Wednesday, June 30, 2021


What  next ? Douglas   Stewart  Fine  Books, Melbourne , is  offering  the above matched  pair of  mid-19th century , mahogany-cased ,  terrestrial and  celestial  pocket  globes for  $25,000. The  terrestrial one , on the right , was a  gift to  "G. Phillips"   from   his  "affectionate  mother ", October  l855 .

 It has  significant  detail of  the  Antarctic,  such as  the circumnavigation by Captain John Biscoe  and the second  and  third  voyages of  Captain  James Cook ,including his death on Owyhee (Hawaii ). Each globe is three inches in diameter . 


To mark  its centenary on September 11 , the  heritage  listed  Picnic Bay School on  Magnetic Island , an art competition  is  being  held, judged by  renowned  resident   artist  Peter  Lawson . 



Townsville .


Darwin . Shipping Reporter photographs..

Tuesday, June 29, 2021


 Part of a handwritten account of extraordinary individuals  in  the  l920s and  l930s  in  Western Australia and elsewhere  in  the  North-yet  another  fascinating document in the  diverse collection  amassed  by  the  late  Vern O'Brien , now  lodged in  the extensive  library  of  the  Genealogical Society  of  the  Northern  Territory , Darwin.
Not  complete  ,   edited   in  a rough  fashion , possibly added   to  at  times ,  it seems  to have  been compiled  by  a   man  who    moved from  Marble Bar  to  Halls Creek in 1922 and   ran  an outback  mail  truck   run.  While  not certain , it  could have  been written by   Reg Wilson  who  had   the  Halls Creek  to  Wyndham  mail  run .

In  what  looks like  a  chapter , headed Characters of the Kimberleys , there is mention of  interesting cooks , station managers , drunks, camels,  horse thieves ,a range war , Vesteys, the  well- known   Duracks ,  the  Tennant Creek goldfield in the Northern Territory , the  1937 Darwin cyclone,  a  massive   blacksoil  bog .

On the subject of cooks, there is  one  known as " Short Stop Turner"  who, if insulted, left  without  notice  and  his  pay ;  a   mustering  camp was left   without  breakfast .  He  came back later,  and wanted his  pay.   Another cook  had  a  very limited menu-hot  or   cold  corned  beef.

There was One  Punch Tracey whose  yarns were  embellished  to   such  a  great degree  that  they  "verged on  fiction." 

On a run with Norm Bridge, manager of  Ivanhoe Station, started by the Durack  brothers in  1893, the truck experienced  several breakdowns  , makeshift  parts   made  along  the  way  , and  escaped flooding  from  heavy rain .

There is  mention of  travelling 160  miles  in three days  to deliver  a  strange looking   letter  or parcel  addressed to  the  manager of   a cattle station   who could  not  read  or  write .  Along the way, there had been temptation to  steam it open  and  see what was inside. It was found to contain advertising  material .

In 1937 , a group of drunken   men  was  found stranded  with  a truck eight miles  from Halls Creek , having run out of  petrol. A  man  had  been  sent  on  foot  to  get  petrol. On  the  back of  the truck was  a 44 gallon drum of  petrol.  The  men  were "too besotted " to  take  fuel from the drum , one of them, Paddy Ryan, said  the  contents  would  run  out  if   they   removed  the  bung. 

Happy  go lucky Barney O'Leary  went to Adelaide and kicked up his heels  . It  was  said  that  when  Barney  slept , Adelaide  was able to sleep . The writer of  this unusual document  appears to have moved  to   Katherine in the Northern Territory  and  had  lived   there   ever   since  .     

Monday, June 28, 2021


 Found  in  a    North  Queensland  op  shop  is   this   framed   souvenir  of   The  Ghan   Adelaide  to  Darwin  2004  inaugural  year  transcontinental  train service . The   first  run  that  year  took  place  in  February  after  126 years  of  planning  and waiting , at  a  cost of  $1.3billion  .



Sunday, June 27, 2021


 As  sections of  the   Australian  media seem  to be obsessed   with  the  idea  of  Unidentified Flying Objects  and  the supposed cover  up  of their existence  going  all the way to the  White House , probably due to the fact that boofheaded  Donald Trump is obviously from Planet Zog,  we have decided  to add  to  the  hysteria by  running the following scary  photograph  of  an  apparent  scorched  alien  lifeform   on  the footpath  in   Darwin's   Mitchell  Street   nightclub   precinct .

It is clearly showing  signs of having experienced  terrific heat as  it plunged through  the  Earth's  atmosphere and  crashed  during the  Happy Hour  in  the  Northern Territory .

Back in the 1950s, when UFOs were becoming all the rage in the world , being sighted in many places , Jim Bowditch , editor of the Centralian Advocate , scoffed  at the reports. 

However, he decided it was about time  that  Alice Springs  had a  UFO sighting . He arranged for  a  local photographer, Trish Collier ,  to   create  a bogus   space ship - a man's  shirt  collar stud - set against   the  MacDonnell Ranges .

It  was run in  a  front page story  in  February 1954,  which said the photo had   been taken by a   person who did not  want to be known ,  who had  slipped it  under  the  newspaper's door .

That  anonymous person, of course,  was  Bowditch, who did not want to  be identified for obvious reasons . The story resulted in  Alice Springs  residents  claiming  they  had  spotted  a  UFO from time to time , getting a run in  the  paper .

Bowditch said a dubious team of RAAF investigators even visited the Advocate and  quizzed him about the rash of UFO sightings in the Centre. 


Vallis   photographs .



Vallis  series .

Saturday, June 26, 2021


Invitation to a special SES event on Magnetic  Island  offering  tucker, music and information on how to  bandage  a snake bite. 


The hunt for the equivalent  of a Saxon treasure   trove   in North Australia  by  a  Darwin  twosome  armed  with metal detectors has had some exciting moments  of   late . In a secret location , they  came upon a  horde  of encrusted   Australian  coins. 

In  one part of the terrain ,with a colourful past,  old pennies started turning up . It was  hoped that a valuable  1930   one  would  be  found , even if well weathered  . Nope.  With so many pennies unearthed, the possibility of it  having been   a two-up  gambling  school  site  was  raised. Come in Spinner !  Nearby, only  decimal  currency  coins  were  discovered.  The  search continues , updates  will  be  posted . 


 Townsville  catamaran  ferry   Fantome  Cat  underwent  a  name change  to  TeamFeldt  plus a splash of maroon  for  the  State of Origin rugby league  series , the first recent match  in  Townsville , in which  locally  born  and  raised  Cowboys  star gymnastic winger  Kyle Feldt  ran on for Queensland  , the  result   a record   50-6  win  for  NSW.  Shipping Reporter photograph . 

Friday, June 25, 2021


Shipping  Reporter's  Exclusive  Expose  

Not  far  from  these   expensive  yachts  and  apartments   in   Townsville  and the nearby nicely located   Pier  waterfront  restaurant  with a great view  is  a foreshore  junkyard  which  has  been   building up  for  years.    At  a  quick count , 11   corroding   shopping  trolleys  were  spotted,  along  with  a   traffic  sign , several traffic  witches  hats  , pieces  of   machinery , a   safety  helmet  , empty  beer  cans , assorted  litter .


Some trolleys , visible for years , have  oysters growing  on them. Many people, walk, jog  and  cycle  by  this  area  , which  is on the way to and from  the  casino , not  far  from the   ferry terminal .




Distinctive garden  seat  in  Darwin  made  from  a  cut down   Indonesian  canoe  by  a  crafty  fireman  

Wednesday, June 23, 2021


Mounted, framed and under  glass, a  sign  with   instructions  for guests at  the Appian Beach House, Magnetic Island ,  attracted  this  rummaging  blogger's   attention  during  an  op  shop  tour .  It  refers to  possums who  visit  at  night , leaving behind faeces and urine , so refrain from  feeding them .On the other hand , it  is okay to  feed  kookaburras.  Please do  not  feed  Australian  wildlife  bread .

It  was  made doubly interesting  by  discovering on the  back an all the best for 1996  handwritten  message  which seemed to indicate it was  from people  from Wagga Wagga  , New South Wales , who had a memorable  stay  at  the  guest  house , and   had   souvenired  the instructions  and  had  them   framed .   

 The  Appian Beach House , handy to beaches  and a pub,  featured  in  the following  real  estate  advertisement  when  it sold for  $675,000. An imitation crocodile  graced  the  side  of  the pool.  


 Library  produces  fabulous  photograph  collection 

On a recent  visit to  the   Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory (GSNT)  in Darwin , not  expecting to  get  a positive  response, I  asked  if its superb library  contained  any  postcards  produced  for  the  colourful  character ,  Jack   Buscall , who  ran  the   Curio  Cottage, pictured here in 1938.

By Peter Simon 

On  the spot, a volunteer  member of  GSNT, sorting out a box of old photographs ,  produced  a  bundle  of  Buscall snaps . Eureka !!! 

Years  ago, I  wrote  an article  about  Buscall  who became   paralysed after  he  fell   trying  to  get  INSIDE  Darwin's  tin-walled Fannie Bay Gaol .  It was  in  the free and easy days  when  prisoners were allowed to  go into  town  and  socialise, but  had  to  be back  in  time  before the  gates  were  closed.He lingered longer in town , came back late , banged on the gate, got no response. So  he  tried to gain entry by climbing  scaffolding erected  for  repairs  on  the  prison wall, fell, broke his back .

While in Darwin hospital he started collecting stamps , using  a hospital typewriter  to belt  out  letters to  penfriends  all  over   the  world   The above photograph,showing him in bed, attended by   Doctor Harris , Matron Gallagher  and  Sister  Stewart , is from the GSNT  collection .

Released from hospital, he  established  the  Curio  Cottage , a shop which sold a wide range of items -  groceries , books , buffalo horns, and  Northern Territory postcards . He  sat in a  bed  at  the front ,  mirrors placed  about the shop  so  that he could see what was going on . It was later  claimed he ran the  first  self service shop  in  Australia .

 To attract tourists off  ships, he had a small zoo which included an emu and some snakes  . Children used to sell him frogs for sixpence  a dozen  with which he  fed  a  python.  One of the  snakes   bit  a  passing  Aborigine .

Author Xavier  Herbert  knew  Buscall  who  wrote the  Round About column in  the  union owned Northern Standard newspaper. Many people used to drop in and mag  with  Buscall in the Curio Cottage , subjects of discussion often mentioned in his newspaper column .  As a result , Curio Cottage   became  known as  the  Gossip Shop .

The above GSNT photograph is of  Buscall's  buckboard in Chinatown , a sign points to  the  Australian Workers' Union office . Buscall was said to have first  arrived in  Darwin with a circus ; a master builder and carpenter, he  also took part  in  SP betting . 

Another photo,above, is of  a  1915 strike meeting in the  open air Don Theatre , the waterside  workers  demanding a  payment of  two shillings and fivepence  per  hour  for  handling  cement .  

After the February 19, l942 attack on Darwin, Buscall, against his  will ,was evacuated to Adelaide , the  zoo  animals dispersed  by  police . In  Adelaide he opened another  Curio Cottage  which mainly traded in stamps . When he died in 1945  his 40 volume stamp  collection  was  sold.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021


 This  being Refugee Week in Australia, there is a golden opportunity for the Townsville Bulletin to  pick  up   the  refugee  story  on   Magnetic Island   which  has  been  going  begging  for weeks ever since the  launch of  Amnesty International 's 60th  anniversary  exhibition in  the  island's new   Louver Gallery .

Not covered by  The Bulletin , the  exhibition  ,mounted  by  talented and concerned  island  residents , highlighted  the  plight of  refugees  , and others, including  Julian Assange who  once  lived  on  the  island .

Of  particular note  were  two attention grabbing  drawers  dealing specifically with   the  subject  of  refugees  , one  above , including  the  Tamil family  from   Biloela  , the  subject  of  a  national outcry .The other drawer, identified  as  DUTTON'S DRAWERS , contains the faces of  people locked  in  detention  with  Minister  Peter  Dutton's  washing .  

Here is a news tip for The Bulletin and any other members of the mainland media:  Actually visit the island  and discuss   the refugees  with the  local  ALP  branch and  individuals  who  have  been  raising  the  issue ; talk to  the  artists and others  who  contributed to the  Amnesty International   exhibition ;  speak  to   locals  making contact  with Assange  and  his  mother; chase up  the  interesting  American  angle   with  the  exhibition .And here  is  anothe r fascinating  twist  -those  drawers  above  were   made  from  Chinese  trinket and  jewellery boxes .



Abra  series .


Darwin photograph by our Shipping Reporter .

Monday, June 21, 2021


A  great   garage  sale in  the following  residence up  for sale  on  Magnetic Island  revealed   interesting   stories   about  artists  and  musicians who  passed  through  its  intriguing   portals  over  40  years .

One of the musicians  was Glen "Flag" Ollier  , one of  the  drummers  in  Australian rock and roll singer Johnnie O'Keefe's  band . O'Keefe, nicknamed  the  Wild One , is  said  to  have been   the  first  Australian  R and R  singer to  tour  the  USA.  

 Ollier ,56 , was  hit on the head by a stray golfball during a charity match on Magnetic Island and suffered severe brain damage which paralysed him down one side  .  He  sued  the   Magnetic Island Country Club, where  Greg Norman  had  played when  he was a boy, and Mark Shanahan 49, who hit the the ball, the case receiving  much coverage  in  overseas  golfing magazines  .  He   was  awarded  $2.6 million  in  damages  from Shanahan . A set of  golf irons bearing the name  American  Ben Hogan  was  for sale . Could these have  belonged  to   Ollier ? And  what  about  that set  of  drums ?  

 Members of  Midnight Oil were  said to  have  dropped  in . Old signs, including  advertising   ones , are  nailed  under  the   house.

The artistic  sign  below  is  at  the entrance to  an interesting  room . A couple once asked if they could move into the  premises  and  were  given a verbal okay .  They  came back  and  said  they  had  five children  , was  the  invite  still applicable ?  They were   given  the green light  and everybody  was   living  there  "in  harmony" two years  later .    


Near  the  swimming  pool,  which  comes  complete with a  Kombi van in which  is  kept  the  pool equipment, is  a  decorated  cocktail  trolley . Almost forgot  to  mention  that  a variety of  coins  were  noticed embedded in  concrete  paths .

An idea of the wide range of items for sale  is gleaned from the  following shot, a  large Buddha  painting   on  offer  as  well .  

 There was much old  furniture  upstairs, hand crafted wooden pieces  downstairs , including  the  one  below .

Visible on  what appeared to be  an old  greenhouse in the backyard were instructions on  the wooden  framework  not  to  spit   and   commit  no  racism.

NOTE: Johnnie  O'Keefe  got on  exceptionally well with  the Northern Territory  News  crusading editor , "Big Jim " Bowditch . When  Bowditch   flew to  America   with  Qantas in a  press party to see the new  Jumbo jets he  had  a  spectacular  wardrobe  provided  by The Wild One .Bowditch  had just intended wearing a pair of long pants, not  shorts, and borrowing  a  jumper and a  coat , there  being  no  need  for such clobber  in Darwin.

From  his own wardrobe, O'Keefe  gave him  a double- breasted ,pin- striped , blue -black  gangster  type suit,  with  wide  lapels and  padded shoulders .There was also a mauve suit. , four dress  shirts, ties, built  up  shoes,and even floral underpants! O'Keefe  threw in a thousand  dollar  Spanish leather overcoat and a pair of gold cufflinks O'Keefe had been given when he appeared  on  the  Johnny Carson  Show  in  America .