumed  working  on  this  post  from    the  Queensland  Women's  Historical  Association  collection.

It involves pastoral millionaire "Jimmy" Tyson , MLC ,  a  fine figure of a man  , 6ft 31/2 inches tall, an outstanding 19th  century  pioneer,  who liked  kids , never married ,   died  at Felton Station homestead, on the   Queensland  Darling  Downs , on January 6,1898, aged 80 . Banjo Patterson wrote a poem  about him  entitled "T.Y.S.O.N."
The last verse had old Saint Peter   giving strict  instructions for  Tyson to be admitted  not through  the  straight and narrow  gate  reserved   for  wealthy men , but the  main welcoming  Big Gate  , opening  wide ,  as  there were many  good   hearted  things he had   done  that  nobody  knew  about .
The paper ,  delivered by  the late  Mr Horace  Flower , across  14  pages , provided  a fascinating  look at  Tyson who  built  up   large  pastoral  holdings across  Australia , bigger  than  that  of  the  so  called  Cattle King ,    Sir Sidney Kidman. His wealth was such that  he helped  Queensland  weather   the  financial crash of  the 1890s  by  buying 250,000 pounds  worth  of  Treasury Bills. 

 He also  donated  2000 pounds to the   New South Wales   Patriotic  Fund  for the   contingent  it   sent  to the Soudan War; in addition, he offered to finance and equip a mounted force of 200 men if the NSW  Premier was interested.

His "sense of humour " came through when he donated the  full amount for a proposed  new church on the Darling Downs . When almost completed , it was  found that  the cost of  a  lightning conductor  on top of the  building had not been  included , would he like to  write another   cheque?   He replied : "No! If  God should see fit to strike  your Church  with  lightning , I am certainly not going  to interfere  in  the  matter!"

While  regarded by some as " the miser of  all misers"  because of his wealth  , it  was  revealed that  he  donated to many charities , insisting his cheque   be  acknowledged as coming from " The Man in the Moon" , from " Smith " , or "something from a friend".

During a discussion  in a Toowoomba hotel with prominent  merchants, graziers  and agents , he was  asked  what  was the purpose of amassing such wealth  as he was a bachelor , had no family  to leave his money  to.  On reading  his response, you are reminded , strangely , of   the   Blues  Brothers .
 " I believe that God  plans everything !" he replied , quietly ." I firmly believe that I , James Tyson, have a mission from providence ; that I was sent upon this earth  for a special purpose . I believe I have a special  mission from providence  to improve properties upon the earth of  this  land of ours , and   to  make  them  productive . All my  life  has  been  devoted  to   that  object . "

It is  interesting   to    note   that  in  the current   severe  drought  spreading  across the nation , way back, Tyson , after  travelling widely through the  widespread and disastrous  drought of  1884 ,  offered  5000 pounds for a special college   at Winton, Central Queensland , to  train  hydraulic engineers .  The  official response was that  it could not support such a scientific institution  in a small town like Winton . He retorted that  while it was small , it was  a vital place  to teach  young educated   men  the vital work of   water conservation .  Those in large coastal cities should rough it in the interior  and  be taught  where  the  water  was   urgently and  vitally wanted . He put  down  bores  to tap artesian supplies of  water .

After his death there was a  legal battle over  distribution of his estate ,  valued at   nearly two and half  million pounds  in  December  1898 , between 16-20 million in  1960 values . One  of his many letters  he  kept in a unique filing  system, originally  written by him on slates , then passed to his  secretary to write ,  was read out in   court . Dated  April 1,1891, it was  addressed  to   Humphrey Davey, of Glen Dee, near Hay , NSW , a  person he had  known  for some time, who was contemplating  " matrimony ". Tyson clearly advised  against   wedlock . His  letter  read :

Dear Sir .  I am in receipt of yours  dated March 13 , and regret you  take  an entirely wrong view of matters  touched upon in  this as well as  the previous letters on the same subject . It was , and  is now, far better  for me to be silent than offer  advice, when I know nothing  of the subject referred to. I am the last person  that  would  hazard an opinion  when  all  was darkness.   If  I knew how, I would advice, but knowing nothing  I would not risk advice to  the  one  I  have known so long , lest it be wrong, but this I will say  regarding  the sex  generally :-

They are , as now educated, unreliable, and if there is any purgatory some of our married   friends  are  up  to  their necks in it . When a man marries  a woman he marries his master. The meek little thing he dotes on  is a tiger in sheepskin , and according to what I have seen , a man is a slave ever after.

That is the simple truth , there is no doubt whatsoever. It is the women who are ruling the world   at the present time . It was the women and their  luxuries in ancient times   that ruined Rome .  It is said that women and luxury will ruin New York , and this thing bids  fair   to  ruin   all  places . 

There   is   to be  a  Young  Women's College   to educate them . They will then, I should presume , get into the legislature  and outvote  the  men ; indeed  it will be hard to say where  their power  will end , if they rule  as  at present  . The question arises: " What will they do if they get  educated up ? "  Having said this much , I am bewildered to  contemplate  the consequences  !!! It was signed : Your  faithful friend , Jas. Tyson . It would be interesting to know if Humphrey went ahead and got married  after this dire warning about   new age women . 

The paper said nine years elapsed before  the Queensland  Trustees were able to present the final balance sheet  of the   Tyson estate . During that period there  had been   11 distributions to about  30 beneficiaries .The   amazing  Jimmy Tyson built up a large personal  library ,   supported   schools and hospitals . He worked with convicts , ticket of leave men , employed   Aborigines  and   part of his wealth came  from  supplying  goldrush   diggers  with   tucker.