Thursday, April 30, 2020


 President Trump approves urgent  campaign to combat rapidly  spreading  extraterrestrials   in   Australia   with   new , powerful   Clorox formula developed  by  brilliant   Dr   Randy Rainbow .  

Following yesterday's exclusive report   that  we  had   alerted  FBI Special   Agent Fox Mulder of The X-Files  about   a  crashed  UFO  and its  weird   cargo, above,  of  strange  life forms in a  North Queensland  garden , we have a shock follow  up .
New,strange   creatures  are spreading out from the  secret  crash site .One odd being ,seen below ,  surrounded by  an explosion of  mushroom like shapes, looks like a Sesame Street puppet   gone wrong. Changing shape all the time , it began to  look  like  a  cowboy  riding  a buckjumper .


 Agent  Mulder thanked Little Darwin profusely  for its photographic  file  on this latest threat to  the planet  which had been rushed to the  White House rose  garden  where President Trump  was digging  for  faux truffles .The president  gave immediate   approval  to    defoliate  Australia in  its entirety  for  a  month  using Dr Rainbow's   powerful ,  new    wonder   product, Clorox XXXX .  Dr  Rainbow , pictured below , is  a real cool cat scientist , typical of the brilliant  advisors  President  Trump attracts  to  his  inner  padded  cell .


Another Shipping Reporter Scoop
Tied up at Magnetic Island , Lady Diane , from  Philadelphia , flying the Aussie flag . Is it possible that Philadelphian  lawyers  are unemployed and fleeing Down Under ?  The 76ft  American built aluminium  cruising yacht , recently moored in Docklands, Victoria, was up for sale at  $499,000. It has  five cabins , four   heads, like Donald  .

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


Because of the lockdown ,  Townsville Bulletin weather reports have not  featured  P3 photographs of  female  backpackers posing  on  the waterfront. When our  Shipping  Reporter  hove to off The  Strand , all he could find to photograph  was a  row of coconut trees and  a lone   seagull. There was, however, an attractive  view of  curvaceous Magnetic Island in the  distance  at  dawn.


While  actual hand shaking with locals  will  be out , a welcoming hand is being extended  to Townsville residents to  visit nearby Magnetic Island  under the new relaxed movement  conditions  that   come into play  from midnight  Friday . To mark the easing of restrictions  , the Townsville Bulletin  ran  a list of  50 things  to do within a 50 kilometre radius  of the city- a visit to Magnetic Island #1 .  Number  40  is the wreck of the SS City of  Adelaide  which ran aground in l916 on Magnetic Island , the paper saying it is accessible at  low tide  . A vital bit  of information not provided  for anyone  wanting to inspect the wreck  is  that  it is a  well known  venomous  stonefish area, so don't  go  walking  about  barefooted in the shallows .
Island  in the  sun - Magnetic .


Tuesday, April 28, 2020


Just when you thought it might be  safe to venture  out into the great Australian  scorched  countryside, with  its barbecued wildlife ,   something   truly  out of  this world  has  popped up  in  a North Queensland   garden . Because  it  brings back  memories of the time when killer  Triffids  invaded   the planet, the location  of  the  frightening  find  is  top secret . Brace yourself - this is the  exclusive  pictorial coverage of the obvious  UFO crash  site and  survivors  which  has been  emailed  to Agent Fox Mulder . Once again , maiden aunts  are warned  that some of  these  graphic shots  may  shock .
Scorched body of  Planet Zog traveller ?

Sudden  eye movement .
Black Koala with  unusual  bushy tail  and  albino ears.

Sunday, April 26, 2020


If you missed out on a visit   from  the  usual much publicised  lapin  due to  coronavirus , we respectfully   suggest   you  access  the  James  Cook University Library News  site  and  check   out   an   Easter-time  treat , about   Bill  Baillie ,  a much travelled  West  Australian  Bilby , such  cute critters now also reproduced  in  chocolate   and   adored  by   Royalty .  
That's Bill  on  the  cover of  a 1908   first edition book by  artist Ellis Rowan , one of the  JCU  50  treasures  being  aired over the year  to mark  the  university's  50th  anniversary .  It is from  the Edna Shaw Collection of Australian Art and Culture  in  the   Special Collections  section .You can also view the full text of Bill Baillie  , see other  treasures  and   items of  interest on  the  JCU library website.
Bill Baillie was the name Rowan  gave an orphaned Bilby  given her by a local handyman  in  1906.  His adventures included  wide travels  in areas  in which she  had  ventured .
Born in Melbourne in 1848 , small and frail ,   Rowan became  renowned for her painting of  wildflowers and birds . She  travelled to remote parts of Northern Australia , New Guinea  , Thursday Island   and  the Torres Strait . The  Encyclopedia  of  Australian Art  states that when she came down with malaria in New Guinea , while painting birds of paradise, reputed cannibals carried her many miles  to the coast .   
 Twelve years were spent  illustrating books  on American  flora by Alice Lounsberry, travelling to various  part of  the US  with  her .
It just so happens that this blogger  has a framed  engraving  of  butterflies   by Ellis Rowan   saved   from  a   waterlogged copy of  the Picturesque Atlas of Australasia ,1883-1886 ,  which  went  through Cyclone  Tracy in 1974.  


Handmade   flowers  and  wreaths   made by children   and family groups    were displayed along  the   route  of what would have been  the usual  march from   the   Magnetic  Island    RSL  to  the  war  memorial  at  Alma  Bay . Poppies were  made from a variety of  materials , including cupcake  shells  and  wooden  spoons .

An   unusual  wreath  featuring  hearts and butterflies  was photographed  at the memorial  by  Vallis . A  flower  had apparently  been  made  from  coconut   tree  husk .
Two days later,  beautiful  Alma  Bay beach  seemed to have  responded  to reveille , the   surf  springing  to   life , more  than  one  pine visible .


Disguised as a  jovial , thumb-sucking  Indian  holy man with a dazzling aura , this Aussie Ocker is the leader of a noisy nutty gang . He  hangs about  on high looking  for  fruit and  nut trees  to  raid , telephone  wires  to nibble,television aerials  upon which  to  sit  and  jig  about, ruining  the  reception.
He and his followers  chewed   the   Queen of the Jungle's citrus crop and  were prevented from attacking  our mandarins  because of  protective netting and  a water pistol . However, the  rotten stinging moths slipped in under the netting  at night and  inserted  Donald Trump  toxic disinfectant  with   disastrous  results . 
Vallis photographs

Saturday, April 25, 2020


Shipping Reporter supplies kiss of life

Prompt action  by  our  waterfront  roundsman  saved  the life of this terribly emaciated Kraken  found washed up on Magnetic Island .The moaning creature was transported by  resident smugglers to  the Magnetic Island Public School  swimming pool  where it is recovering , fed  tasty bouillabaisse  by kind staff from the nearby  French restaurant . The Shipping  Reporter  has made  arrangements for the Kraken  to be  taken aboard  HMAS Adelaide, now in Townsville, its crew  locked in , unable to paint the town ,  and  shipped to Taronga Zoo , Sydney, where it will be mated with the Kraken  sacked  from  Mad As  Hell due to the slashing of  government funding  for  the ABC.  A few days later the power to Nelly Bay went off briefly   before 6am  and  the Shipping Reporter suggested  another  crook Kraken had  wrapped itself around  the  underwater cable   from the mainland.      

Friday, April 24, 2020


Robinson Crusoe living high on the hog and Victorian mud cake .

In  these tough times for cafes  , enterprising Man Friday has wheeled out a new  sign on Magnetic Island , trying to catch  the attention of  motorists rather than  beachcombers and  border  jumpers   of  yesteryear  with  the  other   top  banner , not far from  the foreshore  at  Nelly Bay . We  understand the chocolate  mud  cake  is  made from a popular Melbourne  recipe .   


Some  people cannot  stand being left alone -take the case of  Nora  who has become a renowned escape   artist . Left  home by her   family , Nora    goes into action  soon after  they  drive off .  Despite  all  kinds of  measures to  try and stop her  running out into   the  street  and fraternising   with the   community , Nora   will  not  desist  emulating  the   wartime   Colditz  Castle  great escape.
Nora is a sociable Jack Russell  who resides  nextdoor  and  when she makes  yet another attempt to escape  we have a  friendly working arrangement with her owners   to  intervene . This intervention   includes taking  shots at her with a  gun imported  from  Darwin .
You know another   attempt  at freedom is  underway   when  she starts howling and  scratching at  a  large wooden gate which has been reinforced at  the bottom , boulders and  bricks  placed  on  the  outside of the structure,   to make  escape mission  impossible .

For a  time , a  few  squirts from  a    Darwin  water  pistol  imported   to  frighten away  aggressive  Currawongs    from  our   resident Curlews  , were  enough to  make Nora obey  shouted commands to get  round the back and  be a good dog , or else she would be shipped off  to New Zealand and  included in a Maori hangi .

Of  late, after a lull , Nora   resumed    escape attempts  , without  regard for the pistol packing  neighbour . Her  legs  and  snout  were   pushed under the gate  with  great  gusto  and  you would swear that she would do herself a terrible mischief. In fact, after  one  episode , while she did  eventually desist and  retreat,  she was found  to  be  sitting  in  a  pool of  blood .

A few days  ago , she  was at it again.   The water pistol had been mislaid , so I could not plug her  as  I leaned over the fence , telling her firmly  to  stop,  go round the  back , or else she would be put  aboard  a  Pacific  cruise  ship .The frantic scratching  and  yelping  went on . 

Grabbing a  .45  calibre billycan , I doused  Nora  with water from a garbage bin  used to catch rainwater . This caused her  to  withdraw  her paws  and snout  from under  the gate, sit up  , looking dazed.  Threatening her with more Chinese  water torture  if she   continued, she ran  to  bags , above,   of     cans    and  bottles   for recycling . Finally , she  trotted  away out of sight .

Soon after , family members arrived home   by car  .  Nora , smiling from ear to ear , joined them .  This   blogger   told Nora  we  would   probably shower together sometime in  the future  , then  went  inside and  applied  Betadine to  the  bleeding scratches  on  a  leg caused  by brushing up against prickly bougainvillea  while  bucketing   the  escapist .
Turning on television , who should  jump out at me  but Nora  and a liberated  friend ,  on the ABC's  Hard Quiz , presented by attack dog Tom Gleeson.  

Thursday, April 23, 2020


There is no end to the  innovative  things people are doing   during the  quarantine  . One person  we  know  is  constructing  a   cool pad , a   "Hippy Hideway",    decorated  with  odds and ends   gathered over  the years, some from  garage sales ,  in  which  to  be   creative  and   get  away from   the  heat  and   endless  coronavirus  news. Beads , baubles , bangles  and  mobiles  hang about along with  display stands, shop fittings, advertising signs    and  bundles of  fabrics  near  a  covered    work bench .


One of the Little Darwin camp followers has  been revealed as a repressed artist  after  listening  to  an inspiring  ABC Radio National interview  by Namila Benson of  New York art critic, Jerry Saltz , during the current  lockdown .   Saltz , who  recently released  a  book  on  how  to  become   an  artist, in effect, said  just  go out and  do  you  thing , whatever  it is , in  whatever  field.

 Anybody , he said , could  rise to  great heights. Citing  his  case, he had left school at 12, was a truck driver up  until 40 and  then became a Pulitzer Prize   winning  art  critic . His message to listeners  was  that if  he  could become famous , a man without education and a truck driver , anybody   could  indulge  what they    regarded as an embarrassing   interest  and obtain success.  Embarrassment was a necessary ingredient .  Don't worry what people might say about  your   work  , he advised.

Even though he was  well known , some terrible things were said about him in social media . Saltz , with jovial gusto ,  said  he felt like answering each critic and telling them that  he  is really a swell  guy .  He  apparently  went  on to admit  he did  have   some kind of fantasy in which  he  or   something   he sent  down  the  line  exterminated  or   throttled   those  critics .      

After listening to the superb Art Show interview , which  really contained an inspirational  message   for  the   Australian   nation   under the  coronavirus  cloud,   our    friend pulled out   an    easel and  palette  he had   hidden in  a wardrobe and dashed to the seaside  where he began imitating Jackson Pollock  and other great painters . The two  paintings below   are  just   a small part of his  output , given   to  this blog to sell on online , for  half the price  paid  by  the  Whitlam Government  for  Blue Poles .    

They are , without  a  doubt, a steal at this price. To make the deal more attractive , we will   throw  into the deep end , below, another of his  great  paintings which  features  an   unidentified  virus and  a   still  life  or stuffed  fish  which  escaped from  the  aquarium  kept by  Whistler's Mother.
In addition , the  sale will include a  year's free vouchers  for  French fries  to go with the  rigid  fish.


Word has come through that  the Magnetic Island  community news publication  , claiming to be the island's local newspaper  since 1989, has  folded ,  described as  another "victim of the virus ".  With  an  anti ALP attitude  and a  strangely written   Police Report  section ,  it   had   improved in  layout  of   late  and  the use of  dramatic  photos  of  the island  taken  by  a   drone , provided   by  the   man  who  wrote  the  interesting   fishing  column . On April 3 we  reported that the  Thursday  Island   Cape and  Torres News  covering  Cape York and Torres Strait  had  been  forced  to  close .

Monday, April 20, 2020


Our  strange waterfront  roundsman  now insists  the subject of the   following series  of photographs  is  a genuine mare's-nest, not  an obvious  pile of flotsam  which has  been  drifting about  Cleveland Bay  for months , finally running  aground  on  Magnetic  Island .     
Even though the odd shaped mass collided with  and  nearly sank  the  office coracle while the Shipping Reporter was  paddling   in  it , off  Townsville ,  looking for non-faux news , he has come to like  what he  insists  could be passed off  on the  unsuspecting public  as  a   floating  mare's nest  or something  truly grotesque .
He strongly  suggests it be promoted  through the massive  global readership of  this blog  to  become a major tourist attraction  for the island  when   the   lockdown ends. So  here  starteth  the  promotion , with Shipping Reporter   supplied  dodgy  text , making  use of  an out of  date poetic licence,    for   each  photo  used   in   your  average   deceptive advertising   campaign . 
A cross between a Shetland pony, the Loch Ness Monster and a Bunyip, this is the must  see  sea  monster  in  North Queensland intent on tearing Bob Katter to shreds . The RSPCA  has approved this stunt as long as the crocodile  receives an  immediate  stomach pump after devouring  Katter . Thereafter, a rubber   dummy will  be used  for  the   packed  daily  munchings  and   weekend  matinee  specials . 
Believe it or not, this scruffy looking crustacean  will represent  Australia at the next Eurovision Song Contest  and  bookies  reckon  she will win. Rush to Magnetic Island  and  personally  learn  the secrets of musical  success  from  this international star, destined to become more famous than Dame Nellie Melba ,  after making a donation to  the Little Darwin  Cruise Ship  Holiday Fund.
A clone of this human  flesh eating plant-related  to the deadly Triffids from outer space and those at James Cook University-will  be supplied  to every  lucky  person   who  jets into Townsville on Mickey Mouse Airlines, catches the raft across to  Magnetic Island , and then pays  $100 into  the  Shipping Reporter's Molly Malone's  Irish Pub  Drinking Fund . Your  pet clone will  devour  landlords  who come  demanding the rent , debt  collectors and  any  others  you  want  exterminated.   
See the  world's  only elephant  grown in a CSIRO  test tube which escaped to Magnetic Island,where he skinny dips and does Indian rope tricks .  Be  quick to visit paradise  , as Disney/Fox are already negotiating to buy Jumbo to  ship him back to the White House  as a  distraction   during Rose Garden  media conferences , running  his  wet trunk up  Donald's  leg  in an endless  search  for  a  banana or some peanuts , certainly no chance of  finding grey matter upstairs.




Vallis series.
In  memory of  the  late    Haroun  Tazieff  whose name came to mind  during a Radio National talk about Australia's  volcanic  history .  Famous  for  filming  during actual eruptions and   lava flows , he  made a big impact at  the  l960s  Rotorua  Vulcanology Symposium , covered  by  this  reporter .   Polish  born, Tazieff, a volcanologist , geologist , cinemaphotographer  and   author  ,  became one  of  the six  most  popular  personities   in  France.


Sent  from the Parap Hotel , Darwin , by  Peg,  to  Grandpa,  nearly  half  a century ago, this  Murray  Views , Gympie, Queensland , postcard , expresses the hope to see  everybody  at  Christmas . From  Little Darwin Collection.     

Sunday, April 19, 2020


Cranky Shipping  Reporter adrift in  leaky  coracle 

An empty Captain Kidd rum bottle was  washed ashore  with directions for the finder  to rush it  to  the Little Darwin isolation ward / newsroom with promise of a  large reward  from  the office  petty cash  tin  which is   jammed with IOU scraps of  paper .
Inside the bottle was   a   typical   grumpy story  from  him  highlighting  the fact  that the local media  does not  know how to cover  maritime activity , vessels important to the commerce of the  Queen City of the North   coming and  going without  mention,  some daredevil  reporter even going aboard , speaking to the captain , members of  the crew .  It  read  thus .
The bulk  carrier  named MV Yangtze Brilliance , above ,   sailing under the Hong Kong flag , following  the  directions  of  overhead clouds, has just entered Townsville . Yangtze ? Sounds  foreign , even Asian .  Somewhere in  China ? And Hong Kong , isn't that one of the  places, unlike Australia ,  where  the   brave population stands  up  and  actually fights  for democracy against the puppet regime and against  enormous  odds  ?

Where  is   the  vessel  from , what  cargo will  it  load , will the  crew  be allowed to  land if they are from overseas  , what  are the detailed  arrangements for handling  overseas  vessels  and  crew .  Just  a  few  queries  that could be made by  the   local  scribes ; ETD ,  destination. 
 I  once suggested the Townsville Port Authority   should get the Townsville Bulletin  to run  a daily  shipping movements  column   which  used to be  a regular feature of  newspapers  all  over Australia . Going on the response from the person I spoke to , they  thought  the  situation  could be handled with a regular  half  page  PR-like  piece  extolling the port activities ,  really not a daily shipping  movements  column.   The poor coverage of  shipping in this port city  is a situation  which  could  drive  you  to  drink watered  down  rum .  
By the way , during  Easter , another  ghost ship, above ,  leaving port , caught my eye  while I  was   power walking  to  the  bottle  shop  to stock up on myxomatosis .  

 (This post dedicated  to the memory of  racing reporter "Big Betting " Bob  Staines, whose  tips straight from the mouths of many nags meant we , and  another  prominent racing  tragic,   Max Presnell ,  lost  our  holiday pay  at the track  in the l950s,  and did  not  fly from  Sydney  to  Surfers Paradise to paint the town  as  planned,  so  broke we were reduced to  playing cards for  seashells  at  Kurnell   instead .)