Friday, November 30, 2018


As a  result of  this  blog  highlighting  the   long running neglect of  war  memorials in  the garrison    city of  Townsville , the  Australian  War Memorial  in  Canberra   was informed . The response would  make an interesting  story if  any  Townsville reporter  takes   the  time  to  contact  the   War Memorial  , perhaps  speak to Brendan Nelson   for  a follow up to  find out  what  he  thinks  about  the  situation  in  the Queen City of the North .

 It  seems the AWM  feels  the  Townsville City Council  , obviously , one would think ,  should  play a  part  ,  and even  points out  how it  could  apply for    funds to carry out  regular   care   and  maintenance   of  memorials .   This  info  was  fired into  the TCC .  Our  S(h)ipping Reporter   recently  reported that  at long  last  the Victory in the Pacific  War Memorial Fountain    in   the  Railway Oval   is    working,  in   a  reduced  fashion , although  thirsty birds are  delighted  it  is  pumping  water   during  the  heatwave .  
Today , however, the old ticket office in  the  nearby  Townsville Railway Station , which  houses  the  large  WWl  railway roll of  honour, was , as usual , in need of   a  sweep , a  woman's  abandoned  shoe  under   a   bench  seat .   
 The large   clock  on  the Townsville  travel centre exterior  at the railway building , a large part of which was  refurbished at a  large sum ,   is still not  working  and   has not   done so for  years .  


Adani  coalmine featured  in signs outside  Parliament House , Brisbane.
The massive demonstration  by schoolchildren  across   the nation  expressing their deep concern about  climate  change, the  future   and   government inaction  should  have  shaken  the   inept, self  serving   National  Liberals to the core .  Instead, it  drew a typical   smartarse comment  from Senator  Canavan   about the  pupils  only  learning  to   line up for the  dole ; as you would expect ,  going on the modus operandi of  the PM , he was  also  dismissive  of  the  School Strike  for the Planet  .
Another message  from Victoria  for PM  and   Coalition. 
 It came on a day when  large parts of Queensland  were  afire in a  heatwave,  there  were  warnings  of  another  imminent   Barrier   Reef  coral  bleaching  episode,  bats and birds were dropping   down dead   out of trees, Adani  announced  its intention  for a n almost  pre Xmas  start  to   a scaled  down  coal   mine  which   leads to the  firm  suspicion that it was timed to  influence  the  outcome  of   the   federal election  in  the  vulnerable  Sunshine State   seats .     
Demonstration in Darwin outside  parliament ; longtime residents  say the so called front door to Australia  is  hotter than  ever  due to  climate  change .
The   incredible  insensitivity  of  Adani  making  its  announcement   on  a day when  Queensland   was  reeling  under  the heatwave  and   life threatening  fires  attracted  condemnation . However, the  cargo cult mentality of much of the    Queensland  media   gave  the  illusion  that   streets  in  central and northern  parts of  the  state, due to Adani ,  would  soon be lined with   jobs and gold  rather  than  burning embers  .   It  seemed   valid  questions about  dubious aspects  of  the  Adani  proposal  were  raised  on  The Drum , ABC television , but   failed  to  get  a  mention  elsewhere . 
 The "striking " schoolkids  displayed and carried  a   wide range of  signs and placards :  THERE  IS NO PLANET B ; THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE ; STOP  BURNING OUR FUTURE  .  Some wore anti- Adani earrings  .  The   inner  circle  of   the   Coalition  also  came under  attack in Sydney :
The  slow learning Coalition  government  should  realise that  while it may mock the "strike" , claim it was   organised by lefty teachers, those  kids have parents   who , polls show, are  deeply  concerned  about  climate  change, a definite   factor in  the  Victorian election , Wentworth  byelection . 

Thursday, November 29, 2018


Another  S(h)ipping  Reporter Scoop

Prowling about the  Townsville  waterfront , that region of the city where  local  reporters  do  not   go because of  the deep   fear they will be devoured by the dreaded   ABC  Kraken monster  ,  our brave nautical scribe, the only one north of  Hobart ,  came across  a  swag  of  hot yarns  .There was a cargo ship with  the  catchy name , Owl .  What  can   you associate with an  owl ?   
The  answer , dear  sunsmart  reader ,   is   revealed  thus . While travelling on a  ferry from Magnetic Island to Townsville,  the restless , recently refurbished  S(h)ipping Reporterand other passengers  were  confronted by  two German  pussycats , one  said  to  be wearing a  G-string .
 The ferry almost became an  underwaterboten  as  passengers stampeded  about   taking photographs , a  red faced SeaLink  crewman forced to  pose  with   the  two travellers who had  stripped   down   to   cope with  the searing  Queensland   heat . He was  informed on  the spot that the shot  had   gone  viral , muttered  something like :" Gawd , what will  the missus  and  the rest of  the crew have  to say ? "    
Nobody took any notice of a wrecked yacht on the breakwater  wall  and  a crazed looking  ancient  mariner  , in a loincloth ,  down on his knees , feebly  waving  a  battered   pith  helmet  for   help .  

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


S(h)ipping   Reporter's  Border  Security Scoop

Lurking off Townsville, in  Cleveland  Bay , this pirate vessel was snapped   along with  several other  invading  sailing ships , their  cutthroat  crews   intent on  sacking the  Queen City of the North- if anything is left  after showing clear signs of having already  been  plundered  by  a horde  of  barbarians , now   plagued by strolling  fortune tellers , three  dollar  bill  vendors , counterfeit  international   currency  printers ,  a  snoozing   local  media . 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


Bushfires  and extreme heat have produced  fiery sunrises and haze in the Townsville  area providing spectacular  photographs  for  early morning  walkers up  Castle Hill , missed by the  local media . At times  Magnetic Island has  been almost  invisible  or a small  peak suddenly  emerging   out  of  a wall of  smoke like Mount Fuji , without snow , naturally .  In turn , Castle  Hill  has been  invisible from  the island , with smoke evident in  various parts of the  island . Much of Cleveland  Bay has been blanketed  . The  hottest reported temperature  in  Townsville  was  just over 45C on  Mount  Stuart  . Sunsets also dramatic .
One of our correspondents travelling  by train from Townsville to Cairns reported signs of  fires and   storm  damage   nearer  Cairns.Townsville and Magnetic Island experienced electrical  storms which blacked out part of the city and  brought  down trees  in  the CBD . 
Storm damage south of  Cairns

Saturday, November 24, 2018


The  closure of the Townsville  branch  of the long established  Roger  David nationwide  menswear  chain   brings to  light   the  involvement  of  an Australian   boxing  champion , Max Carlos ,  with   the  company   and   his strong   connection  with   Townsville   and   nearby   Magnetic  Island .
At the age of 14 , Max Carlos , son of a  Spanish merchant seaman , trained as a tailor with  Roger David  in Victoria.  By  20 , having won more than 50 fights ,  he represented Australia  at the  l956 Melbourne Olympics .The   first  bout  was  against highly rated   American Joe Shaw , tipped to  take out  gold .  It was a  fierce encounter , Shaw winning on points. However,  he suffered  a broken rib and  a badly cut eye  in the  fight and had to withdraw  from  further  involvement .

During the  finals  match, Carlos   watching ringside, was tapped on the  shoulder  by   the  injured American boxer, who   said :  " Hey Maxie . Look at these two bums fighting  for our  medal ."    

 When  he won  the   Australian Lightweight  Championship in  l958 , the  Roger David  company  had  the  above  special  belt made  for  him  from  crocodile skin.
Known as a  never  give in fighter , Carlos  took part in epic  bouts  against  George Bracken , above , in  Melbourne's Festival Hall , also known as the Festival of Pain . Born on Palm Island of an Aboriginal mother and Indian  father, Bracken is said to have  received  early  fight  experience   with the Jimmy Sharman  Travelling  Boxing Troupe   in Townsville .
During one of the   fights  Carlos entered  the ring wearing  a Footscray  Aussie Rules  jumper  and  Bracken  sported  one  for  Geelong.
On leaving boxing , Carlos  had a  Roger David  store in Shepparton . Twenty three years after his last fight  he underwent an operation for  a brain tumour  which  left  him  with  severe  double vision and  droopy eyelids.
He and wife, Yvonne, had  a  time share on  Magnetic Island . On visits  Max liked to play blackjack at the Townsville casino. He attracted  much attention because his eyes were  kept  open with surgical tape  and he was slow making bets. 
Before  heading  north for  the island once more , he received medical advice that the cancer   had  returned .  After  a lucky night   at the casino  , he returned to the island with about  $1000 ,  collapsed  soon  after,  eventually   flown  south  to  Victoria  where  he  died .    


MELBOURNE: It can be exclusively revealed the   reason why  Prime Minister  Scott  Morrison failed to be seen  anywhere   on   election day  in  Victoria  is because he  was engaged  in   top secret talks   with an influential American  female  strategist  who  has many friends in the  Washington Swamp .  She  is  none other  than  that  cute  grunter  from  Iowa , Miss Piggy , star of the Muppet Show , upon which the Australian  Coalition  government is modelled  

 The  highly popular porcine person  is shown whispering into the PM's shell  pink  strong   advice   for  the  looming federal  election  campaign  to prevent  the  government being reduced to pork  belly futures rejects .  She  was able to get closer to  ScoMo  than  Pamela Anderson  ever could  while  he was  drawing up plans for  Operation Oink  to stop Bill Shorten  from bringing home the bacon and onion  bedded  democracy  sausage  next  year .

 During  the vital tete-a-tete  , she explained she  is a sensitive  feminist  pig   who  likes to use French swear  words and  deliver karate  chops  on people  who annoy her, get  in  the way of her  plans  to  become  a  star , grab centre  stage . According to a  leak , it is said  Miss Piggy  asked the PM if  there are any male chauvinist  pigs  in the  Liberal  Party she  should  meet to discuss election plots to muddy the  election   issues .

 Once  described as  a truckdriver  wanting to  become a  woman , Miss Piggy  secured a promise from ScoMo   that   she  can drive his bus during the  federal election . While at the wheel , she   would try and  avoid running over   frogs and cane toads   while zooming along the Bruce Highway in  Queensland , because while her husband,  Kermit, is a happily married   frog , he  can't stop himself  hopping from  one   pond  to  another , risking  roadkill  in  the  process.

Thursday, November 22, 2018


Living in tropical  climes  inspires many  people to write. Across  North  Australia ,  a vast army  of  enthusiasts  is  engaged  in   literary  and artistic  pursuits.  An  unusual  insight  into  the   literary   output   has  been  provided by  the  purchase  at  an open air market  of  a  thumbed  copy  of   Raining  on the  Sun , the 2008  anthology  of   works by  members of  the Tropical Writers  Group  of  Far  North  Queensland . 
It  was the  third  anthology-Between the Leaves ( 2006 ) and  Mangoes on Fire  ( 2007) the first two-displaying the writing talents of  24   members , residing  between  Babinda  and  Port  Douglas , some pictured  below .   
The  book  includes  brief  but  informative  biographies of  the diverse  group , some additional  information added  with  a green  pen ,  underlining of text  . Some  were  from  overseas-Malaysia , Argentina,  the US, New Zealand , India , the United Kingdom  ; various  parts of  Australia . Regular meetings held .
A writer of  informative rhyming verse   had left  a career as a mathematics and    science teacher  in  the  UK  to visit Australia 30 years  previously ; another woman lived with her husband , a psycho cat and a  bunch of dragons ; the  heat and humidity  of   Cairns  unleashed  the  dormant  urge in a woman to write resulting in  a children's  story book ,The Duck With No Quack ; a great grandmother  drew on her own  life experience to become a   prolific writer of  poetry, short stories and  scripts.
The anthology opens with the  prize winning  entries by Susan Ascott- Evans  in both the   poetry and prose sections of the  Cairns Post Weekender  Writing Competition. She had lived in Cairns  since 1986 ; a naturopath, iridologist and painter , she  had contributed health articles to Connect magazine  and written  two unpublished manuscripts.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


The late  Margaret and Arthur  Thorsborne , two of  the honoured names in the long list  of  activists  who  fought long and  hard   to  save  glorious  parts of  Queensland , along with the local flora and fauna , wrote a book   dealing  with   a  much  loved  spot, the  ruggedly   beautiful   Hinchinbrook Island, off  Cardwell . 
When  US  President   Bill  Clinton was on a  visit to Australia , Margaret Thorsborne  presented  him  with  a  copy of  the  book , an internationally   regarded  eco-walk  on the island named after her late  husband, a schoolteacher . 

 Now  some supporters  of  the  Thorsbornes , of  which  there are many scattered across the nation , are  suggesting  that  Bill Clinton  be asked to lend  his  support /his  name  to  a   campaign  to  prevent   the  Queensland  Government    from  opening   the   island   to  tourist  development .
The government proposal  was made public soon after  Margaret  Thorsborne  died. Angry mourners  at  the  Cardwell church  service  for  her   demonstrated  outside  against the  highly  insensitive  government  announcement .

 It was subsequently reported that a member of   Katter 's Australian Party , the Member for  Hinchinbrook no less  , Nick Dametto, supports the  Hinchinbrook  development plan . A Townsville Bulletin   item said there would be some "argy-bargy " over  the  plan .

The  top  cover photograph  of the   Hinchinbrook Island  book  is a special presentation  copy to Magnetic Island  wildlife carer  and  friend , Tania Schuett , with  Margaret's  handwritten inscription :  If  they could , all wildlife, especially the nutmeg pigeons, would  thank you , as I do, for all your love , care and  work to protect  wild  places. Hinchinbrook would thank you  too. With love , Margaret .  Cardwell , October 1999. It contains cuttings relating to the work of the Thorsbornes  and  the  plight of  Bush Stone Curlews on Magnetic Island

The superbly illustrated   volume contains photographs by freelance photojournalists  and  zoologists Clifford and Dawn Frith  who  specialised in the  studies of  tropical birds of Australasia .   Renowned  poet , activist  Judith Wright, who campaigned to save the Great Barrier Reef , a leading figure in the  wildlife  preservation society  , provided  the  foreword .

The Weekend Australian Magazine for November 17-18 contained a cover article  by  Kate Legge  about  the "new push "  to unlock Australian wilderness  areas , in which  Hinchibrook  Island  was  named as  one of three  Queensland   National  Parks  in  which  the state government  has called for   expressions of interest   for eco-tourism  ventures . A key player  in  the  move   is   Brett Godfrey, former Virgin  Australia  CEO , chair of Tourism and Events  Queensland , who describes himself as  an " environmental  capitalist ", linked in the article with Hinchinbrook .   It is to be hoped that  the Queensland   proposals  get   full  and  balanced   coverage  in  the media  , thoughtful political consideration , not  just scrambled   argy  bargy. 

Upcoming : More about  Hinchinbrook  , poets,  poems  and  activists .   

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Cleopatra's river  changes  colour  ;  finally , some action on  war memorial  fountain .

A sleek looking  green   vessel (228metres long )  , with  an evocative   Egyptian name , above,  received  much  attention  from   ferry passengers  and  yachties , but not  the  local  media . However , our  roaming   S(h)ipping Reporter , the only  one  north of  Manly , Sydney , snapped  the  oil products tanker  , flying the Singapore  flag.  The SR  was  passing in a ferry after  having   kelp and barnacles  removed  from   his  boiler  and  thruster   at   the  Townsville Public Hospital . 

Remembering  that  the   great books by Alan Moorehead   on  the  exploration of that  famous waterway  dealt  with the  Blue  and  White Nile   , it  was  a  surprise  to  see  the  Nile  up  close and   lime  green . Perhaps the  BW in the  tanker's name  stands  for  Blue  and  White ? An inquisitive local reporter, lost on  the  waterfront,  could  have  stumbled upon   an  interesting story. 
Despite his  failing eyesight , while  being driven to the ferry by his carers , the waterfront  roundsman   was  pleased  to  notice that the Victory in the  Pacific  War Memorial  Fountain was  actually  working ( Tuesday ) . On  Monday it had been  bone dry, a  beer  bottle  up  against   the   brickwork .  Readers  are  well aware that  the relentless  S(h)ipping Reporter has been running  a long   campaign   against  the   shameful  neglect  of   war memorials  in  the garrison  town .        

Sunday, November 18, 2018


Not yet picked up  by Townsville  media is the  fact  that  another  hotel  has  suddenly  closed  in  the  city . From info received by our  thirsty S(h)ipping Reporter, it  seems the   person leasing the  hotel , in discussions  to  buy  the   business , has  unexpectedly  shut the  doors , departed ,  staff   not   certain  about  pay.  No doubt a  reporter  will  pick  up  this  interesting story while  doing  the  milk bar  and  social  media  rounds in coming  weeks . 
Hotels  are  drying up all over Townsville. The Great Northern  Hotel  has been closed for  ages   since  an   arson attack  ; despite a  banner saying it would  reopen soon, it  has not  done so .  Across the road   from  it is the Newmarket Hotel  which  is  for  sale  or  lease ; it recently had a  pale ale  paint  job which obscured  its  attractive   art  déco   outline  and  name .  Another  local  watering hole , the Victoria Park ,   made   a  comeback  in a small  way after  a  devastating  fire.  On Magnetic Island   , the Arcadia Hotel ,  which has   been on and off  the  market for years, is once more up for sale . And recently it was reported  that   10  hotels  are  up  for  sale  in  North  Queensland .     

Saturday, November 17, 2018


Two  great  journalists and  close friends  ,  Douglas Lockwood , left ,  and  James Frederick Bowditch , seen here  outside the  Darwin Press Club, circa 1980, were among a large number of past and present  scribes  inducted  into  the Australian  Journalism   Hall  of  Fame  in  Melbourne on  November 16.   Lockwood,  a  prominent   Melbourne Herald  reporter  and  author , was  based in Darwin when it was  attacked by  Japanese  on  February 19,1942, about which  he  later  wrote  Australia's Pearl Harbour, still in print .

 He recommended  Bowditch   for  the  position  as  editor  of  the  Northern  Territory  News  in  Darwin . At the time Bowditch  was editor of the Centralian Advocate,  Alice Springs  . On taking up the editorship in Darwin  he became  a  renowned  crusading  campaigner  for  many  causes   and   individuals , hid Malay  divers  and Portuguese  sailors, backed  Aboriginal  landrights . The above photograph was  taken  when  Lockwood  was  on  a visit  back  to Darwin . 
 At  the  induction, attended by about  300 ,  were  Jim  Bowditch's   wife , Betty , and  journalist daughter , Sharon , her  husband ,  Col Allan , former editor-in- chief  of  the  New York Post ,  other  family  members.    In  a   video clip,   Kim  Lockwood , Doug's son , also a journalist and author ,  recalled  working with  "Big Jim " Bowditch  in the old  prefabricated   tin   bank  building , below,  which   became  the   leaky  NT  News. 
Recently, this  blog  recalled both journalists, Lockwood   in connection with one of his  award winning reports  about Aboriginal girl  Ruth Daylight  who had been  taken from an outback  shanty, dressed up in finery , flown  to Canberra  and  introduced to  the  Queen Mother, then  returned to  her hard  life . In his long and  distinguished career , which  included time in London ,  Douglas Lockwood  also  influenced  the  media  in  Papua New  Guinea .

The Bowditch   post  related   to  a Channel 7  report  about  the  recent royal visit to  Fraser Island , Queensland ,  which contained  footage of  Z Force  soldiers  training  there  during  WWll,  Bowditch  one of  them .  

Friday, November 16, 2018


Townsville  officialdom  pee/pea green with envy  over  Cairns hosting APEC  leaders, officials  including US  Vice  President  Mike Pence   

You could  almost hear the  gnashing  and grinding of  teeth , the screams of  dismay  by  Townsville mugwumps  as  far   away  as Yorkys Knob   over the  fact  that   powerful  overseas  leaders   attending the  APEC  conference in  Papua New  Guinea  are  staying   in   Cairns,  not  the so called  Queen City of the North .   
However , to overcome the moaning  and dismay , our  well   connected S(h)ipping Reporter, the only one north of Lake Taupo, NZ, arranged   for  some  extremely   famous  people to come to  Townsville   during  the  Port Moresby  conference   to   get  even   with  Cairns .    
 Despite  the  demands of  the  torrid   Brexit negotiations , UK  PM Theresa  May , dropped everything  and  sailed into Townsville in the borrowed royal yacht , renamed British  Chief  , above ,  for  the  morale  building  visit.  She also stunned onlookers in the nightclub precinct by giving an energetic  demonstration of Morris Dancing , draped in  the EU  flag .
Also welcomed enthusiastically  at the port   by a city  council  and  port authority  organised  cheer squad , complete with a cut out of Prince Harry in uniform ,   was  Kiwi /Australian actor   Russell Crowe, in  his  personal  luxury yacht ,  Gladiator,  a barge moored  alongside into which broken telephones were thrown  to  be recycled .   
Another  flash  port  arrival  made  the US Vice President's personal  jet  look  dull  by comparison . It was   the  bulk  carrier   Dogan , below, the name  not to be mistaken for the  fast  attack craft of  the  Turkish Navy .  It  is not clear  if the  human figures on the bow indicate VIP  shipboard  toilet facilities , the number of fishermen run down  or  the fact that  there  are  Chinese/ Russian /Australian hackers  in the  crow's nest  tuned  into the  Port Moresby  talks. 


Spotted  swimming  about the Magnetic Island  safe harbour was this  spotted  stingray  . On the same day, ferry travellers noticed  a fin  break the surface   in  the  Townsville  breakwater  in what appeared not to be a  dolphin rolling motion . Vallis photograph.

Thursday, November 15, 2018


The Queen of the  Jungle  knew   something was  amiss  when  a  stray  bird , an Olive-backed Oriole ,  she  had  taken  in  would  not come down to  be fed  in  an aviary . Normally ,  it  eagerly  flew down   at  tucker time , but  it  remained  in  a far corner and  did not respond  to the dinner gong .  Looking  about , the Queen  was  startled to see  a  snake peering  at  her  from  under a  rafter.

As the  royal person  had sustained  assorted injuries  during her  life in Germany  and  Australia , she was in no  condition   to  wrestle  with  the  serpent . She  rang  another wildlife  carer , versed  in  Mexican cooking ,    who had   only recently  recovered    from  assorted   fractures , so while she  could handle a  mess of  tacos , she was in  no  shape  to tackle  a  snake.
 Another   friend  , a " snake lady" , was  called  in  and the three amigos  then moved in  on  the  reptile :  a  nicely  marked  carpet   snake  of  about  5ft .

The said snake lady ,  who  had  once been  a barista  in a  café   named    after   Gilligan's  Island ,  with  bamboo  fittings ,  got  up  a  ladder , engaged  the  snake .  Naturally , the  snake   did not want  to  come  out  from  under the   roof . In  the  adrenalin   flowing  struggle , the   brave  snake  handler   announced  she  was  experiencing  vertigo .

Concerned onlookers wondered if  they should call  the  fire brigade  and  the  SES   for  help ,  or  join hands  and try and  catch  her  if   Newton's Law  applied  and  she  plummeted to earth  like   an over-ripe  Granny Smith   apple,  clutching  the  intruder  from  the Garden of Eden to her throat , replicating   a dramatic scene   from opera  .   Quickly  dragging  out  the Queen's  mattress   off   her  bed ,  allowing  a  prize winning ,  non-injurious   limp  fall   was   also  considered . 

 However , the  stoic  snake woman , displaying   true  British  pluck , regained her  equilibrium ,  pulled  the wriggling  snake   out  from  under the  beam , popped  it  into a   bag  ;   later   it was   released  into  the  wild . A smaller   snake  was   found  at  the  Queen's  residence  a few months ago , which makes the  palace  seem  like  a   snakepit  in  need of  a  defensive   moat to keep out invaders .  
No sooner  had this story been posted than the Queen of the Jungle rang to say come quickly  with the camera   because  another  snake had  turned up . Barely dressed ,  this blogger tottered  down to her  residence   and was  shown a  patch of  blood next to a round water container   where the  snake, below,  had been found , apparently deposited by  a Kookaburra  who had  devoured part of the reptile .
The snake, covered in ants , was  placed  in  a  frangipani tree in a residence owned by  absent Canberra  residents   for  a passing Kookaburra to finish off  and  hopefully  leave  Curlew  chicks  alone . 


Monday, November 12, 2018


The  ashes of one of the "most revered and beloved champions " of  Queensland's wildlife and natural heritage ,  Margaret  Thorsborne , AO,  are next  month likely to  be  scattered  into the  sea , between   rugged  Hinchinbrook Island   and the  Brook  Islands,   near  where  those  of  her   husband , Arthur , were  spread.

Capturing   Margaret in action  , the  above portrait ,  by  artist  Catherine Bone,  depicting her  taking  part  in  an  annual count of   Torresian Imperial Pigeons  ,  also  known as  Nutmeg  Pigeons , was  displayed  at   the  Cardwell  John Oliver  Feetham  Pioneer Memorial  Anglican  Church  service   on   October  25.
The  Thorsbornes  were  the  first to bring attention to the plight of the pigeons  that were  shot in  large numbers  at  their  breeding colony on North Brook Island . In  l965  they began annual counts of  the colony  which became  one of the world's longest running  wildlife  population surveys . Stopping illegal shooting and protecting the  coastal  forests saw the colony increase  from less than  2000 birds  in  l966  to an average of  30,000-40,000 by the end of the century .
The  story of  their  mighty  campaign   was  told in the  2015 documentary  The Coming  of  the White  Birds.

This  week , Magnetic Island  residentTania  Schuett ,  told   of her  involvement  with   the  Thorsbornes   at   their cottage ,    Galmara , above ,  in the forest  at  Meunga Creek ,   Cardwell .  She  also  produced  letters   and  cards  from  Margaret  Thorsborne  decorated  with  her  own   handpainted   drawings  of   pigeons,  newspaper  cuttings  and  a  presentation book .
A wildlife carer on the island, off  Townsville , for many  years , especially  interested   in Bush Stone Curlews, she had been given  official approval to study the life cycle of Torres Strait    Pigeons  in  specially  built   avaries  at  her residence ,  which  attracted  the  attention  of   Margaret , who spoke to her on the  phone  and  corresponded .
Three young pigeons , named Prince, Princess and  Duchess , had been transported   with   Tania  to  Galmara , Aboriginal for poet or singer of songs,   and  released in the surrounding country. On  that  occasion,Tania  had  slept in  a  small , outer  building , under a  mosquito net ; during the night she  felt  a  tickle on  an  ear  , discovered it was  a  tiny  marsupial mouse , which  came  back  for  seconds .
A large python lived in the roof of  Galmara  and used a  ladder  up against  the roof  to slide down   for a drink  from  a  water  container  put out  for one  and  all . 

At the  time of  Schuett's   visit  ,  Margaret was   deeply involved in the Save Hinchinbrook  campaign to  try and   prevent millionaire    developer  Keith   Williams , who built  Sea World on the Gold Coast and   the Hamilton Island   resort in the Whitsundays ,  described as  the last of the white shoe brigade ,  going ahead with  his Port Hinchinbrook   project . This    involved  removal  of  a large number of  mangroves  for  a marina , a canal  estate   and  a  subdivision , even  suggested it  have  its own  airport .

 Injunctions were taken out by Williams to prevent  key activists, including  Margaret,  from  venturing on  site .

Another activist , the  late  Shirley Prout , once  a member of the ALP   on Magnetic Island ,  had been  in the thick of the demos  at the site , which received much  media coverage  and  condemnation   from  Williams and others in  power  .   She  and  Margaret,  in  Galmara , often  used  to  laughingly accuse each of  being one of those  wicked  women mentioned in the media , subjecting   this  poor  millionaire  developer   to   stress  and   financial  strain , undermining  northern  development .     
An amusing  aspect  of  that  struggle was    recalled   during  the    recent  church  service. The congregation  was  told  that Margaret, patron of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland ,   and another  strong campaigner,  Kenn  Parker , late one day, to avoid detection ,  slipped  into  waist deep water   in  mangroves   at Cardwell  to  check out what  was    going  on   at  the site , she bringing up the rear . There had been  a sound like a log-a crocodile ?-  being displaced , sliding into  the water . In a slightly tremulous  voice, Margaret had   said  ,"Oh, don't think of  crocodiles -think of  butterflies !"   

Cyclone Yasi  smashed  Port  Hinchinbrook in 2011, yachts piled up on each other in the wreckage;its future  operation has   been the subject of  legal action and uncertainty  ever  since .   The cyclone also  caused havoc  at   Galmara , a large part  of  the  surrounding   forest   stripped   bare.

Ms. Schuett took part in several  organised  pigeon  counts , Margaret and Arthur  pictured above  at one of  those well organised  events  . Tania recalled  Margaret  always made  a  large fruit cake which  included  two bottles  of  rum . Condensed milk  was  also  provided  for   cuppas . 
 Several months ago this  blog  was  informed that  Margaret was  unwell and  might  not  live to  see  the next annual   count of  nesting  pigeons  which  converge on  North Queensland   from  far and  wide , including  Papua  New Guinea  and  the Aru  Islands .  After  experiencing  palliative care,  she returned to  her  Cardwell retirement   village  , where she  died, aged  91, on  October  16, without   recording  the   flash  of  her   beloved  white  birds .

In an  incredibly insensitive act ,  the  Queensland   government announced plans to  allow   tourist   facilities  to be built    to cater  for   the eco-walk , the Thorsborne Trail , named  after  Arthur, on    Hinchinbrook Island , an act  which  would  appal   the couple .   Mourners at  the  church  service  for  Margaret  staged   a   strong   protest  outside  against   the   proposal  .

During the service Swing Low, Sweet Chariot ,  by  the Afro-American   singer  and  civil  rights activist ,  Paul Robeson , was  played. Over the  years  Margaret  expressed  admiration  for  him ,  mentioned he had   sung to   workers  on the  Sydney  Opera  House  construction   site .   

A special   event   will  be held in the  Hall of Prayer , Townsville ,   on  November   30   for  the  many  people in this area  who  were  unable  to attend the  Cardwell  service  for  Margaret  
UPCOMING :  Hinchinbrook  and  Bill Clinton  /  Wildlife and conservation   warriors / Poets  and  poems .