Monday, February 28, 2022

Saturday, February 26, 2022



Photos  from Roving  Reporter  Michael.


Townsville before predicted 36 degree max. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Thursday, February 24, 2022


Abra photograph .

Wednesday, February 23, 2022


 1927  Melbourne radio station  3LO  souvenir card for    Childrens' Christmas Party , Gaston Renard Fine and Rare  Books, Melbourne , list .   

It  has  the signatures of Mary Gumleaf, Billy Bluegum, Little Miss Kookaburra , Mary  Mary and  Billy Bunny.  Other associated  cards , gold stickers  offered.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


The  botanical  wonders  of  Queensland  along with the dangers  to   the  Australian natural environment   are   covered  in  the  above   bundle   of   books  recently  acquired   from   various  sources. 

By Peter  Simon

The   profusely illustrated   book  on  adventurous  Ellis Rowan (1848-l922) , by Judith McKay , published by the  Queensland  Museum,  was  of  particular  interest . On  a wall  in my padded  den  is  the  framed  Ellis Rowan   engraving   below    of    Australian  butterflies  in  a  floral  setting .

It  was   salvaged  from  my   ruined  by  Cyclone Tracy   bound  in   copy of  the   Picturesque  Atlas of  Australasia , published  in  Sydney from  1883-1886 in 42 parts , with  800 engravings, described  as  a  monumental  venture ,conceived   by  American  Silas  Lyon  Moffetts .

Rowan was  one of the many artists  and specialist writers who  contributed to the  fabulous work which  outlined the discovery, geography and general development of  Australasia .

Described as a small, frail woman of unquenchable spirit, Rowan , born in Melbourne, painted  flowers, birds and butterflies in their native habit .This took her to  Northern Australia , the Torres Strait  and  two years  in  New Guinea , painting  birds of paradise  ,  where  she  caught  malaria .

Her work, exhibited in London ,  made such an  impact that she spent  12 years illustrating books on  American flora by  Alice Lounsberry, with whom she  went  on  expeditions  in   the  USA.

McKay's book contains many interesting black and white  photographs  of  North Queensland , including a shot of Townsville's  Queen's Hotel , on  The Strand , still  standing , above,  where  she stayed  in 1912  and  on  other occasions .  

Included in the Margaret Shaw Collection , Special Collections  section of  Townsville's   James  Cook University's  Eddie  Koiki  Mabo  Memorial Library,  is  the  following  1912  Christmas presentation copy of  Bill  Baillie , the  adventures of much travelled  West  Australian  pet  Bilby , containing  eight   Rowan  illustrations , first published  in 1908.  

Wildflower  artist   and  conservationist  Kathleen McArthur's  Living on the Coast ,with a longtime interest in the Caloundra  area , presents  striking   floral   colour plates  of  Queensland with  a  strong warning about the  continual   damage   being  done to  coastal landscapes  . It  is  a powerful  message  , backed  up  by  black and  white  damage photographs, supported   by academic    comment  from  America. Channel 7  is  about to air a report  on the  massive  problems  of  the Caloundra  coastal strip .  



Monday, February 21, 2022

Sunday, February 20, 2022


 The  programme   for  the heady  celebrations  of   May  6-16 , 1901 , marking the  opening of the first  parliament of  the Commonwealth of Australia , during the  visit of the Duke and Duchess of  Cornwall and  York  was referred  to  this  blog . It was in  a  most interesting  booklets and ephemera short list from    Gaston Renard Fine and  Rare Books ,Melbourne . Consisting of 44pp, with maps , and illustrated  by  Norman Lindsay , listed  for $120 . 
A more sober occasion , another  Gaston Renard  oddity , was celebrated in  the following item , $85, a  July 27,  1846  Van Diemen's Land Total  Abstinence   Society  pledge  , signed  in the name J. Marston Crouch , of  Brisbane Street, Hobart .


 CANBERRA SENSATION : Dorothy Dix seeks asylum in Chinese  embassy!!!

Unable to cope  any  longer writing    mindless  questions for   the  Coalition ,  desperate  Ms. Dix  slipped into the embassy disguised as a ukulele- playing  pole dancer   with  the Salvation Army   and   demanded she  be  flown  to  Hunan  under  the   name  Suzie  Wong  .

 Another  Argus Tuft non-fake Scoop

Her defection  is  more  sensational  than  that   of Vladimir  Petrov  from the  Russian embassy in  Canberra  in  l954 as she is a key player in the  Morrison Funk Bunker  / Dirty Tricks  Election  HQ.

Argus Tuft  said  distraught  Dix , a  member of  his Canberra  massage  parlour and  gymnasium,  recently  confessed  to  him   she was   being    driven  mad   writing  inane  questions  for  illiterate  Coalition members  which all  provided the  opportunity to  continually   knock  and  mock   Albert Albanese  and the   ALP  during  Question Time , then out in the hustings .

" Knock! Knock! Knock !" she had   screamed . "Honestly, more  knocks  than  took  place  at  the  Happy Hooker's establishment !"

Talking of  whores , it  prompted   Tuft  to  pull out   the  above  book from his research library , to help him prepare for the upcoming election,  by  the  expert  on  parliamentary (American ) whores, P. J. O'Rourke ,  who  died  recently .The  book was described by  a  Washington Post  reviewer as the most outrageous American civics text ever written...insulting, inflammatory, profane  and  absolutely  great  reading .

 Radio  National ran an old interview with  O'Rourke today  in which he praised Australia , described  Donald  Trump  as an  absolute  dangerous   dill   and  that  he  would  be  voting  for  Hilary Clinton , even  though she was  lacking.

 A more dignified 2019   book  , Plots and Prayers , by Niki Savva  , about the  shafting  of  Malcolm Turnbull,  nevertheless   mentioned   Mandy Rice  Davies  of   the   British   Profumo   Affair  and   a   bit  of   Aussie  bonking . 

Leader of  the  knock  around   the   clock  and   nation  goose-stepping  junta.


Saturday, February 19, 2022


Vallis photos.

Friday, February 18, 2022


 Two lizards in  fierce   territory dispute , Magnetic Island . Big Brother lizard looking  on  . Vallis series .

Thursday, February 17, 2022


Photos by  Aeronautical  Correspondent  Abra .


A new venture on Magnetic Island  offers  hypnotherapy,  reiki healing , numerology and past life regression , chackra   readings. It is next to the  busy  Drop Bear Cafe in premises  previously used as a real estate  office .  At Nelly Bay  there  is  a sign  announcing  the  cafe  vacated  by Otto's in the FoodWorks  shopping  centre  will  be opening  February 22. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022


 HOLLYWOOD : Several  Aussie productions are   expected to  take out  top prizes at  the  Oscars . One certainty , Psycho, is   a  blood chilling  account of an  annoying  door -to- door salesman  who plays the ukulele  and  wields  a   made  in  China  stiletto  to  skin   cuddly  koalas and  slit  the  throats of  nice  members  of  the  Opposition .

The  experienced , accident- prone  lead   actor  in  the  shocker  has  performed in several  third rate movies .  His  best , blundering  performance was as  Sergeant  Schultz-the  German officer in the Down Under  bunker who knew nothing  about  anything embarrassing-  in  the  series  Scomo's Hobboes .   


 The  latest above  photograph   by the  Shipping  Reporter of  the  mysterious, mutilated , fibreglass  mermaid  at  the  entrance to  Magnetic Island  reveals further  mistreatment .  With  next to no attention by the  seasick  mainland  media  since  she swam  ashore,  the mermaid's arms and head  were   torn  off   over   months, her head replaced by a lump of granite  . 

 According to our  alert  waterfront   roundsman ,   the  rock  has  been  removed and she is showing increasing  signs of weathering , lashed  by  wind  and  rain . 
Down-sized, wild backdrop .

Tuesday, February 15, 2022


 Shipping  Reporter  coverage  of   Townsville . 

Sunday, February 13, 2022



The  latest  list of  Douglas Stewart   Fine  Books  , Melbourne, included   this rarity , a  circa  1890 view of  Russell Falls, Tasmania ,painted on a  gumleaf ,   signed  by  artist  S. Wadsworth , which   sold  immediately.

Wonder if he was  related  to public servant   Walking  Jimmy  Wadsworth  who took part  in  walking events in Hong Kong  and  sparked  the idea  for the  annual  Northern Territory  Walkabout  organised by the Northern Territory  News ?

Information supplied by  the bookshop on the arcane art form  included the following :

Because of their brittle and ephemeral nature, genuine Australian gum leaf paintings from prior to the World War One period (especially nineteenth-century examples) are rare survivors. These exquisite miniature works are highly sought after by collectors of both Australian folk art and Australiana, as the medium comfortably crosses over genres. ‘Possibly the rarest of Australian collectables today, these examples of Australian popular or folk art are expressions of a remarkably innocent period of cultural isolation….’ (Vane Lindesay, Aussie-osities. Richmond, Vic. : Greenhouse, 1988, p. 99)

Alfred William Eustace (1820-1907), an English-born landscape painter, poet and taxidermist, is credited with being the first exponent of gum leaf painting in the Australian colonies. He first experimented with the medium as early as 1851-52, while in the Ovens District of northern Victoria. In 1869, a pair of his gum leaf paintings was exhibited in Melbourne at the Art and Art Treasures Exhibition, which would have brought the practice to widespread public attention.

Indeed, it became a popular folk art medium that remained in vogue in the colonies up until the 1890s. The preponderance of subjects in known nineteenth-century examples – such as the one offered here – are bush scenes.

(Later on, when Australian soldiers went to fight in the Middle East and Europe during World War l, there would be a huge revival in gum leaf painting: leaves decorated with motifs such as the kookaburra and kangaroo, along with patriotic messages, were a convenient and hugely popular type of memento from home that could be sent to loved-ones fighting overseas).

Two other examples of gum leaf paintings by S. Wadsworth – one a scene in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales and the other a Victorian landscape at dusk – are reproduced in Lindesay (ibid., pp. 98-99), who describes the gum leaf painting process thus: ‘The preparation for this socially fascinating pastime was simple indeed. When a suitably shaped living leaf was chosen – dead leaves were far too brittle – it was then left to dry, often pressed under a weight to prevent curling. It was then painted green all over, thus adding a fresh appearance and strength to the dry fibre. The decoration was finally added to the leaf in oil paint with a sable hair brush.’ (ibid. pp. 97 and 99).

Little  Darwin  came  across  the above   example of  a  postcard conveying best wishes for Christmas and the New Year  from  a woman in Adelaide   with  a   gumleaf  stitched  onto  an  outline  of  Australia  .

In an  interesting  autograph  album  started  in Scotland  in 1902 , seemingly at the beginning of a trip to  Australia and   New Zealand  , there  was  a  glued in  gumleaf  urging  a  return to  the  land of sunshine and  gumtrees. Pressed   botanical  specimens  included  a   Kiwi  fern


 For a split  second, this  blog's  new  baby Sunbird  popped up  to  have  a look at  the   fiery mad, mad world ,took fright  and hastily retreated into  the soft   fallout  shelter / bunker .

Saturday, February 12, 2022


 Our Shipping Reporter , the only one  north  of  Auckland, has returned  from a successful cruise  through  North Queensland  op shops , garage sales  and  piles of  junk   with  a  kitbag  of nautical  finds  , making  his fetid den look like a   cross between  Davey Jones's   locker   and   a  railway lost  property office. 

One   of  his  finds  , about  which  he  is  delighted, is the  above  framed  painting of  the Maldives on  a  coconut  palm  frond .

 He  made  the   highly  suspect   claim   that   he  was  reliably informed  the   following   battered   Casino  guitar ,in  a  pile of  rejects, was  strummed by  Scott  Morrison  holidaying  in  Hawaii , dressed  like a beach bum  in  white  rolled  up  daks, when  he   tripped  over  a  drunken  Elvis  Presley  look- alike  asleep  on the  beach  and  fell  with  it  into the sea , hence  the  missing strings and  dried  salt  coverage .

While you might scoff at the idea that ham- fisted ScoMo  played  this musical instrument,  it looks  suspiciously like  the  one he  mauled  in  the   following   brilliant  David Rowe  cartoon  that appeared in the Australian Financial Review .


Friday, February 11, 2022


 Many and  varied are  the  subjects  raised  on the ABC's Radio National. Some  bring  back old memories .  On Trevor Chappell's  Overnights  show an  unexpected  person  mentioned  late  one  evening was  the American  magician  and  film  star ,  John Calvert ,  who  sailed  his  yacht, Sea Fox  , into  Darwin in  June  1959,  on  his  way  to  perform  in  Sydney

By Peter  Simon 

  He   was  mentioned  briefly  in  passing  in  a  talk  about   magicians in  Australia  during  which it  was   said  that   he  had  had  some trouble  with  his  yacht .  He  sure  did.  

 I  went  aboard  the yacht   when  it  first arrived   in Darwin  from Asia  and    interviewed  Calvert   and  his  pet, chain-smoking  caged  chimpanzee  for  the   Northern  Territory  News.  

A  dramatic  situation  developed  when  the Sea Fox  left  Darwin for Sydney and soon  after  radioed that it was sinking   off   Arnhem Land . I was  aboard a  Darwin  based   RAAF  Lincoln  Bomber which flew over the  stricken  yacht  ;  another  plane  from  Townsville  joined  in  the   operation. 

The  battered   yacht was eventually towed back to Darwin  and placed up on the  hard , below,  where it was  photographed  by  Robert Wesley-Smith. 

On air , it was suggested  Calvert   had  only  died   recently . Chasing up this  aspect on  Google it was found  Calvert  had  actually died  on September 27, 2013, aged  102, in Lancaster, California.  The International Brotherhood of Magicians  said his   wife  of  many years, Tammy, had been  at  his  side.    

In  another   superb  ABC  regular, Conversations, my ears pricked up  during a discussion  by Sarah Kanowski   with   Wendy Sharpe , appointed  an official  East Timor  War  Artist ,  which   covered   her  Jewish   family background , including   a  Russian  psychic .

Sharpe  recalled  that  when   she  was being    brought up  in  the northern Sydney  beach suburb of  Avalon there were  koalas  in  the  area . The  implication  seemed  to  be  that  you  would  not   find   them  there  today .  

 This immediately   rang  a  bell  with  me  because  when I  was a schoolboy in  the  1950s ,I used to go camping on  a  bush  block   at  Avalon  with  my mother and stepfather  and   there  were    koalas   in  the  area .   On  tracks in   the  Avalon  area  I   found   flannel  flowers  growing, even  a  waratah  .  

The   road  running   past  the  block  went    down  to a  Pittwater  boatshed    through  thick  bush  in  which  koalas  were  regularly  seen.      


Abra  photos from Townsville .

Thursday, February 10, 2022


While  the grass  may not have  been as  high as  an elephant's eye   of  late , it  has  been   in  need  of  a cut  because  of  the  rain  and  hot weather ,  plus  the  fact  that  the  suntanned   mower  mogul had not been  heard  from since  he  announced  he  was  going  to  make  a  visit  to  Sydney..

This  then was the jungle  situation  when a  kind  neighbour across the way    knocked  on the  door and announced that there  is  a  Death Adder  on  the  loose  nearby .

 By  Peter Simon

Receipt of this warning caused an outbreak of tip-toeing through the  tulips when walking through the long grass to the wheelie bins ,palm fronds scattered about under which a serpent could hide ,near where the adder had  been seen.Death  Adders  were  the centre of a  study on Magnetic Island  , not followed  up  by  the  hibernating  mainland  media , as  this  2018  public notice   shows . 


An island reporter and  renowned  filmmaker , George  Hirst , was  bitten  on  a  big toe by a  Death Adder ,transported to the mainland   on a ferry  , his  foot   viewed  at no charge by a  throng of  passengers. At the Townsville Hospital his  fanged   toe   seemed to attract more attention than James   Bond .

In Australia , crotchety   old  men  in  outback  towns  have been  described as  "Death Adders ".  I knew  several . One , named Cranky Franky, an Englishman, lived  in a  tin  shack  in  the old mining  town of  Pine Creek, in the Northern Territory.

I went  digging  for old  bottles and wartime  relics   with  him  on  dump  sites in the  area . He  used  to  scoff   at  a  lot  of  young men , said  they  were afraid of hard manual  labour ,regarded a shovel as "a black snake"which they would not  pick  up

Strangely, he  accused  some  early Chinese gold miners as  being  in  this category,  saying  they  were so  eager to  get  at  the payload  that  they did not   properly  clear  out  their  holes. 

I mentioned him to the Queen and the Duke  of Edinburgh when they visited Darwin.

At  another Territory  gold mining town , Tennant Creek , the  local cemetery    sports  a  gravestone  for a   colourful character , described as a Death  Adder  at times ,photograph  by  Abra.