Sunday, September 30, 2018


Due to  a   Townsville  City Council     roadside collection , a shed  was  searched   and  a forgotten box  labelled  DAMAGED BOOKS  was   found at the back of   a  shelf . Well taped , it  contained  books  collected over the years  in New Zealand ,  Adelaide   and Darwin ,  which had fallen victim to  bookworm  and  borer.  They had  been sprayed , isolated  in   the shed  to  prevent  them infecting   other  books  in  the  house . 

On opening , it proved to be a  repulsive Pandora's box . It seethed with   live  cochroaches , which caused my wife to do an Irish jig  in  fright . Faster than  anybody in the OK Corral shoot out, she whipped out the insect spray and  drilled  the  roaches , at times  squealing .   Each book was  spread  out on the lawn , sprayed ,   examined .

A  rarity  is the   notebook  kept by the son of a Port Adelaide    mayor  who  became   a  naval diver . It contains entries relating to him  arriving in America    and   diving on the wreck of the  French ocean liner  SS Normandie  which  caught  fire  and sank in New York  at  Pier  88  while being converted  into a troopship in 1942. It includes the names of hotels in which he stayed in America  and  an   Australian  address : N129 Sister C. J. McRae, S.S.Q Section 15, R.A.A.F, Richmond, N. S. W.

Another badly wormed U.S. Government Printing  Office notebook contains  diary like  pencil entries of daily  shipboard  activities   during  the war  in  San Francisco and  Wilmington , taking on ammunition, gun drill , repairing guns , breaking out and repairing  diving gear  , examining  ship's bottom and  cutting off  damaged  keel ;  bailing  water  due to a leak . There is mention of  Cairns  and   Darwin  in  l944  .  

One of the oddities  is  Drifting  Wreckage , by  W. Lockhart Morton , of Adelaide, with a  preface by Reverend  J. Wilbur Chapman, D.D., of New York ,    believed to  have  belonged  to   Clem Hawke , a minister of religion ,  father  of former  Australian  Prime Minister   Bob  Hawke ; Nortons Summit  is  an  Adelaide  suburb , where  his father  lived at  one  stage . The book has interesting accounts of  church  activity  in  Australia .
Battered  early New Zealand  books will be  drawn to the attention of  a researcher who recently wrote a  definitive   article  on  Maori  women  guides . Another of his interests  is Steele Rudd   so   he should  be  interested in  a grotty 1911  copy of  The  Dashwoods,   a sequel to  Rudd's On An Australian  Farm, illustrated by Claude Marquet. As he is also  a  cricket tragic , he will   be  entranced by the 1900 broken  and soiled A Cricketer on  Cricket  by  W. J. Ford , which contains  much Australian content , including  the Australian eleven of 1899.

 You don't see many  copies of the  1923 Australasian Advertisers' Manual  and Newspaper Directory (minus its  nibbled and soiled   cover ) .

The WWll War Service Record book in the top photograph is  a  profusely illustrated   account of  Victorian Education Department  staff  who   fought and died in the conflict , with interesting biographical details .        


An ABC report that  an archive  of  two million  Fairfax  newspaper  photographs,  taken between 1920-2000  in Australia ,   ended  up  in  America  grabbed my attention  because I like to think  I  may have  actually handled  some of  those  black and white prints  and  been  involved  in  some of the news  events  covered . One such photograph  is  the above  shot of a  swagman in  rural New South  Wales  taken in the  late l960s. He was encountered when I was being  driven to  an assignment with a photographer  from the Fairfax  building in  Broadway, Sydney .

By Peter  Simon
Tramping along the  side of the road   was  an unexpected  figure  from a  bygone era, a swaggie. We screeched to a halt , reversed  and I  interviewed him while the photographer  took a series of  snaps.  An obvious battler , all  his possessions are on display - a spare left  foot  boot , a blackened   billycan , food including vegetables slung over his shoulder in  a  bag ,  a Sunshine  powdered milk  tin . We gave him a lift .  The  story appeared in the Sun-Herald  and the photographer gave me  a  souvenir  copy of  the  swaggie , which has been carted about  for  nearly  50 years ,   surviving   Cyclone  Tracy .

The Fairfax  archive may well  contain  coverage of   the  great moment in Australian history  -which I covered -raids by  Sydney university students  in a  campaign  to open  the  tiled  front  bars  of  hotels  to  women .    On  one occasion , police present ,  girls dressed as  men with  painted  on  moustaches , one carrying  a masonic bag ,  another  a  paper RSL badge pinned to her lapel ,  noisally invaded  a  bar watched by stunned  mullet looking , bemused  guzzlers, a male  student   dressed as a woman,  with a  floppy  hat. The photographs may have been filed under the  flippant  heading: REVOLTING   LADIES  LOUNGE   LIZARDS .

My involvement with newspaper photographs began in the l950s  when I became a  copyboy in Sydney , working  in  The Sun  building in the city . There  I perused and handled   many   photographs  in the   Pix   magazine   library , opposite Sporting Life . I  had another stint in  the paper's  Feature Services which  syndicated   photographs and  stories , one  being  extracts from   Dr  Michael  Bialoguski 's book, The Petrov Story . A Polish-Russian medical practitioner, violinist  and  ASIO  spy, goatee bearded  Bialoguski  , encouraged   Vladimir Petrov , Third Secretary at the  Soviet Embassy, Canberra, to defect .
 Armed  Russians  dragged Mrs  Evdokia  Petrov  aboard a plane in Sydney, midst wild scenes, and she was granted asylum  at Darwin airport after   police  manhandled  the  escorts  and  removed a gat .

 My  duties   as  a copyboy  in  Feature Services included going to  the Yaffa Syndicate office to pick up packets of overseas  syndicated  cartoons  and  illustrated  articles  for  distribution . The  Radio and  Hobbies  magazine  office in the  Sun   building was one of  my  drop  off  points.  

The  Sun   later  moved  into the new  Fairfax   building  in  Broadway and it is presumed its  invaluable  photographic  archive  also  went along  to the block  which  included  the  Sydney Morning  Herald. The   building  had   large darkrooms for  photographers   to  process  films  to produce  silver  bromide  prints  ,   with  what seemed  perpetual running  water  in troughs , sounding  like  the River Caves  at  Luna Park . Pictorial editors, like their  photographers,  were  colourful guys, one had  run  a  plantation  in   Papua New Guinea  , if  I remember  correctly. 
Murders  and   Guts  

 One of the many   colourful and  experienced  photographers   was   Steve Dunleavy   , who had a nasty experience with a zipper which  required the embarrassing and  painful attention of  the staff  ex-Army  nursing  sister .  It is possible that some photographs he took were included in the  archive now in America . If so , America would be  interested  to  know  that  his son, of the same name ,  a Sydney   police rounds  reporter , went on to become a  legend in Hong Kong and  New York Post's ace crime  reporter  , a   national  celebrity  for  his coverage of the  Son of  Sam serial  murders  in  1976-77.

The murderer  , David  Berwitz, who terrified   New York,  killing  women at random with a .45 , wrote rambling letters to   Dunleavy,  who  later had his own  hard hitting   television show , billed as   Mr  Blood and  Guts.
 In 2016, 40 years after the Son of Sam murders, Dunleavy, retired, down Miami  way , getting about in a  gopher , was  quoted   for a  documentary, Son of Sam : The  Hunt for a Killer ,  as  saying the police could have   arrested  Berkowitz  earlier  on  had they acted on clues . Berkowitz  was sentenced to  six consecutive life sentences  for  six murders and  seven woundings .  In 2017 he was  said to be  a  born again Christian  and had a  website  headed, Son of  Hope .

Trips to the Morgue
When I  worked in the  Fairfax  building in Broadway ,  I   had  cause to  consult "the girls in the morgue ",  the   name given to the  area  which  contained   a  huge  collection of   photographs , newspaper  files , cuttings,  reference  books.  It was  a place where  you went to get background , inspiration , look at pix .    Being  nosey, I would  often  just  drop  in  and  browse   about  to see  what  was  hidden   in  dark corners, nooks .  From memory, there were dusty  displays  in one section .

The entire   Fairfax  photographic archive is said to have contained as many as  8million prints,   valued by one  source   at  $89million.  It seems   part was sent  to  America  to be  digitalised  by  Rogers   Photo     Archives  , for a fee of  $300,000, the negatives  and  copyright to  be  retained  by  Fairfax.  However, the  head of  the company was convicted of  fraud , the business collapsed,   assets were  taken over by a bank  which had no  interest in the vast collection , stored  in a Little Rock Arkansas   warehouse .

Eventually the  director of  a Californian  art gallery , Daniel Miller,  took possession of some two million   photographs . He  sold some  to Australian institutions , including   25,000 cricket  photos  to the  Bradman Museum at  Bowral . The archive covered  whaling, maritime , aviation, royalty, theatre, Olympics,horse racing , AFL , crime and law , regional towns . Many of the photos were taken   taken by prominent   photograhers   of   the  day , like  Max Dupain.  The archive is said to have included photographs  from other newspapers  taken over by the  company, some  in  New Zealand .   
 In an ABC radio interview  , Miller   said the collection  included  many    photographs  by  outback  writer  Jeff  Carter .  
Northern Territory Photographs    Dumped
I  was  shocked to learn that  the photographic  collection at the  Northern Territory News, Darwin ,  had been   dumped  when  the  newspaper moved into  new offices in Mitchell  Street  in 1967 .  Darwin  photographer  Joe  Karlhuber, who had worked at the News , informed me of  this  situation , shaking his  head  in despair and disbelief  .
In its early days , the News , in the old tin bank building, ran metal bloc photographs  sent  north from the Sydney Daily Telegraph ,where    they had been used ,  with  no  real relevance to the north.
When Rupert Murdoch  bought the newspaper in 1960 new  equipment provided  included  a   block making  machine ,a  Scanagraver , and I was  given the  task of  helping  make this  new fangled  gadget perform,  a  plastic image cut from a rotating photograph on a  drum , because I   had some photographic   experience dating  from  schooldays  when  I  had  a  camera.
A  Yashika Mat 120  reflex camera   turned up in the office , which  I  and fellow journalist  Keith Willey  used  . Willey  made  forays down the track and  turned up  great  feature articles , one being about a  family of    dingo baiters  and trappers , one minus a forearm. 
I was carrying the   camera   when   thrown into  the  sea   while     going ashore  in a small  boat on    the south coast of   Portuguese   Timor  to   cover an oil strike by an American  company,Tradewinds,  on  an Australian exploration   lease ;  though damaged, the  roll of film produced  some  shots .
During my  time as  press officer for the Department of the  Northern Territory, I hired its first photographer, veteran Sydney photographer , Ray Sharp , and we  went on  story gathering  trips   to  Alice  Springs , gradually building up  an interesting   file on  Territorians , towns , events.  Years later , I was told that  much of this had   also  been  culled, thrown  out . 
The Australian News and Information  Service had   an office in Darwin which  produced  illustrated    stories   promoting  the Territory  and  Australia  overseas . One of  its  photographers,   Mike Jensen , a  Dane, had  very high standards , culling  prints that he thought were not  worth  keeping  .  As a  result , I called on him regularly , went through his  reject bin , and retrieved  works of  art .  Jensen   worked  with  the veteran  Sydney journalist, lanky Colin Mann .

 Indignant    over the treatment   of a   reporter, Mann once  poured a   glass of beer over the  head  of    vociferous   Sydney   Bulletin editor  and author , Donald Horne, who was holding court  in  a   pub.  Later   on ,   Colin got a   posting to  an  Australian  government   office  in  America and was  given a  tough time by a   pompous  and bullying   high  official , who was lucky not  to be christened  with a  jug of  Budheimer .
North  Queensland  photographs
in light of the Fairfax archive,  and what  happened  to the NT News  files , I wonder what happened   at the Cairns  Post   after it  eventually was swallowed up by the Murdoch empire .   When I passed through the    Cairns Post in l962, from Darwin , it had   a keen photographer , John Ellison , frustrated by the  conservative management .    Later he  took up a position    with   East-West  Airlines  in Tamworth , New South Wales , which  eventually  ended up  being taken over  by  Sir  Peter Abeles and  Rupert Murdoch of  Ansett   Airlines  in a deal  with  a  West Australian  airline company.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


From Chiang  Mai  with  love  for  Curlews
Emails   from  American   artist  , bead and  ethnic textile  expert, Bucklee   Bell , explode  across the   screen  when  opened in the   Little Darwin  increasingly  cluttered  den . An example  is  the  above  latest  new  poster  for   his  ethnographic  arts  business , Kesorn Arts,  in  Chiang  Mai, Thailand. In his latest dispatch  he reported   the    ricefields   are   swaying in the  breeze after a long and  cloudy rainy season .  He  also  sent  his regards to  the Magnetic Island  Curlews , saying  he  supports  Curlew Power . One of the prominent  counter culture cartoonists  in  the l960-l970s Underground  Comix  period  in San Francisco  and  Berkeley,  California , along with  Robert Crumb ,  subjects for   Bucklee's    distinctive  art  include  politics, war, the environment , Monsanto .

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


One of two eggs hatched  today after  the  nesting bird yesterday  was  harassed by  noisy  Currawongs ,  which  were  chased  away .  Another two eggs  are  being  watched   at  the  front .   


S(h)ipping  Reporter  Exclusive

An ugly   gargoyle  from Notre Dame Cathedral  has sought  sanctuary on  Magnetic Island  after a perilous  voyage to Australia in  a leaky bateau . The  exhausted gargoyle, which  has a lumpy  profile similar to that of the venerated  low man on  the Liberal  Party  totem pole , the  late Sir Robert " Pig Iron Bob"  Menzies , with bushy eyebrows,  was wearing  a  double  breasted  suit with a bottle of  cognac in each  pocket  when he reached   North  Queensland's  equivalent of  Devil's Island .  He tottered ashore  and  headed  to  the  island's bespoke  French cafĂ© , Le Paradis , where  he ordered a croissant with Vegemite  and  a double serving  of  vegetarian   lasagne . 
 There he told our  shipping  scribe  the reason why he fled  the  famous  Notre  Dame  Cathedral in  Paris ." Between  the  noisy horde of tourists  who invade the cathedral each day and Quasimodo  snoring  and  breaking wind all   night , I got very little  sleep ," the gargoyle , named Victor , moaned. The  other  gargoyle on the gothic  pile  , Hugo , had  been driven mad , started to crumble  under the strain , had been  taken away by a cruel stone  mason under the pretence he  was  going to have ear plugs inserted , but  poor Hugo was  pulverised  and  turned  into   kitty  litter . 


A growing sport  in Townsville , which  receives  almost  no  attention from  the media,  is  rowing .  At  the  weekend ,  two  girls from the   Cathedral school , Sarah  Scobie  and Steffi  Simon ,  won the  year  8 double  sculls  event at the  Queensland Schools  Regatta,  held  on  the  Fitzroy River , Rockhampton . Both   girls  are  exceptionally keen  rowers.  In  the case of  Steffi , she  is from Darwin;  her older brother , Kurt , is  also  an avid  rower , the home rowing machine  seeing a  lot of  action  between  the  two . Cheering them on  at the regatta    were their  mother , Melanie , who played football  for  Australia , a Townsville  sports masseuse , and  their nautical  minded  maternal  German  grandparents, Felix and  Elke  . Bella , the  family pet  Boxer dog , also came along  for  the  ride  from  Townsville. Sarah   Scobie   is  from  Cloncurry .   


The October 1938   American magazine Town and Country contained    travel advertisements  which  offered the opportunity to cruise to  Australia and   adore   its  suntanned    lifesavers , the  freakish platypus , koala bears, kangaroos  "Iowan birds with mound incubators to hatch their young ", wombats ,   laughing  kookaburras   and  coral gardens , horse racing , other sporting events ; South America , where pesky  monkeys scampered  about under foot  . Not much  of  a  choice  really.  


Monday, September 24, 2018


Giving the illusion of an Australian soldier in a  slouch hat on the battlefield , this unusual shot  was  due  to the Moon  being   obscured , reflected   by  a  bank  of   clouds  over   Cleveland Bay , North Queensland .  Vallis  photograph

Sunday, September 23, 2018


When not in Timor-Leste,  Darwin  agronomist / activist  Rob Wesley-Smith spends much of his time on the road  driving   to and from  various parts of Australia , collecting interesting photographs and  stories along the  way, some of  which  appear  in  this  blog . Now he informs us he  is planning another  trip-this  time  by cruise ship from  Darwin , taking in  Papua New Guinea  ,where he hopes to visit  a  WWll  site at  which a  contact  shot  down  a  Japanese  Zero in the Milne  Bay  area .
It seems Wes  is  going to share  a is hoped  that  ear plugs are  provided  for the  other  passenger  as we  suspect  he  might snore  like  a  wounded  buffalo.

Saturday, September 22, 2018


The legendary Australian  Jimmy Sharman  boxing  troupe   which  toured  many parts of  the  nation  was   a  genteel  festival of fisticuffs   compared  with the bloody   ongoing  Coalition  bikie  brawl .  

Sluggo  toughs it out .

When the  Golden Gloves  wearing  champ Malcolm Turnbull was felled  by a  bloody barrage of under the belt  blows  from  his  fancy  footwork shadow  boxing c(l)obbers , new leader Sluggo  Morrison, still punchy, faced the  nation  and  made a  familiar   prize  fighter  announcement :" I love  yuz  all ."

 He has kept up this chant  ever since, adding   a frequent    dash of  Mums and  Dads , throwing  in  a royal commission , promising to garrotte   in  public  strawberry tamperers ,  make  the Pope happy and made political  hay like Donald Trump  while the  outback  and   the   Great  Barrier  Reef  sizzled. 
 Argus Tuft Special
Adopting  a title  fighter  stance , Sluggo   has   kept on repeating  this promise of an extensive no holds barred  brawl  right up the  end of the  15  round bare knuckle election knock out . On election night  he  plans to   spring  into the  ring , in his  tattered boxing shorts , proudly displaying the upside down  Australian  flag in a move to  annoy left wing  vexillologists .   In  an  exclusive  Ring magazine  interview Sluggo  delivered   an  American gangster style  threat   to  "moider"  his opponent  , Electricity  Bill ,  by  slipping  a  Murdoch media   horseshoe  into  each of his   boxing  gloves  and  a  solar-powered  battery up his  pea green, consecrated  jockstrap  , which will make him  leap  about  the  square ring  like Skippy , making  it  impossible for  Bill  to  hit him  in  the  pouch with  a  CFMEU  zinger .    

Sluggo posed  for a  magazine   photo , his jaw  jutting  out ,  in a  way  reminiscent  of  a certain   fat  controller  who  got  the  trains to run on time in downtown  Rome , resulting  in  record  crowds  at  the  Colosseum  to see Christians  eaten  by   lions .  Ring  claims  the Prime Minister's trusted seconds for the championship  brawl  will  be  French Apache dancer and submarine  gremlin  Christopher " The Fixer" Pyne  and union  pin up  girl   Michaela   "Knuckles"   Cash. 

It has been  pointed out  by  the  influential  Liberal Party house Bible , Ladies Home  Journal , that  many  Liberal women have  gone on strike,refusing  to knit any more true blue tea  cosies and merkins for  fund raising fetes . Instead ,  they intend to take up  Thai  boxing  and repeatedly kick  the  gizonkas  of  several of  their  standover  male  colleagues  in  the House of  Whacks.
 Members  of  the  lightweight , noisy  National  Party  are also punchy , the Wagga  Wagga  Waffler  tipped  to   be   biffed   by  the  pouting   Lantana Lasher ,   an  Australian   poor imitation of   the  Louisville  Lip  who could not  fight  his  way out of  a wet  paper bag , according  to  fight  fans .        


Built to raise  money for the Koala  Hospital on Magnetic Island  is this  mini Mini Moke  next to a  Mini Moke. The replica was  made  by  Maurice Hayler  and  featured in a British Moke Club magazine. The idea is you pay to be photographed  seated  in  the  model .   

Friday, September 21, 2018


Northern Territory Archives Service is seeking expressions of interest  from members of the community with  expertise  or  extensive knowledge  of  Territory  history to  be part of  the NT History Grants Committee .Committee terms of reference available at  Applications  close  October 5.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


A  camera  chip  has  unexpectedly  revealed   views   of  the rocky  domain  of  the  late   art  historian  , collector  and  flora and  fauna conservationist ,  Margaret Vine, in Olympus Crescent,  Alma Bay ,  Magnetic Island , Queensland . It is believed the photographs, which  captured some of  the animals  and  measures   taken to protect  native trees ,  were  snapped   by  Margaret, using  an  Olympus  camera . The top view includes  a Wallaby  in the  background , twisted trees , granite boulders  next  to  her house .
Two Curlews are visible  above . One of her Curlews  was  named  Groucho  because it  not only walked  like  the   member of  the  famous  Marx Brothers but had  his  large eyes  and  a  grumpy nature . Many of the animals, which she fed at great  cost  , had  names  from   opera , of  which she was a fan ,   Shakespeare and the classics .  Kookaburras  flying  about  the  island  could  thank  the Bard   for their   fancy  names .  
Roots growing over  boulders  and  mottled  foliage near  a  bench from which Margaret  was  able to  sit, relax and   commune with  nature .
 Margaret  had  a "soft " rock  near the  back entrance to the  house  upon which she sat , at the top of  a steep drive, next to her Lolly Tree ,  through which  a creek ran  during the wet  season . Part of  her impressive  art book  collection  was  donated  to  Special Collections , Eddie  Koiki  Mabo  Library, James Cook University , Townsville , to  be included  in the Edna Shaw  Australian Art Collection , which runs to more than 5000 volumes .  Special  Collections  manager , Bronwyn  McBurnie, was invited  to  the  Olympus  Crescent  residence  to  discuss  the  proposal with  Margaret  Vine .

In  ill health , Margaret  prepared  for her  death , instructed   island carpenter and sculptor, Andy Frost , to make her  coffin . She was 81  when she died. As a tribute to her, the  Magnetic Island  Museum  held  A Walk Up Olympus Crescent To  Journey's End exhibition  , following  in  the footsteps of New Zealand  author and activist  , Jean Devanny ,  who in  l950  included the now Heritage listed  street  in  a  ramble .     

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


The above  front cover photograph on  the Australian Inland Mission of  the Presbyterian Church Frontier Services report  for 1957-l958  featured  unnamed  children from the outback meeting the Queen Mother   at  the Governor-General's Canberra residence, Yarralumla.  The Aboriginal  girl on the  left was  Ruth Daylight, plucked  from  a  West Australian  hovel  for  the  royal event. 
As a result of   Daylight's  visit   to  the  national  capital  to meet the  Queen Mother , Melbourne  Herald  journalist Douglas Lockwood (1918-1980) recalled in 1960: 

 I have a soft spot for Hall's Creek. It was there that I wrote a story which later won the Walkley  (Award  for Journalism)  in Australia  in l958. The story concerned  an  attractive fifteen-year-old aboriginal  girl named  Ruth  Daylight who was flown to Canberra to meet the Queen Mother . Ruth was uprooted  from  the primitive customs of  her Moola Boola tribe  and taken on a  nationwide  junket .
 She was decked out in fine feathers : a  filmy dress , shoes she had never  worn , and  gloves! And outside Yarralumla , the Governor-General's Canberra residence, she curtsied gracefully  for the Queen Mother . There followed a big-city neck-craning  trek, studded with  plush suites , bedside telephones , inner spring beds , private bathrooms , room service and midnight suppers. 
Within a few days she was speechless  with delight . But the day of reckoning was to come . Ruth was taken back to Hall's Creek to her tribal mother, Ida Daylight .
I found her there a few weeks later , living in a filthy hovel of canvas  and bits of  old iron .The roof was just three feet   from  the earth floor . Ruth lived in  it  with her mother and sister, Doreen , and a  couple of  big cattle dogs. They had to crawl inside, where  they slept  in  the  dirt .
The visit  to the Queen Mother upset her terribly because she saw  for the first  time  what the world had to offer , and now knew that it was all  beyond  her reach . Her future  held  only the drab prospect of  being given in  tribal marriage  to some near-primitive  who would use her , in accordance with the tribal custom , as   a  chattel .
 There are no  room-service bells in an aboriginal camp ! The one bright spot in Ruth's life  is that she is cared   for as much as possible by a dedicated  white woman , Matron Lois  Hurse, of the Australian Inland Mission's  Hostel  at  Hall's Creek .  
The native children call her Miz'urse. She is a practical, practising  Christian . She probably doesn't understand  much about theology , but she certainly understands how to  look after  her children . She is a doer rather than a  talker . In  other days  her name  might  have  been  Miss Nightingale .

Ruth Daylight stayed in Hall's Creek. Lockwood's son, Kim , also a journalist,  met her  there  in 1970, when she admitted  the celebrity of the Canberra  visit  as a shy teenager had caused her stress . She had a one-year-old son , Cedric. She later got a marriage proposal from an Alice Springs  man, but she did not want to leave home . At some stage, perhaps in her thirties, she married a man called Mills, and they remained in  Hall's Creek . She died there in 2004  aged  62 . Matron Lois Hurse was living on the Gold Coast when this update was  first published . 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


Our S(h)ipping Reporter , the only one  north of Dunedin , has the annoying habit of  regularly stating  he  is a  Lucky Ducky , which makes him sound  like a childish  twit .  He does, however, seem to have the luck of  the Irish when it comes to  picking  up  endless  offbeat  stories ,  interesting   books  and ephemera   , odd  items  and   plain  junk .

Apart from prowling about the Townsville  waterfront,  he often sets sail for  the  Special Collections section  at  the    James  Cook  University   library    where the  building has  a  nautical design  with  portholes   and  a   large  model of   Captain Cook's  Endeavour.

On a  recent  visit to  the university  he discovered  students   holding   a regular  book  swap session .  As he had  two books in his  kitbag ,  bought at an op shop , one  about the Loch Ard  shipping disaster ,  he swapped  the other  for   the  biography of  Pioneer Players, The Lives of  Louis and Hilda Esson , by Peter  Fitzpatrick . The  Essons  were closely involved  with   Australian theatre and  literature ; in the case of Louis, he was  called the father of Australian drama ; a doctor, Hilda  was  also   involved  in  public  health . 

A quick thumb  through the  book revealed  Hilda  Esson  had given medical advice  to   Communist  author , New Zealander  Jean  Devanny , who  holidayed on Magnetic Island  and  died in Townsville , her  personal  papers  in  Special  Collections .The Essons also had  dealings with author  Xavier  Herbert  who wrote the 1938  sesquicentenary  award  winning novel  about the  Northern Territory ,  Capricornia,  and  Poor Fellow My Country . A ceramic tribute to  Xavier , below, is located near the  book  return slot  at  the Cairns  Council  Library . 
Feeling lucky , the S(h)ipping   Reporter  went  to  the   next  book swap at  the university, but   arrived  late to see  all  the volumes   being wheeled  away in  a  large bin . He was kindly allowed to rummage   through  the  pile and plucked out  two :   Home Before  Dark , by   Ruth  Park  ( another Kiwi ) and Tasmanian  Rafe Champion ,  about  the champion  Australian  boxer  Les Darcy , who   died in  America  in  1917  under  tragic  circumstances ; From a Chair in the Sun  The Life of Ethel Turner , who penned the classic Seven  Little Australians . 

He handed over   four of  his own   dusty  books , which included  The Russian  Mind,  a collection   of  early science fiction  and a   l970s guide to London antique markets  , for  the  students  to fight over . 
Then , with  the two swapped  books in his kitbag, the drifting  sea salt , delighted with  his  acquisitions,  made his way to the waterfront and  came  across  a  story   in  the nightclub precinct ,  not yet  picked up  by  the local  media : the median strip now sports Xanthorrhoea  ,   distinctive Australian plants,also known as  Balga Grass , Balga being Aboriginal for "Black Boy."   In the past, the  city  council  erected   controversial   metal Transformer-like   structures  in the strip , which  were  eventually  removed .      

 While resting  in the  ferry terminal , our  reporter   opened  the  Les Darcy book  and  soon  knew he  had struck it lucky when  early in the introduction  he read  that  Chinese boxer  Rud  Kee , mentioned previously in this blog   in connection with the Queensland  goldmining town of  Ravenswood ,  had  once boxed with  Les Darcy  , the boxing  gloves  he  wore on that occasion  kept by    boxing troupe  owner Jimmy Sharman and never used again .

 Kee and Sharman had given   author D'Arcy  Niland (named  after  Darcy )  a list of  people  to contact when he began  researching the  life of   Les Darcy, but he  died before the biography could be written.  Award winning  author  Ruth  Park , who married  Niland , took  part  in  the research  and   carried on the project  with  Rafe  Champion , interested  in sport, the arts and  biological sciences .  
If ever the S(h)ipping Reporter  needed   further  proof  that  he is  indeed a strange  Lucky Ducky , born under a lucky star , wandering   at  large  on another   lucky day , he  had   received  a  lousy $15   from  a  $30million  lottery draw  ; there  was  a   ship  in  port  on  which   LUCKY  appeared , mockingly ,  in  large  letters.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


In Townsville ,  Friday evening , at the MaryWho? bookshop, the  launch of  Lindsay Simpson's  work Adani, Following its Dirty Footsteps: A Personal Story , will  take place .
From fishing villages on the Gujarat coastline to Adani’s power plant in Mundra and the company’s headquarters in Ahmedabad, Simpson   tracks how the Adani Group managed to woo Australian governments into approving Australia’s largest coal mine in the Galilee Basin and port expansion in a zone of  great ecological sensitivity.

In an astute analysis of this ongoing environmental battle, the biggest since the Franklin Dam in the 1980s,  Simpson argues that while Adani might have gained the backing of politicians, it has not won over the Australian people.

A  Stop  Adani national  doorknock is  being planned for  October  6 and 7 .  


Discovered in a collection of  old radio valves  on  Magnetic  Island  is a small one  in a packet marked  U.S. Navy Tube CRC 954, manufactured  by  RCA, dated October  1942.
According to the 1976  booklet The Methodist Church in Townsville,  One Hundred  Years    ,  the   Chinese Pastor of Darwin Mr Lo Shui Kwong was evacuated to Townsville during the war with his wife and three children and set up a small Chinese  school,    appointed to Sydney in  late 1942. 
The book says  that in  1945 "the somewhat unique situation" existed where Jews, mostly from U.S. forces, held  services  every  Friday night in the Central Church .  

Saturday, September 15, 2018


Another S(h)ipping Reporter Scoop
A  much photographed item  near the ferry terminal on Magnetic Island  is the above tall  directory  to  capital  cities of  the world  , installed  by the  Rotary  Club.  In  recent  days  there was  an  addition  to   cities of  note : Hobart , Tasmania . Attached  to the pole , on  a  piece of  cardboard, an artistic , anonymous  person drew an  arrow erroneously claiming to  point   towards the Apple Isle, a  yacht  under sail,  with  the message : HOBART. Around  2000 sea miles  or  3700km. Oh  God. There is speculation  that  a  yachtie, a Taswegian ,  who came to the island  for  the  recent  annual yachting  races  was  responsible  for  the misleading ,  devilish  Tasmanian  add  on. Days later, the sign is still there,  but  the  wind  is  pointing  Hobart  towards  the  North Pole.   

FOOTNOTE :        As a  ferry bearing our   S(h)ipping Reporter  neared the wharf in Townsville ,  he  noticed  a  cluster of  balloons  floating on the  surface . Strange .  On  landing , he  set off    to  walk  along The Strand, a popular entertainment area, to  a birthday party  for a  one year old great grandchild . While wolfing down the   chips , snags  and cup  cakes , he  was  told that  some of  the party decorations -balloons -had blown away earlier  in  the  day .  Those were the ones  floating in the breakwater . Spotted  in the colourful  cavalcade of humanity and  canines  enjoying the waterfront  area  were some   guys dressed  as pirates , one  with a hook , several sausage dogs , a  Unicorn , a  beaut remote  control car . 


Academic and author Dr Dino Hodge will deliver a  talk on LGBTQI in the  Northern Territory Archives Centre on September  27. His 1993  book, Did you meet any Malagas?  was the fourth Australian book  about gay history and cultures . Since then innumerable books  about Australian LGBTQI have been released . However, it was  not  until 2015 that  a second one about  the Indigenous  scene , Colouring   the Rainbow  and  Blak  Queen and  Trans Perspectives,  the genesis for both  the Territory , was published . Dr Hodge will  recall  the  impetus ,  challenges  and  rewards of  research.
Cairns ,Queensland, gay march .

Friday, September 14, 2018


Magnetic Island .
Because of   dry conditions and the lack of food on the island  , Wallabies  have  been coming  into  the grounds of  houses,  eating   plants . The Queen of  the Jungle  has  four  regular   night   Wallaby   callers . Her  rain orchids flowered , reported in  this blog , and  there  were  two  subsequent   small  showers, the heaviest  producing  a mere  4mm.  Parts  of  Townsville , on the mainland , are on fire alert .