Saturday, December 31, 2022

MAD , MAD , MAD WORLD , 2022



This  long distance  photograph  was taken  off  Magnetic  Island  by our Shipping  Reporter  , the   only one  north  of    Sydney's Coogee  Bay  Hotel  .   He  claims  it shows  a woman   apparently  set   up  to  paint   at  the   wheel  . What  think  ye? ... Troppo?... A  vivid imagination ?... Sunstruck ?... No  rime  nor   reason  to  invoke   Samuel  Taylor   Coleridge   in   the   post ?    

Friday, December 30, 2022


 For  many  years , Sunbirds   on  Magnetic  Island  regularly built  hanging nests  in   parts  of  Le Paradis, a  popular  French restaurant  at  Nelly Bay  .  It  has changed   hands , has  a  new name  , a  different  menu ,  and   now  it  seems  the  birds  are  into  pizzas  and   ravioli  , as   they  have  built   a  precarious    nest  , blown about by the wind , on  the  disconnected  sign  for the  Mamma  Roma  eatery   in  the   Picnic   Bay   arcade . 

Nearby is   a   billboard   displaying the   Italian treats and entertainment  available when it is open  to  the public ,  presently shut  because  the  owners  are  possibly on  an  exciting   Roman  holiday , throwing  Bitcoins  into  a  famous fountain .

When this blog  first  inspected   the   nest   there  was no  sign of  birds .  Suddenly, however,   two  flew  into view .  One  went straight   into  the  fluttering  nest , indicating  there  could  be   eggs inside  .

Its  mate examined the   menu , below,  on  The   Reef  Bar  Cafe , just opposite, which  points   out   the  early  toothy  bird  catches   tasty  tucker, including   worms . 



Photo by Vallis after over  indulgence in  Christmas  punch . 

Thursday, December 29, 2022



Cockatoos  . Catering by  Vallis .


A strange  reason has been   found  for  why so   many   people  are  being    masticated  by  crocodiles  in  Bob Katter  senior's  Queensland   electorate  of   Kennedy . 

Katter  has  on several occasions  demanded  a  crocodile cull , claiming  one of    his   constituents  is  munched  by  crocs   every  few  weeks, which seems  like  a terrible   situation  and  a  major  blow  to  the  tourist  trade.

However,  the  ABC fact checker denied  this  claim  and was  backed up  by  the    head of the  Crocodile Homicide Squad, Detective  Harry Messel , of  Cairns , formerly of  Darwin .

Detective Messel said Katter seemed to have a crocodile  obsession .  He recalled the  wrinkled   pollie , in another media  photo  opportunity,   had  once  tempted  fate  by  riding on  a  slide over   a  large ,sleepy crocodile  at  the  Cairns  casino .

Despite  this  rebuttal,  Katter  continued  to  push for  saurians to  be  culled , a  call  backed  by  the Gatling Gun Company , the National  Rifle  Association  and  the  One  Mad  Dog  Party .

As a result , an in  depth  investigation  was launched  by  Queensland  parks  and   wildlife  rangers  into   Katter's    claims  . It   has  just  annouunced that it  made  an  important    discovery  , indicating  that the Moreton Bay Ash Tree   and  climate  change   are responsible  for  crocodile  attacks  in  the  electorate , with  dire  consequences  for   other  parts  of   the   north .

The tree has  dark  tesselated   bark , left,  that looks like crocodile  skin  .  Due to climate change ,  it was found  fewer female  crocs are being born and  marauding   males  have   become  near-sighted .

In  their  search for  a  partner , the   randy  crocs  slithering   about  Kennedy  mostly   end  up   frustrated  after  cuddling   curvaceous   ash   trees   like  the   following one  ,  with   seductive,  welcoming  arms, thinking   they  are   genuine mud bath  loving   femmes . .
 In  the  process ,  unwashed  constituents  often   get   in  the way  and  as  a result  receive  a   love   bite ,  which   passes  as   mastication . 

To protect all residents  in  the large electorate from future  attacks,  all ash trees  will  be  be  reduced to  woodchips  as  a  matter of urgency  so  that  male crocs will  go courting elsewhere . Tree  lopping  , it  has been suggested , could also be extended   into  the  Northern   Territory . 

Riding  at  large on a  mower , above,   without a pith helmet,   armed  with  a trusty .45 calibre pee shooter,  autographed  by  Buffalo Bill,   trigger- happy  Katter has   offered   to  mow   down  all  ash  saplings to protect  his   constituents   from   nasty  , myopic  handbag  attacks .

James Cook University says the tree  is known as  Koy-ung-kil-pi by the Yirrganydji  and Djabugay Peoples . Medicine made from it is used to treat dysentery , wounds  and  diarrhoea ;  the  wood  is  good for  making  tools .  Fom time to time a lot of  political bulldust  is  experienced in Kennedy, so it is reassuring for locals to know that you can  combat  it  and  Montezuma's Curse by cutting down  and   nibbling  ash  tree   bark .  

The   Katter   media  scrapbook  includes   the following   clipping  of  a  close   encounter  he   had  with  a  snappy  sartorial  saurian looking for a blind date in  Kennedy . 
The large   electorate  was  named after  British explorer Edmund  Kennedy  who travelled  through  much croc infested  country in his expeditions   before  he  was   speared to  death  in  December  1848.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022


Townsville  runway  photos  by  Aeronautical  Correspondent ,  Abra .

Tuesday, December 27, 2022


  A diverse  range   of   war  books  has  been   acquired  at  various  sales  in  North  Australia   by Little   Darwin   pickers    in   recent    months .

The   above  tome,609pp, profusely illustrated  , contains  a  Coral Sea  Battle   section , found  in  a  Queensland  tip  shop. 

The Northern Territory , the bombing of Broome , Pearl Harbour, Afghanistan and  Australia's  involvement in  the  Iraq  invasion  are covered in the  above . Others   to   be   perused.    

Monday, December 26, 2022



While  you  might  think  this  is  the  setting (devoid of humans)  for   a   Where's  Wally ?  puzzle , you won't find him  here  because  it   is  Lake Weslee, Darwin , on  the rural  estate  of  agronomist / activist  Robert Wesley-Smith . Over the years , Wes, also known as Rural Rebel  Rob , because of his long involvement in many  causes , has  received  more  mentions  in   this  blog  than   Wally    will  ever  get  on  global  social  media   platforms .

Due to  rain , the lake is now  three metres deep in  parts  ,and Wes has been in for a  dip,  disturbing the   Magpie Geese and Burdekin Ducks  who  flew in for  Christmas .  Wes  says  it  is the  first time he has been able to swim in the lake , which  disappears  in  the dry season ,  before  Christmas .  

We  frequently  urge  him  to  check  that  there  are  no  stray  crocodiles  about.    




 A member of the Little Darwin  team  went along to  a family Christmas party and behaved like a glutton when  the  help  yourself    spread   was  uncovered : pork, ham, turkey, a variety of   salads,  tasty  condiments.  He piled  a  plate  as high as an elephant's  eye  , and  sat  in  a chair chomping away , salivating. 

Earlier in the  day ,  a   three year  old great- granddaughter ,  wearing a bright party  dress   and    large ribbons,  dancing about on her  dainty  toes , had   been   playing  with  a   bubble gun  she  got  from  Santa  , spraying   the   house  with   a   barrage. 

Her  brother,  five,   emerged from a bedroom , where he had been  sleeping, and   instantly tried  to disarm  his  sister ,  take over the  beaut shooting iron . 

 She  refused to part   with  the bubble gun .  He was  given  a  kind of   bubble    fluid   filled  container   with  something like a  wand which when withdrawn  and  waved  about  unleashed  a  shower of  bubbles .

Eventually,  he   was  given  his  sister's bubble gun and   became so trigger happy he was ordered to go outside   and play with it  because the   floor was  becoming  wet  and  slippery .

By this  stage , our glutton was  well into his second  plate of  tucker , even  thinking of   going  back  for  thirds . 

While he was  munching   away ,  the   bubble  gun , running hot by now, seemed to    jam  or  run  out  of   bubbles  . 

 Keen to   reload as soon as posible, the youngster  sought  the urgent   help of  our  munching  man  to  reload  the  weapon.

In the hurried  process, bubble gun fluid  was  accidently  poured onto the part  consumed second   dinner  plate  serving  of   succulent   food. To have   continued  eating  it  would  have turned  him into the  guy who  used to  sing  he  was  forever  blowing  bubbles . 

Anyway, our burping  glutton  went  home  with  a  large  bag  of  viands  and gifts which  included   soap ( not to be eaten ) , a Mona  Lisa  shopping  bag  ,Thunderbox, a book of poems by Graham Rushworth in which Curlews , Magnetic Island , a warning against taking ice and the outback dunny  are mentioned ,  plus Mindless, a colouring in book for every  political  tragic  by  cartoonist  David Rowe-bought from an op shop by  a  member  of  royalty.   


 The South Polar Times reproduces the unique hand made newspaper created monthly by members of the British National Antarctic Expedition in 1902-03, edited by Sir Ernest Shackleton and Louis Bernacchi, with literary and artistic contributions by members of the Expedition. At least three variants of the illustrated prospectus are recorded (Spence); however, this plain broadside, issued to gauge interest in subscriptions, appears to be unique. An exceptional set  listed by  Douglas Stewart Fine Books, Melbourne, $24,000.

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Sunday, December 25, 2022


If variety be the spice of life, we  could  surely do  with some  in  the  design  of  Christmas  trees.  Strolling about   Townsville's    Anderson    Botanic  Gardens  on   Christmas  Day  , photographer Vallis  picked up these bright   ideas   in  the  World  and   Australia   Cycad    sections.  

 Rock  near above novel  tree  has  handy hole   which serves as an esky into which the  tipple for  thirsty  Santa  can  be inserted  to  help him  overcome    dehydration   during   his  long,  exhausting  delivery  run .   

Though apparently defoliated by Agent Orange,  the surviving  branches   here enable  many  more  bells , stars  and  tinsel  to  be  hung .

This  hardy  Cycad, threatened by weeds,   would  clearly  withstand an  outbreak of   mother- in- law's  tongue . The same could be said for the following  specimen. 

Clearly  inspired  by the   crown to be   worn by King Charles lll, the  above  Cycad  is   the  ideal  Chrissy  gift  for  Aussie  monarchist  with  a  green , forelock-tugging  finger .


While  lurking  about Townsville on  Christmas  Day , one of our correspondents   had  no sooner   taken  this  snap  of   a   large  Santa   on  the roof of  a  house in  Mundingburra  than there was   a  loud  , single   boom  explosion ,  not  far  away  , for which  there  has   apparently  been  no  explanation.   

Earlier on , he had photographed the   very high  tide   at   the main small   boat ramp  .  It  was  so  high  that  passengers  boarding   the   ferry  on  Magnetic Island- a number of them obviouly not in training for the  upcoming Brisbane Olympics- were  warned   they  would encounter   a  steep  ramp  off   the  top deck  at  the  Townsville  terminal , so  they might want to ride on the lower  deck .

From Darwin , in the Northern Territory , we received  a  report that  a  crowd  at   Nightcliff  wharf  watched  the  exceptionally  high  tide  swirling  along  the  waterfront . 


An examination of this blog's readership statistics  has thrown up the surprise  fact  that  a  2014  spoofy post  about  Queensland Police Minister   , the late  Russell  Hinze ,  shown here in a West Australian newspaper clipping ,  judging  a  fat belly contest ,  under the heading BEER BELLY "ROLL" FOR SUNSHINE STATE  , was   recently  read   by   a   number   of  punters.
Russ , centre , also  responsible for  racing  and   liquor licencing , known as the Minister for  Everything, may have inspired ScoMo ?,  who  owned pubs and  racehorses , inspired  many   cartoons.

Comedian Max  Gillies hilariously  imitated him by climbing inside a bean bag,  enthusiastically  extolling  the  joy  of   Queensland   mud  crabs and   beer .  

While Police  MInister  Hinze  ridiculed a  tennis playing police officer  who made allegations of corruptions in  the  force .  The officer , he said, did not look very fit  on  court, and quipped  it  would  be  absurd  for  him ( Hinze)  to  play  tennis.

The Adelaide publication ,  Mary's Own Paper ,  run by Samela  Harris ,  journalist daughter of  poet , critic , columnist , editor / publisher  Angy Penguins , victim of the Ern Mallee literary hoax,   bookseller,  Max Harris , gave   Hinze  a  run in  its  entertaining   pages   back  in   July  1982 , part  of   which  follows.

Due to allegations  made against him in the   Fitzgerald Inquiry  into  corruption  during  the  Bjelke-Petersen  era,  Hince   resigned in disgrace in Ferbruary l988.  He  died  at  the  age of 72- before allegations of corruption  could  be  brougt  against  him . 

At the time  the article   appeared in Little   Darwin  , a large part of  the Queensland  population  was officially described  as being  overweight .  

Friday, December 23, 2022


Sulphur-crested Cockatoos  on  Magnetic  Island . 


An early Christmas present   received  by this blog is   the   above    calendar , bought in Brisbane   by one of  our  correspondents  .   The  Big Issue is  a   street newspaper    issued fortnightly  in four continents, run by a not for profit organisation  providing income and work opportunities for  people unable to  access mainstream  employment .  Vendors of the magazine receive half the cover price of the $9  newspaper ; in the case of the calendar , they  get  $12 of  the  $20  cover price .

Apart from  The Big Issue magazine, programs include the Women’s Workforce and The Big Issue Classroom, as well as  the Community Street Soccer.

People come to The Big Issue from a wide range of circumstances, including homelessness, long-term unemployment, intellectual and physical disability, mental illness, drug and alcohol dependency and family breakdown. It says its programs provide low-barrier opportunities for people to earn a meaningful income, build their confidence and connect with their community and support networks.

The above cartoon in the  2023 Calendar  is by Andrew Weldon who  has been  involved with The Big Issue  since its  first edition  in June  1996, vendors  having sold 14 million  magazines and collectively earned  $35 million   in   that   period. 

Covers of The Big Issue .


Vallis photo.

Thursday, December 22, 2022


Described as an extraordinary  piece of folk art -a rice hat - made in Australia  from 183 individual Turf Virginia  cigarette packets  between  1930-1945, recently  offered by Douglas Stewart Fine Books, Melbourne,  for $3300.

The bookshop speculates  it  could have been  made  by a Japanese, Taiwanese  or Korean   wartime internee   in  Australia.        

It  consists of  four tiers of meticulously  arranged ,overlapping sections- like plate  armour-entirely hand-stitched  with   fine  twine .

The hat -  42 centimetres in diameter -is surmounted by a convex "tip" fashioned  from  a large section of  one  packet . There is  an improvised  wire , apparently  original,  chinstrap .

It is said construction would  have demanded a considerable amount of patience and spare time – possibly as much time as it took to smoke the 183 packets of cigarettes (or was the packaging souvenired from acquaintances?). The ingeniously conceived hat is not a whimsical creation dashed off in a day or two – its  making was a serious long-term project painstakingly completed by  someone with a lot of time on their hands.

From 1930, Turf Virginia cigarettes were manufactured by British tobacco company Carreras Limited at their Melbourne factory known as the Arcadia Works, which was located in Cato Street, Prahran. 


If  you go down into the  Darwin woods today watch out for  fairies  about  to  sit  around  in  a  ring  and  barbecue  a   buffalo  for  Christmas . As you can see , it  takes  a  lot  of  wood to  cook  a  buff . 

Firewood , seating  and  barrels  of  Guinness  kindly supplied  by  Robert  Wesley-Smith .

Wednesday, December 21, 2022



Townsville  angles  .


 Nicknamed the  Cranky Currawong ,the  orphaned   young  bird  shown here  "escaped from a  carer " , just  flew in and  took over the  Queen of the Jungle's  welcoming  wildlife  estate . It  demands   to  be  fed , drives   other  birds   away .

The bird seems to have an insatiable   appetitite . It knocks at the Queen's bedroom window  demanding to be  fed , lands on her shoulder seeking tucker, pecks  at  anything  that looks edible  on  back  verandah tables , leaving  a  trail  of  upturned   objects . 

A young Crow which called in  expecting to  get  a  takeaway  at the royal estate  was  pecked by the  bossy  Currawong and told to buzz off.   The same   treatment  was  given a   young  Friarbird  .

The Currawong was not  quite sure  how to handle a Kookaburra   which regularly  visits   and  is  fed  by  the  Queen , so  just  sat  glaring  at  it .  

Recently, the Queen nursed a  Friarbird  which had  fallen out of a nest. It  eventually flew away, landed on the head  of a  surprised pedestrian   walking  in  the street  , and   was  handed  to  another  island    wildlife  carer.  After   being  well  looked  after, it  was  released  with  another  bird . 


Overhead sun creates  palmtree  patterns  ,  fish  in  nearby  lakes take  shelter  in    parts  shaded by trees , most  Magpie Geese  depart for   cooler  spots, few  ducks  about , Curlews  under shelter ,      


  Anderson  Botanic  Park , Townsville .  Vallis  pix .