Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Shipping Reporter receives news tip  from Mr  Ed

One of  the  longtime  tourist attractions of  Magnetic Island  , the  Horseshoe  Bay Ranch , which   provides  horse  rides  through bushland  down to the beach where you could  ride  bareback  through  the sea ,  has  closed  down . The horses  have been   barged  to  the   mainland  along  with  their  owners   to  take  up   residence  out  west . Here is a news tip  for  mainland  media-there is   an interesting  follow  up  story  which  might  go  viral .


 Locked  up  for  months  with  Miss  Jones

To  help maintain  the sanity of the nation  during  the  lockdown , we recommend  this    rare  circa  1899  volume  packed with  card games be purchased  and  avidly  read  by  inmates to   pass  the  time  and  ease  the   stress of  being  confined  to  barracks . 

The   book  and  the personal  story of  the author ,   Miss  Mary Whitmore Jones , we guarantee, will keep you enthralled over  the coming months.  It seems  Miss  Jones was exceedingly  patient , mister right not  coming  her way , resulting  in  her  being  unmarried . While  waiting  for Sir Galahad  to  ride up , she  played  patience , wrote a  book on the subject  and  invented  a  card  playing  table  seen here.

Upon the death  in  l874 of her  brother, Willie, described  as   a  tearaway who was  always in debt ,  easily bored , she, pictured,  aged  51,  became the first female  heir of  the  family estate, Chastleton House , an historic   pile in Oxfordshire, a lavishly  built example of Jacobean architecture   in  1607-1612  for  Walter  Jones , puzzlingly  said  to be  a lawyer  and  also  a prosperous wool merchant , impoverished  after  the  Civil  War .

The original  estate had been  bought  in 1602  from  Robert Catesby  who had been involved in the plot  with Guy Fawkes and others   to blow up parliament, about which she  wrote a book . It also had  links with  the Jacobite  Rebellion  and  Bonnie Prince Charles and remained in the same family for  400 years . 

Mary  had  nursed  Willie , who  suffered   from  fever picked up  in an  inglorious  career  in  the army, having  served in  Gibraltar  and   Bermuda ;  he bought  his way  out of   military service  before  the  Crimean War  which began in 1853 .
Another brother , Walter , around at  the  time   Willie was in command of the estate, also  rather  stroppy and  strong willed,  is credited with having  codified the rules of  croquet. He  set  up   croquet field on the lawn at  Chastleton  .   Without a doubt, he  influenced Mary's interest in  games of  all kinds, including those of  patience .   

After failing at Oxford, he got a position in the War Office , which he left   with the aim of  making money through   inventions and  board games . 
One  game, Frogs and Toads , met with some success  , but  The Game  of  War , played like chess, lost money . He invented a bootlace winder and a railway carriage sign , both patented in 1864. Two volumes  of  poetry  did not  sell like hot  cakes . He died of  throat  cancer at  the age of  41.  
After running Chastleton House  for several years, Mary passed management of the estate   to  nephew  Thomas  Whitmore  Harris who had  married  a  first  cousin , Irene Dickins . Thomas  changed  his  name to  Whitmore Jones, the Whitmore  part derived   from Sir William Whitmore .  Mary eventually moved out  and   became a   boarder  at  the  Chastleton  Rectory . 
At some stage  she wrote the popular, illustrated  book , the introduction declaring  that  nobody should despise   the game of  Patience . Many over -worked  brains, lonely hearts , and those with pain racked  nerves could  testify to the benefits . Those who knew the benefits  of  card playing  included  ladies living alone , hard  working professional men , doctors who  pointed  out it was a remedy  against  insomnia .
For example, the antidote for   lousy   Pommie weather at the  seaside , empty beaches , with leaden sea and leaden sky , monotonous drip of  rain , the newspaper read through and through , even the advertisements, the small stock of ancient  books at the library exhausted, and nothing to be  done between meal times  but  to yawn-cards- which  could be  obtain  anywhere .  
The  unhappy victim of ennui  was  advised to buy two packs of cards  and  play Patience , perhaps  Sir Tommy Patience,  said to be  first  one invented  . The long list of  Patience games   included  American Toad, Blonde and Brunette, Chastleton , Conjugal, Dictator, Dog, Double Pyramid, Hammer of Thor , Marriage, Metternich , Muggins , New York , Pirate,   Russian,  St. Helena, Spanish,   Wheel-of-Fortune .

One  game  which will  appeal to those  in home isolation , growing  extensive facial hair  and   long fingernails , pointed teeth  like the Wolf Man ,  will surely be Waning  MoonPersons  keen  to split hairs, argue the toss and  quote dubious  laws, will find  Q.C. Patience  appealing  .  Miss Jones explained  it was the favourite of an eminent  barrister  who could not make up his rubber  at  whist  so went for  this intricate, difficult   game which is like one named  Backbone . 

It seems Thomas and his wife  tried hard to keep the crumbling  estate going . He worked  on the   Long Gallery ceiling   which had been neglected for more than a century and  carried  out  other  work . They moved out eventually  into  the nearby village and  the house  was  rented out .  

In l991 Chastleton  House was  taken over by the National Trust and underwent six years of restoration . Open to the public , until  a little over a week ago  when it, the gardens, parks, bat colony , cafes and shops  were shut down  to limit the spread of coronavirus ,  its many treasures include the Juxon Bible  thought to have been   used to read the last rites to  King Charles  l at his execution ;  the very card  table invented by   Mary  Whitmore Jones ;  Jacobian  glass ; a portrait of  Rudyard Kipling . Naturally, packs of  cards were offered for sale in the shops . 

 A diary recorded that in 1837 one of the  Jones  family, interested in politics and antiquarian books, had jumped on a horse and ridden to a sale at Broughton Castle where he bought a fine piece of tapestry and three lots of old armour for a mere  ten pound .

 Our nibbled, worn  and  faded copy of  the  book , purchased through Pelican Rare Books  at some stage ,  picked up on Magnetic Island , North Queensland .

Monday, March 30, 2020



 Imagined  voyage  by  our  beached  Shipping Reporter .


Due to maddening computer related problems we were unable to  correct the incorrect spelling of the Nobel   prize winner in the spoof about  raving nincompoop US  President  Donald Trump  undergoing a much needed  brain transplant .  We are also having difficulties  posting   a  bank of  articles ready to go  for  your  edification , entertainment   and  puzzlement. 


 Shipping  Reporter's mammoth task

As our  waterfront  roundsman is confined to his  sloop , unable to disport himself  in  Molly Malone's Irish Pub   because of  the pandemic , he  is attempting  to  get  his  nautical  library  shipshape , in  Bristol  fashion . 

First volumes  pulled out, dusted off and  extensively perused   were  the  official   Australian Navy  books published  during  WWll  under the title H.M.A.S., the  first and last  editions  displayed below .
 Much to his delight , he discovered   that  a  Miss Una Woods , of the  Naval Historical Record  Section , had  been intimately involved in production of all  the four books in the series  , each with a specially designed dustjacket ,  filled with  many  and   varied   stories ,  illustrations , photos  and   jokes  .

 Darwin    items   in  the  first  volume , published by the  Australia War Memorial ,Canberra, l942,  particularly attracted   the  reporter's attention , especially  where  it   described  the  sinking  of   the   destroyer  USS  Peary , all guns  blazing, with the loss of  80 lives .  This accorded   with  the  eye witness  account recently  run in this blog by the  late Les Penhall  of  the  bombing  of  Darwin by the Japanese on February 19, l942.  
  One of  the   vessels attacked during   that  raid , despite displaying the Red Cross sign ,  was  the hospital ship Manunda  (9115 tons ) , above , resulting in the death of 12 and wounding of 58. A  former  passenger ship ,it was  able to head south , and  was   drawn  by  Frank Norton , official Royal Australian Navy and  RAAF artist ,  a   marine  painter , teacher  and   gallery director.  
Near the back of the  book  was  the  above   illustrated yarn  about a  boozy  rooster, named Rupert,  who  entertained  a Darwin naval  establishment  . He  strutted up and down the canteen counter  taking a sip out of "every pot " in sight . One morning , after a heavy  night of drinking, bleary-eyed  Rupert  snuck up on  a  cat drinking from a saucer of  milk  and  bit it  on the tail , causing it to screech and " hit the horizon", never to return .  The story went on to say  there was a  rumour that  Rupert  and  a  Jap bomb arrived at  the same spot . 
UPCOMING : More rum stories  from the books   involving Darwin and other ports of  call , including  an  extensive  list  of  secret  wartime   identities  .

Sunday, March 29, 2020


During  excavation  of  a  hundred year old post office yard  at Saddleworth , near the wine growing  Clare Valley , South Australia ,  decades ago,   a variety of  interesting  items  were  found  , including  a smashed up  dinner  set  circa l880s   bearing  the  design  name  DETROIT, masses of  oyster shells , early brass post office  mail  bag  tags
A  Detroit plate ,  in  two pieces , chipped about the edges , with a  floral pattern , panels ,  and  an  oriental  scene ,  was  roughly glued  together  and kept.  It  subsequently  travelled  far and  wide within Australia,   now  part  of  the   Little Darwin  collection has been pulled out and  might  undergo reglueing . 


Our  hardened Shipping  Reporter   admits the latest sight of   former  Queensland Liberal Party Leader,Sir Thomas Hiley, reduced to a beach bum ,  brought  tears to his  eyes.   Sir Thomas   has been drying out on  the Picnic Bay foreshore, Magnetic Island , abandoned by  the heartless  Liberals,  for many years , nobody caring about him , his  plight not picked up by  the mainland media.

When our Good Samaritan  waterfront  roundsman called on  Sir Tom  he found assorted  rubbish , including a  coat hanger , empty beercans and a filthy Onkaparinga blanket on  his  person, vessel . Monsters from the deep could be seen  glaring  up  from  the  oily  bilge .

 Nearby was a  cork from a wino's bottle of  plonk . The Canadian  Beaver seen swimming about in the soupy  water on a previous occasion had disappeared, probably rescued in a joint operation by the RSPCA  and  the  Royal  Canadian  Mounties  .   

Friday, March 27, 2020


In a  brilliant  move  to attract  unwashed Irish backpackers  back to iconic  Bondi Beach , they will be armed with newfangled spears, like the ones  above ,  to ensure they maintain a safe  distance  from  their  sickly  countrymen  cavorting  about  in droves at  the   recently  closed  down   top Aussie  tourist spot . The scientifically  designed .45 calibre   weapons  have  been  described as  similar to cattle prods , except  they  are  not  battery charged .
A New South Wales  government  health / border security spokesman , communicating  via unwashed Leprechaun runners , told  Little  Darwin the bulk of  Bondi tourists   are  backpackers   from  Ireland , which is  why  it appears on  maps , including the charts  of  Captain  Cook,  as  County Bondi .
Each  Irish  tourist passing  rapidly through Sydney Airport or coming off a  cruise ship  will be presented   with  a free spear,  decorated with shamrocks on the  shaft,  mass produced  in  various refugee  detention  centres . 
Irish  misbehaving  as  usual.
 Bondi , it  is  predicted , will  explode back into life as  the   tourists , escaping the miserable  Irish weather , rush   down to  the  beach  like a  horde of  armed  cannibals  greeting  tasty  missionaries in the Pacific  , keen to soak   up the  sun ,  surf  ,  beer   and   Neighbours way of life  , helping    revive  the   entire  Australian  economy  in  the  process .   


One of the many, many  stories  not  picked  up by the  media in the steamy north  is  the  apparent  attempt  to  pluck (repeat pluck)   the Townsville  Magpie, seen here  larking  about  in  the city's  Anzac Memorial Park.  

It   is  the  pet  creation  of  veteran journalist Malcolm Weatherup  which each week delivers a  lively  broadside  on The Magpie website - often   having a go at the  Murdoch   Townsville Bulletin, where Malcolm  once worked , and  various  others who regard themselves masters of   the   universe   under  the  city's  cruel ,  so- called  rain  shadow .

This  dehydrated canopy nevertheless  flooded  a  large  part of the city not so  long  ago  when  somebody forgot to tell the  little Dutch boy to remove his digit  from  the  hole  in  the dam  wall  early   in   an  unusual  deluge . 

For   weeks , people who regularly and eagerly  tune  into  The Magpie , believed to  be of  the  flute playing ,  black-backed  kind ,   have  had  difficulty logging  on  or else    received  strange   warnings  that  the site   is  radioactive  , even contains  a   virus ,  can   induce  cradle cap  , will  make you  fall off  your  perch ,  etc.  This  being a  great time for conspiracy theories , there  is  a wild theory that  somebody  has  hired a  computer assassin to silence The Magpie  .

Who , it  must  be asked , would   be  so  desperate  to  strangle   the  bird  by  paying  someone  to  hack  into   its  nest and  silence one of God's creatures  , whose song  has been  described  in What Bird Is That  as one of the  most  joyous  rendered  by  Australian  birds?
This morning ,  this  blog received a  call  from  an irate   regular Magpie fan, with a great news sense , asking what  the  hell  is  going  on  as he had just tried to  log onto  the bird  and  could  not. We repeat : There are a  thousand and  one unreported   stories   in   the  naked , in a flap  city,  and  environs - this  just    one  from  the  taxidermist's  work   bench , knee deep  in  feathers .   


Exposed  by   Shipping Reporter who smuggled  himself  aboard  disguised as  a  perambulating   aspidistra 
Aussie  Curlew  couple , in expensive  presidential  luxury  cabin ,  photographed complaining about dead moths in  the  swimming pool   and   being  bombarded by  falling mandarins, some  caught  in  netting . Complaints  by  passengers  were  heard  in respect of   other matters, such as   :  " Waiter! There is  a   fly / moth  in my  ointment ,   finger  food ,   caviar  and   martini   !!!"


Sign in North Queensland shop .
Cartoons  galore forwarded  to this blog , including  one offering a toilet roll in the raw-a  log , for  $20.
Pavement  directions  outside  Magnetic Island grog shop . 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020


Another Shipping Reporter Scoop

Australia may have decided  not to send a team to  the  Olympic  Games  originally  set  down for later this year , but it  is busily   processing  scrapmetal   for  Japan .The above photograph and the one below  show some of the  scrap  being  barged out of  Magnetic Island  for   Townsville .

 So far unnoticed by the mainland media is the  clearance of much old  earth  moving  equipment on   the    island   from    a  site through which a  fire raged  some months ago  , next to Gustav Creek , which flows into the  harbour .   It is not clear if the damaged  sportscar  on the side of the  road  will   be  shipped  off  the  island  to  Japan.
Marathon runner saved from scrapheap, placed on pedestal .

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


Trapped at the bottom of a  black , plastic bucket, part filled  with  rainwater,  were  a lizard and a moth. As the lizard energetically  scrambled about the  bucket  attempting to escape, the moth followed , at  times climbing up on  its head, going for a ride . On  land , the lizard would  almost certainly  have eaten  the moth with  one swift chomp . But , facing  death , they became  close  companions in the struggle to survive . The following shots show them in a crescent moon  like  setting  with  reflected  foliage .
When the bucket was slowly tipped out ,  the  moth fluttered away , the lizard  rode the  wave , just  sat on the grass , panting , for ages,   looking up at  the  photographer, who  blew  it  a  soothing  kiss  or  two .
Then  it  made for the rocks to sunbake . Vallis series 


CANBERRA:  Nine out of 10 leading economists predict  Australia  will be officially recognised as a banana republic by April Fools' Day.

They  base  this startling  claim  on several recent events , including  the media conference, above, in which  Federal Treasurer  Josh Frydenberg  passed himself  off  as   Minister for Health , Greg  Hunt. Hunt  had not  been  looking  any sicker than usual , so it was a  bizarre act  to  trot  out   the   anaemic looking  chancellor of the exchequer to say  the  basic fundamentals of  the spreading  virus were extremely healthy .     

The economists agree  this ring in stunt  proved  the last thing  the balding  Treasurer  wanted to be questioned about  was the real state  of the economy. Australia , they added, would soon have a new national anthem , the Jamaican banana boat song.

 It had failed to deceive the alert  media because  Josh  in no way resembles Minister Hunt . As everybody knows , Hunt , below, right , looks  more like one of those  slim  critters which chase  doomed   rabbits   down  burrows . He has much more hair, though admittedly  in need of a brush , than Josh . Crude  graffiti  with associated   rhyming slang  related to  Hunt  has been seen  under  the Katherine River  bridge in the Northern Territory, over  the town's  unhealthy water  supply.

 On the other hand ,  Josh  has  an all  round ,  fuller  figure  ,  admittedly with  very little hair on top  but     muscular  Wimbledon  formed   biceps .
It would therefore be impossible for the cigar smoking Treasurer to pass himself off  permanently   as   the Health  Minister . So he may have to just settle to wearing his new  Sir hairpiece ,  left  behind on a  cruise  ship in Sydney , to  cover  his  thinly thatched   dome as a distraction to  prevent  the  media  from  asking questions  about  the   surplus  which was  an  illusion  and  card  trick   from   the  beginning .


 What next -an asteroid bombardment  ? Unripe citrus fruit has been mysteriously falling from trees day and night without Cockies  and other  critters  seemingly responsible . During the night, occasional plops were heard -more  mandarins  dropping to the ground . A man of immense knowledge, including the double life  of  a judge  who  figured in a famous bushranger  case , was asked  if  he knew  why vitamin C  is  dropping from the sky  in  North  Queensland . Yes -the fruit is being stung by a moth!!!! Our Mastermind  informant   said  the ground under his  lime trees  is covered   with  fruit  that  has  been  stung .

Sure enough,when the outside light was turned on large numbers of  striped moths were seen  making  raids on the fruit, under the netting , a millet  broom used to  dong some . Five buckets of fruit binned so far .  Computer could  be under  moth attack as  well  as we are having problems with text.