Thursday, December 31, 2020


 In  the  nicest  possible  way. 

A mature  aged  member  of   the Little Darwin team , certainly no oil painting  in appearance, recently spoke to  Darwin scholar and gentleman , agronomist   Robert  Wesley -Smith , a  continual source of  interesting news   and story  ideas ,  for information  about  an inscription of  note  he had  found in  a  book  while  trying  to knock  his  untidy  volumes  into  some kind  of  order. 

During   discussion about  the book, its author  and the inscription,  which  will be  the subject  of  a  post  in  this  blog ,  Wes , above ,    mentioned  that  an  old   friend , in his 80s , who  had  led an   adventurous  life  in  New Guinea and the Territory ,  has  an   interesting   collection  of  books .  Wes  expressed  concern   about  the  future  of   the  books.

This  was  because of  the  experience Wes  had trying  to find a place  for the  8000 volume collection  of  Adelaide academic  , Harry Medlin , a commando during  WWll, his  time as  a prisoner of war  causing him to take a  great interest  in  Asia , resulting  in an extensive library .   Wes  rated  the  collection  as  bloody interesting, but could not  get any institution, including  the Northern Territory  government  , which claims Darwin is the gateway to Asia,  to  take  it.  

Wes  went on  to  say  it seemed  "only old farts " such as he himself , and  this writer , were   interested  in  books .  In   his case, Wes  is  a young 77;  this scribe is  sprinting  into  the  80s , still  reluctantly culling books, sheet music , records , photographs, ephemera . Tucked  away in  the Little  Darwin  disorderly den  is activist  Wesley-Smith's  own  Azaria   Chamberlain  file . 


Another spectacular North Queensland photograph by Aeronautical Correspondent , Abra.


Looking from The Strand, Townsville , above,  towards distant  Magnetic Island, a build up of cloud visible . The island had been bone dry before welcome  rain  started to  fall  late in  the  Christmas period.

During  heavy overnight  rain  rocks  were  washed  down on  the road to Horseshoe Bay . One  night  , the alarm  on a parked car  went off in a storm and a  nearby  power pole  started to arc. These  events caused police  and  an  Ergon gang  to turn up . 

 Power supply  has  gone on and  off  in the past few days. Croaking tree frogs during  rain  are  deafening . Cold  and wet resident  Curlews demanding  frequent  festive  season food . Flying ants and moths attracted to outside  lights  at night. 

The large piece of drifting  tree which has  been evident  for months, mentioned  by  our  beach combing  Shipping Reporter  from  time to time, was  washed shore and  seems  to  be  intent on snuggling  up  against  Nelly's groyn yet  again, below  . 

   Below: Beach erosion  is again evident  at   Nelly Bay where  not so long ago   sand  was being pushed around  in  regular  remedial work . 

MEANWHILE , the  weather outlook in Cairns .   
Abra  photograph .

Wednesday, December 30, 2020


 Royal   mail  delivers  unique  British  diary

The late  delivered   RSPCA Christmas card , above, from  relatives  in  what used to be called  the Mother Country, contained  the  following  graphic  folded   account  of  what  had  happened  to  them and their pets  this  fateful  year.  

Freezing  couple  in  Ireland , with fond memories of sunny Australia , are  thinking  of  moving  to Spain to thaw out. There the Australian husband's rare skill of turning coathangers into aeroplanes will no doubt entertain   the  locked  down  matadors , their  unemployed  bulls  and   dogs.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020



Wasting no time, days ago, Otto's  extended its empire  from  the  mainland to Nelly Bay ,  Magnetic Island- even with  a  car  sporting  an  island logo . 
Vallis photos.

Monday, December 28, 2020


 A  golden opportunity to present  a proud  new  fly- blown  image to the world after the lockdown .

To lift the spirit of the nation after all this year's dramas  and trials, including being  thumped again  by the Kiwi All Blacks  and currently being thrashed by India in  the cricket Test, we have resurrected this Peter  Burleigh    vision  for   a  brave new   Oz , a  happy  republic , girt  by  barriers . 

All  that is  required, he says, is that we first  change  the  Pommie and  convict   influence in  the  names of  the states and territories that make up  this   great  sun  and   bushfire ravaged  country .

A sensitive  soul, Burleigh  is an architect, cartoonist,illustrator , advertising guru , renowned Australian diplomat   and   a  past contributor  to  this  blog  , his  Bulldust  Diary , about a  fishing and  drinking  safari across  the  top of  Australia , a  classic .  

He clearly outlines  the courageous way  forward  for  Aussies  to  throw off  the shackles  of  the  past ,especially  2020. 

Before Australia declares itself to be a republic, there’s something more important to do and that is, rename every one of our States. "This may be a pioneering idea but before you conclude I’m a vote short of a quorum I ask you to  think about it," Burleigh wrote .

A credible republic must eliminate monarchist names like Queens Land and Victoria. Even worse are the names the Poms used when they couldn’t think of anything – South Australia, Western Australia and especially The Northern Territory. As poetic as mud. You might as well call those places "Down There", "Over There" and "Up There". If you were trying for colourlessness, and if you could spell it, you couldn’t have picked better names. (I don’t know what to say about Tasmania, although "mania" is a good start.)Canada is an independent Dominion with lots of non-Poms who speak Quebecoise– for example, "le weekend", yet they hang on to names like British Columbia, New Scotland and Northwest Territories. They were nominated for the "Best Blandness" Oscar.

 Even Holland, one of the more uninspired countries as far as names go, has a state named after Limburg cheese, and Austria is named after Australia*, at least the Americans think so. If our country really is young and free, let’s start the bottle spinning with a few suggestions : 

South Australia: Jacob’s Creek (or Tween).
Western Australia: New Broome (or Wazza).
Northern Territory: Norn Terry (or Barraland).
Queens Land: Peanutbutt (or Banananannia).
New South WalesNowhere Near Wales
TasmaniaEven Lower Down (or Maniacs).
ACTAustralian Capital Purgatory.
VictoriaBillabong Flats.

You’ll notice my suggestions aren’t flippant. I could have put in Bob Katter or Kerrie Ann. I’ve seen a W.A. numberplate which said "State of Excitement", so don’t suggest names like" State of Denial" or "Grace" or "Hysteria" – we can do better than that.

 Be proud! Call a State a State. Remember we are part of   Asia; maybe we should use Chinese names. You think of some more names while I work on the new State Emblems. The new  RepOz (Republic of Australia) will be grateful. All of us could get knighthoods.*And in Norway, "aust" means "east".


Photos by Aeronautical Correspondent, Abra .

Sunday, December 27, 2020


 Attending the 2011 pre-Christmas sittings of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly has been like a visit to Santa’s Choccywoccydoodah Cave in a cavernous departmental store - without a mob of stressed parents and screaming children in attendance . In fact, this ghost writer was the only person in  the public gallery and on  one occasion was the subject of  derisory comment  and  chuckles .

The jolly Christmas spirit literally kicked off when the Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, described the opposition CLP as gutless wonders and spineless. These festive season compliments failed to draw a reprimand from Madam Speaker, Jane Aagaard , as she seemed pre-occupied, looking at things on her throne, which from a distance seemed to be lists.

In an obvious Christmas frame of mind was Minister Kon Vatskalis, back from another trip to China where he addressed gatherings in Greco-Strine. On entering the chamber he quickly binned four pieces of paper from his desk ; then he began signing a pile of Christmas cards , ticking names off from a long mailing list. Paying no attention to the debate, Vatskalis signed each card with a flourish.

At one stage it looked as if Kon was saving the cost of a stamp and envelope when he passed a card to Marion Scrymgour, sitting behind him. She examined the card closely, smiled, passed it to Karl Hampton , who returned it to Kon . Perhaps it was some kind of new-fangled chain letter Xmas card, a boomerang ? The cards were being churned out in such large numbers that he ran out of ink, and groped around in a pouch for another pen. On the CLP side, Peter Chandler was also into the Chrissy spirit, signing cards and slipping them into envelopes.

While belting the CLP with a spikey holly branch and a stocking filled with sand , the Chief Minister used what could be regarded as an ageist expression-repeated-when he referred to prominent former CLP figures, Marshall Perron and Grant Tambling, as oldtimers . In this politically correct day and age , Santa Claus is not called an oldtimer, even though his bizarre whiskers indicate he is as old as Methuselah, or else the fungus is false- surely not ? Then, like one of those ghosts who used chimneys as a dumb waiter in a TV adaptation of a Chas. Dickens classic , the CM withdrew from vision, walking backwards out  a door.

It was then that CLP leader, Terry Mills, had the opportunity to say: Mixed nuts to you, Henderson ! The CM, he said , had been basking in the glory of  US President Obama's visit the day before. 

Yet, here in the Legislative Assembly, the next day, when  Territorians wanted a government to lead and serve them, Mills drew attention to the state of the public gallery. As stated above, I was the Lone Ranger. Stifling the urge to cartwheel along the gallery while juggling three mangoes, I beamed back like a loon, as  if the man with the NT Rent-A-Crowd franchise .

While this was going on , Vatskalis , busier than a man in a Nigerian telephone booth signing letters promising to make Aussie suckers filthy rich, was still  churning out the Chrissy cards . Mills did not mention Santa’s offsiders, the busy little elves. Instead , he scoffed at the "little hollow men, " who plotted things on the fifth floor, obviously responsible for mapping out Santa’s important NT flight plans, delivering toys to kiddies throughout this stateless part of  the nation,and somehow avoiding being breathalized.

Gazing down on those below from my lonely post, you could spot Christmas plum puddings in the making . They came in the shape of paunchy pollies. On the government side those obviously carrying weight were the CM , Karl Hampton , and Gerald McCarthy, the latter from a place which used to be called “ Siberia” - now a well- fed gulag - Tennant Creek.

On the Opposition side , Chandler took a drastic step during the year in the battle of the bulge when he had his stomach stapled and will almost certainly not come back for seconds on Christmas Day. Fong Lim flame, yummy flummery and voice thrower Dave Tollner, now on the front bench, does not require a loudhailer as a Xmas present – his interjections are loud , many and mainly meaningless. 

Tollner was reprimanded for using unparliamentary language, to wit - "A STUFF. " In all probability, he was , innocently, thinking what the NT Government would do to a large turkey when he made the comment. Like Copernicus, Tollner probably upset the Vatican by loudly proclaiming in Darwin's imitation Chevy Chase National Lampoon Christmas Vacation studio that Triton is a moon, not a planet.

A COOL YULE AND A FRANTIC FIRST. In translation, an early Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to all our Little Darwin blessed bloggers .

Saturday, December 26, 2020



The protective  Curlew in the centre of  this Christmas card drawn by artist Angie Pollock  is a  remarkable Magnetic Island  identity  responsible   for   raising  many  orphans. In 2008 , looking  forlorn , with  an  injured wing , scared of  the  world,  she  was  given   by  a  ranger  to  a  keen  wildlife  carer , Bev, from  the popular Man Friday Mexican and international cuisine cafe / restaurant , which has signs asking customers to heed the cry of the Curlew  and  watch out for  wallabies ,  who  took her  home .

 Because she  looked as if she  had been through the mill ,  scruffy, the name   Motley was bestowed upon her. She promptly  took   refuge  from   the  cruel  world  by  darting  into  a  walk  in   wardrobe .

There she  has  resided , on  and  off,  popping  out  to catch up on the world news , inspect the latest waifs .  She  has even allowed an abandoned  dog  named Wrinkles ,  also saved  by Bev , dressed up like a reindeer ( below ) over Christmas, to  come  into the wardrobe . Wrinkles  was  even invited to the Queen of the Jungle's Christmas  Day morning tea party  , treated to a saucer of diced  cheese.

 As  Bev brought home other unfortunate  Curlews , Motley's  mothering instincts came to  the fore . She treated  them  as if they were her  own . 

Mother superior  Motley held   by  Mexican mother Bev .

Eggs  abandoned  in various parts of  the island  for various  reasons , usually  due to  a  sad  event , the  death of  a  sitting bird,  received  Motley's  care , new   life  resulting. Over  the years , Motley  has  mothered  umpteen orphans , hatched  many. She even managed to  lay  eggs  herself, below . If Motley lived in  Russia ,she would undoubtedly  be awarded  the  Mother Heroine  Medal , annually. 

Bev's partner , Jason ,   also a wildlife carer and golfer, is  the  son of  the late  Max Carlos  ,  an  Australian  lightweight  boxing champion , who represented Australia  at the  l956 Melbourne Olympics . He is shown below, left, in an epic  1958  battle  with  Palm Island born  George Bracken in  Melbourne's so called  Hall of  Pain, Festival Hall .

Details of Max's boxing and business career, his wife Yvonne , currently  up from  Melbourne on  the island , and  his connection  with  Magnetic island  and the Townsville casino , were  posted  in Little Darwin . 

Motley , ever  ready for another   round  of  motherhood , knows  how it is to go  through lockdowns in a wardrobe  and  come  out  victorious . Tragically, a recently  recovered  and  released   Curlew   was  found in  the  gutter on  Boxing Day, apparently skittled by  a car , there being many vehicles on the island  during  the   holiday  period.


 Towering  Termites  and  Bowerbird Nest  

Sara  snaps taken  near  Darwin. .




Photos  by  Abra , Vallis .


 Decapitated  , her arms ripped off, the  mysterious mermaid which  suddenly appeared   in  one puzzling, complete   piece on the  rocks   at  the  entrance to Magnetic Island , months  ago ,is now being subjected to  water torture . Our alert Shipping Reporter , the only one  north  of  La Perouse, Sydney, says the tragic mermaid  appears  to  be filling internally  due to  the recent  heavy rain.  He reckons  that, unless she  has a  split in her  fibreglass tail, or her belly button pops,  she could   find herself up to  her vital statistics   in H20  .This  could lead to  her becoming a breeding ground for pesky  mosquitoes. 

She could also develop , to use a medical expression, excessive  fluid on the  Berlei , leading  to  a kind  of  embarrassing   dropsy. 

The long running , extraordinary  and  brutal  mermaid saga  has  escaped the mainland media .  Our Shipping Reporter ,who intends starting a course for journalists in  the Leap year ,  has maintained a photographic   log  on  her  since  she  arrived on the island  and  the  subsequent cruel acts of   dismemberment  and   beheading .

 On Boxing Day , during a lull in the downpour , our waterfront  reporter took the above sad   photograph  of  the  mermaid , making gurgling sounds, which attracted the attention of a friendly rock wallaby , who  might  help keep  her cold  tail  warm  at  night .  On the same day,  he snapped the  battle scarred bow of the bulk carrier   Gladiator (below) , in port , which had  also  gone  unnoticed  by  the  scribes. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020



For a real Christmas treat, Little Darwin recommends viewing  the film Kiwi Christmas , before  watching for the umpteenth time Chevy Chase in the National Lampoon Christmas Vacation special . Shown above are some of  the  Kiwi cast in the   great show  ,  which  is about  Santa, fed up with Christmas,  who runs away  and crash lands  a jet powered  sleigh in New Zealand  Waters.  It is nice to know  that  no honey bees   were  killed or  injured in the making of the  film. The   same  goes  for  Santa's   elves .   

From Melbourne , well read (including for your eyes only official documents) commentator Pete Steedman recommends  holiday  period reading  should  include the  informative piece in Crikey by Australian journalist Prue Clarke  , who has lived in the US of A for about 20 years,  entitled : How could 71 million Americans vote for a bozo? Here's what you need  to  understand.  



Photos taken  by Abra  from  Castle Hill, Townsville, looking out  to  Magnetic Island ,where our Shipping Reporter attended an open air wedding anniversary soiree  for  some  friends in  the  beaut Salt  Water restaurant , dining   on  seafood ,swapping  salty yarns , one about  a  wedding ceremony  at  Karumba ,in the  Gulf  , which was  a  doggone ripper.
Salt  Water  setting , above, where  the food, service and the solo musician/ troubadour   were  tops .

Tuesday, December 22, 2020


 Our  Shipping Reporter  is  on  the  warpath once more over the state of   the  memorial  on  which  a  giant  anchor  off   the  aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea is a stand out feature  on  the Townsville waterfront .The anchor  was presented  to Townsville by the US Navy on May 8, l992 ,the 50th anniversary of  the  Battle for the Coral Sea. The massive battle  involved  aircraft carriers of the Japanese Imperial Navy,   Allies   and   their  planes  from  May 4 to May 8 ,l942.

This blog has  reported neglect of  the memorial since  2015, pointing  out  rust  , graffiti , hard  to  read  explanatory plaques .  

This  week there was a broken glass bottle , above , under the plinth ,and what appeared to  be  re-emergence of  some  old  graffiti which had  been  painted  over.  The brass  plaques ,one detailing  shipping  activities through the Port of  Townsville in  two world wars  , are again  hard to  read , in need of attention, a   clean  of  surrounds . Not  a  good look for a military garrison   city in  which  there  was  a  large American involvement  during   WWll.



Abra series. 



Vallis photos.


 For some strange reason , the  fountain  in Townsville's Anzac Memorial Park  ,marking   Queensland  breaking away from the colonial yoke of New South  Wales , has  turned into  what  appears to be  a pop up juice  dispenser . Instead of  squirting  clear  water , it  now  sprays  what could be mistaken for a  mixture  of  thirst  quenching   tropical  drinks. We  hasten to warn  that  no  one should  drink  from  the  fountain .


Puzzled groups of people  were seen  walking about the technicolour fountain when our  Shipping Reporter went  through  on  his way to Molly  Malone's Irish Bar.

The Shipping Reporter   was  delighted to see  that  the  city's Victory in the Pacific Fountain   seemed to be working , with very little rubbish  within    However,  there  appeared to  be  a  blob  of   bat droppings  on the seat  in the nearby bus shelter .  And  a   steamy pair  of  grotty , pre-loved jocks , with  attendant  photogenic  blowfly , below ,  added  to  the  exotic  tourist attractions . There was also a discarded shirt  nearby . Not so long ago, there appeared to be a pyjama top hanging in the bus shelter, with banana peels on the seat .