Wednesday, September 30, 2020


 Not picked up by the  Townsville media was  the recent  sighting of  One Nation  Pauline Hanson on the Townsville to Magnetic Island   ferry  run .  Ms. Hanson   once  regularly visited an   old school  girlfriend on the island   whose   partner  was a member of the ALP.  On  one    such visit,   Hanson  went  with the couple to the Magnetic Island Golf  Club , where Greg Norman used to belt Dunlop 65s  when he  was a lad ,  and  danced  with  the  ALP   shoe-shuffler.

This Fred Astaire  act was  regarded   by some  Labor  supporters as  collaborating  with  the  enemy.  To use a Hanson expression, he was asked  to  please explain why he waltzed with the flaming pollie.   Furthermore, there was a  move to have him  booted out of  the ALP, which came to nothing .

 Nowadays , Arthur Murray School of Ballroom Dancing   dropouts  like  Paul Murray (SKY)  and Mark Latham (ex-ALP)  are frequently  listed  on  Hanson's  dance  card . 

Saturday, September 26, 2020



While photographing  various aspects of Magnetic Island  , our roaming  cameraman, Vallis, discovered that  after  years of   neglect ,  as far back as the  Wreck of  the Hesperus , the  above  mysterious  sign  has recently  been touched up,  revealing  an important  message  for  seafarers  and  dredgers.

And   nearby , a large piece of driftwood is stuck on one of the island's  newer attractions and a good spot  from which to fish - Nelly's groyne .


Found in a mixed box of battered books at the Magnetic Island Museum White Elephant Sale were two unusual volumes of tennis interest.One was the above 1931 DIY booklet by Victoria's leading tennis coach,C.Stuart, nominated for the Australian Davis Cup teams of 1923 and 1924, a South Australian singles champion, played in competitions between various states and in a match between Victoria and an American university. Other claims to fame were that he had been a doubles champion of  South Yarra, Grace Park and St. Kilda.

The booklet contains  adverts which indicate Stuart was a partner in a Bourke Street  tennis shop, Stuart and Steele .  Declaring  himself Victoria's leading tennis coach, he informed tennis clubs and private court owners  within 50 miles of Melbourne that he was available at no cost for exhibitions, matches and lectures on  the game .

The preface states that barriers preventing the book being published had been broken down  and, for the first time in Australia , players had the opportunity to learn how to repair their own rackets .  This was great news for country players who would no longer have to send rackets away for repairs. 

Stuart  said the Melbourne  tennis shop  would accept old rackets as part  payment on  a new  one. A back cover  advertisement for  Nugget  white cleaner -for unbeatable service -featured a female tennis player in action .   

The other unique tennis find  is a "Classic" book of tennis scoring sheets     used for   recording  matches played by teams at the North Queensland  Chillagoe  gold, copper,silver and lead smelter town , with  pencilled in names of players , the  earliest dated matches  played  in  the  l930s . 

Teams included Smelters , Central ,Bachelors and Almaden .The last recorded matches were in May 1940-ladies and girls doubles and mixed  doubles. In some instances the matches have been  signed by the umpire .

Remains of the  heritage listed refinery are now part of the Chillagoe-Mungana  Caves  National Park, in the Mareeba Mining District. In 1910 a rail line  ran from Cairns to Chillagoe , tapping  the  mineral riches  of  the  area .

Nowadays there is the  Savannahlander  four day  rail tour  from Cairns which takes  in  Chillagoe ,  Almaden  and  Forsayth.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Wednesday, September 23, 2020



 Part of the Queensland Paddle Series, the start of the Magnetic Loop  event  at  Magnetic Island  last weekend . 

Large amounts of sand from Gustav Creek, below the Barton Street bridge , along Mango Park Way , which flows into the Magnetic Island harbour, is shown above being spread on the beach at Nelly Bay , used to restore foreshore erosion. Similar work has been carried out at  Horseshoe Bay .

Tuesday, September 22, 2020



It seems  there is no place to which  one can retreat to escape the  grim news  of the day and dangers of the outside world. In times of cyclones, the smallest room in the house is strongly suggested as the best  funk hole in which to take refuge . However, on Magnetic Island , toilets are suddenly erupting , turning into smoke  chambers, alarms going off   as the  Townsville City Council   conducts smoke tests  to detect  illegal  and   broken connections . This  blogger  found smoke billowing from the back of his pedestal , said to  be due to  a perished ring , which sounds painful .

Monday, September 21, 2020


 A lateral  thinking resident has come up with a big idea  to promote Magnetic Island - a giant  magnet at the entrance to the ferry terminal harbour .  It  would  join  the list of well known  Australian  tourist attractions such as the  Big Banana , the Big Prawn, the Big Pineapple, the Big Potato ,the Big Merino, the Big Lobster  and  the  Giant ( Disappearing )  Koala .

As part of the Museum of Underwater Art, Magnetic Island residents have  been asked for suggestions for an  object, for some odd reason  linked with science, off one of  the popular beaches.

The  tech savvy islander  says  an illuminated ,  U-shaped  Whopper Magnet   is  the obvious  ultimate attraction , pointing out  Captain Cook  named  the  place ,off  Townsville ,  Magnetical  Isle  after his  compass went  haywire.

 Rather than place  the magnet underwater, he suggests it  be mounted  on  the breakwater  rocks ,right at the entrance  to  the  harbour, so  that it is  clearly visible  to  passengers  on  ferries ,  yachts . It could flash the message in bright lights : Captain Cook slept here .


One of the many great offerings in the book and art lists  by Douglas Stewart, Melbourne , is the August  1927 striking cover, drawn by  black and white artist  Hugh Raymond  McRae .  Over the  years, this blog has run  posts  about  the  Triad  , a high class  publication , started  in  Dunedin, New Zealand ,in 1893,edited by  controversial  teacher, journalist,music and drama  critic ,  Charles Nalder Baeyertz.  It covered  music, art , and science , later literature  and  politics, widely  read throughout Australasia . 

 An assistant editor was much travelled bon vivant journalist and author Frank Morton ,who had a  colourful life in  Singapore  and India ,keeping company with Annie Besant ,the British theosophist ,women's rights activist and campaigner for Irish and Indian home rule .  

Triad, produced in Sydney from l915 , claimed to be the national magazine of Australia and New Zealand , until it folded in 1927, becoming the New Triad  late in  life . It  provided  strong competition for The Bulletin. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020


 Young Curlews stretch out in most ungainly ways. At times they cause alarm by appearing to be dead or unwell , injured.  Snuggled up to their mother's tail , the pair below look uncomfortable .They can be found at the Little Darwin  backdoor soon  after 6am with their parents  wanting  breakfast.

The following view is of an older chick  spread out between its parents ; they also  are  fed .



With so many jobs being cut from newspapers,radio  and  television stations,  democracy is suffering and journalists are  becoming an endangered species. It is   becoming  lonely  working  as  a surviving  reporter  in  increasing  parts  of  Australia .

You get  an idea of the  situation in  Queensland . Due to the  Murdoch closure  of some regional papers,  the Townsville  Bulletin  runs   supplements  from   some  of  those  places.  In a recent  four- page regional  roundup from  Charters Towers, all  10  stories   carried  the   byline of  busy   Trudy Brown ,seemingly the  last reporter left  standing . 

Once again ,  The Bulletin  has  been   running   inappropriate,   smiling  stock  photographs  of  a reporter  in serious stories. One  about a  man being bashed at  home, another covering  a  gang of  kids in a brutal assault  and with  a two-page spread  about  vigilantes putting  themselves  in  danger by taking the law into their hands  .  It must be  embarrassing  for the female  reporter , makes  the  paper  seem insensitive  and  is poor subbing as well .  

In another   matter, there is an early morning ABC  newsreader who  irritates with his  mispronounced place names . Auckland, New Zealand , comes across as  Akland ; the  New South Wales  country town of Scone has become  a  Floh Bjelke -Petersen scone. 

Saturday, September 19, 2020



Three year old birthday boy Clay ,obsessed with  dinosaurs,  delighted with one of his presents which ate and regurgitated humans. He  received another  beaut  dinosaur which   growled menacingly ,  so  waged a long-running , noisy  war of  the  dinosaurs.  A T-shirt  present  featured  a  dinosaur. 

His grandmother joined in the  fun by having a dinosaur painted  on her face  

Clay managed to  tear himself  away  from the dinosaurs to  stand on the table and blow out   the candles on his birthday cake which surprisingly did not  sport   Tyrannosaurus Rex-popular Bluey instead-another of Clay's likes. 

 It was also  a birthday bash for his one year old sister-but she did not get  a dinosaur in any shape or  form .  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020



Little Darwin seriously  considered donating its rare and valuable  2008 Mr Bean computer mouse mat to the Magnetic Island  sale .

However,  on examining the worn and cracked back, it was found to be so repulsive  that   to  prevent the spread of COVID -19 , NASA   be asked to fire Mr  Bean and  his Teddy  into the toxic  Venus atmosphere to be sterilised and go into harmless   orbit   for  eternity. .  

Tuesday, September 15, 2020


 Another scoop from our  Shipping  Reporter, shivering  in the Townsville University Hospital  airconditioning .

While downing rice bubbles for  breakfast,he was shocked to discover that a 120gram  container of   SPC ProVital  diced fruit salad on the  tray  contained  imported pineapple  pieces. In small print,  it said  the contents are made in Australia  from at least 43 per cent Australian ingredients. By deduction, Dr Watson, it seems  there is a  helluva lot of imported pineapple . How can the  Queensland Health Department  justify serving  this to  patients? Has the Sunshine State  stopped  growing  pineapples?  

Our waterfront roundsman says a jovial  woman who delivers  food trays entertains  patients  by  singing and humming as she goes about her work. Other  female staff members who bustle in early in the day to tidy up  also  brighten proceedings. One often  wears a dazzling blouse   with  a  pattern  of  parrots or  a tropical island scene .

One of the cheery brigade  supplied  the Shipping Reporter  with  a  beaut  story about the pet Cockatoo, named Pepper , her parents had in the mining town of Mount Isa  years ago,  who used to shout ," Isa Mail!" Apparently he emulated a newspaper seller   who  went  about  yelling  out  the  (Mount ) Isa Mail .      

Monday, September 14, 2020


As part of  the  75th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin , it was announced a statue would be erected on Bathurst Island  to commemorate the first capture on  Australian soil of  a  Japanese soldier .  At the time of the announcement  , the Guardian Australian  described the capture of Zero pilot Sergeant Hajime Toyoshima  by Matthias Ulungura as having been in "John Wayne" style.

However, another  report   maintained Matthias, armed with a tomahawk ,demanded ," Stick 'em up , allasame  'Opalong Cassidy!"This was a reference to western movie hero  Hopalong Cassidy, his films shown on mission stations and at cowboy nights in the  The Star cinema, Darwin. 


In his book , Australia's Pearl Harbour , journalist and author  Douglas Lockwood ,wrote that it should never be forgotten that Aborigines captured  the  first Japanese on Australian soil. That arrest had impressed several mission educated women who did something they had never done before-they wrote descriptive letters to friends  about the event. Lockwood  had two of those letters ,disclosing flashes of unconscious humor, 

A  group of  Aboriginal women looking  for  honey first encountered the downed  pilot ,causing fear and consternation; he had picked up one of their  babies.The next day, Matthias  stuck  the handle of the tomahawk in the back of the pilot and said ,"Hands up!"

There is no mention of Hopalong  or  John Wayne  in  the book .

Stripped to his underpants and singlet , a pistol removed ,he was then taken  to  Bathurst Island , handed over to the military,given some first aid and photographed  above with  Sergeant  Leslie  Powell. 

The pilot  died during the break out of Japanese  prisoners at  Cowra, NSW, internment  camp   on  August 5,   1944.It is said he blew a bugle  at the start of the break out  in  which four Australians   and 231 Japanese died. 

The ABC has produced  a  series  about Japanese interned in the camp at  Hay, New South Wales, through which Sergeant Toyoshima  passed  on his way to Cowra.  

Sunday, September 13, 2020


 Two  major   events -the world  premiere of a  film about the East Timor struggle for freedom,To Resist Is To Win,  by Max Stahl  , and a memorial  service    for   prominent activist Jose Adriano  Gusmao- were held in Darwin in recent weeks , receiving little media coverage .

Stahl ,has  had a long association with Timor,where he filmed the l991 massacre  at  Santa Cruz Cemetery,Dili,  by Indonesian  troops, which focussed the world's attention on the outrageous situation . In l992 his report Cold Blood-The Massacre of East Timor, received the Amnesty International Media Award .

Stahl , who suffers from throat  cancer, and  is moving  to Brisbane for medical treatment ,attended the Darwin  premiere  in the deck chair open air theatre which was booked out , another viewing organised for the Portuguese Timor  Club. 

At a mass in the Holy Family Church ,  Karama ,attended by  many members of  the Timorese community , Darwin  agronomist  Robert Wesley-Smith, involved  in the  Timor struggle since l975,  told of his involvement with Jose Gusmao , who  fled to Darwin in the l980s with his wife,Fatinha,and a child;  three other children had died under tragic circumstances ,including from  malnutrition,  during the  Indonesian occupation .

During his eulogy, Wesley-Smith explained  how  these deaths and the "murder " of a  family had been included  in  the  opera Quito  , described as a documentary  musical drama,produced   by  his twin brothers , Peter and Martin  Wesley-Smith. 

Peter ,a longtime Hong Kong law professor, wrote the text. Martin, who died recently, was a former lecturer at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music ;he set up the first computer music studio in China in 1986,and also taught at the University of Hong Kong.

The title Quito was actually inspired by  a young  East Timor refugee,who played in a band , wrote songs , and suffered  from schizophrenia .During an episode ,carrying a knife, he  was shot in the neck by  a police officer in Darwin.

 Despite being placed on a five minute watch, he was found hanging  in a Darwin medical facility. Some of his music   was included in the opera.  Martin composed other East Timor pieces,one at the request of the  Tasmanian Symphony  Orchestra .He was commissioned by clarinetist  Ros Dunlop to   write Papua Merdeka about the thirst for freedom in West Papua .

 In Darwin ,Gusmao,a teacher,  had played a large part in demonstrations, highlighting  the plight of  the nation . He and his wife had formed an association with a Japanese woman  who supported the cause , and   journeyed out to Darwin .

A message was  sent  from Japan by that woman ,read out by Robert Wesley-Smith.In part, it said :

Jose Adriano Gusmao is, or was, maybe just an ordinary 'one of them'who patiently and continuously fought for independence, therefore peace and freedom,of their beloved country and people of Timor Leste in the difficult days.

There were many, many others,
there and here, all over the world.
Even now. I know.

But this was not ordinary attitude for him at all.
I believe it must be very hard for a gentle, sweet and caring person to come and stand on the street,
condemning others' conduct or trying to change someone's mind.

Many, many years it was.
Hard road. Seemed nothing look ahead.
The words of hope swallowed into the darkest tunnel. 

People know that.
People know what he has done.
People know who he is.

Politics never matters here.
He, an ordinary hero, must be honoured.
Honour him right.
Change the world a bit.

Returning to Timor Leste in 2016, Jose helped arrange loans for women to run small businesses and  died there . 


 Just when  a North Queensland Vinnie's shop  was about to close  recently, three  young men , judged to  be  French by their accent  ,  hurried in and said they needed  clothing for  a  party .  A  wild, Left  Bank   soiree like the  naughty nineties , with  a  dash of   Moulin  Rouge  high  kicking  femmes , Toulouse- Lautrec , drinking  absinthe  from his  walking stick , ogling the ladies    ?  

No. One  requiring clobber from the olden days - l960 to l980, perhaps even l990s .  Several old  ties, shorts  and  a  shirt  were bought  for  a total of about  40 bucks.  Must have been an exciting  evening - flashing  all  those ties .  

Even if they  do eat frog legs  ,it  is  doubtful if  the French  could be blamed for or inspired  a  Darwin   event - a live frog eating contest  at  the Noonamah Pub , the above  photo ,taken circa  l977, shows  a frog on a  Darwin stubbie , said to dwarf all other  stubbies . Naturally, the frog eating attracted much attention  nationally and overseas; an incredulous  Japanese reporter rang   the  hotel  for  confirmation  that  it  actually  took  place. 

 Nowadays , the Noonamah Tavern is  known for its"world famous " frog races on  Melbourne Cup day,certainly no  hopper  munching.

Another great Territory cultural event was the time a boat made from beercans  was  sailed  from Darwin to Singapore  by former Brisbane Lord Mayor Clem Jones and local businessman Lutz Frankenfeld .

Saturday, September 12, 2020



Albert Einstein's  desk, several hours after his death, makes the Little Darwin  work bench  on which there are many dry biros , broken pencils , a toothpick, old computer chips ,  numerous notebooks jam packed with indecipherable scribble, several containers filled with mixed books, photos, postcards and ephemera, less  embarrassing.The  cranky computer rises above the debris -mounted on a  flat copy of  Le Morte D'Arthur, by Sir Thomas Malory,illustrated  by Aubrey Beardsley.A frantic search of a nearby,dusty bookshelf for a reference  book failed, but  a long lost volume was  found.What happened to that photograph taken at the live frog eating contest in Darwin? It was on the  desk about a week ago. 

Friday, September 11, 2020


Love is in the air -but we are not  exactly sure in  what  part of  the  twitterpated   ether .  If  a  bird suddenly lands on your shoulder on Magnetic Island and says it loves you , then it  is Rosie.Tell her to get home . And  take Rocky with  her.  The colourful lorikeets  recently vamoosed  from  their  cage . 

An alert  was  put  out about the missing pair . Some people have been heard  questioning clusters of  the birds ."Are you Rosie? "..." Do you love me ?" So far, there has been no response.

Our bird stalking photographer , Vallis, claims he spotted  Rocky and  Rosie , above, accompanied by another pair,  stealing food  put  out  for the Little Darwin resident Curlews .

Vallis reckons the above photo  is of  lover boy  Rocky , flexing his muscles ,while the following snap is  almost certainly ever- loving Rosie .


A follow up postcard   to our recent  post about the American Great White Fleet that included 16 battleships and support vessels,sent by president Theodore Roosevelt on a world peace mission early in the 20th century,which included  New Zealand and Australia . It  shows sailors landing in  Auckland from Honolulu in 1908. A special heart shaped bronze   medallion was struck to mark the Auckland  visit. 

More than half a million people are said to have turned out in Sydney to see the fleet ; it sailed on to Melbourne, Albany,Manila,Yokohama,Colombo,Egypt, Italy, some ships going to the relief of the Messina earthquake,recovering the bodies of the US consul and his wife.

Thursday, September 10, 2020


Vallis flight of  fancy photo. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020


 Even though still moaning about the Townsville University Hospital freezing airconditioning ,he is really leading the life of Riley, waited  on  hand and  troublesome leg/foot  by all and sundry . As a matter of fact, a  friendly Irishman named Riley, with what appeared to be a Celtic tattoo,  wheeled him into  a cubicle for an ultra sound. An image of part of   the reporter's lower  anatomy looked  like  a close up of  Ned Kelly's rusty  helmet. Several nurses, he noted , have  Irish names .

His visitor's have included  a film maker who was once bitten on the big toe by a death adder; the aching in many joints  Queen of the Jungle , who brought him a bag of jelly beans ; an intrepid traveller  just back from Yeti territory in the  Himalayas; a postcard  sleuth  with a bumper biography of   the opulent Oppenheimers to read ; sporting a new hip,a mathematician who upset the Reserve Bank of Australia  ;  a multi-skilled  daughter-in-law who can rescue  people from tall  burning buildings, expertly massage sore limbs ,build houses and sail yachts  provided  a  container of  snakes  and chocolate biscuits on  which to snack .

Daughters regularly bring him banana smoothies ,even  licorice all sorts .  Because mixing licorice with the Coloxyl  tablets  and  some other fizzy concoction might lead to an  explosion , it was not consumed.    A large bag of nuts and a  special protein mix drink   have been provided by sons who flew in from Darwin. One of the sons  has even made the Shipping Reporter's rearranged  bedroom at home more nautical looking by putting up framed Tasmanian wooden boat festival posters on the  wall. 

 A grand-daughter and her  family, with four children , drove all the way from Darwin  to  see him  and , hearing he was leading the life of a"cold frog" in  the airconditioning, brought him Koko, the above  extraordinary  hot  water  bottle  to snuggle up to .

 One by one, the children, Oliver, Curtis, Ivy and Reuben  were brought into the darkened  room to see  the reporter,peeping out from under three blankets , wearing a beanie, looking like a relative of  Koko's. 

They left behind a  group photo and  a card  wishing him a quick recovery and lots of banana smoothies. Koko was hidden  in a cupboard  as it was felt that if the Shipping Reporter  snuggled up to Koko  in  bed  it would scare the bejeezus out of any poor hard working  nurse who came in late at night to make  observations  or  empty  a  brimming  bottle . Expect more odd  items   about  the   Shipping  Reporter while he is  living  it up  in the sub acute care unit, possibly one relating to the  unseemly episode involving the disappearance  of  the   main   television  set's  remote control .

A New  York  reader of  this  blog  boosted the Shipping Reporter's ego when she  noticed his golden prose was not appearing in Little Darwin  and emailed  Pete  Steedman in  Melbourne to  find out  why. No other readers in Iceland  or  Peru apparently  noticed  that  he  was missing in action .  


Again, this blog suggests news editors of Australian media should run a regular SCAM WATCH section , like the weather report, informing the public of the endless latest scams and annoying spam bombarding all parts of the nation . Invite readers, listeners , followers to alert you to the latest scams. Just recently ,Little Darwin was informed about a scam in which a Townsville person narrowly escaped losing $20,000. A bizarre email seems to have targeted sufferers of diabetes , packets of hemp being mailed out. Darwin friends say they were bombarded with nuisance calls, got them blocked, but a new wave started after a break .Ruthless scammers have been ringing  Melbourne people in lockdown claiming to be from government.  There is an opening for the SCAM WATCH  in regional papers in particular . Another Nicole like caller  claiming to be from NBN  has just surfaced in North Queensland along with  another annoying woman  purporting to be from Amazon re an account . Because of  its far reach and reliability, the ABC, an invaluable national institution which needs to be defended from the barbarians  , we  suggest should  look  into  this SCAM WATCH   proposal.

Sunday, September 6, 2020


 The arrival of any Douglas Stewart Fine Books catalogue from Melbourne  always  causes delight and discovery at this  blog. The latest one contains no less than 250 items of books,photographs,maps,art and ephemera. A quick stand out was the rare first Russian edition ,Leningrad, of   the  l927 collaborative  novel  set in Western Australia  by  D.H. Lawrence  and M.H.Skinner,The Boy in the Bush, ,with part of its pictorial wrapper. 


Discovered in a $1500 collection of five tipped in original bookplates  by William Hunter, published in 1943 by Hawthorn Press ,in a limited edition of 50 copies  , was the following one for the Bread and  Cheese Club, Melbourne, formed in l938 to promote Australian   art  and literature, with the help of extensive libations ,reflected in the bookplate design, founded by book collector J.K.Moir. With the impressive title Knight Grand Cheese, Moir  was a relative of pioneering  Darwin  journalist, editor , author, the Territory's first  female  justice of the peace and political activist, Jessie Litchfield. 

Jessie's estate valued at 3000 pound was left to the Bread and Cheese Club to set up a memorial award  promoting  Australian writing ,stipulating  that it should never glorify Communism. She assisted journalist ,publisher,artist  and  historian  Glenville Pike  to set up the North Australian Monthly magazine,printed in Townsville, and was its  Darwin correspondent,where she ran the Roberta lending library. After she  died down  south in l956, her ashes were flown back to Darwin and  scattered over  the  harbour .  Other  catalogue items of note to come .
Jessie with poet,raconteur and author Bill Harney ,the first caretaker of Ayers Rock,Uluru. 


 Before he was  carted off to Townsville  University Hospital in a helicopter , our Shipping Reporter said he had many offbeat  stories to be written for this  blog. During his  time in hospital he has  nearly filled  a notebook with  more ideas   from talking  to  patients, staff ,  frequent listening  to  Radio National , browsing through an Australian and New Zealand  encyclopedia and other books  in the sub acute care unit  collection .

In a surprise and very welcome   telephone call  from Melbourne, journalist, publisher,former  ALP politician   Pete Steedman  suggested that  if  he  and  our  waterfront roundsman were  30 years younger  they could buy a defunct northern  Murdoch paper  for a  $1 and shake up the  nation . As the Shipping Reporter  was  not certain  if  his  leg would be amputated  and Pete  can  only see out of one eye,they  did not seem like a pair of new dynamic media tycoons.

The Shipping Reporter nearly fell out of bed with surprise  when   he received the above card of  a proboscis   monkey, a Borneo swinger,   wishing  him a speedy recovery in one piece.The senders ,friends who spend much time in South East Asia, would not know  the significance of such a big nosed critter to the reporter. 

The late and  great crusading editor James Frederick  Bowditch ,inducted posthumously into the Australian  Journalism Hall of Fame last year,had a prominent nose.

 While fighting against the Japanese as a member of the Z Force Special Unit,Bowditch came across the monks; friendly locals with whom he worked renamed the primates "Bowditch monkeys."

 Before the invasion of Tarakan,Bowditch paddled in with a Malay operative to reconnoitre,killed an enemy guard with a butt blow to the chin from  his American carbine , but then mutilated him with  knife to make out it had been a native attack, not a member of the invading Allied force. 

That bloody act played on his mind in later years,led to heavy drinking. 

Starting a newspaper career in Alice Springs, he went on to edit the Northern Territory News,hid Malay pearl divers and stayput Portuguese sailors, backed  Aboriginal landrights, fought for underdogs,campaigned to stop the RAAF using Quail Island as a bombing range ,opposed the White Australia policy and wrote powerful editorials . He even found time to outrageously diagnose a nasty looking  red  rash  in  a thirsty  Darwin vicar's groin.   "Doctor  Big Jim Bowditch"   and famous nose at  book launch  below.

Years later , his notable nose featured in an unusual act when helping a former Darwin fireman, Peter Hood,do some concreting.Wrapped in plastic, the noble snozzle  was pressed into the wet cement so that its outline  was kept  for  posterity. 

The Shipping Reporter said he seems to recall that a billygoat may have chased Bowditch during the concreting, but he is not sure.  

Saturday, September 5, 2020



At  new Townsville stadium .

Friday, September 4, 2020



Interesting discussions are  being held  with this  young  Coucal  which flutters in and out of Little Darwin's  backyard.  It   heartily   responds below  to our  imitation Coucal calls -Woop!Woop! 

 We have repeatedly told  an Ibis, which upsets  our resident Curlews , to buzz off . It had the cheek to find a grub  with its  deep probing  beak  and then wash it in the  Curlews' drinking and  bathing  water , which annoyed   them . 

Barking like a dog , clapping hands and brandishing   a broom made a  Currawong which was upsetting the Curlews with  two young ones  fly away, the  water pistol filled  and ready  for action should it return .

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Wednesday, September 2, 2020



The above 2001  book published by Auckland University Press was  recommended  as  a good  read  by an enthusiastic researcher   with  wide  interests .  It covers  the  many  ways in which  New Zealand women  contributed to the  war  effort, often taking over   jobs  formerly   carried  out  by men  who  had  gone off to fight  .

 The advertising industry pushed the line  that women  workers, often in overalls ,boots and wearing  protective , heavy gloves , should not  forget their "femininity. " To brace feminine  muscles and internal organs against strain  , every hard working  woman (especially those leading  a  draught horse)  needed to wear  a   Berlei scientific support. After working on the hot and sweaty  munitions production line , Patsy scrubbed down with Lifebouy soap , which enabled her to overcome B.O. and snuggle up to  shift worker  Angus at  a diner. The time would come when  austerity would cease  and "war cinderellas" would step into  dream  dresses and the exquisite adornment of silk stockings by Prestige.  A cartoon warned against those American soldiers offering presents and  a good time .  


 Wrapped up like an Egyptian mummy  in white blankets and wearing a beanie  to protect himself from  the  Townsville University  Hospital  airconditioning, our waterfront scribe presented a strange apparition. Being called a cold frog by friendly  staff  nevertheless made him  feel  a bit of  a weirdo, which is  not far from the mark.

One night , going through his ablutions in the washroom  with the help of a  female nurse, he was startled to hear  a frog croak  from the direction of  the toilet bowl. Then it  was heard again , again. In Darwin back in the l950s,  he often showered in the old  tin bank Northern Territory News  washroom   with an  audience of  scores of  frogs lined up along the shower curtain , on the cistern  and  ledges  , which  protested loudly when the  toilet  was  flushed.Pythons dined on  the frogs.  

Feeling he had become frog fixated at the hospital  because the  nurses frequently referred to him as a miserable frog, he asked Nurse Nikki if  she also  had   heard  a  frog croak... Yes . She even seemed prepared to sign a statutory declaration  to the  fact.

However, the efficient  nurse seemed repulsed by the  reporter's   suggestion  she  run a  gloved finger under the lip of the toilet bowl to dislodge the  mysterious  swamp dweller. In a  further  frivolous suggestion, our man declared  the  frog would be  revealed as  one  with  registered nurse credentials . Joining in the madness of the  discourse, the nurse said, if that be the case,  the  frog would be immediately pressed into service as  they were short of staff that  night  and very busy .   

 Cocking an ear to the  toilet, the beached shipping reporter made a forensic examination of the short, sharp  croaks. He deduced they could  be  coming  from the arse-end of Donald Trump's Russian built reelection autocue or the Chinese bugged plumbing in the White House  West Wing/Wind.