Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Tuesday, November 29, 2022


 It  rains so  much  in  the sugar  town of  Tully, Queensland , that the deluge   was turned into an  odd  tourist attraction in   the shape of  a giant frog decorated  Golden  Boot  7.9  metres  high , nearly 26 foot ,  the  amount  of  rain  recorded  in  1950. 

Some of our brave  drip- dry  correspondents   drove through heavy   rain  to  Tully  recently . Apart from rain  clouds ,  steam   coming  from  the  sugarmill  can  be  seen   from   parts  of   the   scenic  town  .



Photos  by  Aeronautical Correspondent ,Abra. 


 The  Sunbirds  constructing  a nest in a most unusual place -on a  dream catcher- situated on the  back verandah of  a  Magnetic Island  home ,  have  received   unexpected   assistance -  A   young  girl   who lives  there , armed with  tweezers , picked up pieces of   dried  grass  and    sticks  , placed them  on the seat of  the  nearby  bicycle  , and  waited  to see  what  happened .  The  birds picked  them  up ,  inserted  them  in  the  nest  and  made her a paid up   member of  the  BLF under  the new  indusfrial   relations  laws .   

Monday, November 28, 2022


 Following    recent  , welcome   rain  on  Magnetic Island  , seen above under  cloud  in  the distance, photo by Abra,  the Queen of  the Jungle   said  it  seemed as  if  climate  change  had  confused   Rain  Orchids .   This  unusual  statement  was   based on the   fact  that  her  Rain Orchids, and   others on the island ,  had   flowered  ,  usually   indicative  of   good   rain  within  seven days,  but  this  did   not eventuated , just a  few slight  sprinkles. 

 Probably  a  month  later ,  good rain   has   started  to  fall  overnight ,   but it seems  not  as  much  as   in  Townsville .

The   effect of the rain  is evident in many ways , the dripping  Illawarra Frame  Tree  flowers  , for  example .

 Flying  ants  came out  in droves , lizards  of  various  sizes emerged  to  feed  on  them , wasps  began  scooping  up  water to make  mud  nests, ,butterflies  are   fluttering  about  in  numbers,   laying  eggs . 

Throughout  the  rain ,  the  Curlew  sitting   on  eggs  out  in  the  open  in a dangerous position under a  frond  shedding   palm tree   had  a  narrow  escape  when one thundered  down   while she was  in situ  ;  off  the  nest chasing  an  intruding Curlew   when   the  photo  was  taken , eggs  far  left  and  a  mug  of  drinking  water   supplied   at   this   blog's  expense. 

A  variety  of   small, flying  insects  and   colourful  larger  beetles ,see  one  here,  were   noticed    on   plants .


Wellington photo.

Sunday, November 27, 2022


In the archives at Charles Darwin  University  is a fabulous  collection  dealing with  famous  Australian  poet  and short story  writer  , Henry  Lawson  (1867-1922), above,  items from which   could  be   included  in  a   major   attraction  ,  a  kind  of   media   and   literature  museum,  in    the   Northern  Territory   capital .

 Little Darwin  was  lucky  earlier this year to   spend   a  short  period    of time   rapidly  perusing   the   great collection  which  was  compiled and donated to the university by  the  late Professor  Colin Roderick , of Townsville , who  wrote  extensively about  Lawson ,and   promoted   the  study of   Australian   literature   and   authors.

The collection, contained in  two sliding  panels of  a   cadenza , includes  some  40 cartons . glass negatives,  files , letters,  early  magazines , Australian Labor Party  newspapers  and  leaflets  , information  about   Lawson's   Norwegian   ancestry compiled by Mrs Roderick  - his sailor  father  jumped  ship ,  joined the  Victorian goldrush, married  Louisa Albury   , a feisty woman  way ahead of her times , a poet, writer,  publisher, suffragist . She  ran the Republican  and  another  publication , Dawn , employed  women  as  printers .    

Some of the  extensive Henry Lawson   letters and  verse   manuscripts in  the  collection    above   and   below . 

 One  item   appears to be   a scrapbook  kept   by Roderick  about   Olaf Ruhen's  novel  entitled  Naked Under Capricorn ,  which mentioned the Northern Territory , first  run as a series  in the  Sydney Morning Herald ,    made  into  a  TV  movie  starring  Nigel Havers, Noni   Hazlehurst  and  David  Gulpilil .   

Interestingly, author  Xavier Herbert  , who wrote the  l938  Australian   Sesqui Centenary  award winning novel , Capricornia  , about the  Northern Territory ,  had   dealings  with   Ruhen , whom  he  claimed  suffered  from writer's itch . churning out so much  material he had two typewriters, jumping from one to the other . Indeed,  Ruhen's  papers in the  National Library of    Australia  consist  of  75 boxes of written material  in 10 metres of space.

 Xavier reportedly   told   Ruhen, a  Kiwi , who came to Sydney in 1947,   to "piss off  "  in  an  hilarious  episode   at  the  Cairns  Airport  .   Herbert  . dodging   Ruhen , who was visiting Cairns ,  was  found  by  Olaf  hiding in a light  aircraft  which was being  towed by a  tractor ,

Herbert  denied rudely  telling him to depart,   admitted saying, "Buzz off! " 

A small cardboard  box in the collection is identified  as  containing  glass negatives , London 1901 , the contents of  which would be  most interesting  to  peruse .

After spending time in New Zealand , Lawson was urged by the    New South Wales Governor  , Earl Beauchamp,  a British Liberal politician ,  to further his  career in London.  While the governor was attacked by the  Bulletin and regarded as something of  dandy, Lawson said he was an educated person who loved the bush people of Australia  and had dealt  well with  the  bubonic  plague  of  1900 

Lawson went to London with his  wife , Bertha,  and  son ,hoping to cash  in on his  reputation as  a   writer of  the  great  Australian bush.

While he did receive a lot of attention and  made some money, he described his  time there  as a  nightmare. His wife   returned to Australia, he lingered on  under  great pressure, came back to Australia in 1902 , attempted suicide. So  the  content  of those  glass  negatives  could  be most  interesting . 

Professor  Roderick (1911-2000), played a large part in seting up the Chair of Australian Literature at the University of Sydney and helped  establlsh the Miles Franklin Literary Award. In 1965 he was  appointed the inaugural Professor of  English at   James Cook  University , Townsville.,where he set up the  Foundation  for  Australian Literary   Studies . 

Over the years he wrote extensively about   Lawson.  Poet and balladeer     Banjo   Paterson ( Man from Snowy River and Waltzing Matilda )  and   German  explorer  and  naturalist   Ludwig  Leichhardt  were  other subjects.   In  respect  of  Leichhardt , whose  expedition  disappeared  in the outback in 1848, Professor  Roderick  applauded  the  written   suggestion  by  author, journalist, publisher and  artist , Glenville Pike , on what    had  happened  to the  Leichhardt   expedition, and  where ,  subsequent  relics   found   bearing   out   his  speculation.  Pike  started the North Australian Monthly magazine , printed in Townsville at one   stage ,  wrote about frontier life  in  North   Australia . 

A box in the  collection is  identified  as   containing the criminal record of Charles William  Lawson . Possibly  the  British soldier who  came  to colonial NSW , was in the party of Europeans which  first crossed  the  Blue Mountains in 1813 , was involved in  the  Norfolk Island penal settlement ,took  part  in  the   Rum  Rebellion which  overthrew   Governor  Bligh , became a  grazier , politician ,

A l930  circular  put out by the  Henry Lawson Literary Society  provides  details  for  a  special evening  of  Australian  music  at the Sydney  Arts  Club  to  honour  Henry  Lawson on   his  birthday .Sighted in the  collection were   several   copies of  The  Standard , the  weekly official  journal of the  Australian  Labor Party  , with  1940s front page  stories   having   a   crack  at   the  Sydney  Morning  Herald  and  banks .   

The following  1959  letter  shows  Dr  Roderick  was   intending to visit Melbourne   to carry  out  research  into  the life and work of  Henry Lawson. 

Saturday, November 26, 2022


 Following   the  disastrous  result  for  the Liberal  Party in the Victorian election , the Coalition has  been  advised to improve its  God-awful  image  in future by  selecting  new   candidates  who   look  and act  like   Tarot  card   Fools 

According to  award winning  political  reporter, Argus Tuft, the  Liberal  Party Funk   Bunker  is in deep shock after  Dan  Andrews  romped home , despite the   toxic media campaign  run against  him  by members of  the  Adams Family , Uncle  Fester of the  Melbourne Club   playing  a  leading  part . 

As the  Liberal Party  is  collapsing  nationwide  like a  house made out of a   pack of   cheap  made in China  playing  cards  reconstituted  from  repulsive  imported  Aussie plastic waste , it has been advised  by  a  consultant   to   revamp  its  image  by  imitating  Tarot   Fools  on  a   very  long   journey back  to   power. 

To this  end , thousands of copies of the  above  informative book  will be distributed  throughout  Coalition   branches   and  used as a  guide  to  win  back  voters . It has already been  noticed  that  the  cover  fool  strongly resembles   the  Victorian Liberal  Leader , Matthew  Guy, who , exposed to  unusual sunny Melbourne  weather during the campaign ,smiled like a loon   while conceding defeat .  He  later  developed prickly heat  and  went  into quarantine . 

Argust Tuft claims  the Liberal Party and its  hangers on , the Nationals ,  who  like  sticking their snouts in the  truffles  trough,  have  been   told   the Coalition needs   an impressive   federal  leader  like  the  following  fool ,wearing two hats , carrying another in a  hatbox , accompanied by a rabid dog,  to  raise  its  chances of   getting back  into  power by  the  2092  Leap Year. 




Friday, November 25, 2022




 A woman who played  a big  part  in   Darwin 's printing   and  newspaper  industry  , a   well  known  plant   nursery  and   the   promotion  of   pottery , Sandra  Byrnes , has   died  at  the age of  76.   

She  is  shown holding the mounted , framed and autographed July 1,1976 ,  first  edition of  the  weekly independent  Darwin newspaper, The Star, that she and  her late  husband , Kerry, started, which challenged the Murdoch owned  Northern Territory  News .

The Star  was so successful  that  a number of  southern  media  organisations  and  some strange organisations  made  approaches  to become involved or  buy  it  out .  

Sandra recalled   the  Sydney based  Jewish journalist , PR , politician  and  organiser  of Royal Tours and Papal Visits , Sir Asher Joel , had made a strong approach  through one of his companies, Carpentaria Newspapers Pty. Ltd. ,  Mount  Isa  .  The  Sydney Morning Herald was also another to have " sniffed  about ." 

Astonishly, she received  a  telephone call  indicating a   desire to buy the paper from  Frank Nugan , founding principal of  the   Nugan Hand Bank , later revealed   as  a  CIA  front  dealing in drugs ,guns and  money laundering .

An Australian lawyer, Nugan , said to have been involved with the Mafia in  Griffith , possibly linked to the disappearance of Griffith politician Donald Mackay ,  was found shot dead in his Mercedes on January 7 ,1980, at Lithgow, NSW .  A bible with the name  William Colby , a former director of the CIA,  was  found in  the car .

At  Nugan's inquest , his partner in the  bank , Michael Jon Hand, a former  US Green  Beret , who had served in Vietnam ,  said the bank was insolvent, owed  at  least $50million .

Then he flew out of Australia on false identity papers to Fiji in June 1980, after destroying Nugan Hand’s records , and has not been seen since .  As a CIA operative, it  was said he probably reentered the US and was given a new identity.

 Following  Cyclone Tracy,  Sandra and  Kerry Byrnes   used   a  solvent  to  remove  laundry  floor tiles  which  had  been damaged in  the    tempest . The   fumes  ignited  and   Sandra  was engulfed in  flames .  Kerry  rushed in , grabbed her ,  carried her  to  the car  and  set off  for the hospital , his    burnt    bare feet   sticking  to  the   pedals .  

Discharged  from  hospital, she was back at  work at  the   printery  two weeks  later .   

The Star was eventually   sold  to  South Australian  trucking  magnate   Allan  Scott  , of Mount Gambier  , who had   media  interests, hotels, shopping centres and cattle properties, leaving behind a  $600million fortune, the subject of  a  family legal battle . The Star  was   sold to   Murdoch.

After  selling to Scott, Sandra and  Kerry , who conducted   a gardening  show on  the ABC,  then  ran and  lived in  the  Arnhem Nursery   at  Humpty Doo ,   Darwin, staged   annual pottery  fairs . They  maintained contact with    Melbourne  , publisher, journalist ,   former ALP politician   and  activist, Pete  Steedman , who  had  suggested  they  should start  a   newspaper,  when  he  saw many journalists   congregating  at   their  printery ,which produced gardening magazines ,  a range of  newsletters  , after    Cyclone  Tracy.

The paper got its name from the  Hong Kong Star , where one of its talented  editors, the late Peter  Blake , who  went  to  America  and was  employed  on the  New York  Post ,   had  previously   worked . 

Thursday, November 24, 2022


Special series by Aeronautical Correspondent , Abra .



 Sunbirds are  renowned  for  building   ornate   hanging   nests  in  most  unusual  places -   around  and even inside  houses, at the end of clotheslines .  One  we  know of   was   built    attached   to   the    cord   of   an   outside   telephone  mounted   on  a  wall  bracket    near   the  main  door  of  a  unit . Popular  building  sites  are  where  power  lines  connect to a  house  .

 A  smart  sunken  garden  setting  in  a  loungeroom  attracted the attention of  Sunbirds  who  flew  in   and  set  up  house .   

Underneath  verandahs  is  a   popular  location , recently  covered in  this blog.

Right now ,  busy Sunbirds   are  building   a  nest  on a dream catcher , not above a bed , but   in  a most  unusual  outdoor  position on  Magnetic Island , not   far  from  the ground ,  a bicycle  nearby . 

One of  the  birds was caught flying in  below  with fluffy white  material for  the  nest ,which  it  poked  down  inside , making  a  soft   lining . 

Tracked , the   female  was  seen below  vigorously  pulling strands of frayed   threads  from  the  end  of  an octopus strap  tied  to a tree . 

A male   bird  brought in   similar  white strands from another   site  and also skimmed along  flyscreens , picking up spiderwebs  that are used in  the  construction. 

Of Native  American  origin, dream catchers  are  talismans  , charms supposed  to   stop  bad deams   and   negative  energies  when  placed  above  beds .

Sunbirds probably  have  bad dreams , even nightmares  . Their nests and chicks are    attacked  by   predatory  larger birds, such as  Currawongs, Crows and Kookaburras. We  recently  reported  that a   newly  established  nest  with  two  smashed  eggs   inside  was  found  on  the  ground . Two  nests  found on the ground in  recent  months   shown  below .

Tuesday, November 22, 2022


Our adventurous, much travelled  Aeronautical Correspondent, Abra , surprised  us  recently  when  she  fired  in another   beaut  series of   arial   shots   of   the   far  north .

Browsing  through them , it was  noticed that  there appeared  to  be  writing  on    water   in    one   estuarine   frame ,  see  bottom  left   in above  cropped  snap.

 Well  aware of   writings on walls   being regarded as  a  sign , portent or warning of  doom or misfortune,  we  wondered  if   a message on water   should  be  similarly   treated. 

The  photo was   put aside for  later   close   inspection  and  contact   with Abra  to try and  clarify the  unusual  photograph.

An  upside  down word  appeared  to  be  CONSPIRACY . 

The  serious attempt to decipher  the  writing   took place  in the LIttle Darwin   den  and  involved  a  magnifying glass ,  a shaving mirror, even wearing   a  pair of  freshly cleaned   reading   glasses .

Luckily, a member of the  top secret  Humpty Doo Decoding Centre ,strategically located near  an op shop , was on  the  premises and  offered  her  expert   services . 

She  called for  a  mirror  , was  supplied with  the  spotty shaving  mirror, and  placed it up  against the  photo on the computer  screen . Gradually , she read out --- A Conspiracy ... possibly  Zone ?  No ! ... A Conspiracy of ...Bones ? 

Then the penny dropped .  Abra  is known to  read many  detective   novels , was  she  reading one when she   took all  the  arty  photos , especially  the  one  in  question , a  view   of  Cairns ?

A text message was   sent to  Abra : Are  you  reading  A Conspiracy  of  Bones by   Kathy Reichs ? .The reply was in the affirmative , so  the  book  title  was  obviously  reflected  when  she   took  the  photograph  in  the  plane . 

Our framed picture of  Mona Lisa  looked down on the decoding   scene  in the  Little Darwin   den and  she  is  reported  to  have giggled   when  the  shaving mirror  was  used  to solve  the   puzzle .  The Humpty Doo  decoding specialist,  her identity obscured  for  obvious security  reasons,  is shown below   hunched  over  the  photo on  the  computer , holding the  shaving mirror  with  her  left  hand .  


Monday, November 21, 2022


One of the  550  offerings in the  current  Douglas Stewart  Fine Books  , Melbourne,  spring clean  of  Australian art , Sea  Folk ,  has a  link  with    Dame  Elisabeth  Murdoch  AC, OBE , Rupert  Murdoch's  mother . 

Born February 8,l909,   Elisabeth Joy   Green, she  attended the  prestigious  girls'   Clyde  School  , established   in  1910  at  Saint  Kilda  , Victoria , ,relocated   to Mount Macedon  in  1919.  The  bookshop  says  the  school   was closed in  l976  when  it  amalgamated  with    Geelong   Grammar , 

"Notable alumni " included  arts patron, philanthropist  and landscape gardener,   Elisabeth  Murdoch,  composer  Peggy Glanville -Hicks,    author Joan  Lindsay (Picnic  At Hanging Rock )  , architect   Mary Turner Shaw  and archaeologist   Veronica Seton- Williams . Elisabeth  was   19 when she  married   Keith  Murdoch  in  1928.

Sea Folk, 33pp,  slightly silverfished , described as a very rare  book  of  25 original lino cuts , printed in a very small run , by  the  girls themselves  , is priced  at  $1650 .  One of  the  illustrations , a mermaid with a  pearl. 

The  massive spring clean  offering  includes  books  on   Aboriginal   art . 

Sunday, November 20, 2022


Castle   Hill  dominating . Abra  pix.


Ingham  Wetlands where  Krefft's Turtles live. 


Near Cairns.  Photo by  Aeronautical  Correspondent  Abra

Saturday, November 19, 2022


 Recorded  voices  of  leading  identities  and   major  events   during  1934-1949, discovered in  Darwin . Includes   Churchill , Hitler, Roosevelt ,     Mussolini , H. G. Wells , De Gaulle .    Recordings of  the  Blitz and Battle for  Britain , Hindenburg  disaster , Liberation  of  Paris , El  Alamein .                              


 Enthusiastic   botanical   print   maker  toiling   in  a   Queensland  sweat / junk   shop .


 Butterflies, birds  attracted to Illawarra  Flame  Tree 


Friday, November 18, 2022


 When it comes to selecting a spot to  lay eggs , there are better  positions than one  exposed   for lengthy periods  to   the   hot sun   and   under   a  palm  tree  that  sheds   large   fronds  .   

Curlew , on two eggs ,  panting due to the heat,  a mug of  water  supplied  to  ease  the  ordeal , fallen  frond  hanging  on  fence . 

Vallis photos.



Photos by Wellington.