Monday, July 31, 2023


 Many interesting people-filmmakers, authors, academics -  passed through Darwin  on their way to Timor -Leste  during  July, apparently without  much  attention from  the  local media.  Some attended  the New Timor-Leste  Research  Conference  , held  at the Dili  university , from July 12-14, by the Timor- Leste  Studies  Association (TLSA) , Swinburne University of Technology , Melbourne . 

TheTLSA has just released  details of   a  book , The Santa Cruz  Massacre  of 1991 :Thirty Years On FREE to East Timorese University Libraries / College Libraries / Reading Rooms.

ALL OTHER COPIES: A$30 + Postage ($10 within Australia; $20 outside Australia).Hard-copies of the publication can be ordered onlineFurther information  available :

Professor Michael Leach, Politics and International Relations,Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, H98, PO Box 218 Hawthorn VIC , AUSTRALIA 3122 , Phone: +61 3 9214 5357


One  Dili Conference attendee was  internationally   renowned   Australian  clarinetist  ,composer, music teacher, Roslyn Dunlop,who wrote the  above   book about the  traditional  folk  music  of  Timor-Leste ,.

The  following  clipping explains   her involvement  with the county and   the  late  Martin Wesley-Smith, composer, scriptwriter, children's songwriter ,lecturer , presenter   of  aid concerts,  who composed music   backing  for  East Timor's  fight for freedom from  Indonesia . He was awarded  the Australia  Medal  and the  Ordem  de Timor-Leste .

At a conference in Dili  in 2019 she delivered  an extensive  paper  entitled Music as a Medium Advocating for Change : The Audio-Visual Pieces of   Martin  Wesley-Smith , Musical Protagonist for the  East  Timorese. 

He had been at  Sydney's Conservatorium of  Music , spent  time   in  Hong Kong  , where his  twin  brother , Peter,  was a professor of  constitutional  law . Martin   established the first  electronic music  studio in  China . Peter contributed powerful lyrics to Martin's  music. One of their works ,  Boojum! nonsense , truth and Lewis Carroll, was performed  before  the  Queen  in  Adelaide . 

On this latest  visit to  Dili ,  Ms.  Dunlop, who organised the above  concert , before he  died ,  delivered another  paper and played   some    music .

 Passing back through   Darwin , she  discussed with  agronomist  Robert  Wesley-Smith , a longtime fighter for  East Timor,  his  campaign  to   make better known  his  brother  Martin's  contribution  to  the development of    electronic music ,  the    East Timor struggle  and  massive contribution to  music  in  Australia . 

To this end, he has   contacted  the  ABC   urging  it  to  resurrect  and  play  his  brother's   music .

He says Dunlop has done a wonderful job compiling and  taping  his brother's  work . 

Also  at the latest  Dili  conference was activist and manager of the Clearing House for Archival Records on Timor  , John Waddingham, from Melbourne, He spent  several days with  Robert  Wesley-Smith  helping him  get his  wide ranging   files   into  subjects for  close inspection.

Unearthed  during  his  time with Wes   were   three"lost"  diaries  packed with  information . These  and  other   documents  that came to light  will enable  Wes  to resume  writing  his  memoirs , having already written the following  e-book .

Sunday, July 30, 2023


 Inside the Man  Cave gift  section  at  Island Living, Mandalay Avenue, Nelly Bay,  Magnetic Island .  

Brass compasses, telescopes, trench  art .

Photos by envious Shipping Reporter .


Handyman reading rain  gauge and heading for the hills .

Photos by bird botherer Vallis.

Saturday, July 29, 2023


In exclusive breaking news , we announce that proud agronomist Robert Wesley-Smith  took  out  second  prize in the  giant pumpkin  section  at the Royal Darwin Show . It  weighed 77 kilos  and  is pictured on the left  , with  two of  his other melons . The   winning  pumpkin  weighed  120 kilos , and   won  the  lucky owner  $500. Wes  received a  certificate .

He narrowly avoided  a  double hernia  rolling and lifting the  produce, above,  into  his  small Honda  Jazz  down in the rural  area  to get it to the  showground .  Three  people  helped  him unload . He is not sure what will happen to  his  entries  now , but  suggests   taking  a  machete  to  the two  larger  ones  would make   removal   and  handling  easier  .

The pieces could be  distributed to  worthy causes, a bit like the  loaves and  fishes  parable .  


 Pictorial  special by Aeronautical Correspondent  Abra .

Memorial to  Tommy McDonald who  first landed  an aircraft  on a saltpan in 1928  which  became the   Cairns  Airport , from which he flew many mercy flights.  He pioneered  commercial flights and mail services far and wide .  Journalist , historian , artist  , North Australian Monthly editor ,  longtime columnist in the North Queensland Register  and  publisher ,  Glenville  Pike , who wrote many books about  Queensland and the Northern Territory , encouraged  people in the North to write their memoirs, including McDonald.  

Wartime  and other  major events.

Friday, July 28, 2023


He who hesitates is  lost ,the saying goes  . Our Shipping Reporter  certainly lost out when he  failed  to immediately  buy  the above   framed  faded  sign   for  the Washington Cherry Blossom Festival  at   the  Magnetic  Island  Vinnie's  shop in  Nelly Bay. 

He did, however, buy two books- one about  crocodile hunters in  Queensland, Western Australia and  the  Northern Territory , the  other on the unfortunate London chef , Ahmed Errachidi, wrongly connected with the September 11 2001  attack on the twin towers, New York , and locked up in Guantanamo  by  the  Americans .

.Not  having  associated  Washington  with  cherry blossoms , the Shipping Reporter regarded it  as  an oddity, something  worth  looking into , too  big  to  slip into his  dillybag  . so it  was  photographed . 

When he  tottered  home  , he  eventually  punched WASHINGTON CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL into Google and  uttered  another  sailor's salty oath - not Shiver me timbers !- due to  what  he  discovered..

An offbeat  yarn, the kind he likes to write, developed . Seems the Washington festival kicked off on March 27,1912, with a gift of  cherry blossom trees  from the  the mayor of  Tokyo ,Yukio Osaki, intending  to enhance  the relationship  between   America  and  Japan .

However,  long before that, Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore  (pronounced Sid-more ), a trail blazing  American  journalist and travel writer , made a trip to Japan in l885, fell in love with the country, and on returning to Washington  suggested  cherry blossom trees  should be planted  around the  barren  capital , a suggestion  apparently frowned upon  by  a  military   head . 

Despite the rejection, Scidmore, the first woman member of the National Geographic Society , persisted  with  the  idea   and in 1905  held  a  tea party and   viewing  hosted by a prominent botanist, David Fairchild, whose  fiancee, Marian  , was the  daughter of the famous  telephone inventor, Alexander Graham   Bell .  

The  Fairchilds  planted a  large  number of cherry trees  on their property . Then in 1910  Japan  sent   Washington  many   trees which, unfortunately, were found to be  full of  insects and  parasitic nematodes.They were  put in a heap  and  burnt. 

Two years  later , however,  the  festival was officially launched by  Mrs Helen  Taft, wife of  the  USA  President .

Scidmore travelled far and  wide - to Alaska ,where an island was named after her , Java, China, several times to Japan , India , the Philippines  and  Ceylon.

She wrote  several travel  books  and  illustrated articles for the National Geographic , of which she was associate editor, in one introducing the word tsunami to the English lexicon dealing with the after effects of  an earthquake.

When she died in 1928 her ashes were scattered  at Yokohoma under  a  carpet of pink and white cherry  blossoms. Unfortuntely she instructed that most of  her  personal  papers  be  burnt   upon  her death .  

On  learning  this great story , the Shipping Reporter  immediately kicked himself for not having  bought  the  framed  sign .  The op shop was   phoned   and  asked to  put the cherry blossom   sign  aside  as it would be  picked up pronto . Alas,  some bloke had  come in  only moments ago, and  bought  several pictures,  possibly just for the frames , including  the  American  one !!! 

Thursday, July 27, 2023


Found  buried  beneath  miscellaneous items in  an archival  bin were the above   three  typed   from   the  original handwritten  diaries  of   Bertha Martha  Andrew,  spanning  l922  to  l953 , providing  detailed  information  of   life in  South  Australia  and   Central  Australia ,including  the first news of  the  outbreak of  WWll, Aboriginal corroborees , donkey and  camel   teams, heatwaves , billions of flies ,  Lasseter's  lost  gold  reef .
Alice Springs grave.

.Born in  Koolunga, South Australia, nee Cook, she   married  Abraham Andrew  at Broken Hill, New South Wales, on April 9,1903. The  diaries , in which her husband is listed as  Abram , start  in 1922, in South Australia ,  where they   lived  near  Port Lincoln , with children .

Into  sewing , lace  and dress making ,  she makes entries about   playing  the violin, mandolin and a harp  on  the day  before  Christmas, 1922 , later mention of a tenor horn, a real sing along with "Foo Foo  bands. "

It seems  the family had  vessels, talk of work starting on  a second ketch ; boys tarred boat ; boat to Wallaroo, fishing at  Brothers Island .One  vessel named Marie another Moon .

 A dog died from snake bite . Whooping cough ,sore throats .There was a  circus in Port Lincoln at the end of  l924 in which  Abram got a  job-"first night under lights."

At  Sleaford   a  lovely time  was had bathing near  the wreck of  Mary Ellis . Visitor from Thistle Island .Repairs to horse drawn vehicles, wood cutting ,rounding up goats, horses, pigs, hay making , wheat crop.

In April l935 Mr and Mrs Andrew and members of the family left  Port Lincoln  overland  bound for the Northern Territory  with two donkey drawn wagons ,one  by 27, the other eight.

There were  three versions  of the epic overland   trip , some pages   torn, missing, water logged ,  part  illegible , the  final revised  one written   in 1952. 

It appears  there  was a truck and a caravan  in  the  party .They met  Aborigines  along the  way and at the  opal mining town  of   Coober Pedy they  were entertained  inside   dugouts  that  people lived  in ,there being details  of  the facilities in  them.
One of the locals was  a  Mrs Absalom, perhaps  related to painter, author and  television  personality Jack  Absalom.  There was an Hawaiian musical  evening in Coober Pedy - a steel guitar, accordian  and  ukelele  contributed to the entertainment. 

They then set out  for  the Northern Territory  with three  100 gallon water tanks on a wagon  , not sure what the water supply would  be  ahead.  A " native  tongue  " expression- Ingamah- meaning  Linger and  Starve , apparently applicable to bad country with  little water and poor  feed for animals , was   adopted . 

The grave of a young man  who  got lost and perished while  sightseeing , against advice, near Ayer's Rock,  was found , a few stones added to  it . The remains of  an old pub with a cemetery nearby was  recorded .

There was a terrible  event  during the  long  journey  when one of the daughters  , Maisie, a hard worker, took ill,  died , leaving two children aged  10 and 12.   A coffin was made , a grave dug ,  Dr Townsend   and  police arrived for a  post- mortem  and  to  take statements.  She  was  buried in  the  outback .

They passed through  Territory  pastoral  properties  ,  the  Ernabella  mission station  , did work along the way , like well sinking, dam building ,  timber gathering . They set up camps  in various  places  , Henbury, Tempe Downs , one  in  a  cave at Reedy Hole  , and took up a small grazing lease  ,Andaloo. 

On September  15,l939  a  wireles, radio, was installed and they heard the news for the first time . just before tea, it was thrilling.Two days later they were  still avidly lisening to war news  - at various  times of  the day ,including Russia in deal with Germany over  Polish oilfields. September  28: Germans bombed  Warsaw ,killed 1000, women and children.

Abram and a son built the lime concrete  Glen Helen homestead  which later became  a  tourist chalet . Mrs Andrew read  aloud   parts  of  Lasseter's Last Ride by Ion L. Idriess, 
In  the 1940s,  Abram leased Mount Conroy which had been taken up in the  l930s by Paddy DeConlay as  a sheep station.   Abram   renamed   it  Curtin Springs  after  John Curtin , the ALP  wartime  prime minister of   Australia .  Adam  may have been a strong unionist as there is mention of him having attended a  watersider  workers meeting  in South Australia. And  he  had  married   Bertha in Broken Hill, which was a  mining town with a  strong  union influence.   

Curtin Springs, 416,400 hectares, with a roadhouse  is now  situated on the Lasseter Highway ,85kilometres east of  Yulara .

The  diaries seem to indicate that in the l950s  the  Andrews  catered  for tourists    arriving  by  plane, car and  bus  to  see  Ayer's Rock .

The   interest  in  music and  religion  is   noted . Listened  to regularly on the radio  was the  Amateur Hour , hillbillies  . There was much reading of Seventh Day Adventist  Voice of Prophecy , hymns from Christ In Song  sung. 

Mrs Andrew lived in Darwin for  14 years and died in  the Oldtimers Home ,  Alice Springs , at  the age of  81. 

NOTE : Nearly 50 years ago  ,the writer of this post was  given the  diaries  by an  American  journalist  who  had  come across  them  in  Alice  Springs  and did not know what to do with  them

Wednesday, July 26, 2023


 One of the  many great offerings  at  the current   5lst Australian Antiquarium Rare Book Fair  is the above  1820  board game   laid down on linen  which depicts  37  British and foreign  animals , including the kangaroo, with perceived moral qualities  , the  majestic lion ,the king of the beasts, the central figure.

It was  one of the earliest children's  games to depict  Australian animals,probably played with a teetotum, a spinning top ,  and  is said to have been a variation on the Game of  the  Goose 

According to Douglas Stewart Fine Books , Melbourne, which has it listed for $9500, the kangaroo  tile image  was  taken from  the famous depiction  by  George Stubbs (1722)  ,which was frequently  reused by engravers  over   decades .

The bookshop is also offering  an  album  of  photographs  dealing with the central Victorian goldrush of 1868 - 1873 ,  compiled  by  English gentleman , mining company co-director  and  amateur photographer , Henry William Lamb , son of an artist, bookseller and publisher,  It includes  photos of  Tasmania  and  Fiji , $35,000.

Lamb built a  splendid  English house over four years at  Fryerstown , at a cost 1600 pound ,  complete with a  cellar , a vineyard, fruit trees  . A keen gardener, he  even won prizes for  his  pansies . On returning to England he had a distinguished career as a  diplomat .

Tuesday, July 25, 2023


Prompt action by the  Queen of the Jungle   saved  a  young koala from death   or   injury on  Magnetic Island .

  She was driving  from Picnic Bay  ,where she had  undergone  some physio , to try and get her battered body into better shape , when  she spotted  the koala  sitting   in the middle of  the  road  .

Fortunately, there was no traffic  following, so she immediately  stopped the  car , got out  and  approached the koala , which seemed  almost sleepy, like  the  one shown here  photographed  on  the island  . 

After making a quick check to see if it was  injured in any way ,the   Queen then  gently  walked   the  animal  to the side  of  the  road,  where it climbed into  a  tree, hopefully to later move further into  the  bush .  Over the years, the Queen, a wildlife   carer ,  has had  many dealings with  marsupials .


Mount Whitfield Conservation Park ,  Cairns . Abra photo.
Darwin . Craig photo.



Monday, July 24, 2023


 At  the  end  of an exciting   voyage   by  adventurous   Australians  from the  Northern Territory   to  the Indonesian   Komodo  Dragon islands   in a custom built  jukung   outrigger  , the good ship Venus   was  pulled  up on the  hard with the help of  12 local  villagers . Lateral  thinking  was   used  to  ease the landing - four banana  tree trunks  , bought at a cost of $5 each, were placed on the  ground  and  used  as  runners  for  the vessel  to  slide  on . Then  she was  turned  into  the Venus  (fly trap )  wrap .  

Friendly local  and dog guarding taped up  Venus .



Sunday, July 23, 2023


Townsville , Magnetic Island . Vallis photos.


One  egg  possibly  taken  by  a  snake . 

Saturday, July 22, 2023


Shipping Reporter  rockets Townsville  railway station , media ,war service organisations . 

 While  regularly checking out the condition of Townsville's  Victory in the Pacific  fountain , our Shipping Reporter   also   inspects the nearby  old   railway  building , its clock permanently stuck at  11 , and  the  ornate   former    ticket  office with its WW1 railway  honour   board  .  In  his latest  scrutiny he found the  ticket office  is  still  being  used   to store   traffic  and  pedestrian  control  items, which  is  an  outrage . There used  to be  seats  opposite the  honour board  ,covering  l914 to l919 , presumably so that peple  could sit down and   examine  the  extensive  list and the  impressive surroundings , a tourist attraction and  a war memorial which should be treated with  respect  , not  used  to  store  plastic  bollards and witches  hats.



Vallis  photos.

Friday, July 21, 2023



The Shipping Reporter exclusively  captured the  container ship HSL Porto , built  by Nordic Yards Wesmar, Germany,  flying under the Liberian  flag, being manoeuvred by tugs  (top)  up to the   wharf   in  Townsville  to  load   large  motor vessel .

Another  vessel  of interest in  port  was the above  Panamanian registered  cattle boat  Aurochs.


Abra special, Weipa  .

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Wednesday, July 19, 2023


Circle of Silence uncovers new evidence about the notorious 1975 murders of five Australian based journalists, the Balibó Five, killed in Portuguese Timor whilst reporting on Indonesian military incursions. Shirley, wife of Channel 7 reporter Greg Shackleton, starts her own investigation and travels to Timor Leste and Indonesia to discover startling new evidence about the crime. Co directed / produced by Lurdes Pires, of Darwin . Robert Wesley-Smith says the film will be shown at the Deckchair Cinema , starting 7pm , August 3 .


 The  Shipping  Reporter  has   produced  further pictorial evidence that the  50 metre Nelly Bay Groyne  is coming apart   without  the  mainland   media   or  authorities  noticing  , certainly  no indication  of    prompt  repair  action . One   loose , almost empty sandbag , below,   is  surging   about  in   the  water, banging up  against  the  main  struture . 

A longtime  island  resident  who  lives near the groyne  said it is obvious that   it  is disintegrating,   coming  apart  before your eyes . He went on to say  you  would  think that  prompt remedial action would  have  been  taken  to  fix  the  situation. 

Bags on the top of the groyne appear to  be   subsiding , collapsing  , the contents  seemingly  being  washed  away . The following  photograph  taken by the Shipping Reporter  clearly  shows the  worn edge of a  bag  and depressions .

The waterfront rounsdman  said that as you walk along the  groyne, erected by the Townsville City Council  in August   2019,  you  can feel and see    increasing  depressions .

The groyne was designed to  stop sand   passing under the  southern breakwater   bridge into  the harbour .