Wednesday, March 31, 2021


With  the chaotic  Coalition  looking   increasingly  like  David Rowe's  brilliant cartoon,  which could be mistaken  to  represent  the  current   Australian  political scene  during  the RAAF's centenary celebrations ,  award  winning political  reporter  Argus  Tuft   presents  another  incredible scoop. 

CANBERRA: Scott Morrison  feels  so  threatened  that  he  has  gone bananas - Joh Bananas , that  is .  It  is  said that  a former  Queensland  Premier, Joh Bjelke- Petersen, kept a length of rope in  his office  down  which  he  would  escape  in  the  event  of  an  attack  on  the  building .  

Well, the following exclusive  photograph  taken during Question Time in parliament  reveals that  ScoMo  has a length  of Indian rope  wrapped  about his body , so  that he can  escape from any  building when voters come  after him,  intent  on  tarring  and  feathering  .

It  shows  him  being grilled by   ALP Leader Albert Albanese  over his failure to front the March 4 Justice demo  outside  parliament .The  rope is clearly visible - running   up  ScoMo's   coat  sleeve  onto  his  shoulder . It will be recalled that   PM John Howard once  wore a  bulletproof vest .

Furthermore, I  can reveal that the rope is  made  from  the  same  hessian from  which   the  bag  into  which  windy  Alan Jones  said  PM Julia Gillard should be thrust  and  thrown  into  the  sea .  

It is  understood that under the  special quad  pact , ScoMo has asked  Indian PM Narendra Modi  to  fly in  an  Indian  rope trick expert  to  teach him how to  avoid  painful rope burn

This is because Morrison  has  been experiencing  painful  burns  in  the  nether region, causing  him to  walk  like a ruptured  duck ,see below . New bamboo jocks did not help . The pain , he said, was like standing  with a leg on either side of a barbed-wire fence, which  Joh Bjelke- Petersen said  was impossible , but  it  caused  rusting  Victorian  Liberals  to  giggle  inanely        
Even though every member of the PM's office is  aware of  his  doomsday escape  rope  and  the  excruciating agony he experiences when  he  claps  a hand  on  a   vital  part  of  his  anatomy , the  secret  has not  leaked to the media, until now . He  still  intends parachuting  , screaming  as  the harness straps  jerk  tight ,  from  a helicopter , at  least once a week,  dressed  in a  rear admiral's uniform out of HMS Pinafore for  another photo  opportunity



There was movement on Magnetic Island  for the word got around that Motley ,the  wonderful  Curlew  mother of  strays , had   escaped   with  some  youngsters  and   gone  bush . 

A  search party   was organised by wildlife carer   Bev   from  the Man Friday Mexican Cafe  and International Restaurant , who rescued  Motley when she  was  an abandoned waif . The touching story of  how  Motley initially  took refuge in  Bev's  wardrobe and emerged to  become  the  mother  of many other  orphan  birds was  outlined  in  Little Darwin .

Strangely, Motley , who  never  leaves home , suddenly went walkabout with four  other  Curlews that  had been placed  in her care .The youngsters , soon to be  freed , had  not  been banded so that they could be identified in the future . 

The  concerned search party included the  Queen of  the Jungle's own Persil white  Big Bird    and a  tagged Curlew   friend  who are  pictured at  the head of  this  post . Thankfully, Motley  came  home , like Lassie in  that touching Hollywood  movie.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021


 King's Cross  Whisper  Cosmic Scoop 


ADELAIDE  :  In a desperate bid to distract attention from the  Coalition  wreck  , Prime  Minister  Scott Morrison   today shocked  the  nation  by declaring  all  out    war on  Mars. In  doing so , he  issued   the   above   frightening  photograph  of   invading flying  saucers  over  the  Great   Barrier  Reef , near  Cairns .

Wearing   a  flak jacket  like  John  Howard and Top Gun's sunglasses ,  he  told  the stunned media  pack  that he  has  received a top secret  report  that  the  evil aliens   are  intent  on  stealing  our  women !!!!.

"Worse  than  that ,"  he added, "  they want  our  vast  coking  and electricity generating   coal  deposits , having  exhausted  all  their own , reducing   their   atmosphere  to  such  a   toxic  state  that   they   live  underground   in   burrows." 

 "Our women are  sacrosanct !" Scomo declared " We  will  not allow  them to  be   teleported  into  spaceships   and   deprived  of   keeping  the  home  fires  burning   with   lovely  black  coal."    

The PM  made the stunning   announcement  when  outlining   Operation  Zap Happy  , a  billion dollar    missile   base   in   the  city of  churches , which  will  launch  long-range  rockets  at  Martian spaceships , suddenly   observed  in  various   distant   parts  of  Australia on  the government  backed  cheap   airline  flight  tickets. 

He went on to say that China had kindly given permission for  one of the  missile bases to be  placed  next to  the port  of  Darwin , which  it owns .   

ScoMo  grimly stated  the  Martians  would  realise  that  Australia is deadly  serious when it  beams a  light display throughout the cosmos, featuring  Attorney-General   Michaelia  Cash ,warning  that  we will conduct a scorched earth  policy  throughout   the  land  to  prevent  them  taking  over our beloved  country , girt  by   sea  and  angry women , some  of  them  named  Gertie. 


 Shipping  Reporter  Special 

Today  ,not  working once more  , Townsville's Victory in the Pacific memorial fountain  again  appears to  have sprung  a  leak , like  it  did  last August . In  the top  chamber of  the  fountain  , an underwater light was missing .   In  the  bottom chamber ,  a  plastic  spoon and a straw  were  seen, below.  Other  takeaway  cutlery and  a soggy paper napkin were on  the  ground ,  an  abandoned  Big W  trolley close by , near   the  usually  grotty bus  shelter.

Down near  the  ferry  terminal , broken glass was   still  visible  well  after a month   under  the  giant  anchor  off  the  US aircraft carrier  Coral Sea , a gift  to   Australia .  

At the same time , the large  Coral Sea Battle memorial  site in the  Anzac Memorial  Park   was  in  need of  attention - weed  and  litter  removal , for starters .  Faded  , hard  to  read  details  of   the  historic  battle , pointed out  previously by the Shipping Reporter, need  touching up , one  of  his photographs   illustrating   the   point .

The   obvious  neglect  of the  city's  memorials  needs  prompt  attention   and the  local media  should  look  into  the   situation , actually  go  and  look  from  time  to  time .   

NEXT :  Neglect  of  another  major  memorial. 


Named the Saint Andrew Cross spider  because of the X-shaped cross it weaves with silk  on  its orb ,top. Saint Andrew  is said to have  been crucified  on  a  cross   of  this  shape . The spider  is swinging free  in  the above  snap . The  cross is  said  to reflect ultraviolet light, making  it attractive  to  flying insects.  Vallis photographs  

Sunday, March 28, 2021


It  is said  there is a place where old elephants  go  to die .  In Queensland ,  some  old  buildings  are   going  to   a pleasant spot -Magnetic Island- for   a new lease on life . The  above old building , from Ingham, north of  Townsville , has  been placed on  an island block in Mandalay Avenue, Nelly Bay,  to be  modernised , while  retaining  some of  its  original   distinctive  features.   


 The  above  old  Townsville cottage , barged  to the island in pieces , has been  converted by master builder Terry Gaffney  into a  most attractive abode , described  by  some  as  the  "miracle  on  Wallaby Way "- that being the  road  it  fronts  at   Horseshoe. Bay .

Terry, the drummer in Townsville's popular Midlife Crisis Band, has  a deft  touch  with  old  buildings .Over the years he honed his building skills far and wide in the north , including  on  a  crocodile farm  in the Gulf . In  recent  times he  has  renovated  a  number  of  island  houses.   His  own  home  is  a  quaint  old   island  building . 

This blog watched  him  transform  the  Horseshoe Bay  cottage  , add a  large deck  at  the  rear  and  other  special  features .

glass  display  panel  containing  the original  front  door  key  plus some of the  buildings   history  was  placed  inside  the front  door .  When  completed and  listed for sale  at  nearly $440,000,  it  attracted  much interest, sold  quickly .


Terry  has been asked  to  resuscitate and convert  another old Townsville cottage  from Bayswater Road , Currajong,  which will be shipped  across to the  island  in  two  piece  and  placed  on  another   vacant  block .  


Marauding Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, in a gang of 10, stripping  seeds  from   palm trees , bombarding  a  carport  for  hours in  the process , disturbing a  quiet Sunday afternoon , producing  dropsy  art  which, in a great  flight of  imagination, could be mistaken for the early stages of Jackson  Pollock's  famous  Blue  Poles.

Vallis  photos 

Friday, March 26, 2021


A  brand new art gallery  has  opened on  Magnetic Island  at the residence of  Vivian  Moran  who for  years  single-handedly  ran   the  Townsville  Maritime  Museum . She  has  long  been involved with  the   Museum  of  Tropical  Queensland  which  has  a   large  replica of   HMS Pandora , the  British Admiralty  vessel  sent  out  to  capture  the  Bounty mutineers , sinking  after  striking  the  Great  Barrier  Reef  in  1791. In  Viv's kitbag of skills is  a post graduate diploma  in   Marine   Archaeology  from  Fremantle's Maritime Museum . 

The  gallery opened  with  an  exhibition of  works  by    Magnetic Island  artists  and  offers  a  wide  range  of   prints  and  postcards  as  well. One of the   island's  many  shipwrecks , Presto , was  spotted  hanging  on  the wall. There  are  biographical  details  of  15  artists.  

The  gallery is  certain  to become a  big  attraction .  A  follow  up  exhibition  has  already  been   arranged  with   Amnesty  International . 

There is  no truth  in the suggestion  that  Captain Bligh  will  publicly   flog  somebody and cut off  their  breadfruit  ration  over  the  apparent  misspelling  of  the  gallery's name , although  ringside  seats  would  undoubtedly sell  for  an  absolute  motza  to  witness such an  historic  event.   

On the other hand , if the  desirable gallery  had  called  itself   The  Louvre  , which sounds  like  the famous  museum  and  art  gallery in Paris, the  French may have been upset  and slapped  another  trade  restriction on Australian  produce.   



Vallis  photos. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021


 For more than half a century , Darwin agronomist Robert Wesley-Smith  has not only  recorded Territory  major events  , but  been  personally involved  in  many of  them . He  has  kept extensive  files , written  press releases ,  stood as an ALP candidate ,  played  the  part  of  Australian  journalist Roger East  being shot  and  thrown into the sea  during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor  ,  organised  Darwin's  largest  Australian  per capita moratorium against  the  Vietnam War, received death threats, built up an impressive  photographic  collection , snaps  from  it  appearing  in  this   blog .

Even though the diary of   the English Government  official  Samuel Pepys (1633-1703)  included the dreaded Plague and the Great Fire of London ,  it  makes  tame  reading  compared  with  the alarums of  Darwin activist Wesley-Smith. And  Pepys  never  bothered to  build  up a  large collection of T-shirts  used in  protest  marches  for  various  causes , getting  a  bit  mouldy about  the  armpits  in  steamy  Darwin .    

A foundation member of the Northern Territory Civil Liberties  organisation ,formed in l975, he  took up  many causes . He had a close  working relationship  with   the  crusading editor of the Northern Territory News , the  late "Big Jim " Bowditch .Wesley-Smith , commonly called Wes , bought a  copy of  Bowditch's book  Whispers from the North  at  the Darwin university  launch in 1993.

Bowditch penned  an inscription  to  Wes , indicating  his  respect  for him , saying  he  was one  of  the  best   men  he  had  ever  met. 

The latest  photograph  (below )  from  Wes's unique collection  is  a January  1963  view  of   the sadly  dilapidated   yacht  Sea  Fox  which  American  actor and magician John Calvert   sailed into   Darwin , the crew  including  a  caged , chain-smoking  chimpanzee  , dubiously claimed to  have been Tarzan's  own monkey from  the  movies and  an attractive  Filipino singer . 

 Calvert  headed   for Sydney in  the yacht  to stage  a magic show, got into difficulties off Arnhem Land  and was  rescued  by the  Navy.  A  plane from Townsville  dropped supplies to the stricken yacht , the crew , frantically baling , was  filmed  by  Calvert.   The  battered  yacht  was eventually  towed to  Darwin -  Doctors Gully-  where  this  photo  was  taken . The  chimp went off  to  a life  of  luxury  at  Sydney's  Taronga  Zoo, suffering nicotine withdrawal   symptoms  early  in  the  piece .

Jim  Bowditch  received  a Walkley Award for his coverage of the unusual  episode, which went world wide . In  America , a woman  heard the news , and  demanded to know who was  Mrs  Calvert  on  the  yacht, as  she  was  Mrs Calvert , with  a  son  called  John , pining  for  his  daddy .  

 Wes has just been  approached for information   by a  journalist  intent on writing  a  book  about  an  historic Territory  event   .  This has caused Wes to go looking  for his  l971  files , which  could  be  under the  rare , yellowing T-shirt  collection , which we firmly  believe should be proudly  displayed in some museum , art  gallery , public  institution .

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


One of our alert  runners in Cairns  who  supplies this blog with a range of  great finds  came across the above slim volume , first published by the Darwin Military Museum in 2018.  It is an important subject .The back cover  features a photograph of the famous police tracker, Bul-Bul, barefooted, in a khaki uniform. 

By Peter Simon 

The  award winning author Xavier Herbert , who wrote  the  1938  novel   Capricornia, about the Northern Territory,  told me of his relationship  with  Bul-Bul  ,  who  inspired   Jinbul  in  Herbert's follow up epic ,  Poor  Fellow  My  Country.

In  Nemarluk, King of the Wilds, author Ion Idriess described   how   Bul-Bul had  relentlessly tracked for six month and arrested the leader of an indigenous group which vowed to stop intruders on their land, resulting  in the murder of Japanese shark  fishermen , prospectors and cattlemen  in the l930s.  Bul-Bul received  a  bag of flour worth five shillings from the police as a  reward for  capturing  Nemarluk 

Committed for trial in the  Supreme Court ,  Nemarluk  had escaped from Darwin's  tin walled  Fannie Bay prison  while  in  a group  emptying  toilet cans  into  the sea.  He died  in  Darwin from TB .  

Herbert at the Alice Springs grave of Harold  Lasseter who sparked the  hunt for  the  great  lost  gold  reef  of   Central  Australia. 

The many rare experiences Herbert   had in the Territory  included  being  made superintendent of  Darwin's  Kahlin  Compound, his wife, Sadie, put in charge of the girls.

Described as a "young halfcaste ", Valentine Bynoe McGinness , an ambulance driver  at  the hospital, mechanically minded and inventive , once employed as a street sweeper, helped  Xavier  improve conditions  at  the compound , including the  construction of  a 26-hole dunny , which nobody used .   

A wild fight broke out in the compound one day , spears, some with reinforced  steel  tips were  flying.  Herbert  uttered "Jesus !",  rushed  in to try and  stop  the mayhem . He told  me  that out of  the corner of  his eye he had seen a "black " armed  with a nulla-nulla about  to clout him, so he wheeled  around  and  belted  him under the chin .

It was  Bul-Bul, who had  moved  in  to  try and protect  him .  Bul-Bul  called  Valentine McGinness "cousin", and  had  told  him  in  great  detail  how he had  captured   Nemarluk.  Bul-Bul  had served time himself  for  tribal murder and , as often happened,  police  made him  a  tracker.    

Herbert said Bul-Bul, who lived at the compound,  reported the goings on there to police.  In  Herbert's words, he stole  Bul-Bul  from the police and told him he should not  go around pimping  on  his  people . 

Next : The wartime trials  of  Bul-Bul and Herbert .

Tuesday, March 23, 2021


 About to swab the deck and open up on Magnetic Island , after a cruise, Scallywags Cafe  has a  sign seeking staff . Saltwater Restaurant  and other  eateries  are  also   after  crew . Casual  cleaners  are  being  sought .   


There  are  pleasing  surprises  for  book  addicts  in  North Queensland . For example ,  a   presentation  copy  to  a  former  Australian   Prime Minister , Malcolm Fraser ,  of   journalist  David  McNicoll's  1979  autobiographyLuck's  A  Fortune ,  bobbed up   early  in  the exploding  Canberra  Bubble  sex  allegations .

A former  war correspondent  and editor in chief of Frank Packer's Australian Consolidated Press  from 1953 to 1972 , McNicoll  was also a columnist with the Sydney  Bulletin .  It  is a most interesting read  and  contains an April 4, l974  , lengthy , forthright  , taped  interview  with  Sir Robert  Menzies  about  Australian  politics  and   key players  in  it , with some current relevance . 

Sir Robert  lamented the leadership of the  Liberal Party  at the time , saying Billy Snedden  was  hopeless, William McMahon was "that contemptible squirt" and  Jolly  John  Gorton  a  lightweight .  

Commenting  on  lawyers in politics, he said  that although he had encouraged  Garfied  Barwick ,who became the  Attorney-General, he had never been any good in parliament , a disappointing politician . Parliament   needed  first  class lawyers, it  had  too many  third-rate ones.  

 Malcolm Fraser, with a hint of statesmanship, he opined, had no hope of becoming  leader.   McNicoll  admitted  Fraser was " the  man  Frank ( Packer ) and I  are  for" .  There is  a  full page Ward O'Neill  caricature of Fraser, nicknamed  the Crazy  Grazier, in  the  book.  

Of course,  Fraser did  become the Liberal leader , threatened  to cut off Big Gough  Whitlam's supply, and the  tipsy  Governor-General  sacked  him in an outrageous  act  against   the  Australian democracy in  November l975 .

Fraser's appeal  to  voters is  clearly illustrated in the following  l983 photograph of him on the campaign  trail at  the Post Office Hotel, Brisbane 

In October 1986 ,Fraser  was the centre of a sensational  incident  in Memphis, Tennessee in which he lost  his trousers, a $10,000 Rolex watch ,$600 in cash and  his passport . Dazed, with a small towel covering his  southern comfort zone , he fronted the reception at the  Admiral Benbow Inn, where he had reportedly signed in as John  Jones from Victoria .

A kind cabbie supplied him with a pair of his own trousers , but said Fraser had not  thanked  him  for  the  tweeds. The Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper  claimed    Fraser did not report  the robbery because: “I had a busy schedule to keep and chances of getting my stuff back seemed  pretty remote”.

 Packer publication claimed Fraser  said  he wished  he had never visited "bloody Memphis". A tattooed lady , it was reported , could have  doped him in a dark bar , a number of Memphis  businessmen  having  also  been   victims  in  the   past. 

The  dustjacket blurb on McNicoll's book highlights comments he made on subjects of interest, such as :* I have written editorials which I deeply regretted  next day. I have attacked people in print who did not deserve  to  be attacked. I have taken part in the manipulation of politicians .*Journalism is a profession where destinies are often decided at dinner tables, and where  true  worth  is  often  by-passed  for wrong reasons .

Monday, March 22, 2021


 Situated in  an  old Cairns courthouse , at one stage a hotel , the From the Ground Up  exhibition  by the Yarrabah  Arts Centre  celebrates the vitality and beauty of  Yarrabah's  environment and reflects the stories of the Indigenous  community  and its  culture. The  foundation  to each story reflects  childhood  memories of  fishing, hunting  and collecting from the land and sea.

A correspondent recently sent  coverage from  another exhibition in the Cairns Regional Art Gallery  which  included the above  distinctive Central Australian  watercolours  by  Albert Namatjira,from the collection of a Sydney art dealer. 


Photos by Petros.


Vallis photograph .

Sunday, March 21, 2021




 The  incredible growth of  Shanghai over 20 years  is  evident  in the following  photographs  sent   by  our  Aeronautical  Correspondent , Abra.

Mysterious Shanghai captured the attention of  Darwin , regarded  as a Chinese town because of its large Chinese population, when the 1932  American film  Shanghai Express   , starring Marlene Dietrich,  was  screened  in the open-air   Star  Theatre , just  across the road from the Victoria Hotel ,run for  years  by  the  Fong  Lim  family.

In  1943 the film was  remade into Night Plane From Chungking  and then Peking Express  in  1951.  

An elegant woman  said to have  been  an  airline  hostess on early  flights  into Shanghai  retired to  Alice Springs, her  son  a  renowned  aviation and defence  journalist   who  wrote a  book about  the  Qantas Kangaroo Route .