Thursday, May 30, 2024




Garage  sale  tools  Townsville .


Wednesday, May 29, 2024



Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Monday, May 27, 2024

Tuesday, May 21, 2024



Townsville  pigeons.

Monday, May 20, 2024


 After many  years  sailing  about  the  waters  of  Australia and  New Zealand,  experiencing  many bouts  of mal de mer because he is a lousy matelot, our   waterfront   roundsman   has   picked  up  many , often  salty,  expressions .

His  nautical  vocabulary   has  been  expanded  recently due to  his  discovery  of  the  above  1990   book  published  by   International Marine , Camden ,  MaineUSA. 

The author, Frank Mastini,  a New York resident,  graduate of the Italian  Naval  Academy,  included an  Italian-English  dictionary  of  nautical  terms in the   well  illustrated   work . 

As a result, the Shipping Reporter has  been  tacking  about the  Little Darwin   den   conducting  annoying    nautical  quizzes, which  includes  trying to name  in  Italian  the   parts   of   sailing   vessels. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024


Cairns.  Abra  photo.

Saturday, May 18, 2024


During the excavation of  a long  forgotten box  in the  Little Darwin jumbled  collection , an early  cookery  booklet put out  by the Colonial Mutual Life  Assurance  Society ,Melbourne, when many families were  malnourished, was found which   showed   housewives  how they could  jazz  up  the  table  by  turning  a  serviette  into a  pyramid  in  seven  illustrated  folds.    

That  exotic   touch of  the pharoahs  could then perhaps be displayed with  a  braised    rabbit   dish  or  some French tripe . And   an  Aunt-Sally Pudding, made  from suet, dried fruit, a cup of sugar, ginger and cinnamon, boiled  for four hours,served with custard or jam sauce , would  surely   have   wowed  sweet -toothed  Cleopatra . 

It seems our  Shipping Reporter  is something of an   Egyptologist and in an earlier life may have operated a  leaky  shaduf on the Nile in ancient Egypt  as he recently  made an interesting  related discovery  at  a   deceased estate in  Townsville.

He claimed that   a variety of  attractive  carpets, runners  and mats,   spread out in a house, in the backyard, spoke to  him.  Could they be  magic  floor  coverings  like  the  one  that  turned   Aladdin into a frequent flyer?

Finally, he received a strong urge to lift up  a  carpet  and  revealed  another  exotic link  with  Australia in  the  shape  of  a  trade  label for an Egyptian made carpet, featuring  a  man flying on a Khalaf style  carpet,  for the  Cyrus  Persian  Carpets  Company , Gold Coast, Queensland.  

Friday, May 17, 2024


 The  front page story in  Darwin's  Sunday Territorian  on April 28, headed  HERITAGE LOCKOUT  ,claimed  the developer of land at Lee Point, subject of  demonstrations , was  denying public  access to a listed WWll site vital  in  the defence of  northern   Australia.

It  quoted  an angry and  fuming  person, Rob Wesley , described as a  history buff, who had worked on the  land  years ago when it was part  of  the vital  Berrimah  Farm  field research  centre.

The report went  on to  refer  to  him three times as  Mr Wesley. The name sounded  familiar ...could  the  former  sod buster have been related to well known  Darwin  agronomist   and   longtime activist, Robert  Wesley-Smith?

Related ? The   person quoted was actually Robert Wesley-Smith,80, also known as   Rural  Rebel  Rob. He is currently writing his  memoirs  under  the  very  title  RRR , having earlier written  an E-book about his involvement in  the  battle  for  East  Timor's freedom.

Inexplicably , the  paper  had  de-hyphenated  him .

In his  emails , Rob Wesley features , his many  recipients immediately identify  him  as   Robert   Wesley-Smith,  certainly   not  in  the  buff.

It is possible that  the newspaper  blooper  was due to the fact that on receiving many emails about the contentious Lee Point  development , an area in which  threatened  birds   reside,  somehow  did   not  immediately    identify   this    Rob  Wesley   bloke.

Asked  to  comment  on   his  name  having been chopped ,Wesley-Smith, who recently underwent  a medical nip and tuck in a vital area,  said he  had not  recently  changed his name by deed poll in the hope of  receiving  a  large  inheritance. Furthermore, he had   always  been  a  bit suspicious  of   jokers  with  hyphenated names. 


Abra  special from  Brisvegas.


Thursday, May 16, 2024


 Peewee  soaking  up  the  sun .


Wednesday, May 15, 2024



Vallis pix.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024


Brisbane .  Abra  photo.


The deceased  estate of   Australian Vietnam  War  veteran,  Garry  Silcock , 79 , of  Townsville, contained  a   variety  of   war   books   and   photo  albums .

Silcock, shown here with his medals on Anzac Day, a signaller in the 6th Battalion  Royal Australian Regiment , served  twice in Vietnam . After the war, by trade a painter,  he went back to  help  rebuild the  country and also  spent much time in  Cambodia , Laos  and  Thailand .

He  died in February , having earlier been found unconscious  in the carpark of a Townsville hotel, where it was  thought  he  had  fallen  or  had collapsed.

However, in hospital it was found that he   had been hit on the  back of  the  head .  Nobody was ever charged.

In  his  house  there   was  a  large  Buddha  at  each  end of   a  bookshelf which  held    war   books  ranging from the Boer War dispatches of  Banjo Paterson   to   World  War  ll , several  about   Australians  fighting  in New Guinea   and   Tarakan,  the   Indochina  conflict .  

The above book covered  the disappearance of  American  Vietnam  War  photo-journalists  Sean  Flynn  ( son of  Australian filmstar  Errol  Flynn) , and Dana  Stone , who  in April 1970 set off  on motorbikes to cover the  war. Last seen in Cambodia ,they were captured by  Communist  forces , never   seen   again , massive  investigations  made  over  the  years .  

While  the  book mentions that Errol Flynn had been in New Guinea early in his life, there was no mention that he supposedly won an interest in a  Magnetic  Island  goldmine  in a Townsville pub    card  game . 

The  goldmine became a  tourist  attraction , where you could go  and  inspect   Errol   Flynn's  shaft . Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. 

A Thai  Airways  boarding  pass  in  Silcock's name  for a flight  from  Bangkok to Brisbane was found inside the  book .   

By   Peter  Simon  

The  book brought back  memories of  former Darwin journalist  Neil Sharman , 23,   and   American  Charles  Dean , 24 ,  who  were  captured and  killed by Communist guerrillas in  1974  when  backpacking  through  Southeast  Asia .

While Neil was working  on Darwin's Northern Territory News , he wrote to his brother in 1973 and told him he  was taking  time  off  to see the world- Indonesia, Malaysia,India and  all places in between.

In  addition ,  he  said maybe the Arab countries ,"If we can  without  being  shot."

Sharman  had  met   Charles  Dean  when he came to Australia and worked on a sheep station . He was a  member of a prominent   American   family which included  the  future  Democratic  National Commitee chairman Howard Dean, Democracy for  America  chairman, Jim Dean, and  activist  Bill Dean.

They were captured in Laos  where Charles , an anti-war campaigner at university,  planned to  visit  a  family  friend  working  in  USAID.  

Earlier in their travels they had been  accompanied by Neil's girlfriend, Joy Hooper , another Darwin reporter, who  was  to  meet  up  with  them.

I knew both Neil  Sharman , who had  worked on the  Sydney Morning  Herald,   and   Joy  Hooper.  Joy  desperately  tried to find out  what  had  happened  to  them.

She    told  me how   she  had    approached   people in  high  places  in the region  for  help, including   Prince  Sihanouk of  Cambodia, and  showed  me  correspondence  she   had   received.

The wife of missing photo-journalist  Dana  Stone , Loise, also  had extensive correspondence with Prince Sihanouk, and had  sought help from   Australian journalist  Wilfred  Burchett  , in   Paris, who had reported on the Korean  War  and the Vietnam War from the Communist  side  , with  contacts  in  Hanoi  and  Peking .

A  book  on  Prince  Sihanouk  and several others on the brutal Pol Pot regime   in  Cambodia   were  in  Silcock's  collection.

Eventually , it was   discovered that Sharman and Dean had been handcuffed and shot by Communist Pathet Lao  guerrillas .

 It was said  that  because  they  were carrying cameras , they were  regarded as   American  spies. A claim that Dean was a CIA agent  was strongly  denied .  Their  remains  were repatriated  to   America  and   Australia  in  2003.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Thursday, May 9, 2024


In 1907, a lucky person received this now  battered small volume  for Christmas, one of a series  of Nugget Booklets , reprints  from the  world's  literature , put  out  by the renowned  E.W.Cole Book  Arcade,  Melbourne , with branches in Sydney and Adelaide. A faded inscription in  the book  indicated   that  in  1939  it was owned by  a  different  person .

The Supreme Literary Gift, written by T.G. Tucker, Professor of Classical Literature , Melbourne University , over  40 pages  extolled  the  joy  of  reading   the  best  of   literature . 

There were  11 Nugget Booklets  listed , which included  another by Tucker  dealing  with  Shakespeare ,  selling for 9d each, leather bound 2 shillings and  sixpence , postage  one penny.

The above volume carried an advert for Glimpses of Australian Bird Life, 31  original and geniune photographs  direct from nature, with notes by Robert  Hall, F.L.S.,C.M.Z.S. , author of  The  Useful Birds of  Southern  Australia.

Another advert ,  for The Laboratory and Other Poems, by W.A. Osborne , was described as a  dainty book of  48 pages , on  antique paper ,printed in two colours.

To quote from the classics, thou couldst have knocked  this  blogger over with a feather  when he discovered in  the  Australian Dictionary of Biography that  William Alexander Osborne (1873-1967), from Ireland , a Professor of  Physiology  and  man  of  letters, who  had  a  colourful  career  at  Melbourne University, in  later  years   had  lived  on   Magnetic Island, Queensland.

While on the island  he took a keen interest in the  Townsville University College to which in 1962 he gave over 500 volumes, mostly English and American literature,  especially poetry. 

The Dictionary  said  that  during  World War II he had advised the Australian Army on diet and was an interpreter-assessor  for  German internees.  In addition, he  was a rigorous and not always liberal chairman of the advisory board of the Commonwealth Literary Fund in 1944-46 (his knowledge of Australian writing was limited), developing some respect for  Prime Minister  Ben Chifley, the  fund's  chairman.

Osborne was described  as  a great  speaker and a formidable polemicist, with a ribald atheism. (He habitually called Christmas 'the Mithraic festivities'.) He could be seen as warm and generous, cold and wounding: often he was both and he was susceptible to the flattery of both sexes. He died in Melbourne.

FOOTNOTE: Expect  follow  up  on  dynamic Osborne .

Wednesday, May 8, 2024


Checking  potting  mix . Vallis  photo . 


Tuesday, May 7, 2024


 Sweeping view of  Hobart  from Rothy Point in the l880s  by  Captain  Haughton Forrest (1826-1925), a prolific  painter  of  marine scenes  and  landscapes who  also produced  Australia's first pictorial  postal stamps . Our drifting Shipping Reporter  came  across  the  framed  print  in a deceased estate . .

The  son  of a former   equerry to  Queen Victoria , Forrest was born in France, his family leaving the country in 1830  because  of  the  start of the  revolution  .

He was taken to Jamaica   where his father , who sired 10 children , had sugar plantations.

After military training back in England, achieving the rank of captain,  Haughton  Forrest  , went  to   Brazil for a short  time  and then  took up  land in  Tasmania  in  1876 .

There  he held several posts including   Bailiff of Crown Lands, Inspector of Nuisances  and  Superintendent of  Police. 

 Without any apparent   training, he then   devoted himself to fulltime painting  and over 70  years produced more than  3000 in various formats and   media , many  depicting ships in dramatic settings. 

In 1899 his views of  Mount Wellington and  Hobart , based on photos by John Watt Beattie, were chosen to  be  the first set of pictorial stamps, the fourpenny , from the Dictionary of  Australian  Biography, shown below. 

Sunday, May 5, 2024


 A   contrail  made by  a jet  streaking   high  over  Townsville   late on   Saturday afternoon   provided   dramatic  footage .

 It  first  became   visible   as   a  thin , fast  moving   rocket -like   trail..  

Gradually, the  line decayed , broadened  out  , drifted away and eventually disappeared.

Saturday, May 4, 2024


Our  bibulous  Shipping  Reporter  has returned  from  a  quick  voyage to  Van Diemen's  Land  where he   drank   in  the   local ,  thirsty  culture  and  found   intoxicating   souvenir   publications .

In the highly illustrated  history  of  Hobart  drinking spots by C.J. Dennison ,the Old Bell Inn  ,in which  Marcus Clarke wrote part  of his  novel, For the Term of his Natural Life, in one of the rooms,  is covered . The building included  murals  said to have been the work of convict  artist, forger and poisoner ,Thomas Wainewright.

There are numerous   drawings of  pubs  by graphic artist Adrian Thomas  Fleury  whose brother , Jake, born Hobart 1832, painted religious pictures and ornaments and decorated Catholic  churches  throughout  Australia, receiving  a  decoration  from  Pope  Pius  XI .

Popular with seafarers  for many years was the English,French and American Hotel which had a reading  room which  kept newspapers  from  England,France   and  the United States, enabling them to catch up on home country news.

The publican at the   Cascade Hotel regularly played  Father Christmas during the  annual Hobart  Christmas Parade in the l940s and 50s .

At McLaren's Hotel, the first licensee not only poured  grog, he made large  nails on the premises  , for which there was a big demand.  

There is an interesting woodcut of  Hobart  which appeared in the  Australian Sketcher on May 10,1879,drawn by an  artist in a hot air  balloon.

  The Alabama Hotel was named after the  USS  Alabama which  sailed into Hobart.

The  surprising  and highly entertaining   coverage of   Tasmanian  pubs  continues  in  the above  publication  by  Donald Howatson with coverage of 24  waterholes .

The introduction says for  many years the pubs were the only public buildings  and  were  used  for  a variety of  civic functions,  such as coronial inquests and public meetings. Sporting contests and matches  were  held .Several  had  skittle alleys at the back and publicans also arranged  rifle  shootings competitions 

At the Fox Inn, for example, a shooting match involved 40 geese, 20 ducks and 10  turkeys  which were lined up to be shot from 150 yards, at one shilling  a  shot.

There  were  two  pubs named Adam and Eve, one later changed to Waggon and Horses, bought by  ex convict  James  Horman  who had been transported to the colony in 1835 for stealing  pigs.

Another publican, Thomas  Todd Cooley (1805-1886),  had been  sentenced to be hanged for stealing silver from  a  London house  and  had also been in trouble over  the  theft of an umbrella !  The sentence was commuted to transportation  for   life .

It is  stated there was" a  tale" , a bit dubious,  that his pub was invaded  by four  bushrangers  and  he  fought  them  single- handledly  with his   fists.

It  was  strange  to  read  that  a pub  which opened in 1856 had been  named  after  Florence  Nightingale, the Lady of the Lamp .

In the  write up about Thomas Dewhurst Jennings (1824-1890) of the Derwent Hotel ,  which includes  a photograph of  him , well dressed, seated, wearing a bowler hat , it points out that the  Brisbane  Courier in  May l884 stated  he was  the biggest man in  Australia , if not the world !!! 

He weighed more than 200 kilograms  and became a famous Hobart attraction. During visits to  New  South Wales  and Victoria  he received much  attention  and  is said to have sent a  "Tasmanian  Tiger " - now  all long extinct- to  Sydney  for  the  great  hospitality  he  had  received . It does not say whether  the  Tiger  was  alive or  stuffed  and  mounted.


Composer  , poet , singer , actor, radio announcer  and  Townsville  chartered accountant, John Ashe , campaigned to counter Australia being flooded by   wailing  American  singers . In  the process ,  he  wrote  many  songs  about  Australian  subjects , from  Aborigines, the Great  Barrier  Reef  to   bushranger   Ned   Kelly . Conversely , he  composed a distinctively special   musical   tribute  to  America  during  WWll. 

Ashe was aided and abetted in his  drive to  counter the  flood of Americana  by a  retired  former  magistrate  , Reginald Arthur  Vivivian ,  who  lived on  Magnetic Island .   Vivian , born in Melbourne, had moved to Queensland in 1900  and worked  in mining  districts  before going  to New Guinea ,where he became a magistrate . Retiring in 1942, he moved to the island ,writing books of  verse  under the name Aldus Thurian ,  about  bunyips, rabbits, wool, White  Australia  , published  in  the  l940s  in  Townsville ,one  below , which may have included  Bluey the cattle dog and the Devil  ???? in the  cover  illustration .

During the war, Ashe worked as an accountant for the US Army Finance Department  in  Townsville  and  often took American Servicemen  home   to listen  to  records .  He composed the  wartime tribute to the Americans  ,  Ain't It Grand to Have a Rich Uncle Sam, the sheet music decorated with the  flags of  the two  countries  .

One of the Americans was Gabriel Jacoby , possibly a colonel, who had worked for the New York music publishers , Leo Feist Inc . In l942 Jacoby was sent to see Ashe after  he told a Townsville music shop proprietor he had  a song in his head that he wanted to put down on paper

From a jungle in New Guinea , Jacoby sent Ashe lyrics for Memory Hill , which he turned into a catchy, slow foxtrot. The song was sung to troops in New Guinea by Lanny Ross with the backing of a band . Ashe and Jacoby collaborated to produce other songs-,Dream In Your Heart and Convicted and Sentenced.

Another   friend of Ashe's on  Magnetic Island   was  a  retired   Royal Navy captain who  had  been  in  the  1916  Battle  of   Jutland .  He introduced  schoolteacher  Margaret Mealy , from NSW, to  Ashe  , and  they  married , the naval  captain ,  wearing   medals ,  giave  her  away  at  the wedding ceremony. This week , during all  the  concerning  news about domestic violence, a John Ashe poem glorifying his wife was rediscovered in the Little Darwin  files  and  passed to Special  Collections ,  Eddie Koiki  Library, James   Cook   University .  

The Magnetic Museum  staged a  John  Ashe   display  several  years  ago  .

Ashe is shown above  on the cover of a record  album with Gordon Parsons and Chad Morgan .  His clients included graziers who came to see  him in Townsville . He  took them out  to lunch for  drinks  during  which  there was much swapping of  yarns , telling of   jokes , laughter , providing material for songs and  poems .

 ( By Peter Simon , more  details  about  Ashe  available in  Little Darwin  blog   online.)