Thursday, October 31, 2019


A great moment in Northern Territory  rugby league  history- the  l984  grand final win by  Brothers - was  recently   relived   in Darwin   at  a  special  function .  During the  evening  a  Cinemascope-like video, nearly as big and  exciting as the  epic  movie  Ben Hur  ,  made  for the  event , attended  by  several footie   warriors   from  interstate , was  screened . The captain of the winning team  35 years ago , Dave Smith, now  an innovative local  manufacturer,  prepared  to  even  build   space  ships , was   present . We have it on good advice  that he seriously discussed the possibility of  fabricating  a flying saucer  for a North  Queensland tourist  resort .

During  production  of  the  stunning  video, in Townsville,  the  wheels unexpectedly  fell off  the racing  chariots  ,  the exciting   saga  disappeared  from  the  screen in a  cloud of  dust and Italian exclamations .  Hollywood type  producer  Peter  Simon ll, turned grey , frantically  bribed  the  computer  through a  loudhailer  to   spit out  the  footage , which  it  did , partly.
Back in  Darwin last week  , a few  days before the  major  event , the  sweaty   Mango  Madness  Season evident , he  toiled  away on the  production  with  help  from  a  beret  wearing  technician  recently back  from  Paris .

Eureka !!! Between them they kicked a last  minute  winning goal  for the Saturday evening  screening . Phew !!!

Somebody who would have liked to have    attended  the  reunion  was   the late  journalist  Keith  Willey, who worked on the Northern Territory News . He had    been  a  member of   the  first Brothers team, as was this writer,   back in the late l950s  and  early  l960s  .  Keith , who  had been a  great  swimmer , loved  rugby  league so much that  he  got a  visiting hypnotist  to  work on  him  in a bid to be turned  into  a better  player .

A session took part in the old Tin Bank   newspaper  office  , Keith aware  of   distracting outside  noise  and   people  talking while the hypnotist   intoned his  messaged  to  go out , run  like a rabbit , score like mad .  While Keith did not become a  super  player after the session , he  did go on to be a champion  writer of  the  sport   in  Sydney  at The  Sun  newspaper .  

 In his book , Ghosts of the Big  Country , Keith pointed out  rugby league  was played  during the torrid summer months in Darwin  when  it was  hoped  the  wet season rains would soften the  oval, which was usually rock-hard.
A doctor  estimated that each player lost a stone in weight  during play  due to the heat and humidity . He even suggested each player   drink  four large bottles of beer   afterwards to replace  essential juices. A well known player who collapsed   from dehydration was carted off  to hospital and  he was described as being like a person brought  in  from the Sahara .  
Coach of the  first Brothers  side was  Jack Loth, from Brisbane ,    who ran the  Hotel Darwin public bar. Another early  Brothers player  , Frank Geddes, became  secretary of the  NT Rugby League . 
During  a visit back to  Darwin  , Keith Willey and  Geddes  , close friends,  discussed the  progress of  rugby league   in Darwin , including the now  soft , watered  turf . They agreed it would be a pleasure  to be tackled  on such a surface , unlike  the  bone jarring past .    

Discussing  former  members of   Brothers, Willey said  a  bizarre fate  had  claimed the life of  one-time captain coach,George Killen, a former  first grade  player  from the north of England , killed   while fighting  as a mercenary in the Congo .
 On the spur of the moment , he had left  Darwin ,  and went to Africa where he joined   the " White Giants", led by Major "Mad"  Mike Hoare  , and was killed six weeks after he  arrived  in  a  fight    with rebel tribesmen .  Geddes   had  bought  Hoare's book ,  Mercenary ,   and  showed  him the reference   to his death .  Hoare  had  himself   read  the  burial service              

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


A prominent  Darwin resident has been  attacked by a  plump  duck . He is agronomist  Robert Wesley-Smith   who is sporting a swollen big toe  after  the duck  unexpectedly  dropped  in out of  the blue . The   duck was  well and truly frozen, way past its  use by date , when it fell out of his  fridge onto his  foot .  As he described the  incident , being  77,  when you are  attacked  by a  rock hard Woolies  duck , it  is hard to  jump  out  of  the way .
As stated earlier, the  quacker  had  been  in  the   fridge  a long time , possibly one of  two that  waddled  down   Noah's Ark   gangplank  after  the  big Wet . 

Wes  bled  like  the proverbial  stuck   pig  and could not  wear  a  throng afterwards  . He quaintly  refers to  thongs , which he mainly wears , as  Japanese boots.   As  a  result , he was  barefooted  when  he went   shopping   and a woman  asked  him  why  he   was  unshod, with an odd looking toe  .

 On  being informed, apart  from  giggling , the  woman  said  she had  eaten  two of the ducks and found there  was   very  little meat  on  them .  Wes  got revenge  by  cooking  the  duck and  found  it  had  lots of  meat - the luck of the  fall/draw .  It  is  hard to understand  why  a  duck would  attack Wes as  the billabong  on  his  rural property , known as Lake Wesley,  attracts  a lot of  waterfowl ,  including  Whistling  Ducks .    

Meanwhile ,  he will  flash  his foot   before  a medically qualified   quack  next week .

While loitering outside  a  Howard Springs  medical centre  , Wes    came across  an old friend , Peter  Pan  Quee  , who   about  1963  had presented a departing member of  the  Animal Industry  and Agriculture Branch   with a shotgun , its barrel  bent  backwards .

 During his  time in the job , the departing officer had been chased several times by a  wild  buffalo-obviously not Mick Dundee . The  bent  barrel on the shotgun would have enabled him to  shoot  a  chasing   buff   while  on  the  run .
Wes recently arrived on  Magnetic Island.  During his  low flying visit  he expressed  concern  about   the  plight of  Curlews , inspected  an eagle's nest at Alma Bay , admired  Wallabies  in  Presto Park  and  its   artistic  dome  of  birds  made  from  defrosted stainless  steel , some bent and corroding  in the process,  none of  which  fortunately  fell  on  his  dancing gear .


Vallis photographs.

Monday, October 28, 2019


 Another item  of  interest in the  Douglas Stewart   Fine  Books , Melbourne ,   latest  acquisitions   is   the  above .   Little Darwin  has  had  a long interest in  Menpes  since  coming across  mention  of   him  in items bought at an Adelaide deceased estate house  contents   auction which included   a  book of  his  which  had  been presented  to  the  father  of  a  nurse   who  had  served  in  WWl , her husband a  Northern Territory policeman.  Menpes   had covered  the  Boer War  in  South Africa .

The Melbourne offering  is a  two page  manuscript in ink on  an embossed letterhead  bearing  Menpes'  London  Chelsea  address , 25 Cadogan Gardens , a  famous  residence decorated  in  the  Japanese  style .     

Menpes  had a close at times stormy  relationship with controversial  American artist   James McNeil  Whistler ,with the famous mother ,  became extremely popular  in London after   painting   views of  Japan  in  1887 .  He imported Asian artists to  convert   his residence into a showcase , the subject of many write ups, the Peacock Room  especially .
A prolific   artist , he produced  a  series of  Great Masters and  in  1911   he   donated  38  of them to the Australian government as part of a national  collection.   
In 2014  the  Art Gallery of South Australia held the above  exhibition , The World of  Mortimer Menpes .  Painter, Etcher, Raconteur.  


During the fateful year of  1939 when the world exploded,  a  young  , popular painter , Noel Wood, said to have been inspired by his lonely Robinson Crusoe -like existence  on  Bedarra Island , in the  Great  Barrier Reef , held an exhibition of his tropical landscapes in Melbourne for a  fortnight. His  pictures , a reviewer  wrote,  seemed to express  much  of  the feeling of  tropical Australia , were strong and vital .

An oil of  his  featuring  vegetation on  nearby Dunk Island was   included  in the  Australian Art Annual  1939,edited by Sydney Ure Smith,  a  copy of which made its way into the  Queensland Parliamentary Library , then  into the Little Darwin  pile . 

 Born at Strathalbyn , South Australia, in l912 , Noel Wood studied  under  prominent art teacher Marie Tuck ,who had studied under  Julian Ashton   and , in Paris, under Rupert  Bunny . His  paternal grandfather, Thomas Percy Wood ,1855-1937 , had  been an accomplished  water colourist  in  India .    

An elder brother , Rex, also a painter  and   graphic artist, studied art in  London , went to Portugal .  
In 1933   Noel   married  Eleanor Weld Skipper ,whom he had met at   art school in Adelaide , the wedding ceremony performed by his father, an Anglican minister . After spending two years on Kangaroo Island , off South Australia , they are said to have  set out  in  a T-model Ford in 1936  to find  their  own  island .

Passing through Townsville, they eventually bought  15 acres on Bedarra Island , 40 minutes  by launch from Mission Beach , where they built their own house, established a tropical garden, claimed to have used  early permaculture .  His  wife  and two daughters were evacuated  during  l940.

Apart  from travelling to  London and  painting   there  , in  France   and  Italy  , often doing portraits ,  in the  l950s he was invited to  America  as an  assistant art  director in  Hollywood , before returning to the island .  At times he taught art   in Cairns and Tully, where  he died in  2001 , aged   89.   

Sunday, October 27, 2019


Dog standing guard on beached  catamaran  at  Horsehoe Bay. Vallis  snaps . 

Saturday, October 26, 2019


From the interesting files of the  Magnetic  Island  Museum comes  this  1920s crisp   photograph   of  the "New   Nirvana"  , part of  the island's  Mandalay  resort ,   taken by   William   Joseph  Bundock  Laurie , of  Townsville's  Federal  Studio.
The well dressed  people in  the photo are Ian Cameron  MacDiarmid , manager  of the Commercial Bank ,Townsville,holding  a sahib style  white pith helmet , to his left, Mrs  Jamieson ,with  insect netting  hanging from  her hat,  and another woman who could  be Anstie , hard  to tell   from  handwriting , also appears to be wearing   protective  head gear .

Information on the back of the    snap, pinned  at   four corners to the mount ,  says the front hut  is  the  bedroom and bathroom, while the  rear  one  contains the living room and  kitchenette .
In l923  a newspaper  report  said the Federal Studio premises in  Flinders Street, opposite the  post office and the new Commonwealth  Bank  which was being built ,  was  a  major  drawcard , its   window   and vestibule   display  attracting   many  lookers.

Apart from photographs  of local individuals,  business groups , babies   and a  wide variety of  regional   attractions ,  there were large  prints of   early  Townsville  when  Flinders Street  looked like a bush road  and  mainly  consisted of  humpies.

A much travelled and experienced  photographer, Laurie had been one of the first in the city  to employ electricity to  light the premises and  drive equipment .

Because  of   electricity , people  were often seen at the front of the studio- day and  night-  "conning the artistically arranged  window   display. " Apart   from facilities to take  individual  portraits, there was a  large gallery  which could  supply  a cathedral background  for  up to  60 people  in wedding  photos .

There was  a touch up room , a  wide variety of  mountings on offer, and a printing press which could  run off  1000  copies  from one negative  in a few hours . Postcards were  also produced along with oil paintings .
Laurie , who had  taken over the studio from Augustus B. Clinton (any relation to Bill ?) , listed  as a travelling  photographer  back in l881, had  even  captured  " a bird's eye  view " of  the Townsville area   from  an  aeroplane.

Modern cameras included one operated by electricity , believed to be  the second of its kind in  Australia. James Cook University  has an album of Laurie   negatives  from  the  studio .

Friday, October 25, 2019


Unique  paint brush holder in the garden  at  the Vonnie Van Bremmel  Fine Art Studios , Magnetic Island.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


The Royal Society for the Protection of Curlews (RSPC) is  furious about the way one of   these noble birds is being displayed in   the   Townsville   CBD . The battered  Curlew  painting  ,seen below , it says , looks as if  it his been hit in the beak with a shot from an  elephant  gun  fired  by the notorious white hunter ,  Jungle  Jim .  
Furthermore, the Curlew  is situated outside  a McDonald's , giving  the terrible impression   that   they  are   plucked and  sold inside  ,  parts dipped in batter , like KFC,  a  most undesirable  image   for  North Queensland , causing   the  tourist  industry to  dive . 
The Curlew organisation's chief  spokesman , Tom  Tit , said  Townsville's    city council should be   taken out  and  used as  clay pigeon  target shooting practice  at the rifle range , with its imported new  Israeli pop ups ,  pelted with Magpie pecked  over-ripe Bowen mangoes ,  for allowing   the  Curlew to be portrayed in such  a  rundown fashion, in an inappropriate  position  near  a  junk  food  outlet . 
 It offended all bird lovers to see  a  wonderful , threatened  Australian  bird  in such a mutilated  state."What is up with Townsville ?" Tit  asked , in an exclusive interview  ." It not only neglects war memorials , can't get  its  public clocks to work properly , allows  Billy Bombax    to  be  completely   defaced  ,  and  nobody  gives  a   stuff ?" 
Tit  shocked this blogger  by saying  he suspected   that many of the vessels in the  large Ghost  Fleet which passes  in and out of Townsville  without the media  noticing  were   actually  operated  by  ruthless gangs of  Aussie  bird  smugglers supplying Asian markets . 

The failure of the local media to pick up  the  Curlew disgrace , along with all the other issues seemed to indicate it had   joined the  cute  Little Whimbrels  migrating to  Siberia  and   got   lost  along  the way. 
Tit  said  he  had  advised  the  Queen that  she  should   withdraw  the royal assent   for Townsville to be called the  Queen City of the North  because of the way the Curlew  has been  treated , situated as it is on   the  new birdbrained   bus hub route .    


The  death  of  Australian  journalist   Steve  Dunleavy  in  New York  this year brought  back  memories  of   the  time  when  we both  worked on competing  Sydney  tabloids   in  the   l950s ,  he  for  the  Daily Mirror , I   The  Sun . 
By Peter  Simon
The  front  page  report of  his  demise in  The  Australian of  June 26  said he was an American legend .   Steve, below,  was  a  swashbuckling   legend  long before  he went to  USA  , partly  because  of   a  particular story  he  wrote .
 While in the Daily Mirror   night  police  rounds   car, he responded to  a police radio message  about  a  reported  peeping   tom . Arriving at the residence , it was  discovered  that  a  young  female artist  had been   painting   at  an  easel when  she  noticed  a  bug-eyed man  peering  through   the  window  at  her .
 She  had  bravely  chased after the man.  Steve  took one look at  the  artist's smock  she was wearing  and  came to the conclusion she was , as the saying goes, with   child   . He wrote a  a story  about  a  pregnant woman, which she was not ,  chasing a  peeping  tom . Her  shocked  parents   in  the  country  saw  the  story,  demanded  an explanation from  their  daughter , an   abject apology was  run  in  the  paper .

If you made a  blooper  in print  , said something  stupid  or  had  a   peculiarity, you could be certain that  your  journo  confreres  not only spread the word , but raised it  severa  times  within  your  hearing .

 An  example of  this involved    an   accident  which   had  taken  place  on a man's birthday . The  Mirror    got  the birthday  angle , but not The Sun . Some time later  a  car was  crushed up against a wall by a goods  train  and  a  reporter  from  the  Sun got to the scene , spoke  to the unfortunate  trapped  driver, asked  if  it was  his  birthday.

Though rivals ,   reporters   from   the  dailies   mixed  socially , gathering  at   floating card games , weekend parties , the Taiping CafĂ©   in  the  Haymarket , in Kings Cross  cafes ,where  the "witch", artist Rosaleen Norton flew through , pubs ,  even the Norwegian Seamen's Mission  at Mosman .  Steve often   popped  up  at  these  soirees .

Strange as it may seem , Luna Park , just for  fun , was  popular with  young journos , especially on Friday  and Saturday nights .  Why?  One reason  was that  nurses tended   to  gather  there ;  a skilled hoopla   player, I    won  a  plaster  Collie  dog  for  a  nurse  at  Luna Park .  The  Mirror police rounds  car with   Dunleavy  aboard  sometimes   parked   near  Luna  Park .

 At  a  party  I  attended    in  a  Bondi  penthouse ,  rented by  some of  Dunleavy's mates ,  if  I  remember  correctly,  somebody enjoyed  himself   belting   golfballs   along   the   waterfront  , no doubt to  the annoyance of  car owners  and  others  in  the  morning .

On another  night , at a  sleazy  nearby joint ,  a  rough  looking  guy bustled  into the toilet area , took the top off the cistern , and  colourfully   complained   somebody  had  stolen a  gun  he  had  hidden  in  there .      

At a  farewell  party  in  a Randwick  Military  Hall   for  a journalist   about  to  leave  Sydney and  take up an  early  television  job  in  Canada  , Steve  turned up  with  two  girls .
As fate would have it , I   happened  to   witness  part of   a  painful event  at The Sun   involving   Steve's father ,  a   photographer, also  named Steve .  He  whipped  the  zipper up quickly  in the  toilet   and  caught  his  foreskin .  Another  photograph who  came to his  aid  added to the  pain by  giving the  zipper  a  few hefty yanks , without  setting the  member   free.

The word  spread quickly   about Steve  senior's  predicament  , with increasing   laughter ,  in the   nearby  general reporters  room . Down from the  top floor came   the staff  nurse. Said to have been an  ex-Army nursing sister , she   wore  the  military  uniform   and   starched veil ,  armed  with  cutting  implements . 
 Steve Junior   became one of a flock of  Australian  reporters attracted   to  Hong  Kong where  he  became   associated  with a  nightclub , almost acting as a bouncer .  Journalists who  provided  me with information about  his  colourful  Honkers  period  included  veterans   Peter   Blake   and   Roger  East, both also legends .

Blake  was  employed  on the Hong  Kong  Star , a  real blood and  guts  publication. Steve, both  agreed , was a  sharp dressing   Hong Kong  heart  throb in those days  . The nightclub  was a  wild    place   in which a Serviceman  died mysteriously and   a  quantity of  gold  disappeared  on  the premises.
Dunleavy  went to  America  where he became a national   sensation  covering the  Son of Sam murders , a psychopath who indiscriminately  shot  people , often  couples  in  lovers lanes  . The murderer  even  addressed  a  letter    to   Dunleavy . Dunleavy used  the  Sydney  tabloid  newspaper    foot  in  the door  approach  to  obtain  dramatic   interviews    during the   hunt for the killer  . Dunleavy also visited  the Boston  Strangler in  prison .  

His fame as a hard hitting television  reporter  was such that he   became known as Mr Blood and Guts , went on to inspire a movie .

In  the   l970s  I flew   down from  Darwin   to Sydney to see my ailing father   and while there  was  invited to a party  at  the  Coogee   residence   of   Terry Blake   of  the King Cross Whisper  .  Terry had used his share of the  streams of  gold  which flowed into Whisper  enterprises  to buy a   sportscar  , which he crashed , and  original   Australian  art ,  which  decorated  the  walls  of  the  apartment .

Guests of  honour were  none other  than    Steve Dunleavy  and his  wife , Yvonne .  She  had  ghostwritten   the   memoir   of     Xaviera Hollander  , The Happy Hooker , who  ran  New York's  high  class  brothel , which sold like hot cakes , translated into  umpteen languages ,  turned into a film .

Steve , as usual, highly animated,   nattily  attired , looked  very  sharp  and  healthy . He was asked   how  he  managed  to  look so   fit   despite his obvious hectic life in the US of A.  With  gusto ,  causing   an  outburst of  surprised  laughter , he  extended his  tongue  , raised   an arm ,  and went through the  motion  of  injecting  a  needle , saying   it   was  done  daily .

In recent  years , I was informed  that  Steve used a gopher  to  regularly  drive  to  a  bar  in  Florida   where  he  was  greeted  by  admiring  fans .       

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


The reason for the grubby appearance of this young  bird is not  apparent , although it  appears to  have dirt on  its beak ;  feather staining  looks  like oil . It is fairly tame and  had been  stealing  the  Curlew food , no  discolouring of plumage noticed on those occasions . A watch was kept  to see  if  it  came  back  so that it could  be given  a  quick  hose down . Days later,  two kookaburras , both  clean , turned up   and  caused our  resident  Curlews  to  protest  loudly , charging at  the  interlopers ,  as   they  eat  young birds, their latest  chick  having  disappeared  after  a  few  days .   

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


While this blog was going  through the  Queen of the Jungle's wildlife  photo album   to decide  what  we  should next run  in the  series  , she  rang  up  and in a  croaky voice   said  she now has a  large snake in the roof .  What ?  A brilliant   tree snake  , which  suddenly appeared on the back veranda , slithered  across the  aviary in which  the   possum lives, and  disappeared up a small  hole  over the laundry , into the roof  .  Because of  this lodger ,  she was   somewhat  apprehensive  about  showering  at   night  in  case the  snake  drops in  .

Due to this strange  development , it was decided  to run  some of her  impressive   snake photographs  from  the past  showing  a  tree snake  devouring a green tree   frog   and  the  serpent  stretched   out , chasing  the  morsel .

The snake now residing in the Queen's roof  is about the same size as  the one above . Readers will recall the caring  Germanic Queen recently provided  a photograph of  a rare  black  faced  Curlew  which  had  turned up  at  her  residence   seeking   tucker , R and R .



Across the nation , vast numbers of sagacious elderly  men are regularly told  to  sit on  uncomfortable  wooden  benches   near major   food  outlets  while their wives do the shopping .  While sitting there , like an obedient   canine , you can have  some interesting    conversations  . If  your  hearing is  okay , you may also  eavesdrop  on   others  swapping   fascinating   stories  and opinions  about   a  wide range of  subjects , such  as   politics , death ,  crime .

This  wallowing  blogger  well  remembers  a  conversation he had  with  another  elderly gent  in a  major  northern shopping centre. Guided to the bench  ,  the  fellow raised  the  then  2016 US  election  that was in  full flight .
His  prediction  of  the  outcome was  grim : If Trump won , there would be  war with China ; if Hillary Clinton  was  victorious, there   would  be   war  with Russia .  Take  your  pick .
Revealing an interesting  earlier life, the man  said he had worked  for a  Dutch airline , had a Russian  wife, and  had  experience  with   Chinese. Chinese ,  subjected   to  pressure ,  he declared, tended  to "suddenly explode. "
As Trump subsequently  won   the election  with the help of the  Russians , indicating the  Russkies   did  not  like  Clinton ,  and   Donald  started   the  trade war  against   China  , we  are  indeed   living  in  interesting  times  . They can also be humorous . At one shopping centre   a   man  caused   grins all round  when  heard  tell  a regular old friend  he and his wife   had inquired  about  buying a grave  plot , but checked to make sure it  was  not in  an  area  known  to  flood .         

Monday, October 21, 2019



CANBERRA : Highly ambitious and  one of the noisiest creatures in the   Brer Rabbit  briar patch ,   Ned  Chomper , above,  is  tipped  to  become  the new  National Party   Pest of  the Year . He does, however , face  stiff  competition  in  pub  wrestling  elimination  brawls   in   Wagga Wagga ,  Whoop Whoop , New England (after  Brexit ) , according to award winning  political reporter Argus Tuft .  
 Chomper  is known to avidly  support  the   federal  government's recently    announced  deceptively named    drought  proofing  scheme which will, God willing , turn  Never  Never  Land  into  a  veritable  Garden  of  Eden . 
  However, dehydrated  landholders, outback towns,primary producers  suffering   from  bushfires , duststorms ,  lack  of  rain, ruthless banks , lousy   farmgate  prices  can  only  see  a  mess of   giant   grasshoppers  continuing to  chomp  through   the   countryside  in  Marboro Man   hats  , chirping   we  love  yuz  all , especially  at  election  time .   


It was a grim  multiple murder   scene . In  an archive  bin were the corpses of  beloved books  which  had  been  riddled  by  borers  and   bookworms . Attempts to save them by putting them in deep freeze , sealing them in airless bags   and spraying  had  failed to stop the merciless onslaught . As  a  result , the tattered , broken and soiled volumes  had been  placed in the plastic bin, deposited in the  dark  shed to further decompose .  It  was  sadly  rediscovered  when the shed was  cleaned out , in a fashion, as  part of  the council pre Wet  clearance , the contents  emptied  .
 One of the  books , Drifting  Wreckage ,  bought at an Adelaide garage sale  years ago, had  once  belonged to  Clem Hawke  ,  a clergyman ,  father of  Bob   Hawke.

Sunday, October 20, 2019


Celebrity  nuptial   exclusive.

According to an unconfirmed tip , from a very reliable source , a  former  well known  Top  End activist  who strongly campaigned  against  uranium mining   was  recently  married  in  Queensland  .

In Darwin  he went under the name  of  Stuart Highway, the Territory's main north- south road . Stuart Highway used to run an information stall at the Nightcliff   markets   handing out  and selling   pamphlets and magazines  on a  wide range of  major issues , local  and international , freedom for  East Timor one , women  locked  up  in American prisons for  possession of drugs .

 Years ago he expressed  admiration  for a feisty  Townsville punk rocker  known as  Ruth Rebel  who penned  poems  about  struggle street , skinhead bullies  and  injustices which  were  sold   in cheap  photocopy form and  run  in  several  fringe  zines . She also took part  in the Townsville community radio station .   


The cool cat  gesturing at the  rear  of  this  ferry has a known extensive ASIO file , yet Australia's much vaunted  border  security  system  failed  to stop him   slipping  in and out of Queensland waters  ,  no    alarm bells  rang , no  naval gunboat  steamed  out  to  intercept .
He is the well known  Darwin agronomist, inventor, whistleblower ,willing  receiver of  documents and   photographs  which  fall from the back of  vehicles,  occasional  musician , a former ALP candidate,   one of  the few  people in the world  who actually came face to  face with the  mythical  creature known as the  Mandorah  Monster, able  to bestow  knighthoods  on  freedom  fighters ,  decorated  brave activist, civil libertarian ,  Robert  Wesley-Smith , aged 77, but  still  climbing  up  ladders after feral  Dragonfruit .

Mind you , there was  a dramatic occasion, more than 40 years ago ,  when he was  arrested at gunpoint  with others in  Darwin Harbour  aboard  a  vessel  intent on running medicine to  East Timor  during its  long and bloody struggle  with  Indonesia . He  appeared in court on federal government trumped up charges , including gunrunning  based on  a  rusty  old shotgun  aboard ship, beat the rap .

Wes, as he is known to many nationally and overseas , spent an action packed  day on Magnetic Island, off Townsville , during which   he recalled having  obtained  his ASIO file , a whole  300 pages ,  much  redacted , at a cost of  50cents a  page . Of course ,  this  was years ago , his  ASIO   file  is  now probably as  big  as  the  Encyclopedia  Britannica. Last December , at an official function , he delivered  a stirring speech outside Government House,Darwin,marking the centenary of the l918 Rebellion which saw workers  and others picket the residence of the  unpopular  Scottish Administrator  of the  NT, Dr Gilruth , and eventually  force  him  to  leave  on  a  gunboat.

Wearing a  pith helmet  at the time  , armed with a walking stick , Wes told the gathering Australia needed   more  rebellions .This  utterance   must  surely have been entered in  his  ASIO  file .  During his short island stay , he spoke of many things , including the  need to  finish writing  his epic on East Timor, his  involvement with the crusading editor of the  Northern Territory News , the late Jim Bowditch , on issues  such as the Gurindjis  of Wave Hill , the Vietnam War .

 Recalling the  occasion when  he  and  his younger twin brothers  had received the Order of Timor  for their long support , he smiled when  he  said the investiture  had taken place in the very office  the Australian government had bugged in Dili . Wes had driven to Townsville   from NSW after attending  Martin's funeral, recently covered in this blog,  came across to the island by ferry . 

Touching on a local subject, he said Martin and Peter   had used their talents to pay tribute to indigenous landrights  activist,  Eddie Koiki Mabo,a gardener at Townsville's James Cook University ,whose  High Court challenge had  overturned Australia's   terra nullius  doctrine. Wes said  Mabo's grave had been  desecrated by mindless  vandals who painted swastikas   on his tombstone ; his bas-relief portrait had also been removed .The outrage had resulted in him being reburied on Murray Island  in  the Torres Strait .
Which way Darwin? 
As Wes  boarded the ferry to return to the mainland to  resume his long drive back to Darwin  via  Borroloola  , we warned the skipper that he was probably on an Interpol wanted list , but he was not  immediately clapped in  irons . Wes responded  by  telling the  captain  that   he should  read  this  strange  blog  which  ,while called  Little Darwin , runs  a lot  of  stories about  the  island  and   nearby .

Saturday, October 19, 2019


A  regurgitated  and  slightly updated  piece of  golden prose from   the  early days/daze of  Little Darwin during  a  torrid  Mango Madness  season .
A leading  member of  the  British aristocracy, above , social writer and key Brexit  advisor to Boris  Johnson,   is coming to Darwin  to  try  and find  her    missing   son . She is Lady  Addle  , a descendent  of  a long line of   inbred   village idiots.  Her missing son, Nigel  Addle  lll ,  fled  to the colonies after  he  had a fling with  a  milkmaid on  the leafy  ancestoral  estate. He flung the  contents of  a  milk pail  over  the maid   and she  grabbed a  broad sword from the  castle  wall  and  chased  him , threatening  to cut of  his knickerbockers. 

The Addle  family has a  proud   history of  cowardice  since  1066 ,  and young  Nigel was no exception when  confronted by  Betsy, the comely milkmaid. He fled to London with a local  conman  ,  Dick Whittington,  and  then  caught  a   clipper  for  Orstralia. 

Since then, Lady Addle  has  only received  one alarming, short   letter   from her runaway son , sent  from  Darwin .  It  read :  Dear  Mumsy,  It  ain’t half hot  here .  Gainfully employed  sellings dolls eyes and mothballs .  Next  month I will  help  colonial  cobber, Guy Fawkes, blow  up the  Northern Territory  Legislative Assembly. Your Infectious son,  Nigel   Addle lll.

Lady  Addle  had a  touch of the  vapours when she  read that  her wayward son  is  suffering from  something infectious ,  hoping it is not  a  reportable  social disease picked up on  a  windjammer   dunny  seat. 

She  and  her   daughter , Mopsy,  will be arriving in Darwin  next week to search for  young  Nigel who bears  a  striking resemblance to  a member of  the  National  Party .