Sunday, June 30, 2019


When peripatetic photographer Abra  issues an invitation  to meet  you off the ferry on a sunny Sunday morn   and  go for  a  tour of Townsville,  you  need  your  walking  gear.  Up early, she had already been  for a  walk along the waterfront . Our  magical mystery  tour  took  in the  CBD , this blogger pausing for a much needed  rejuvenating   tumeric  sample  along the way  ,  the   beachfront   and   an    impressive  art  gallery .
With little traffic about , snaps were  taken  of  interesting buildings, shipping , memorials  to  a  Catalina  which  crashed  during  WWll  and  Cyclone  Yasi . 
Near the  rockpool  is  a  platform  which offers a soothing  panorama   of sea, azure  blue sky  and  rock formation , outriggers  and  kayaks nearby .

An  unexpected   detour  to the Drill  Hill  Gallery produced an  array of interesting items  including  a dramatic  creature which would  surely have  inspired Alfred Hitchcock,a giant Blue Wanderer butterfly made  from bits and pieces   that included  the  innards of  a  piano .
Sculpted  by Sue Tilley , $5500.
During our tour  Abra  received  an  email from  France  and   updates  on  a  rowing   regatta  in  Rockhampton  at  which Townsville girls were   doing well so we  were  being  kept  up  to  speed  on  many fronts .


Vital   information requested  after epic  outback drive

The  heading , above ,  on  an  Adelaide  newspaper   article written  circa  l920s   about  a  car  trip across  Australia   by  adventurer  Francis  Birtles  (1881-1941), photographer, filmmaker, first man to drive  from  England  to   Melbourne in  l928 in a Bean car , dubbed  The Sundowner .    Birtles   also   blazed long distance  bicycle trips  around   Australia.
It was  written  by  journalist , historian and  staunch anti-communist   Malcolm  Henry  Ellis , whose family ,  hit by the  1890s depression , experienced  tough times  in outback Queensland .  Politically   active ,  Ellis     attacked  the  ALP  for  its  anti conscription stance  in  WWl  and   in  1917  ran the  National  Party Senate  campaign  in  Queensland .
The   lengthy   newspaper  feature, from the Little Darwin cluttered  files ,    contains  interesting  content about  the Northern Territory. One surprising   part related  to  keen  Chinese interest  in   what  could be regarded as  a  state of origin  football  match between  Queensland  and  New South Wales  long before  the  series  became   reality .
After travelling   through  1200 miles of bush ,  the  Birtles   group   reached  Emungalan , terminus of  the  early NT  railway,  a short distance  from Katherine, where bridge workers were "cheerfully on strike ".
While Birtles and his engineer went looking for benzine  at the  railway station,  Ellis surveyed  the town, which reminded him of   the Queensland railway town of   Dajarra, "only not so white". There were rows of square fronted iron shops with  plenty of breathing space  and  goats  in  between .

Each shop bore  "good old  British signs " such as  Wong  Foo Ling, tailor and green grocer; Chop Suey Lau, butcher and  ironmonger . On entering one of the " palaces", he was greeted by a  Chinese woman who declared she was  Australian , as was her  husband,who demanded to  know  if  Queensland had beaten  New South  Wales  at  football  a  month before .

Not having seen a newspaper  during that month  due to  the  overland   drive, Ellis  could not  inform  the man   who  surprisingly  presented him with his  business card , neatly  printed  in  English  and  Chinese .

The  shopkeeper opined that when the results of the match were known he was sure  Sydney  would have " licked the socks " of the northerners. Ellis  wrote that  he  had  warmed to the shopkeeper  as "a brother white Australian",seemingly  because he  was  interested in football .

Further north,at Pine Creek , described as a decadent edition of Emungalan ,one of the Chinese shops had a chalked sign: "Yes,we have no bananas ."   

Saturday, June 29, 2019


From France, one of this blog's   roaming  correspondents who  hails  from  what can  be  the steamy   Northern Territory   capital,  Darwin , sent a report   about the present  atrocious weather   over   there .  In Nice , which  boasts  it  is  nice ,  believe it or not ,it was about  to   stage  an  Iron Man competition , in which   friends of our  correspondent were   competing . Because of  the  heat, the course had  been   reduced   in  size .   Our  Darwin  reporter  said  the  conditions, with associated air  pollution ,  reminded  him of the  build up  to the wet season in the Top End  known as the  Mango Madness  period .  What  is  an apt name  for an Iron Man competition held   during  global  warming  madness ? Les  French  Fries  Stupide ?   

Friday, June 28, 2019


Exotically  located  residence   yields   mixed   bag
It  warms the cockles of the  heart to  start  a   weekend  with  a  good   garage  sale like that  at the front of  the above  abode  with a panoramic  view of  sand , sea, yachts  and mangroves.  Nestled  right  next  to  the water  at  high tide,  it  displayed   items   of   interest .

 First up , paintings  of  birds   on  wood , plus a landscape and seascape  attracted  attention , the work of   the   late   Mrs W.   Mitchell  , born  early  l920s ,  who , during  WWll , in  the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force  (WAAAF), stationed  in  Townsville,   painted   bombers.  Her  husband  was wounded  in  New  Guinea  on   the  Kokoda  Trail .

She  had  a  large studio   over  the  years  ,  an  outlet  included  the early  Gold Coast  tourist  resort , Thunderbird  Park .   Bark  and   semi  precious  stones  were  used   in  her  productive  output .  An  award was  won for  her rendering of  Mount  Warning  .

It is  hoped to provide further  biographical information about Ms. Mitchell  in  the near  future . Would be nice to track down any  examples or details of the   artwork she  did on  the  bombers  in  Townsville, in which there were many American aircraft ... perhaps  an  avenging  Kookaburra?  
 At  the  garage sale  were   books  on  Australian  artists,  primitive  art  and  a   large  volume on South  Pacific exploration ,Australian birds-especially paintings of  parrots  and  cockatoos  by  Neville  W.  Cayley.

 It was impossible to  resist the   waterlogged  print by  maritime illustrator   A. Chidley   of   the  four- masted , steel hulled barque ,  Garthpool , built   at Dundee , Scotland , in 1891, originally named  Jutepolis , for  the  jute  trade , which ended being  wrecked  in  the Cape Verde Islands   on  a  l929  voyage  from  Hull  to  Adelaide , South Australia . An  Italian  terracotta  garden   pot  bought at   the  sale guaranteed smooth  sailing  on  the domestic front .   

Thursday, June 27, 2019


Rowers from Townsville's Anglican Cathedral School   took out  three  events at the recent  Head of the Tweed   Regatta  at Murwillumbah , New South Wales , so far unreported by the local media.  Our correspondent  took  the  above shot  of  the  quad  team which  won the demanding  21km race. The  girls' eight was  also   victorious . Rowing  is   a  neglected sport  in  Townsville-cakes, hamburgers and  coffee  getting  more  attention from  the  Townsville Bulletin .More races this weekend  at  Rockhampton.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


To make sure wage slaves   got up in  time to  work in  the huge  textile mills of Britain  and  on  the London docks ,  men employed  as  Knocker  Ups  went about with  long  poles  tapping  on   windows  and doors .
These  postcards  , from a special  North Queensland collection , illustrate the important part played  by  the    Knocker Up   in Britain and  Ireland during the  early days of the  industrial  revolution , right up to the  l920s.

In  those  times  alarm clocks  were expensive and   not  reliable , so workers with unusual hours , shifts ,   needed some  way of being woken up  in time to  get to the mill or the  dock.

Using a  long  wooden pole  or  a   length of bamboo, the Knocker Up would  tap on doors and  windows  until  there was a  response from  inside  .  One  enterprising upper is said to have used  a  peashooter .  Another device used  to  wake  people was  a  "snuffer outer ", used  to  put out  street  gas lamps .

 Charles Dickens mentioned  a Knocker Up in  his novel Great Expectations .   


Expect the unexpected when the  Magnetic Island   Museum launches   an exhibition . Its latest display  includes "Evidence  Rocks ", on which there was human tissue , seized by    police during  investigations  into  the  death of  a young woman,   found  face down in  a  pool of water ,  in the early  l980s.   Charged with murder , a  man , with limited writing skills  , was acquitted  after   a  statement   he  allegedly made was ruled inadmissible because he  could   not  have  composed  it  on  his   own. The  stones were  kept  at the old  police station  , later closed , the premises   sold ,  the current  owner   doing a  major restoration of the premises , with 52 windows , intending  to possibly make  it  and   the  lock up  a   business  venture. The   latest  museum  display  covers  the  background  to   many  of  the  island's services,  including  the   police.


Adding  colour to the  Ghost Fleet which passes  through  Townsville , rarely noticed by the landlubber   media , was  the  heavy lifting cargo vessel  Poolgracht, above , and Danzigergracht  , below , both  flying  the  Netherlands flag .  No doubt  any   reporter  with  a  bit of  old  Dutch vim, vigour and  courage, a  drop of   imagination could  have  boarded  the  ships  and  come ashore with a good yarn. 
Our Shipping Reporter  also  reckons there could be   a  good story in   that  yacht  which  has been sitting on  the  bottom  of  the  Townsville  Duck  Pond    for ages .

Sunday, June 23, 2019


Breaking news coming   through  from Darwin about  offshore  7.3 earthquake in Banda  Sea  . Part of   Darwin  CBD  evacuated , buildings  cracked . Earlier  tremor then  much  stronger, longer  shake , felt as far south as Katherine .  Recorded in  parts of Western Australia , Timor Leste  capital , Dili, and in  Papua New Guinea .


The  above  informative  book , published in 1996 by the Department of  History and  Politics  at  James  Cook University,  was obtained at the recent  Heritage Day in Townsville , when there was  a Chinese   ship in  port   from a  province  which currently has a direct air link  with  the Northern Territory  capital, Darwin .
It is  explained  that  TOPSAWYERS in the book title relates  to the  days of  hand  sawing  large  logs  over a  pit  , the  man  with  the upper handle of  the  saw being in  a superior position ...derived  from  a  quote from  a  1908 Cairns Post .   It  is  therefore  a  tribute to  the Chinese .
 By Peter Simon   
 On P9 ,  Dr May   mentioned an old friend of mine  ,  Glenville  Pike, the late  journalist, author,  publisher , historian ,  artist , editor of the long gone North Australian Monthly and several other  North Queensland regional publications . 
The associate editor  of  the  North Australian Monthly , poet, journalist and  author  Jessie Litchfield  , living in Darwin  ,  also  financed the   publication.     She met and became engaged aboard ship   to  a miner ,  bound for Darwin ,  while she was  making a    trip   from  Sydney  to  China   to   see  an   uncle and  family  living  in  Shanghai   in  1907, following  the  divorce of her parents .
On her  return to Darwin from China   , after six months ,  intending only to spend three weeks there ,  she  went ashore ,  married Valentine Litchfield , her  first  not very impressed  view  of  Darwin harbour  included    pearling luggers ,  an old Chinese  sampan , Aboriginal  dugouts  and  the Wai-hoi ,"built to the  original plans of Noah's Ark", looking like the most ancient craft ever constructed . 
With her husband, she moved about the Territory , from mine to mine , bore children  along  the  way, mixed  with Chinese ,wrote about them ,  ended  up  in Darwin where  she  became  politically active  and  ran  a  lending library .
 During my contact with Glenville Pike  in  Darwin   , beginning in the  l950s,     later  at   Mareeba , Queensland , he spoke ,  in passing , about   the Chinese  contribution  to  the  development of  North Australia, particularly their involvement in the Palmer  Goldfields  ,  Top End   railway  construction  and   agriculture . Chinese figured in his book  Frontier  Territory,which covered the early days of the  Northern Territory.
The Chinese also were mentioned from  time to time in his  long running column in the North Queensland Register . 
While telling me  how he  built up his  collection of   early  North Australia photographs, now in the Cairns Historical Society ,  I recollect  him saying he   had , or  had seen , a photograph of  Chinese junks,  sailing vessels,   off    Cairns .
 With his part Malay  second wife, a jovial  woman ,  he used to go into  Mareeba  to do  a  weekly  shop. As a special treat , she  would head to   a place  that served  Chinese  food ; Glenville   went  elsewhere  for  good  old steak and eggs, not  this  oriental  stuff .  Pike, his mother and aunty  had once run  a wayside cafĂ©   , Golden   Springs , near  Katherine , in the Northern Territory, where the truckies only ever  wanted  a  big  plate of  steak  and  googs .
I was present when the " Chinese   Gods  "  were  installed in Darwin's    Chinese  temple , it  having  been ransacked during   the war . At the  the Northern  Territory  News ,  in  the old tin bank  building  , where  I worked  from  l958 to l962,  one of the linotype operators was Timmy  Forday, with links to  the  early Chinese  community in  Cooktown  ,Queensland . He became  known as Tim the Toy Man ,  with  the Yogi Bear franchise ,  and  a  newsagency .
Richard Fong  Lim   ran the  Victoria  Hotel  and his brother Alec became the mayor  of  Darwin . From time to time , Richard went  to Hong Kong  looking for a wife. 
While fossicking in the Pine Creek  goldfield  area , I found  Chinese jars , part of  the  decorated roof  of an  old  Chinese  building  , it unfortunately  lost  after Cyclone Tracy . A  Chinese  coin  found  in  the  same area also  disappeared.

 Apart  from being deeply involved in gold and  tin mining in North Queensland, the  book details  the   huge  contribution  Chinese made to  the banana  growing  industry, some exported overseas . Chinese are shown above  loading bananas  at Innisfail in this illustration from the Cummins and  Campbell Monthly .

 They were also   sugarcane  and   corn  farms , had  vegetable gardens  which  supplied   towns . An appendix provides  brief  biographical  details which  present a  pen  picture of the  Chinese community , especially merchants,  storekeepers   and  large  farmers, some with Hong Kong  connections . 

It lists Kwong Sue-doc , a  storekeeper and herbalist who arrived in Cairns from Darwin in 1903 , renowned   for  having   four wives  and  more than 20 children .
There is an extensive tabulated  section   which analyses  press  comment on the Chinese in  the Cairns   district , setting out  the bias  and preoccupation  of newspapers,  breaking it up into 14  headings.
 Another good   read is THE CHINESE IN  THE  NORTHERN TERRITORY by Timothy G. Jones, published by the  Northern Territory University  Press, l990.  

Saturday, June 22, 2019


Our  roaming   photographer , Abra ,  sent   this  spooky shot of  Townsville's  Castle Hill , taken  while   out   on  her  usual  early morning  constitutional . At  first  glance  it  looked like  a  volcanic  eruption . At  the top of the dramatic  snap  is  a large full moon  part obscured by  cloud , with what  could be  a descending  UFO nearby, the  still  slumbering  city  unaware of pending encounters of the close  kind. Athletic Abra will soon be visiting  chilly  Melbourne  which  aptly   featured  in  the  post apocalyptic  movie  ,  On the Beach, starring Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck ,and will no  doubt send  more  disturbing  photographs.    


Ships in bottles are not unusual, but the markings on the bow of  the above vessel , tied  up  in Townsville ,   gives the impression of  a  ship-even a submarine- within  a  ship. Shipping Reporter  photographs . 

Stern view.


Mugs by late Tasmanian potter Margaret Doe (1943-2010) ,who  went to art school , became  an art teacher, toured  Europe for a year,  in 1986 did a TAFE course in ceramics and visual exploration , member of Tasmanian Potters Society ,   sold   at  Salamanca Markets, Hobart . 
 Tray signed JS , Hobart  , with another nautical scene , like  above mugs by Doe. Also  from a  Tasmanian household  is  the  mid century  Kaj Franck  design  cow  jug  , now grazing in North Queensland ,  from    Arabia , Finland , Pottery.

Friday, June 21, 2019


Shipping Reporter launches another  asdic  attack  on  slack authorities in submerged  garrison city  

A fortnight after Little Darwin exclusively revealed that the Victory in the  Pacific  fountain in the Railway Oval  was  still   being neglected , a  discarded franger  nearby, the  unsightly object , apparently poked by a  stick   at  some stage, was  still  there . And  in the bottom chamber of the  wonky fountain  was  a pamphlet with  the  message to  get  it ON ...a safe sex message  , perhaps?  
 No - a guide  to Townsville events during the month of June, sporting an ugly looking  dog , together with sticks,  leaves, a straw , etc. It is monotonous  to repeat  that  the  fountain is on Townsville's Civic Pride Trail , but  it shows repeatedly   that local  authorities  cannot  get   their   act  together and  look after  these  sites .     
On the same day , down at the Anzac Memorial Park , the fountain  commemorating   the centenary of  Queensland  breaking away from  the  convict colony of New South Wales ,which over   the weekend  had been included  in the  interesting Heritage Day event  ,  was not working ,  the  water  slimy looking  ,  a  plastic bottle   floating ,  pieces   of   nearby trees on the bottom , missing  tiles  in  places. Leaves  scatted all the way  to and around  the Battle for the Coral Sea memorial .  


 Townsvillle's  fading  stick  figure  of  a  saint  atop Castle Hill is about to be replaced  by  the latest   artificial   intelligence  device , above,  which  will accurately   predict  the weather  and  stock  market   moves six months in advance   and  the weekly   winning   lottery  numbers  for  all   residents .   The   amazing  gadget is  shown     about  to  be  secretly  unloaded  at  the  port  and   then  transported  under  armed guard  to   Castle Hill .  
Overnight , the  old saint  , hardly visible, above , on the left ,  will be erased and replaced  with  the  dazzling  white  tower , filled with  state of the art   wizardry ,  on  the  very summit . It will  emit  a  powerful rotating  beam of  light  visible  to  illegal  fishermen  as  far  away  as  Ashmore  Reef and  Planet Zog .  
Another Townsville  saint  facing the  AI  chop  is  the very faded  first Australian Catholic saint, Mary MacKillop, who overlooks a busy Townsville  road . An ungodly  local tourist  industry spokesman , who insisted he not be named for fear that he might be hit by  a  bolt of  lightning or suffer an outbreak of prickly pear ,    said  saints  are  old  hat nowadays , don't  inspire  any  modern   pilgrimages  in  North  Queensland .  The  whiz bang  new  saint on Castle Hill would  result in  a  massive  bonanza , leading  to  Townsville being renamed El Dorado .  

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Foxed catalogue   cover  for exhibition  AUSTRALIA AT WAR  1885-1919 , mounted  by  the State Library of New South Wales , April 18 ,1980   to February 1 ,1981 .
 Sudan Campaign ,1885

The assassination  of General Gordon at Khartoum  is said to have sparked off   the most amazing  outburst of  patriotism  throughout the  British colonies .Within days , after a special cabinet meeting, NSW offered  500 infantry  and two batteries of  field  artillery. A volunteer  force of  734 men  and 200 horses   was  raised , called the  First Australian Expeditionary Force  , embarked  on March 3, l885 , returning  on June 23, seeing little action .
Exhibits included   a Martini Henry socket bayonet , used in all Australian colonies  from late 1870s  to 1900  and  a list of the contingent on the back of a song  composed  to aid  the Patriotic Fund .
South African War , 1899-1902
"Not deterred by threats of imperialism  and greedy capitalism, Australians were  wildly patriotic  and scenes  of  unparalleled enthusiasm marked their  (contingent's )  departure ". The text  says they  quickly revealed  their superiority as  horsemen , their mobility in the field  and skills at  reconnaissance , earning the admiration  of  Kipling. 
There  were  "disciplinary  troubles" with the  British , and  one  would affect Australia. It involved  a  sergeant in the  2nd South  Australian Contingent , Harry  Harbord  Morant , an expert  horse breaker  and ballad  writer for  the  Sydney  Bulletin .
 Morant  became  enraged after  a fellow officer and close friend, Captain Hunt, was  shot and  shockingly mutilated  by  Boers .  Morant and some of his friends decided to shoot  Boer prisoners  in revenge . Three  were  sentenced to death by the British , but only Morant and   Lieutenant P.J. Hancock were  executed. 
The catalogue stated :  Lord Kitchener  sent a false  report to the   then very new Australian Government  about  the execution and the whole affair  was hushed up by the   British and the press... In 1910, Kitchener visited  Bathurst , Australia,  to unveil the Boer  War Memorial, refusing to perform the ceremony unless Hancock's  name was erased . Quite recently his name  has  been  re-inscribed on the memorial  and his friend , the swash-buckling  Morant  has become almost a folk hero .  
Items on display included  photographs and a sketch of  Morant  , a poem written the night before he was  executed ,  published books about  Morant , a greeting card  sent  to Australian  by  Peter John Hancock . There were lithographs of  Boer leaders,  cartoons  , accounts of various  battles in the war,   a  litho of  General S.S. Baden-Powell  at Mafeking, a souvenir silk handkerchief , To the Memory of our Dead- a poem written as an epitaph to Morant by  Will H. Ogilvie , another  Johnny Boer,  by  Banjo Paterson.  
TO COME : The First World War   part of  the  catalogue and Breaker  Morant's  North Queensland   connection.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


PARIS: It has just been confirmed   that the Hunchback of Notre Dame  has been granted  sabbatical leave  after  the devastating  fire  and  will  take up residence in  the  empty  Queen's Hotel , Townsville, North Queensland , part of which  is shown  above .

In an exclusive interview with  Little Darwin's Paris correspondentPierre  Le  Petomane ,   the  well  known  cathedral identity ,  wearing  a hearing aid  because  of   having   been exposed  to  the  cathedral's   deafening  bells  for so long   ,  still shaken   and scorched  by  the  blaze , said he is looking  forward  to  some  peace and  quiet  in  downtown  Townsville .

"I hope  there are no  noisy  church bells in  Townsville ?" the anxious  celebrity   asked  our  reporter.  He was  very much relieved when informed the only religion  in  the Queen city of the North   is   football  which does  not  require ringing  bells  to  get  the faithful  to attend   blessed  ovals . 
However, Le  Petomane warned  him the  tropical city does  have a  large number of  dingalings  who  regularly  disturb  the  peace  and get   an inordinate amount of   favourable coverage  in  the media .    
Under the influence of cognac , the hunchback becomes a   wild   patron of the   arts in Paris. As a result ,  he   has   been  barred from the front row at  the   Moulin  Rouge  along  with  troublesome artist Toulouse  Lautrec . There was  universal  outrage when he  drew a moustache on Mona Lisa at the Louvre    and  under the influence  he is  too  boisterous for  energetic   female  apache  dancers .

French gendarmes  warn no  girl having a  fling in  the Townsville  nightclub precinct  should  ask   the  hunchback  to  go Waltzing Matilda  as  they could end up  in  traction  and   plaster .
 Once he is settled into  the  Queen's Hotel he intends to  start a  Napoleon Bonaparte Syndrome  Club  for  those  in  the north with obvious  delusions of  power , a   guillotine part of  the treatment . It would also  be nice to break the  bank  at  the Ville Casino ,  like he  did  at Monte  Carlo . Also, he expressed the desire to visit the Great Barrier Reef before it  is turned into  a state  similar  to  Mururoa Atoll  which  was   used  for  French  nuclear  tests.  


ANOTHER  book showing signs of having been through the wars  is  the above   1911  volume   which  somehow got across the Little Darwin protective  moat full of saltwater crocodiles  , the  drawbridge  up  and  the rusty  portcullis  down .

It is to be expected that  in such an olde guide  to  tramping about Cornwall   there is much  mayhem  and  murder   mentioned  in  its pages ; bloody battles, fortified  castles , ruined   churches, smugglers  caves ;  the Civil War ,  encounters between  Roundheads  and  Royalists , a  warrior  more than 7ft  tall . 

A confrontation  which grabbed our  attention  involved  that  at  Basil or Trebasil, in the parish of St. Clether, long the seat of the   Trevelyans .  The Trevelyans , like  most  Cornish gentry , were cavaliers  and  a  party of   Cromwell's  Roundheads  attempted to  seize the  squire  in  his  own house . The response to  this life threatening   situation was like something out of  Blackadder   or   Monty Python .

He  warned  the Roundheads that if they   attacked  , he would send out  his  "spearmen" .  As  no such   force  could  be seen  to back up this threat, come on they did . "Whereupon , he (squire)  up  with  a  teeming  beehive  and threw it among them . Not  a  man-jack waited  for  the onslaught  of  those spearmen ."

 It must be said that right from the foreword to the book  intending  visitors could be  put off  by the  fact  times  were  tough  in Cornwall due to the  collapse in  the price  of  tin  and competition   from other  producing  countries. As a   result , many tin miners , Cousin Jacks , including  Poldark ,  had  gone overseas  and were  sending  back  money .

Nevertheless,author Catharine Amy Dawson Scott, informed  readers    Cornwall , a half smiling , half frowning land ,  was such  an enchanting  , rugged country , with  so  much to offer , it    could  attract  you  back  time  and  time again ,  and  its   people  had  "forgiven you  "  for   being   a  "foreigner ". 

Even  if a  map  showed what appeared to be a largish   town   along the way   it could  not  guarantee  there   would  be  a  tavern  offering   accommodation   for   travellers .  This  was due to the fact that  the  cheerful ,  pleasure- loving  Cornishman  was  generally  a Nonconformist   and Sabbatarian  , thinking   fewer  inns  the  better . Therefore, while a map could  indicate  a large place , it  could  materialise into  a few cottages , a lonely farmhouse , or  a  rocky gorge  with   never  an  inhabitant .    Boating and bathing  was  "unsafe" on the northern and western shores , cliff  paths  with  sinister  cavities  other   dangers.  

Monday, June 17, 2019


Part of  an  occasional Little  Darwin  series  dealing with  books , art , ephemera.


After spending   three months  travelling throughout  New Zealand in an Australian  built Holden   car , author  Frank Clune  published   the l956 book  ROAMING  ROUND   NEW ZEALAND,  which did   a   great  job  promoting  the  country.  Packed  with statistics,  photographs, distilled  history  and  colourful  observations, endpaper maps  it strongly  suggested  Australia  and  NZ  should  form  closer  economic  ties. 

Early in the  piece, he noticed   that  in Auckland  newspapers  were  sold in lolly shops , milkbars  and all sorts of  places. At some street corners  there were unattended piles of  newspapers  on  the pavement with  a  cash box and   a sign   to take one and pay .   Back  home in  Australia , " the Land of  Ned Kelly ", he wrote the customers would  souvenir   the  papers, the   cash , and  the  box  .

The extraordinary claim was made that the honour system had been  tried on Sydney's trams , but discontinued when the box  and  a  tram disappeared !This would  have confirmed the popular Kiwi  belief that Australia was   full of convicts  and  thieves .   

In  the  provincial city of Hamilton, in the North Island , he counted  12 real bookshops , not just  newsagencies , well stocked   with the latest  English, Australian and New Zealand  publications. This was an eye opener , he wrote, compared with the   average  Australian  provincial  cities  , most of which had only one or two  first grade  bookshops.

 Clune  considered  Hamilton one of the solidest  provincial cities  he  had  ever seen , a model  for some Australian cities he could mention , which could not expand  "because local bumbles are bogged down in the ideas of Grand-dad's days". 
 In the South Island, at Dunedin , which had the first university in New Zealand (1871), had the best Polynesian collection in the world , the Hocken Library with its fine collection of  books on  early  NZ  and the  South Seas ,    he browsed among the bookshops, bought some volumes , one   McNab's The Old Whaling Days .
Dunedin , he wrote, had produced  two writers of world fame , one Douglas Hume  , penned  The Mystery of  a Hansom Cab (mentioned previously in this blog ), written and published in Melbourne  in 1886, then reprinted in London  1887 ; it had become one of the   best sellers of all time , more than a quarter million copies  sold  within  a few years . 
The other was poet  Thomas Bracken , said to have been author of one of the  most quoted  poems ever written , Not Understood  , first published in a Dunedin paper . Bracken  himself  was  not understood  , not much known about his life. It was thought  "Bracken " may have been a pen name . He also wrote  the  national anthem , God Defend New Zealand , first published in Dunedin  in the l870s.
To back up the impression that New Zealand often appears to be way ahead  of Australia , one of the many interesting people Clune met in his travels was a former director of  Bank of  New Zealand   and  managing director of Dominion Breweries Ltd., Henry Joseph Kelliher , farmer, brewer, journalist and  economist ;   author of the "Kelliher Plan"  for banking  reform , he  had recently been instrumental  in having a Royal Commission appointed   to  inquire into banking, credit and currency in  NZ. 
The book was dedicated to "My Cobber"  Bill Walkley, a  New Zealander ,  who had  crossed the Tasman Sea , adopted Australia  and become managing director  of one of  its biggest companies ,  Ampol Oil  .
At a farewell dinner in Sydney  before  Clune and his wife set out to  New Zealand , Walkley, after whom the  Australian  Walkley Award  for Journalism   is  named , pointed out  NZ  had been the first country in the world to give women a vote; Lord Rutherford had split the atom  and Field Marshall Rommel had  said Kiwis were outstanding  as  shock troops .
Walkley went on to say main exports from New Zealand to Australia  were racehorses  and writers. In return , main exports   from Australia   were Melbourne Cups , other  racing  trophies ,  and  books .