Friday, January 31, 2020


Never stand on or smile at  a crocodile while eating an oyster, you could end up with  indigestion.
Vallis pix.


Hang out  for  swashbuckling Star  Bucks
Within  the  walls  of  this  historic  building, Mol's Coffee House ,  in  Exeter , Devon,  gathered  great  nautical  heroes  such  as  explorer and  buccaneer  Sir Francis Drake  and  Queen Elizabeth's  favourite,  Sir Walter Raleigh. The photograph  is   from  one of  the  albums of  Marjorie Congreve , described as  Australia's most bombed  out  nurse  during  WWll  in  England .

In pencil, now faint,  she wrote on the back  that  Drake is reputed to have been at the House "when the Armada came."  Mol's Coffee House was   opened in l596  by  Italian  Thomas  Mol  and  was so popular in those early days of caffeine addiction in England  that  many prominent   people  arrived on foot and by horse  for  a  hit .

Apart  from  beating the Spaniards,  Drake was the first  English seadog to  circumnavigate  the  world   between  1577  to 1580 .  

 Nurse Congreve wrote that  the Ship Inn , which   Drake had  also  frequented( and  probably did not serve coffee ) , was  nearby. Next to Mol's  was a  ruined  church .  She  had  taken  tea  at  the   Clarence  Hotel , close  by .  

Thursday, January 30, 2020


Hell-rousing Shipping Reporter Special

It seems only mad dogs and  Englishman-not members of  Townsville's  media -go  out in the noonday sun in the  CBD  . And our  tanned Shipping Reporter clearly shows that  rarely do  reporters  go  down to  the waterfront kitted out  in sou-westers  to  see  the  many interesting  vessels  in  the  Ghost Fleet   that   blow in and out.
If a  daring reporter , wearing sunnies ,  ventured down to the CBD bus hub  in  Ogden  Street,  which was opened   last year midst  great  fanfare , he would discover  something  is  cooking : like MKR,  people sitting in the seats waiting for buses  are  being  baked   by  the  sun  .
As a result,  you  often  find people standing  in the shade  at the back of the seats in  the dark, graffiti  hit  walkway .  In  designing  the   hub , it seems  not much  thought was   given  to protecting  the  public from the sun.

Bus in, sun  also  shining (catchy title for another Hemingway)  in  on seats .
A similar situation  existed   at   Stockland  some  years ago on the Elizabeth Street side  where  buses  pull  in  , the sun  shining  on  those waiting. A kind   of   trellis   with  some creepers  was   constructed  to  ease the  problem . The hub clearly needs  an added  sunshade system   and  a  regular  clean  up .  
More hot seats
The extensive graffiti on the walls  and recesses  along the walkway is off putting . Lots of cigarette butts , signs of  answering the call of  nature in the plants .


 Memo new Townsville Bulletin editor , Craig Warhurst . When you arrive next month from the  Sunshine Coast no less   , suggest you look at  the  hub/pubs and  regularly check  the city's  poorly maintained  war memorials  , especially the Victory in the Pacific  fountain , which is just a short distance from the newspaper  office.  Our Shipping Reporter  is  only too happy to give  you  a   rundown  on  these  and  other subjects in Molly Malone's Irish Pub , if you  foot the  drinks  bill  for  him and  two thirsty  leprechauns who provide him  with  frequent waterfront  news tips and  outrageous  gossip.


Shipping  Reporter  Guided Tour

At the start of  the interesting  walk through Townsville's CBD  , tourists are advised not to set their  watches by the  drunken  clocks  atop  the former   post  office  tower  as  they are  not  working .

At the  very   beginning of  the proudly proclaimed  Townsville   Civic Pride Trail , we  encounter the Victory in the Pacific fountain - part of a car hubcap  or an enemy  depth charge  in  the bottom chamber which   obviously  needs work on  the  plumbing.  In a military garrison town you would expect that the combined  authorities could better look after  war memorials  than  this , but the waterfront scribe  repeatedly points out  this  is  not  the  case.  

An  artistically  arranged empty drink container  sits on  the  top  chamber wall , the nearby  tree  so  overgrown  it  is resting on  the structure , dropping seeds into the water, which  probably  block the system's  filter. Seeds enjoyed by fig birds .

At the nearby fine old railway building , where its tower clock is also not working , the  former ticket office  with  its  railway staff  honour rollincluding WWl  , as usual , is  in need of a sweep, lots of  leaves  about , grit  .  But wait, what is that  colourful item on the  tiled  floor which looks like  cut out  paper shorts  for  an  Aussie  child  not supposed to be  living  in  poverty ?  It  seems to  be  a  Grecian  travel  garment.    


Shipping Reporter's weather forecast

Our  waterfront scribe , the only one  in North Australia , is convinced that we are in  for a  bumper  wet season , based  on   strange encounters  with   frogs .
While about to hit the sack on a wet  night  , he checked to see if  the tube of horse liniment  for his  troublesome  , musical  knees  was  on the ledge at the  back of   the bed. Reaching for the soothing  tube, he received a  start - a frog was peering  enviously  through the window at the liniment ! Do  frogs suffer from rheumatoid arthritis ? All that frog kicking in cold  ponds  probably plays havoc with your joints . The  liniment is the same  kind  endorsed and used  by  the Queen of  the Jungle . 
Then  the  frog proceeded to climb  about the  window  like a  drunken sailor, making its way  up to the  roof . An indication that  there was  going to be one  helluva   downpour overnight ? 
The  reporter decided to  check the  backyard  and all the utensils catching   rainwater  before  hopping back into bed . As he came in  the kitchen door  he caught sight out of  the corner of  his wonky eye of what he thought was a cockroach , and was about to give it a painful  karate chop , when he realised it was another frog. 
It  was rapidly climbing up the  wall - another indication of looming  inundation ? The next day  , after heavy overnight   rain , the Shipping Reporter  again  exposed  part of his body , this time his   odd knees,  at the Townsville University Hospital for  x-rays . Despite the damage done to him  by having been impaled  by  the tusk of  an enraged  narwhale  many years ago , off Greenland , his  legs were  found  to  be  okay .
Frogs , he said , continued  to come at him  from many angles-in an op shop on Magnetic Island there  was a framed picture of one  on a toilet bowl ; from Darwin came  an   email  with  a  picture of  two rude  green tree  frogs.
 Because of  the many  bizarre  stories he  writes, we suspect he  has water  on  the brain,

Wednesday, January 29, 2020


Puzzling  pix  from  the  topsy-turvy world  of  our  Shipping Reporter  taken after a  night out  with  hard  drinking  leprechauns  at Molly Malone's Irish Pub.  


Another  Shipping  Reporter Sensational  Scoop 
Without the Townsville media   and   Townsville City Council   noticing , billionaire  Clive Palmer seems to have   opened  a  mine   right  next to the fine three storey heritage listed  building overlooking Ross Creek  in  the  nightclub precinct  which  he  recently bought   for  $780,000. At the time of  purchase at auction , he intimated  it would be used  in   his   mining company's  ventures  and as   a  Rolls-Royce tune up garage . 
Shark swimming  nearby , miners  get danger money .

Our waterfront scribe was  reliably informed by a rowdy leprechaun late one night  in a bar at nearby  Molly Malone's Irish Pub   that  the mine shaft  is  designed to surface at  the   council  building in Walker Street .  This undermining will , of course, be  a  shock  to  the  city  fathers  and   nursing  mothers. Our reporter  said  Palmer  is supervising   the   dig  while also  playing a large part in selecting   deckchairs  for  his Titanic replica  project . 

 Townsville reporters  also  failed to notice that Clive appears to have   rearranged the curtains on the 1892  Queensland  Building , according to  the Shipping Reporter, who never misses a trick , a great yarn and has  never lost a pub  arm wrestle with a  leprechaun  .  He  noticed that  curtains  around the  ground floor windows  of  the  building , which  had  been bunched in the middle , were  fully  extended .This, no doubt, had been done  to  stop the public  from  seeing   miners  scrubbing  up  after  a  shift  at  the coal face.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


Heavy rain has turned the vacant lot  known as The Hole , near the Magnetic Island  ferry terminal building and walkway ,  into  a   pool. Visible are stacked up rusting  components of  the former  barrier  which  have been  there  for  a long time  on  Townsville's   supposed   Jewel   in  the  Crown , neglected  on several  obvious  fronts , including  protection of  wildlife, eroding  beaches ,   disintegrating  roads.  The  rain has caused the Pope's Land to flood , a log and other rubbish has been spotted  floating about  the safe harbour , March Flies are out in  force and mossies are on the increase.


Shipping  Reporter   Special 
An interestingly named  bulk carrier (above ) in Townsville  at first invoked thoughts of  the  keen as mustard    lothario Romeo Montague , until our  waterfront roundsman  discovered  that Valentina  is the  female form  of  Valentine, harking back to martyrs,  meaning  all  kinds of desirable things -strong, brave , vigorous. 
 The first woman in space was the Russian cosmonaut  Valentina  Tereshkova, who  said  that once you have been aloft you realise how  small  and  fragile  is  Earth , especially  relevant to the plight of  the  planet  today . She  turned  80  in 2018 and Putin rolled  out  the  Red  carpet for  her.
 Valentina is a popular name for girls in Italy, Mexico , in the Middle East  and elsewhere. There is a possibility that  the ship's name was inspired by mythology  featuring  the stars , as was the case in a vessel  in Townsville  recently .   
 It turns out  Super Valentina , built in Japan ,  has had  several previous names -just plain B  and  Eternal  Ocean   and  has  flown under  two  flags , the latest the  Marshall  Islands . 
Another ship   with a catchy name  that came and went without any media  attention  was  the cattleboat  Yangtze Harmony ,which   could  be the title of  Donald Trump's  proposed "deal" to settle the trade war with  China.      

Sunday, January 26, 2020


Another  Cull of  the  Century  shock
As part of the major effort to get  order in the collection of  files , books , oddities  and ephemera  built up  over  nearly  40 years , it was disturbing  to discover that  photo albums  relating  to  a  woman described in a newspaper  article  as  the "most bomb chased  Australian nurse of WWll" had  in  recent  times  been  attacked  by  borers . Though  the  albums , bought at an Adelaide  antique shop ,  compiled  over  more than  30  years  by   Marjorie Congreve ,   dating from  the  early l930s in  Western Australia  , were wrapped in plastic  and sealed ,  parts  had   been  riddled.
The   photographs above are  of  the 1934   children's ward  at Perth Hospital , decorated  for Christmas , Miss Congreve  a  nurse there. The nursery rhyme decorations  included  butterflies, moths  and  insects  for Walk Into  My Parlour , said the  Spider to  the Fly, with a  large cobweb  and spider ; Miss  Muffet , sitting on her  tuffet,  presented  as  a  nurse ; The Old woman Who lived  in  a  Shoe with a  cat .
Nurse Congreve went off to England  and  seems to have nursed the children of  well  to do people.  One album starts off with numerous professionally taken  snapshots of  various parts of England -Cambridge, Wales , Stratford- on -Avon , with  interposed groups  of  people and  scenes , some captioned , Marjorie named ; snowstorm scenes ; Monmouth Oak , Somerset under which the  plans for the Battle of Sedgemoor  were planned , pit for  bear- baiting nearby .

  Extensive coverage of  Middleton Park 1941-1943 where   military patients  were treated, some Polish  airmen , included  several snaps  of Congreve ; two photos of  children evacuated from London hospital  which received a  direct  hit  during the blitz. Extensive coverage of  Norley Bank  for children  during the war ,  with names  of staff , two  full plate   l944 Christmas party , many names , two American doctors visitors .
Invitation , Congreve's name  at  top ,   February 10,1944   from   Earl and Countess   Spencer to  marriage  of their daughter  Anne  to Lieutenant   Christopher  Wake-Walker , Westminister  Abbey , with   newspaper  cuttings  of  princesses  Margaret   and  Elizabeth , one  with pic , who  attended .
Many interior and exterior shots taken of  a  mother craft  centre with names, village scenes  . Crossing the  equator King Neptune  ceremony aboard  ship  1945  on  way home to Australia . 

Extensive section at back of album  for period  l940  to l945  includes  wide ranging views  of   Western Australia , Darwin  : party with flying doctor plane named   Dunbar Hooper ll  , Fitzroy Crossing ; interior of   Servicemen's Club Darwin ; dust storms ; 1942 bomb crater at Broome, Perth-Darwin Air Service truck in background ; Australian Inland Mission premises ;  man believed to be colourful Northern Territory   pilot  Clyde Fenton ; civilians   looking at  the two man midget  submarine ( below)  caught in Sydney Harbour in  l943 ; 1945 Peace Parade ; a Perth air raid shelter ; woman  with  beehive .


Sensational Shipping Reporter Scoop  
Our waterfront  roundsman, the only one north of Coney Island,  has been leaked top secret information that to avoid certain impeachment,  President   Trump  intends fleeing to  Townsville aboard  a  Russian biscuit bomber  to  join  this  luxury yacht  named  after one of his   heroes, Attila the Hun ,the correct spelling  somehow  lost  in translation during construction .  The   yacht comes complete  with  a  full sized  Caddy Shack golf course and  Ukrainian green(back)keepers. While  Attila steams through the Coral Sea on its way to Brazil ,  disguised as a bumboat to confuse the pursuing Seventh Fleet,   Trump has made  it known  that he  intends  to engage in  some extensive groping-big game fishing . The strange  shape  above the vessel's name is a  play dough  bust of  Donald Trump, wearing Hollywood  sunnies,  on   an  extremely  bad  hair  day.     

Friday, January 24, 2020


As early as 1835 , settlers and convicts  in Tasmania , also known as  Van Diemen's Land , knew the  danger  of  fires  as  this Tasmanian  Fire  Insurance Company copper  plaque  clearly  indicates. The company had  its own fire brigade  in  Hobart.
Evidence of   Tasmania's early  bushfires  was  reflected  in  the artwork of  Englishman  John Skinner Prout (l805 - 1876  ) . The above  1847  watercolour  of  his graphically  captured the Australian bush  with   the  depiction  of  a  bushfire  devastated  eucalypt   forest  in  the rugged   Mount Wellington  area. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020


Northern Territory firefighters  who flew down from Darwin  to help out on  the  southern  New South Wales coast were   confronted  by   a  whopper  creature of  the  bush . It  barged into  a  meal  they were  having  in  the  open  at  night  and  demanded   attention . A   possum so big  it was  suggested  that it  was a mutation  or  had  been   on  steroids . When it hopped up on  a table it  looked like a wombat , with big feet . Another  possibility  is  that  it  wolfs  down  the  choice   oysters from the  district ,  which  the  Territorians   sampled  in  a  big way .    

Wednesday, January 22, 2020


Following ongoing heavy rain , ant colonies  have  exploded into action, launching  astronauts  for  distant galaxies way ahead of Elon Musk .  Our nature study  cameraman Vallis  took this  exclusive  series on Magnetic Island   showing  black ants , wings  not dry enough to enable them to fly,  emerging from  nests , urged on  by   the  swarming, frenetic  ground crew. Many seemed  to  drop  their  wings  and  hang  about  in  a  large  group  .
Come out before the next deluge!
Lizard  moving in for a  feed  of ants .


Townsville  is  taking  on a variety of  appearances   during the   heavy rain , at one stage sporting  a  blob of  white cloud on top of Castle Hill  like snow on Mount Fuji .
Sunrise on another wet day captured below on Magnetic Island .


Following an  electrical storm on Magnetic Island, during which a house was hit by lightning at Picnic Bay ,where  130mm of rain was recorded ,  a  winged wonder, dubbed the Monsoon Moth,   flew into  the Nelly Bay  shopping centre  and  deposited  eggs  near  the  ATM, not far from the French restaurant  ; the welcome rain brought out flying ants , chased by resident  lizards. .
Vallis photographs.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Monday, January 20, 2020


Tuft has revealed that, in his  secret identity as the masked  Bollard Man ,  ace news  photographer Mike Bowers (above)  protects the increasingly accident prone PM  and his    Canberra  cronies   from  obstructive, nasty bollards , just for laughs.   Brave  Bowers is  happy snapper at  large  for   the Guardian  Australia and  presenter of  Talking Pictures, the  great round up  of  weekly  pix  and  cartoons  in   the ABC's   Insiders.
Bollard Man  stresses  he is no  relation to Bollocks Man - evil advisor   to the dirty tricks and slush fund  department of the Coalition. He  told  award winning political reporter Argus Tuft  there is evidence  bollards   are  spreading throughout the  nation , that  politicians will  increasingly  run  into  them  on   the  campaign  trail .
Just last week  Bowers   received the above   photograph of  a defiant, uppity   bollard   near Townsville, North Queensland. Politically active, angry over climate change , Adani and  cooking of the Great Barrier Reef   the bollard  plans  to tie up the region,  block the progress of   Coalition   donkeys , especially  the  Nationals,  Pauline  Hanson, nuclear powered  lawnmower  rider  and  brain  irradiated, read  from  a  sheet  town crier  ,  Bob   Katter .  


 Wuthering  Heights  critique  with  a  blunt  pencil .

Researcher   Margaret  Vine  left  her mark in many books, on all kinds of subjects  ,  art especially ,  architecture , regional memoirs. In  ink, pencil and biro , she  wrote  comments  in margins, underlined text , made corrections .  We recently posted  a  story  about her entertaining  comments in respect of  the  prose  items  prompted  by   Jeffery Smart's  painting, Cahill Expressway, which included  three  indignant exclamation  marks .  
 Along with much underlining , a single exclamation  mark  appears  in the  margins  of  the  1950 foxed  second  edition of  Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights , in the Kingston Classics series , published  by  Dymocks   Book  Arcade  Limited, Sydney and  London. 
On  the front  free endpaper , Margaret  pencilled  in  a range of  now  faint  comments  about the book : gives  great consideration to characters  , they  develop gradually and  change ; also plot ; good all round ; c.f. Charlotte's Jane Eyre ; air of supernatural also to some extent in  Jane Eyre ; don't like housekeeper at times , she is somewhat  cruel  in  her criticism  of  Catherine & Heathcliff  esp . 
 The editor's preface  to this  new edition of Wuthering Heights  was scrutinised by her, a spelling error found  on the first page . Then  followed   margin notes and lots of underlining  related to the  rustic setting of Wuthering Heights , the delineation of the characters , two "great points " about  Heathcliff, one  connecting  him  to humanity  and  his  half   implied  esteem  for   Nelly Dean .
A large slab of the text on page 87, relating to Catharine   warning Isabella  about her infatuation for  Heathcliff , received the pencil treatment . There is a thin exclamation mark on page 142 , dealing with the death of  Catherine Linton , in  a passage where  Heathcliff  asks cruel questions about  the way she died . (Margaret died in a Townsville hospice ).   
On page 227  Margaret wrote "not correct" next  to  a statement   by Heathcliff , acting strangely, telling  Nelly he has no fear or hope of death , yet in his condition he has to remind himself to breathe -"almost to remind my heart to beat !"  As you  are well and truly  dead if your heart is not  beating, unless you are Kerry Packer or a Wiggle,  Margaret may have been prompted to  brand it incorrect .
The  last  two lines  of  the  novel (below) ,set  in the graveyard ,  troublesome  Heathcliff recently  buried there ,  going on  the Latin  expression in the margin,   seemingly met with Margaret's approval . She was an opera loving  grand  dame  from whose roof , on  the   house at the end of  the steep track up to her residence , named Rocky Road,  an Aussie version of Wuthering Heights, on Magnetic Island,  this  writer nearly fell  while removing dead branches  and  a  large deposit of  rock  wallaby  fertiliser  from the gutters.  

Sunday, January 19, 2020


Vallis photograph.