Wednesday, July 31, 2019


An  outstanding  story  in  the latest  edition  of   Progenitor , journal of  the  Genealogical Society of the  Northern Territory (GSNT )  ,  is about   "Larry  Brunette " ,  a  former  head  stockman  at  the  Brunette   Downs  cattle  station  , who   was  a  woman  .

GSNT  received an email  from  the Central  Australian Aboriginal Congress  in Alice Springs seeking  information   to help  locate  the grave   of  Larry (Warramungu) McDougal, also known as  Larry Brunette .  At  first, it was  thought that " Larry" must have  been  a  male ,  but it was  soon established  otherwise .  The  extensive research , including  listening to a recorded interview with the son of  a  previous  owner  of  the    station ,  once owned by  the American  King Ranch Pastoral Company , soon    discovered   she  was  an "amazing   person" . After  ceasing as  the "head stockman ", she had  been  deeply  involved  in the  day to  day running  of  the  station .  

Progenitor  tells  how  the search for her grave  involved  talking to a  elderly stockman, Tony Green ,   who had lived on Brunette  Downs for   about 75 years . He had  been born  just after Larry   died . Other people, from the Tiwi  Islands ,    with  the same photograph of  her ,   had  come  looking  for  her  grave   in  recent  years . 
The    above   photograph  of   a  grave  with  shells  and  stones from the Tiwi Islands  is believed to be  that of  Larry Brunette. The  article   said Larry's  children had been "removed"  about  1915  and sent to Cherbourg , Queensland ; in the  l930s , more children  had been removed and sent to Darwin  and  the Tiwi  Islands . 

 The unusual Larry Brunette  story brings to mind   the  song, The Drover's Boy ,  by public servant ,  singer, songman ,  Ted  Egan , a former Administrator of the   Northern Territory .  A     book  of   the  same name  he wrote   was  set in the l920s when  it was  illegal for  Caucasians and  Aboriginals  to marry , an  Aboriginal" wife"  often   passed  off  as  a  drover's boy . 

Egan  was quoted as saying he hoped the day  would come when the enormous contribution   to the Australian pastoral industry by Aboriginal women  would be recognised and honoured.  Furthermore, he  tried    to  make a  film  about  The Drover's Boy in 1995  but it   failed to gain enough  financial support  after preliminary  shooting   and   had  to  be  abandoned .    


Our Shipping Reporter  once facetiously  said  Noah's Ark could sail into  Townsville and  the local media would not notice.  Sailing about  Townsville  of   late , unnoticed   by the Press gang,   have been keen   representatives   of   Sea Shepherd, the  international organisation which has  long   been   protecting  the  world's   oceans  and  marine life , manually   removing  rubbish  from  the city's beaches  .  Last Sunday , Sea Shepherd   had   a  stall on Magnetic Island  at the Horseshoe Bay Market , below, and  members removed   rubbish  from  the  beach .  Again  no  mention by  the  mainland media .
 Whale watching  trips   have been going on off  Townsville recently . Sea Shepherd, of course , took  on  the  Japanese   over   whaling  in Antarctica .
 Sea Shepherd's Australian campaigns  include  Operation Reef Defence designed to protect the   Great Barrier Reef    from the  Adani Carmichael  coal mine  , the proposed rail link  and port  which it says will  be one of the world's largest  mines  and will severely put at risk the reef and a liveable  climate .  Under its  Marine  Debris Campaign   Sea Shepherd  organises  beach and waterway  clean ups  all over  Australia . In two years  volunteers  have removed more than two million pieces of marine  debris , 80  per cent plastic . 
Sea Shepherd is also working to  highlight  the  destructive shark  netting programs  of Queensland , New South Wales and  Western  Australia   which  each year entrap and kill whales , dolphins, turtles  and other endangered species .

Tuesday, July 30, 2019


Postcard from First Fleet
From the Little Darwin nautical  file comes  this shot of the 1911 brigantine  Eye of the Wind   while  taking part   in  the First Fleet  re-enactment voyage   from  England    to  Sydney   in 1988 .  The postcard  was  sent   from a  doctor   as  the  boat , with brown sails , not white as shown in  the photo,   was  alongside at Twofold Bay , Eden , New South Wales.

 The  vessel   had  rescued  a  Sydney to Hobart   yacht   which had been  hit by lightning  when  returning to Sydney  and  was  stranded at sea for three days . The fleet was  re- assembling   at  Twofold Bay  for  the  home run  via  Jervis  Bay  and  Botany  Bay .  A  night had been spent sheltering from a gale in  Oberon Bay on Wilson's promontory .  The  fleet had been  visited by trawlers , helicopters, sharks, seals, whales  and  dolphins .  


Now known as  The Village, this is the demountable accommodation  township  for  those  displaced by the  fire  at James Cook University, Townsville .  As there is already a place  on the outer fringe of Townsville known  as  The Village   and  the  Townsville  casino goes under the name  Ville ,  things  start to get a bit confusing for Uber drivers .  Anyway, the local media has  not yet caught onto the fact there  is a new  suburb  in  the city  housing  more  than  100  students.


LONDON:  UK Prime Minister  Boris Johnson  has   promised to  import  rejected  Australian   bananas  when  he  pulls out  of  the EU.    This  has prompted a  move  by financially  bent   North Queensland  banana  growers to  erect statues to Boofheaded  Boris  in  places like Tully and Ingham, depicting him  as  King  Twisty  Banana .
In its  brilliant series on waste , the  Australian Broadcasting Commission  revealed that a  large part of the North  Queensland banana  crop  goes straight  to the  dump because  Woolworths and Coles  won't  accept   fruit which they regard  as  being  too  bendy, too big .
While banana growers are dancing in the streets  following   Johnson's royal  banana  edict , Canberra    has   got  itself  in  a  twist . It seems   the Morrison  government has plans to give  people struggling on Newstart  and  Barnaby Joyce   packs of  reject  bananas  in  Operation  Let  Them  Eat  Bananacake . 

Monday, July 29, 2019


Included in the Margaret  Vine  Collection of  ephemera  at Special Collections, James Cook University , Townsville , are several items  related  to painter, illustrator Keith  Looby ,  awarded  the   l984  Archibald Prize  for  his portrait  of  comedian  Max Gillies .

The  above graphic , from a Brisbane  gallery, is for  Looby's distinctive   Black and White  History of  Australia series, he having already done  a pen and ink  history of the  world. The   first  portfolio  of six etchings in the Australian series   included  Macathur's Sheep, Massacre of Tasmanians , an Aboriginal  Family.  A second portfolio offered Kelly, Kelly Hung, Eureka Stockade, Justice, Sportingmen's Club  and  Heidelberg .   

Born Sydney in l940, Looby ,  l5 ,  attended the  East Sydney Technical College, fancied cartooning,  took off overseas , spent   several  years in Italy and London , displayed an elaborate  drawing  at the Royal Academy in  1960.
From 1972-74  he was  on an Australian National University  Creative  Arts Fellowship and  won the Sulman Prize in l974;  named Canberra Artist of the Year  l992.
A quick Google search provided an unexpected early view of  Looby in his studio  made by a Sydney  firm  that  constructed  cabanas ,  garden sheds . 
Historian Humphrey McQueen wrote Suburbs of the Sacred about Looby for Penguin Books in l988.

Sunday, July 28, 2019


Part  of  the  Ghost Fleet , this vessel    flew in and out of  Townsville without any attention from  local media stuffed owls . Photo  supplied  by our  trigger happy  Shipping  Reporter. 


Art   Researcher's  Eclectic  Collection

The late Margaret Vine , of Magnetic  Island , shown in a magazine article  chatting with Australian artist  Sir Russell Drysdale , at a  Brisbane   exhibition , passed   on  to   Special Collections   at  James Cook University , Townsville , part of   her   extensive   art  library. Her interests  included  architecture , clothing ,  jewellery ,  pottery , Persian carpets ,   editing , wildlife, conservation .

Her  donation to  the university   included   three   boxes   of  unique  art  ephemera  containing  art catalogues of Australian  art  galleries , invitations   to exhibitions , newsletters , single  sheet  illustrations  .
By Peter Simon
  Come along  for a  quick, offbeat   tour  of  the  fascinating  contents. An exhibition  catalogue  which particularly  grabbed my attention was  one  by Marie McMahon, inspired by the birds  and vegetation in the region of the  Rum Jungle uranium  mine in the Northern Territory . It was  shown at  the  Australian  Girls Own Gallery , Canberra , in  l994.  The gallery , known as  aGOG , was owned and operated  by former National Gallery of Australia curator  Helen Maxwell  to combat  bias against women  artists ; at times it handled work of  male artists .   
It tells how Prime Minister Robert Menzies  in opening the  uranium mine  in 1954   said it brought  Australia into the "Atomic Age".  Upon its closure  it left  30 kilometres of  the  East Finniss River  dead ,  pollutants  said to be discharged for  300  years. McMahon's   early life  was on  defence  bases in Australia , including  Darwin ,with time in the Philippines.  Her artwork involved social, political  and environmental themes. She   lived  at   Batchelor , the  town constructed  to  serve   Rum   Jungle.  Conflict in Indochina and  Cambodia  reflected  in   later  works .    
Flip open  a card and  there is a dramatic  invite to an exhibition which  modern  day   farmers, under great economic  pressures ,  drought , massive flooding in parts ,  would  appreciate . 
 It is contained in  three  folders   specifically covering exhibitions by  the legendary art  dealer  and gallery proprietor   Ray  Hughes   of    Brisbane and Sydney   with  whom she had a close  association along  with  other prominent  people in the  art world  . 

Ray Hughes , above , enjoying life; below, an invitation to his gallery in the form of playing card  for an exhibition by Alan Bourne in  l977. Hughes started his  first gallery in  Brisbane in 1969  at the age of  21 ,  with just   $500 , later opened  another gallery in  Sydney , promoted an early interest in Papua New Guinea , New Zealand and contemporary Chinese art ( which included visiting China) ,    died  age  72.     Other  invites of his  took  the shape of specially designed, illustrated   postcards, a  packet of  tobacco  for sculptor , artist and print makere Tony Coleing , renowned for satirical and cutting  edge works.  
There was  a Clifton Pugh  wombat  hanging on the  wall of  Ms. Vine's  island home .  In  the boxes  of  ephemera   at   James Cook University  is  the following   Melbourne  University  Gallery  catalogue  for   Pugh's portraits  with a stern looking  depiction  of   himself  on  the  cover .

Involved in conservation  issues    from  the l950s,  Pugh  wrote  Death of a  Wombat in 1972  ; aligned himself  with the Australian Labor Party , influenced  the Whitlam Government's support for the arts  and  painted   politicians ,   Gough Whitlam ,Tom Uren , Clyde Cameron , Don Dunstan  , all of the ALP,  and  Country Party   leader , John " Blackjack" McEwen . 
Cover  for exhibition  by  Wendy Stavrianos  which compared the vegetation of  Darwin and   New South Wales.

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay .

Saturday, July 27, 2019


North  Queensland's Sculpture Festival, Townsville  
Wooden Deity , by Daniel Popper, inspired by Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist imagery , has  glowing aura at night . 

With backdrop of Magnetic Island , Hand in the Sand , by Karl Meyer, clutches at  drifting cloud.

Frere Jacques  heard  played  on   honky-tonk   Pink Piano .
Spiral of Life  by Melisa  Carey , Sydney.


Another American warship with an interesting service record -USS Ashland, above -docked  in Townsville  , a garrison town ,  after  the  huge  combined  Exercise  Talisman Sabre 19 ,  without the local  media following up with a visit aboard .  Described as  an island  class  dock  landing   ship, based in Japan ,  it has seen action against  terrorists off  Somalia as part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower   Task Force  ; in 2010 it was  shot at by pirates   way  off  Djibouti  , two men captured in that  action  later charged  and convicted ( 30 years and life )  in  an American  court , the  first  time   piracy counts  had  been  heard   in  150 years ; helped  out  after  typhoons  and   rescued  American  women   adrift  at  sea .
Naturally , our Shipping Reporter cast  his eye and lens over the visiting warship. He made the observation   American allies  , intent   on a bit of  R. and R. (Rest and  Resusciation ),  may have thought they had   arrived in a  Banana Republic   when  they spotted  yellow  buses  running about  on the   wharf  displaying  the  name,   CALYPSO. 
Hey, Buddy , is this Ostralia  or  Jamaica ?  
Our Shipping Reporter says there  could   have been a major feature article/s  covering  Townsville's part in the   exercise, both from the military  involvement and  supplying  the  Americans   with  a   wide  range of items, including  mail . 


CANBERRA : There are  growing reports here  that former  Prime Minister  Tony Abbott  has  fallen on tough times since  he lost his seat  of Warringah at the last  election .  According to award winning   political  reporter , Argus Tuft , Abbott , who became a cartoon character  because he got about his   electorate in  a  pair of sagging  budgie smugglers , will  soon become a  celebrity topless  waiter  in a  North Queensland  wine  bar  named  Smugglers  , its  emblem  a  Tory coloured  budgerigar.
The bar is under construction at Nelly Bay, Magnetic Island, described as   Townsville's  Jewel  in the  Crown .   Due to  a  touch  of  the   sun   because he was  such a  beach  bum ,   Prime Minister  Abbott  once knighted   the Queen's  escort, so an island with a  part royal name  would appeal .   Flexing his  hairy torso  in a  wine bar  might  cause  many drinkers to sign the Salvation Army  pledge.  A message  attached to the above sign says  the  Budgies are slowly smuggling  in  supplies in readiness for a  right  royal opening    


Shipping Reporter exclusive
One of the  works in   the superb   Townsville Strand Ephemera 2019 , North Queensland's Sculpture Festival , is the above gleaming white   Sweet Barrier  Reef , made   from sugar, sugar paste , vegetable  gum , polystyrene foam and timber  by  Ken and  Julia Yonetani .  

To the many young children strolling along The Strand with their  parents it no doubt  looks like a sandpit , so  they  rush forward and hop on  the delicate   object , despite a   sign : THIS  ARTWORK  FRAGILE  DO  NOT  TOUCH .  

When the waterfront roundsman was  admiring   and discussing the  sculpture  with  an alert  attendant , several   children  had to be hauled away . There appeared to be little  hand and  footprints in  the  surface  . With the display running until  August  4 , Sweet Barrier Reef could be  reduced to  pulverised  sugar  crystals .
Like a Crown of Thorns attack on the reef  , signs of  little feet  and hands on the  sugar. The work was made in response to the  devastating coral bleaching  events  as a result of  climate change, river run off , dredging and over fishing . A version of it was  exhibited in the 2009 Venice  Biennale .
In this  display, Coral Bleaching , by Leela  Chakravarti  and Edward O'Brien , the   pots represent  dead  coral .


The above  photographic oddity , obtained  from  a Brisbane old wares shop  about 25 years ago  , carried the caption : Man Friday, Cooktown , D. S. Ogg , Toowoomba . 
 The  new, much larger  footprint , bigger than that of  a Yowie , recently went up on  a  Magnetic Island fence  at  Nelly Bay . Not only can you get  good tucker there , the  proprietors can provide  you with  information on the care  and  protection  of  the  island's wildlife.

Thursday, July 25, 2019


Mad , mad  naval manoeuvres in Coral Sea

Camouflaged  so that it is not  detected by the local media  and  Chinese baby formula  pirates  ,    HMAS  Canberra , part of Townsville's Ghost Fleet, tied up  after  the joint  naval operation  in the Coral Sea,   which was   shadowed by  a Chinese spy ship .  The spy vessel has since disappeared , thought to have sunk  under   a  cargo   of  Australian baby food .  A cargo  cult  reporter is likely to  say the Townsville   economy  has boomed due to the fact that big spending  Australian  sailors were able to navigate the  narrow channel  into the  port , dock   and  paint  the town  .
Meanwhile , our Shipping Reporter,   the only one  north of  Long Bay, Sydney , says   navy divers   disguised  as  Krakens   from  Shaun Micallef's   Mad as Hell  ABC  TV  show   have  joined the Canberra  and will  search the  spy ship  site   in the hope  of  salvaging   crates of weak  Chinese   beer and  soggy  spring rolls   . Our exclusive photo shows   a  diver in a  Kraken  suit    discussing  the  lucrative   salvage   op with a  high ranking   officer who has  popped out  from    top  secret  talks in a cupboard  . Our  post on  this  event  will probably result in an  AFP  raid and a  thorough  examination   of  a drawer full  of   mouldy  jocks  with  the  aid  of   gas  masks .    

Monday, July 22, 2019


Shipping Reporter resumes  attack on  media , civic authorities over neglect  of   war  memorials in  garrison  town  . 

The latest inspection of the Victory in the Pacific  Fountain in the Railway Oval , a short distance from the Townsville  Bulletin and  WIN Television   , revealed  the continuing  neglect of the   feature , at the start of  Townsville's Civic Pride  Trail ???? It  and   the surrounding   walkway had been bombarded with  fruit, dead  sticks   from the   nearby  tree   for more than  a week  . In addition , it  appeared to be   leaking   in  several places , there was  a  branch  in the bottom chamber and a few pieces of plastic . 

 At the nearby old railway ticket office , a  little known  gem ,    with a  World War  l  railway  roll of  honour  , it  needed  a  sweep.
Down at the   Anzac Memorial  Park  , the  Shipping Reporter said it was good to  see the  above fountain marking the centenary of  Queensland   breaking away from New South Wales  was  finally ejaculating  , having been out of action  for a long time , without the  media noticing .   The water was  a bit soupy and there were bits of palm  tree  floating about . At the  nearby   Battle  of  the  Coral   Sea    memorial leaves were again building up.
Our grumpy   waterfront scribe  says it is desirable  for reporters  to  get out of  the office , walk about the CBD ,  shopping centres , stroll along the  foreshore , look  at  the Ghost Fleet in  port , ask  obvious questions  to get the   feel   of  the  city  and  stumble  across   stories  , see obvious signs of small businesses  struggling   to  exist .  
The Shipping Reporter  was  irked by a Townsville Bulletin report about  the need to   widen the  port channel    to allow  bigger vessels to  enter  when it  referred to an American  warship   anchored  off  Magnetic Island .  What  ship ?  When ?   Surely  it has  a  name , or  was  it part of the Ghost Fleet  which passes in  and out of Townville  without  the  media's steam  driven radar  and news gathering  system  picking  it  up on the  busted  Kardashian  screen . 
There was  an interesting  American  guided missile destroyer  in port recently , the USS McCampbell , which the local media  failed to  notice . Our vigilant  Shipping Reporter , however, turned  in  a  piece  on  the  vessel which patrols in support  and  security of  the  Indo-Pacific   region .     


Titanic trading conditions across the nation

A coffee addicted researcher attached to this blog recently hurried  along to  a Jamaica Blue  outlet in Townsville  keen to get her  birthday  cake and  freebie  cup of  coffee under  the  customer loyalty  card system . Alas , when  she   fronting  up  to  Jamaica  Blue,   in the   Castletown   shopping centre ,  it  was  no  longer operating , a sign saying that  due to unforeseen  circumstances it  had  closed.

Next day , the  Townsville Bulletin  had  a short item  about a  popular  coffee  shop ,Jamaica Blue ,  serving  James Cook University ,  suddenly   closing . No mention of the one at  Castletown , no mention  of  the   one at  Stockland .  No  doubt  local  reporters  will  get  an explanation why   the  closures ,  the  situation  of   the  staff  , might even  do a  wider  story about  other   cafes   closing their  doors  , two recently  in the nightclub precinct,  that  have  gone  unreported .
In Townsville and    other  regional centres  throughout  Australia  shop   closures  have  been   thick and  fast,  indicative of    tough  times .

A  visitor   from  the  Gold  Coast last week commented   the   Townsville CBD  presented  a  sad   sight   with   so many  empty shops up for sale  or lease . The city seemed livelier    37 years   ago, he declared . He did  agree that it is symptomatic  of  CBDs  throughout   the nation   due  to    people  shopping on line ,  supermarkets   moving    further  out  with  free parking ,   tight   economic   conditions   and   mounting  overheard   costs  for shopkeepers .  

 A Townsville  resident who visited Mackay recently said its  CBD  was  depressingly flat , more so  than  that  of  Townsville . 
There was an informative ABC  Radio National    BBC  documentary  a few months ago   dealing with the  struggle  of old  shopping  centres  all  over the world  to   survive.  It cited instances  where  civic  authorities and  governments  had  pumped  large amounts   of money into   them  with  varying  degrees  of  success .  
In  the Northern Territory capital of  Darwin   the   former   busy   CBD  is a shadow of its former self . A    troubled  hotel , a former Commonwealth   Bank , which survived the bombing of Darwin , trading as  Rorke's , got into trouble   closed  for  a  time ,   has  just  changed  hands .
 The nearby Vic Hotel, the part stone building above , opposite The Star Theatre ,  once a busy  centre of activity, has  been  closed for  ages.  A Melbourne  journalist , with   fond memories of The Vic  , recently   back  in Darwin ,  said it was  a  sorry sight to see the popular watering hole  shut  up . Another  Darwin   cafĂ©   has  just   pulled  down   the   shutters .  
 A good news   story  from Darwin is that the  popular  Cool Spot   at Fannie Bay has reopened after  extensive refurbishment . It was a regular rendezvous for  businessmen, journalists ,  photographers ,   entrepreneurial     firemen  ,  gardening   gurus  . As  a matter of fact ,  this blog received   an unexpected  telephone call  from   customers   in   the   new shiny  Cool Spot   singing its praises .          

While there are  many empty  shops in  greater  Darwin, there  are plans for an 18  storey  multi purpose  apartment block in Daly Street   with  a boutique style pub, restaurant , gymnasium, gaming room   and children's play area .  

Sunday, July 21, 2019


Making a fly by  of  the helicopter  landing  pad  on Magnetic Island  is a Swallow , a tiny black figure almost in the centre of the  photograph . Our twitterpated roaming  photographer- Vallis -turned in a series of arty snaps based on  the    dramatic  location  from  which  medical  evacuations  are  made .  


Shipping Reporter  showing  symptoms
Our waterfront  roundsman is demanding  danger money after he  spotted   the above tattered   flag   on a  vessel  in  the Magnetic Island Marina  indicating  a  state of  quarantine  aboard  , possibly  deadly   infectious  Yellow Fever .
His  inspection of the  suspect  vessel was followed  soon after by a  close encounter  with  a  Yellow-bellied   Back Snake  at  Horseshoe  Bay .  As it is a harmless  kind of  a  tree snake , the  chicken hearted  Shipping  Reporter 's danger money claim  has  been rejected  by  blog  HQ.   

Saturday, July 20, 2019


Vallis series.