Thursday, August 31, 2023


Two recently acquired   scruffed   publications, above , cover a   fabulous  period  in  North  Queensland   mining history  , before  Mount Isa   became a major   operation. Throw  in  a  boy  who  left school at  12  , went  mining and prospecting  in  WA,  the  Northern Territory , NSW, scratched  for  tin near Chillagoe ,  involved himself  in  early union activity, then became  the  Queensland  ALP  Premier nicknamed "Red Ted " Theodore ,   later   the   federal Treasurer  in  the  Scullin Labor  Government .  

The  booklets   cover  the  boom which   followed   after  the   1888    rich copper ore  find on Chillagoe Station . Small blast furnaces  were  built   and   a rich silver- lead field  was  discovered  in l890. Smelters were set up in Chillagoe  and  the  Mareeba to Chillagoe railway  line   was  constructed by 1901 , later  extended   10 miles to   Mungana , where  there  were  more  mines. 

Between 1901 and  1943  the smelters produced  175,000 ounces of gold, 6,500,000 ounces of silver, 60,000 tons of copper and 5000 tons of lead , valued at $14million .

 Early in the 20th century  Chillagoe had  a population of 10,000, 10 hotels, two soft drink factories,two newspapers , a doctor, a dentist , churches , a masonic lodge . Very l ittle of the boomtown  survived .

Both booklets were   compiled   and  illustrated   by Lee and  Alex  Hardaker ,who first went to Chillagoe  as visitors  in  l969  to see   its  spectacular  caves . They  returned in l975 to build a  museum to house the history of Chillagoe  and  district, displaying old  photographs, maps, documents and mining  information,  run  by  Lee.

Also on display were  butterflies, insects, Aboriginal artifacts , minerals and gemstones.

Glenville  Pike  Gold 

There was also an art gallery of  sketches  by  Alex ,   self taught , who became a   ranger with the  National Parks for six years before retiring through  illness in l980. Hardaker designed the l981  cover of  The Golden Days , by Glenville Pike,  about  life in  North Queensland  during the   goldrush era, based on  a series of  articles  by  the late Hugh A. Borland, published in the Cairns Post in l946.   

The revised  edition  of  Chillagoe  seen  above   contains  a  handwritten  inscription  from  the  Hardakers  dated  14/9/83,   at  the  "Chillagoe   Museum ".  

It  includes  many old photographs and  a page from the Brisbane Courier Mail of key figures  in the  Mungana  Mine Royal Commission  ,  Theodore  one  of   the  defendants ,top  left  in illustration. It was  revealed   that  Theodore  and another   Queensland politician  ,William    McCormack , Speaker of the House,  had  shares  in and made profits from the copper  mine, without  making  it  known , when  the  government  bought   it.  

Theodore was  forced to stand down as  the Federal Treasurer. It was   said  the  Mungana affair likely cost Theodore a chance to become prime minister. Historian Ross Fitzgerald called Theodore "the most talented Labor politician never to be prime minister of Australia", and noted that his admirers included Paul KeatingBob Katter and Jack Lang .

When Theodore was  premier,  the state   pursued  interventionist  economic policies  , established state run enterprises and  introduced new competition and  labour market  regulations.  These were  seen as  "socialist " measures  and  thus  he  was  called  "Red Ted " Theodore. 

When the  Depression hit  Australia in the l930s, Theordore, way ahead of  conventional economic thinking of the day, believed   the economy should be stimulated by what  would become known as  John Maynard Keynes  economics, instead  of  cut  backs in  many  area.  

This  brought  him  into  conflict  with   key members of his  own party  . He lost  his  seat in   the l931 landslide   against the  Scullin regime.

Media deals, Inluence  

Theodore , 47 , then  became closely connected  with   Frank Packer, 24, son of journalist   and  founder of the  Packer  media   group,  Richard  Clyde  Packer  . They  became  involved in several  profitable   ventures,  Theodore  was even  made chairman of  Australian Consolidated Press , publisher of the highly successful  Australian Women's Weekly  and  the Sydney Daily Telegraph . He interested himself in  the  financial and  administration side  of  operations  , 

Dynamic Theodore   was also   involved  with Packer in  several  gold  mines in   Fiji, where  he  lived  for  a  time .  

FOOTNOTE :  Theodore's father , Vasile Teodorescu, was born in Romania , member of a well- to- do family connected with Romanian  nobility. Instead of going into the priesthood, he joined the British  merchant navy, came to Australia ,  

On an  l882  ship voyage to  Fremantle , under the  name Basil Stephen Theodore ,  he met   Annie Turner,  an  adventurous   English  girl, descended  from  Irish immigrants,  employed in a cotton mill  after  her  father died , who  come out  to  Western  Australian  at the invitation of  a stepbrother,  an  ex convict, after  her  mother  died

It was obviously a shipboard romance. They kept in contact  by letter and  married soon after.

Young Edward  ,  the second of six  children , was  born in  Adelaide  in 1884,  In  l903, he joined his father   on  an  unsuccessful  prospecting  trip looking  for   copper  in  Western Australia  . 

It is interesting to note  that  Edward  was   involved  in  negotiating   an industrial   deal  at    Altunga  , the  first major Euopean  settlement  in Central  Australia , 110 kilometres from Alice Springs , established after gold was found  during an 1887  overland  expedition  from Darwin  to  South  Australia  ,and there was a rush to the area , a  smelter   built . 

In  l906  , Edward lobbed  in  Cairns  and   went  looking  for  tin  in  the  Chillagoe  area , little knowing  the dramatic part  this  mining  area  would  play  in  his  future career.   


Townsville . Vallis.


 Aeronautical  Correspondent  Abra  in  London 

Wednesday, August 30, 2023


 For many years  , eagles   have  nested  atop  a  communications  tower on Magnetic  Island  . A recent check of the tower  failed to see  any sign of  resident  eagles.  However, lurking underneath  the  nest  was  a black   Crow   which  seemed  to  be picking  at  insects .

In  other  bird   news , the  Queen  of  the  Jungle reports  that  Torres Strait Pigeons  have  arrived  on  the  island   from  up  north  a  month  earlier  than  usual.  Wonder  why ? 


 A former Darwin resident  who  took part in  hectic  dragonboat races locally, nationally  and  in Italy   now   enjoys  a  slower   pace   on   the   Brisbane River   as  a  member  of  the  Indooroopilly  Canoe  Club , which is still undergoing   renovations   after   the   floods . 


Because of the muddy condition of  the  river , locals refer to it as " the brown snake."Scenic  views  follow .


 Shipping  Reporter  expose .  

A prime part of Townsville's waterfront continues to  be  a  dumping ground for shopping trolleys , road signs,  witches  hats  and other   items . Despite drawing attention to this unsatisfactory situation  months  ago, no one in authority  or  the local media   slipped   into  action. 

As a result, more things  have been  thrown into the marina  area , including a tyre ,   full  of  expensive yachts, not  far  from  the  casino , a  short distance from the  busy   ferry passenger   terminal ,the Great Barrier Reef Marine  Park  Authority ,  the  ABC  office , Townsville  Port   Authority . 

There appears to be  about 12  trolleys, some submerged for  a long time , metal   traffic signs , other  pieces  of  rusting  metal .  

Tuesday, August 29, 2023


Little  Darwin had an unexpected  small part  in  a  family reunion on Magnetic Island  which  honoured  the  memory of WWll American photographer,  the  late Arch  Fraley,  who set up a  thriving  photography  postwar  business  in   Townsville , still   running  today.

The island event took place at picturesque Cockle Bay outside the fenced  off former  Fraley residence . Some members at the reunion  had  lived  at Cockle  Bay . Glasses were raised, memories  flowed .

Little Darwin was  asked to take a  picture of the entire  group which included  some  from interstate,  including  one  from  Western   Australia.

Arch -Archibald - Fraley  served as a  photographer and  waist gunner in the  5th Bomber Group of  the US Army Air Force ,  He was posted to  Charters  Towers , North Queensland, in March 1942.  As part of  General  Douglas  MacArthur's  compaign  in  the  Pacific , he  took many photographs, went on  bombing  raids  on  the  Japanese in   New  Guinea . 

After the war, he returned to  Townsville , married Charters Towers  girl Lorraine  Robinson,  opened   Arch  Fraley  Photographics  which dealt  in sports, Army , large groups and  schools , many  locals   and  major  events    photographed  over  the years . 

The  Fraley  home at  Cockle Bay  included a swimming pool,  now filled  in ,several   cars said  to  be   buried  within. 

His wartime photographs , which included coverage  of  Townsville  and   General MacArthur ,  went  on  display  at   the   Townville  Airport  in 2019, with  the  help of James Cook University .

It is believed  some of his  photos   are  in the   Australian War Museum in Canberra. 

Other  Fraley  wartime   photos  are  in  the heritage  museum  on   Horn  Island  , in the Torres  Strait,  the   captions  faded  and   buckled , in  need  of  attention .


 Cloud  over   Castle   Hill , Townsville  .



Horseshoe  Bay, Magnetic  Island . Vallis photos


For sale .

Magnetic Island . Shipping  Reporter special .



 Peckish  Cockatoos  and  Crow . Vallis. 

Sunday, August 27, 2023



From the extended right  wing of  a protective Curlew is the barely visible  white marking  on the head of   a  newborn   chic -one of two- about to get a   glimpse  of   the  cooking  planet .  The  following  photo  shows  the  head  emerged  .



Magnetic Island  reverberated to the distinctive strumming of ukulele  players over  the  weekend  .

At  the Arcadia Hotel  this  was  one  of  the  mass  perfornances by enthusiasts at the  Townsville Ukulele Festival  , taken  by  a  Darwin visitor  whose  sister  is  a seasoned  ukulele  player.  

A  solo performer, above ,   was  applauded  , ukuleles  were for  sale .

From the Little Darwin  files   came  the   above   shot  of  a parade through the  streets of Cairns   during   a  Ukulele  Festival  held  years ago .


 Shipping  Reporter  finds  treaure  trove . 

Drifting about Magnetic Island looking for  washed up objets d'art , the waterfront  roundsman  could  not  believe   what   he  discovered  at  a  garage  sale  in  a  street  with  a  nautical  name . 

Standing out  on a block of land, far from water , was  the above  gleaming white  hull   of  a  yacht , surrounded by   a  staggering variety of  quality and unusual   items  for   sale , enough  to  open a  high  class emporium .  

Our Shipping Reporter said he immediately  broke out in  a sweat  due to excitement.

In  the midst of the offerings  were the above  two masts  ,  A collection of  mantel  clocks  attracted  attention . He was informed that   there were more than  200  clocks  inside !!!!

Wind up  metal music boxes, some in the shape  of  cathedrals , were   found nearby.  

Another piece of exotica was the   Red Indian  artwork , below , on which feathers were  seen fluttering in  the  breeze .

The wide range of goods  included  television sets , DVDs, framed pictures , crystal , an  owl  salt and pepper  set,  oriental  figurines, china   

Meanwhile , back at the  yacht . Seems it belongs to a neighbour who did not have  much  land  so  he asked if he could put  it on this  block , perhaps for two years, so  that  he could work on it and sail away.

The yacht  arrived eight years  ago.  The Shipping Reporter   was  told   that the owner   had  done  extensive fitting  out  inside the  hull .  While not  regarded   as   the  official   asking price, it was suggested   it could be in the order of  $30,000.

It turns out this  garage sale  is  ongoing  , has a few weeks to go  before the wet   starts .Presumably it will resume in the  dry . 

Saturday, August 26, 2023


 Another unusual  special  from  Aeronautical  Correspondent   Abra 

Outside Titanic  Museum , Belfast .

Idea  for entrance to  Ghost Fleet  Port of Townsville.


Smoking cigarettes and   playing with  matches is included in this circa l960s British   slim  booklet  with  tips on how  to  entertain  your   friends  at   home . 

Under the heading  FUN WITH A CIGARETTE ,it says the next time you  have  a cigarette , place a large needle down  its  length, light up  and  carry  on  smoking , without  any  ash  falling .

Watch your  friends  faces  as   the ash  gets about two inches long  and does not  fall down ...don't tell them  the  secret .

 Needless to say,one presumes  it  is  inadvisable to  do  a   long  drawback .

Invaluable  information on  how to  put a lighted  cigarette on any handkerchief without burning it will make you  the life of  the party .

You are  also  taught how to tamper with a packet of fags to make  it look as if they have vanished  when  opened ,once  more  impressing  your  pals . Another  trick involves  15  matches , and you can do horoscope readings  with  a  pack  of  cards .  

Friday, August 25, 2023


 Lady  Bracknell , alias  our Aeronautical Correspondent  Abra,  on a  trip through  the  Oscar  Wilde  House , now  the  American College ,  Dublin, sent photos which  enabled Little Darwin to rerun a  wild Oscar  Wilde post  about  his  strange   ma  and  pa  ..


The controversial  Irish dramatist , poet  and novelist, Oscar  Wilde , was well scrubbed  and  dressed  with   flair.  His  parents , however , presented a  most bizarre spectacle  in  dress  and personal appearance . 

 This  comes  through  in  a  recently acquired  foxed , bumped , wormed and  soiled 1923 copy of SOME VICTORIAN WOMEN Good, Bad and Indifferent , by  artist, illustrator  and cartoonist , Harry  Furniss (1854-1925), a  delightful read .

 An unflattering rear end caricature ,a wormed part , deleted , below, of Sir William  Wilde  and Lady Wilde . The brilliant  text which covers them ,in part, is most unusual, entertaining and harsh .

Sir William ,Lady Wilde

Lady Wilde , described by  her son  while  she was still alive... “ A very tall woman-she looked over  six feet high-she wore a long crimson silk gown which swept the floor ...round what had been a waist  an Oriental scarf embroidered with gold was  twisted.

The long, massive,handsome face was  plastered with powder . Over her blue –black ,glossy hair was a  gilt  crown of laurels . Her throat  was bare , so were her arms , but they were covered with quaint jewellery. 

On her broad chest was festooned a series of large miniature brooches,evidently family portraits...this gave her the appearance of a walking  family mausoleum. She wore  white kid gloves , held a scent bottle , a lace handkerchief, and a fan .”

It goes on to say that had Lady Wilde been cleaned up and plainly and rationally dressed, she would have made  a  remarkably fine model of the grande dame , but  with all her paint and tinsel  and tawdry  tragedy queen  get up was a  walking burlesque  of motherhood.

Lady Wilde at home.  

Dealing with Wilde’s daddy, it  said he “resembled a monkey, a miserable looking  little creature,who, apparently  unshorn and  unkempt, looked as if he had been rolling in the dust."In those days, it continues,monkeys were  dressed up  and  accompanied organ  grinders of  the oily type. 

Wee Sir William Wilde  rebuked a  woman in a Dublin square who was   seeking alms   and  told  her  beggars were a  perfect nuisance . She replied with a  perfect  squelcher , “Beggar indade! Beggar! an’ what are y’self when out with your I-talian master wid a chain on ye? ” Opposite the Wilde mansion  in Dublin were Turkish baths , but  going  on the  appearance  of  Ma and Pa  Wilde  , neither of  them  went  in  for  a  dip  and scrub 

The book , picked up at an ALP branch meeting , more literate and wide ranging than  the Tuesday Book Club on  ABC TV ,   describes  Sir William Wilde as ''a wicked  old man"  and  says there had been no  attempt to  disguise the fact he had  many  illegitimate children...Furniss  commented , With all the queer ways  of this eccentric couple , it is no wonder  that Oscar , their genius of a son, grew into an eccentric  unnatural being .

Furniss Worked for the London Illustrated News , Punch ,  produced a series on Life In Parliament  for  The Graphic and illustrated Lewis Carroll books  . After his own humorous magazine , Lika Joko, failed, he went to America , working as a writer  and  actor in the fledgling  film industry. 

There he pioneered  the  first  animated cartoon   for  Thomas  Edison . His daughter Dorothy co-illustrated some of  her  father’s books . Furniss also wrote and illustrated 29 of his own books ,including  Some Victorian Men. With  his prolific output, he illustrated 34 other books  for authors , including  the complete works of Charles Dickens  and William  Makepeace Thackeray , the latter satirising  society.

Thursday, August 24, 2023


 There was uproar  from  a  Curlew  sitting on eggs when a  Koala  carrying  a baby  suddenly burst out  of  the  undergrowth  and  climbed  into  a  nearby  frangipani  tree.

The arrival attracted much attention and the cute critters were  photographed   from  many angles, the   Curlew  couple  hissing  loudly. 

Eventually the  mother , with passenger clinging on ,climbed down , upsetting  the  Curlew  sitting  on   two  eggs , causing it  to  jump up, hiss.  

With the baby slung  on its back, then underneath, then on its back, the Koala   ran cross the road  to  a  vacant allotment  .

There  it  began to climb the  middle  tree  and spent the night on  high .