Sunday, December 16, 2018


All the  best to  our readers.  We will  back in the Chinese New Year with a swag of  posts    about   books , art , ephemera  , observations , much more media content  , avian adventures  and  other  nature  notes  ,  the  looming   election . 

Meanwhile a cheeky  end of the year  post  from Townsville's  winged   warrior , The Magpie , aka  journalist    Malcolm Weatherup , whose persistent  pecks  give the Queen  city of  the North , especially its media , a  well deserved  shake up throughout  the   year .

Saturday, December 15, 2018


After  attending  another Townsville Hospital appointment  in  a bid to  enable her to  wave    without pain  to   forelock tugging   serfs  in  the  canefields   as  she drives by , the  Queen  of the  Jungle , able  to only use one  arm , managed to totter  into Woolies  and   buy some cooked  prawns, to be consumed  that  night .   Somehow, on the  way  home   to  the  royal residence on Magnetic Island , she  lost  the  prawns on the ferry . Instead of the prawns , she had to settle  for  some  German cake   shared  with  a  large black  dog  named Wrinkle.

Thursday, December 13, 2018


 Hallucinations   by   BOM-ed  out   Vallis,  on   new   medication .
Before going to bed , one of the last acts of  preparing for the cyclone  was to upturn the circular  table under the clothesline to stop it being turned into a missile . In the process  ,  a  sharp jab  was felt  on the tip of  left index  finger    from  one of  the legs. On  entering the  kitchen , this blogger   was   found to be   dripping   blood  , some  on  the floor .  Blood in the  sink  produced  the  above  strange  spectacle  of  a  caped figure ... Mr Haemoglobin sporting  a dashing gaucho's sombrero  with  attendant  goldfish.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


In preparing the Little Darwin  residence  for  the forecast wild  weather, much consideration  was  given  to  try  and   bring  down large  dead   palm fronds  dangling  above  a  substantial  Desert Rose , in the shape of a  crucifix,   to prevent it  from being  damaged .  A  hand  held   rake  could not  get high enough  to  dislodge  the  fronds . 
Out  came a  ladder, and with the  advice  of two female doctors ringing in one's ear   that  any man  over the age of   60  who climbs up a ladder  and/or  onto a roof  is  a   silly old  bugger, this  blogger  was  able to  get  to the top rung  and grab  two fronds . Tugged...down they came on top of my  head  , accompanied  by  a   platoon of  airborne , angry  green  ants.

As I was  only  clad in a pair of tattered  Bombay  Bloomers , the ants  went on the offensive  in  various  parts of  the  cranium and   wrinkled  body , up the trouser legs ,  causing  jitterbugging  and  slapping .  In  the  base of  the fronds   were  interesting   white nests in which  were   swarming  angry  ants   and what  appeared to be  much  larger   winged   Queen Bee-like  ones , about  which the  smaller ones  gathered protectively , seeming   dragging   them  back  to  the   shelter of  the   nest .   
Probably  a bit stunned , and  stupid ,  got  back on the ladder and brought    down  two more  fronds  and  hordes more  attack  ants . There is still one  pesky frond  hanging   but  it  is  too  high  to  reach .


Across a large part of  Australia , the  affect   of  reborn Cyclone Owen   is being  felt , evacuations in the Gulf country ,  wild overnight storms in Darwin , extensive   river  flood  warnings   for   Queensland ,a massive system  likely to  hug the coast  from Cairns south, the  moisture  sucked down into  Victoria  by a low . In  Townsville yesterday  evening   the sky  was pink. 
The Lull Before the  Storm
Magnetic Island views .
Our S(h)ipping Reporter  wonders how this yacht , recently swept up onto the  Townsville   breakwater , will   fare  in the  expected blow . Any attempt to remove the  yacht   to stop  it being  smashed to   pieces  at the weekend, becoming a menace to  shipping  ? Could  be  a  local   media  story ?   

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Malcolm  In  The  Middle Misses  Out
The  Festive Season  spirit was not evident  when  the  noisy Red-tailed Black Cockatoo  in the  centre  of  this  trio complained about his mates not sharing tasty Asian  almond nuts. The one on the left displayed  a  tempting  morsel-so  Malcolm attempted to grab it  , resulting in much screeching  and fluttering of  wings .
Then Malcolm  eyed off  the  other  bird's nut, but its greedy  owner  quickly turned away  and  gobbled  it  down  in  double  quick time . 

Monday, December 10, 2018


 Clusters of   toadstools are  popping  up  in  the heat and rain  in Townsville's Anzac  Memorial  Park  .



Vallis photograph.

Sunday, December 9, 2018


Miscellaneous nibbled   pages   from  the    power  and   glory  of   Frank  Hardy's books .
Seemingly unrelated  events  such as the induction into the  Journalism Hall of  Fame  of the late  crusading    Northern  Territory News editor,   Jim Bowditch ; a book bought at  an open air market in  North Queensland ;  an  attempt to salvage parts  of   a  broken  and  wormed  copy of  Frank Hardy's controversial novel , Power  Without  Glory, plus the current  French  riots , somehow,   prompted  this  article. 
By Peter Simon
Bowditch and Hardy were  deeply involved  in  the   struggle by the Territory Gurindji  to obtain  landrights , which  resulted  in the  book  at the top of the post. When  Hardy , a Communist writer ,  came to Darwin  from south he and  Bowditch would  invariably adjourn to the  Workers' Club .  The admiration  and  affection Hardy  had  for Bowditch  was  expressed  in the inscription  in   a  1980 presentation copy  of  a novel  from  the  author   to  Bowditch  .

Bowditch is referred to as  Dear dear  old Jim .  Hardy, a mad   punter , was never  very  flush with cash . At times he stayed  in the Bowditch house and  drew cartoons  for the children .  While  in  Melbourne on a   visit  , Jim called on Hardy and they adjourned   to  a  pub with a  box  of  Frank's latest   book, probably  the  one above, and  they   went about   selling   them  to  patrons to raise drinking  funds for him , salesman  Bowditch  describing  Hardy as " the  famous  author ."         
During wide ranging   discussions  I had with  Hardy over years , he  repeatedly  told me  Big  Jim Bowditch  was one of  Australia's  finest  citizens,  a great  editor   who   fought  for   humanity . During  a  session with him in Melbourne he took me  on a  tour by car  of   Collingwood   in  which was the illegal betting shop  that  inspired  his novel , Power Without  Glory , which saw him  charged and  acquitted  of  criminal defamation   of    the  wife  of   powerful  Melbourne  sports promoter , financier and  gambler ,  John  Wren .  
From an archival  bin  filled with  tragically  despoiled books ,  this week , I took Power  Without  Glory , with Hardy's riddled East Malvern   l950 author's note, in which he said the novel was  the  first in a  series  planned to give a picture  of the mainstreams of Australian life  in the 20th century .
Inspiration for the series came from Balzac's  Human Comedy . In his preface, Balzac had  described Christianity , especially Catholicism , as " a  complete  system for the repression of  the depraved tendencies  in  man , declaring he wrote under  the  light of  two eternal truths, religion  and monarchy .   
In turn , Hardy declared : I will write under the light of the fundamental historical fact of our time -that the social order of Capitalism , having served its historical purpose, is convulsively passing , to be replaced by a higher social order ,Socialism, under which  the " depraved tendencies  of men " will slowly disappear  and his unlimited  worth and  grandeur  will  be fully realised . This concept is , of course , not original to me ; it is a basic contention of Marx's Historical Materialism , a philosophy that is , as I write , under threat  of being " declared  "illegal.
Hardy added that his series would not advocate class struggle; it would recognise its existence . The first book  dealt with characters who did not  feel the terrible  weight of  the economic depression of  1929-31; the next would deal with those who did experience the  horrors  directly , the proposed theme  covering the  disintegration  of  social and human relations  in a country town  under  the impact of  the  crisis .   
A  Balzac quotation  and one of  the many chapter  illustrations. Hardy had lived in France and compared the French Socialist Party with the Australian Labor Party  , which professed to be a  social democratic party .  One of the great failures of the ALP, he said , had been its inability to educate  the electorate   , since l948, towards a socialist or working class solution to problems .  
As a result , the ALP was  reduced to trying to win  the votes of the middle class  . In France, the French Socialist Party under Mitterand   had a great victory  when he campaigned  on a platform of nationalising   many industries . This, he contended , would  be  unthinkable in Australia .

In the 1980s , I had a taped interview  with Hardy in Melbourne during which he said he was working on his latest novel, The Obsession of  Oscar Oswald ,which had started as a  40 page short story . The genesis had  actually been an episode when he  had been  writing  Power Without Glory  and he  took a  cricket bat  to try and  stop  a  bailiff   from  repossessing  his  radio .

In the worldwide  downturn of the l980s, Hardy said many Australians were   being crushed by the " debt bomb ". He was  fighting for   them  to urge  Labor  to change the " rotten "  system   which saw   people lose their  homes, cars , furniture , hounded by  police and  private armies  of  debt collectors .

Courts , he continued, were  filled with people   charged over small debt claims because of the economic downturn .   These cases  were not covered by the media  so big companies were not revealed as the heartless people they  were . It was another case of  ordinary people  paying for the collapse  of capitalism  and the media  and  politicians  looking  the  other  way .

Hardy  went  along to    courts  and at times stood up and demanded  the  plaintiff companies  be  named  so  the   firms   advertising  themselves  as  great  were revealed  in  their   heartless   true  colours .

 Out of this  had evolved   The  Obsession of  Oscar  Oswald ,published in 1983,  in which  the   narrator is an American writer    who had  come to Australia with a feisty Australian wife  who urges him to write a  powerful novel instead of commercial  crud  .  Like Hardy, he  punts on nags ,  becomes  increasingly  involved with a  lone man, Oscar Oswald ,  who  lives  across the  road  ,  a kind of  bush lawyer  , armed  with a  cricket bat , who  wages war against well known companies ,  debt  collectors , bailiffs ,  lawyers, magistrates . 

In   Australia  today ,  with   growing    mortgage stress ,  financial help advisers unable to   cope with the   demand for assistance , the  debt  bomb exploding , loan  sharks  in  action ,  sliding  real estate  values and  ruinous  power bills , it   is a  contemporary novel , a copy of  which was obtained recently on Magnetic Island , North  Queensland .      

Saturday, December 8, 2018


Welcome rain on  Magnetic Island  has brought out  thousands of flying ants , providing  festive  treats   for   birds  and  lizards .  Attracted by lights , the ants  invaded houses , fluttered  about TV screens , shops   and  made  their  presence known  in  a  mainland   radio station . 


CANBERRA: Germ warfare  experts,  the Terminator , a  platoon of soldiers armed  with  flamethrowers    and   the  Ghostbusters  are  being organised   in a desperate  bid to rid  parliament  of  its  numerous   deadly health  hazards  during the  next  three  months .  This is the real reason why  so few  sitting days will  be  held  in  the corridors of  power . 
The Thing: A real , current threat

*Sensational scoop  by   award winning  political reporter  Argus Tuft.

Examination of  a repulsive  pile of steaming  entrails in the dangerous parliament house  West Wing found  this  grotesque , rapidly expanding   alien  life  form . It is thought to  have  been  brought  back  to  Earth  from  a  secret  flight to  Mars , Pluto and up Uranus  way by  pink  battery salesman ,  Elon  Musk . 

As everybody knows , Musk  is the only astronaut  in the world  who does not require  a spacesuit  when he  goes on an intergalactic  flight in his  custom built GMH  five - stage  rocket , built  from   Holden rustbucket  leftover parts .

Apart  from the hideous  monster from outer space-The Thing-  in the parliamentary  plumbing, there are  other threats to the well-being and   sanity of   inmates , viewers  of  Question Time , coupled with the chanting of those   hate  filled  Christian   happy  clappers  who   daily clean and  sharpen  their  fangs  and  tongues   with charcoal  powder .
Rodents  Galore, Ebola, Rising Bilge and Bile
There is a  gnawing feeling  that  only Ratsack  will solve  the Coalition rodent   problem.    On top of  that , there is evidence that  a  disease   spread  by  infected monkeys is  rampant in  Tory  circles  within  and without  the  billion   dollar  building . 
PM  Scott  Morrison  regularly reports seeing vermin scurrying about   the emperor's  robing room  as he  dresses  up  to impress  the unwashed  masses.  A  nasty  looking  pest  was  captured   scurrying out of  a hole ,  on the far   right ,  when  David Rowe , of the  Australian Financial Review , captured  the PM trying  out  his wardrobe for another  bus tour  of Queensland .   ScoMo prevented himself  from  being bitten on the toe  by the infected  critter on  this occasion  by placing  one  foot  in  the   top  hat  Governor-General  Sir John Kerr  wore to the  Melbourne   Cup   and the  other  in  a  Julie  Bishop  red   Italian  slipper   with   the  steel   toecap  and  hidden  , spring activated  knife.  
David Rowe, obviously suffering   rapture of  the  deep , drew this epic .Thank  God  for  Australia's cartoonists, the ABC Insiders   and  Media Watch  , they  help  counter  the  bug-eyed , right  wing , babbling   blowflies .

Thursday, December 6, 2018


 Another S(h)ipping  Reporter  ghost  fleet  special.

 The  arrival in Townsville  of  the  cruise ship  Seabourn  Sojourn   , with 800 passengers,  the first of  five  such  vessels  to   call  this  month , provided  many  striking   angles   for   camera  and  maritime   buffs .

 While the local media   covered  the  arrival , the Townsville Bulletin write up did not  say from whence the vessel came  and where it would  head   after its short nine hour stay , many passengers  given a   "cool face washer to wipe away the North Queensland  sweat."

Not  noticed was a   bulk carrier tied  up  nearby   with  an evocative   name  -La Bamba -  bringing  back  memories  of   " The  Day   the   Music  Died "  ... the 1959 plane crash   in which,  Ritchie Valens ,    Buddy Holly  and   J. P. Richardson  died , went   unnoticed .  Mexican American   singer, songwriter  and  guitarist   Valens   made  La Bamba  a  hit in  l958.   Rock and Roll    star  Ricky Nelson ,who  died in an air crash along with his fiancĂ©e in  1985  , also  belted  out  La  Bamba  .    


With the arrival of cooler  weather on Magnetic Island  the Agile Rock Wallaby  colony near the  ferry  terminal emerged to   enjoy  the breezes and clean up after the  torrid  week   , one mother seemingly needing a shake from a sauce  bottle   to help  the tail  go  down,or else intent on  becoming a  bent  licorice  stick  player .  
Others just stood  tall like  Meerkats, alert  , enjoying the  cooler conditions 
Aerating the pouch .


In its coverage  of   the looming closure of the nationwide  menswear  chain Roger David , with the loss of seven local jobs ,  the Townsville  Bulletin    ran  a report   which included  a  photograph  of an  interstate   shopfront , not  the one in the city,  at   Stockland  , below.   
Now  the  Roger   David   shop  in Townsville  has  been stripped  naked , grabbing   the  startled  attention  of  Christmas shoppers  and  frightening   Santa's reindeers , causing  them  to  stampede . 
There  are a   thousand  untold  stories  missed  by  the   skimpily clad   local media   in  the Naked   City  and nearby  Magnetic Island , this is just one of them . Many more to come.  In another  Townsville Bulletin report   it warned  that  Townsville cyclists  using smart  phones  could be fined and  included a  photograph of a  bod on a bike merrily  riding along reading  his  smart  phone .  Several  eagle eyed  readers pointed out the offending  cyclist ran the danger of being run down by  a  TRAM , the photograph   including   tramlines , the  Queen City of the  North  not  served  by   trams .     

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Strange  stories  are emerging about  the impact  of   fires and  heatwave conditions  in  Queensland  , one of  them   involving the  above   scary  looking  Rhinoceros  Beetle  .  During the wild weather  this  blog exclusively   reported   flying foxes were regularly  invading Magnetic Island   at night .  Then bats started to  drop dead in Townsville ,  Cairns and elsewhere and  the  media   took notice .  Now , with  dead bats visible on  the  island , the massive   nightly  invasion  appears  to  have stopped .Warnings  about   catching  rabies    from     downed  fruit  bats were  issued  throughout  the state

 However,  this blog was informed  of an episode in which an  island man was  bitten on the  toe when he  used his foot   to  stop his dog from  getting at a    grounded bat .  The  story goes that the man  had already had a  needle     for something and  felt he was not in  danger of coming down with mad dog disease   . As a  result , his  friends have nicknamed  him  Batman .

Following  a sudden  storm in which  very little rain fell on the island ,  the    above black beetle  was  seen  floundering  around  in  a  bucket   under   a downpipe.  When  plucked  from    what  would  have been a watery grave ,  the  beetle epitomised  the  expression  hanging on like grim death by wrapping   itself   about   a  finger of  the  rescuer   and  would  not   let  go .
With difficulty , a photograph was taken of the beetle hanging onto the  digit, hissing  .  After   about  10minutes , a hanky was  placed over  the   hand of the rescuer    which  was   rested  in  a  basket . Another  10 minutes and the  still kicking  beetle    detached   itself .     

 Another  interesting  story  which  emerged  was  about  Cockatoos    attacking  two  Barking Owls  , also  known as Murder  Birds, which are notorious nocturnal   killers  of    Curlew  chicks .  

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


Signs  urging Magnetic Island residents   to report   any sightings of  Death Adders  are  on display , part of  a study  backed by National Geographic . Another  public notice on the island   drew attention to  a  Sea Shepherd  movie, Shark Cull , based on the controversial cull that took place in Western Australia in 2014 , still relevant   to Queensland waters  , said to be a must see   show   for  anyone interested  in protecting sharks  and marine conservation  . It was introduced   by Sea  Shepherd volunteer and Whitsunday dive operator, Tony Fontes . Seen swimming about   in the  Magnetic Island   safe harbour   of late  are  Sea Mullet  skimming  along  the surface  , one below .

Monday, December 3, 2018


The  three  stainless  steel stylised  trees , known as  The Triffids ,  after the  carnivorous  , killer  plants    in  John Wyndham's   sci-fi novel  , The  Day of the Triffids  , turned  into a  radio  series and   a    movie , are enjoying the  torrid  weather  at   James  Cook University , Townsville . Each seven metres  high , they  respond to  sun, wind and  rain ... emitting   various lights , rain  in the form of   mist  and   rattling  metallic  leaves . With  monotonous regularity , the Townsville media , when it  comes to a weather story , usually  whips down to  The  Stand  and   photographs   visiting   eye  candy    on   the   beachfront.   A  photograph of a  Triffid  in a  bikini  would  be a welcome change and  no  doubt  go viral .      


Members of the  Illiberal  Much Deformed  Church  holding  a secret  meeting inside the Strasbourg   Cathedral  and Powerhouse Museum    to   plot   the assassination of  the  PM   after the next election. The   previous  PM's    skeleton shown   listening   in   from the  catacombs  of  the Bondi  sewerage  outfall, like an  Outcast from  Foolgarah,ready to rise up  and  point the  bone  at the conspirators .  

Saturday, December 1, 2018



CANBERRA : A  veteran , key  strategist  in the  Coalition Government  has  resigned in frustration  and intends to  seek asylum in  a  New Zealand   nunnery . She is  Dorothy  Dix  who is forced to  write  brain-numbing  questions   for   government members, mainly  men , to  ask  during  Question Time  in  the  House of  Representatives.
The  day  male chauvinist pigs  flew  for  cover in both  chambers.
Ms Dix ,  kept  out of sight in  a  stuffy  cupboard in the office of  the  manager of government  business, Christopher Pyne , was  infuriated by  the PM   walking out of  the chamber  , above,  before    Dr  Kerryn Phelp  rose   to   make her maiden speech .  As a  result , Dix , a true feminist ,  blew her stack  ,  came out of  the cupboard , set  fire to  101  questions  and her bra, danced all over a papier- mache   model of an  expensive  French submarine   off   Pyne's desk  and  handed  in  her  resignation ...  Another  Argus Tuft  scoop .


From baking mudflats of Cairns  to Magnetic Island
Pelicans  , Cairns . Abra Photograph .
Galahs,Sulphur Crested Cockatoos , Magnetic  Island . Vallis.