Sunday, September 25, 2016


CANBERRA : The  official  receiver  of  political  vessels which  have come to grief  in Australian  waters  during  recent elections   is  to  be housed in  a new $10million warehouse   on  the shores  of  Lake  Burley  Griffin .  In Darwin , the  artistic, bug-eyed  ABC  breakfast staff   made  the above  boat out  of  political corflutes used  during  the  landslide  election which saw  the  Country Liberal  Party go  down like the tragic  wreck of  the  Gothenburg , in  Queensland waters.
The  ABC officially named the corflute  boat  SS Opposition  as  it only has two seats and that is how many seats the CLP  won . The insolent government  funded   public broadcaster  is urging  the Canberra   ABC   office to make a  similar  corflute after the October  15 election in the Australian Capital Territory.
After the Liberal National Party  Campbell   Newman  Government   went  down  like  the Titanic  at  the  last state election in Queensland  soon after the  conservatives  lost  Victoria , the Receiver of  Wreck  has been busier than  the  proverbial one armed paperhanger  and the  AFP  taking  delivery of  buckled ,  barnacle  encrusted  hulks , formerly  shiny  ships of  state  (say  this last part  six times fast  after downing six  bottles  of   Grange ).
The Turnbull Cayman Islands  cruise  ship is currently  listing  badly  and  could end up in  Davy Jones's locker   in  the near  future , causing more problems for the already  stressed  out  receiver.  Another  maritime  disaster is  looming in Western Australia  where  the  embattled  premier  survived  an attack by the  crew of the Emden  while  he was reviewing  troops ,  wearing a made in China lifejacket .
While the Japanese did not  get Australia's submarine  contract , they can expect to  get  a  mountain  of maritime  scrapmetal  in  the near   future   due  to all  those right wingers in sailor suits  trying to grab the  helm   and   the  growing  number of  muttering   mutineers in  the ranks who just   want  to  take over  the  ship  and sail off  to the Pacific,  to nibble endless  peanut butter sandwiches made  from breadfruit, swill  kava  , and  press noses with the  friendly island  girls  in  grass  skirts .   

Friday, September 23, 2016


During the  Second World War , the January 1943 issue of the American National Geographic Magazine ,urging readers to buy U.S. war bonds and stamps ,  carried  the  above  full  page advertisement  for SPAM- said  to  be  perfect   for  luncheons , supper  or  STAG  PARTIES ! It must be said  that stag parties where  SPAM  is served up seems pretty tame by Australian standards .  Napoleon Bonaparte  famously said an army marches on  its  stomach .  It  is a sure bet that the  Marines were not  marching  on  this  tinned  tucker  when they stormed ashore in various parts of  the Pacific .  Apart    from   recipes for  SPAM , it was pointed out that  the  metal key  to open a  tin of SPAM   should be saved  , as  there would  be  no more keys  for  a" duration ",  presumably  of  the  war ,   or  use  a  can  opener . Were  the  keys  made  into  bullets?
In an article in the magazine  about American servicemen  in Australia there is an interesting insight  into the food  on offer , both in the community  and   at  American bomber  bases.  In a  town near  a base , American   reporter-photographer  Howell  Walker  wrote  that   streets  seethed with  soldiers, sailors  and airmen  of  both Australian and American forces . Hotels and restaurants  had  to turn  hungry servicemen  away  at  mealtime .
He and some airmen had  tried vainly  to get  a square meal  and had to be satisfied with  a round  of  milkshakes  and  sandwiches  ( SPAM ?), the bill 16 shillings  for a few  sips  and  nibbles.
At another base,  they had a choice of cold salmon and salad or braised chops with  vegetables , tea , bread and  butter  and  oranges.


When the controversial prime minister of Papua New Guinea , Peter O'Neill, came to Townsville  for  the   funeral of  local  businessman   Sir Mick   Curtain  you would  think  that  the  media  would  have  a big  list of  questions on many  subjects  to  ask  him . Like :

*Why  have  you failed to comply , for  two years ,  with a  warrant  for your  arrest  on  allegations  of  corruption ? Is  it  a  political conspiracy ?
* Having  survived  a  no confidence  vote in  July , in which it has  been  reported that   votes   were   "bought "   with   cheques  diverted    from    various   funds   , how do  you  think  you  will  go  in  the  next  year's election ? 
*What is  your  response   to the recent ABC television documentary which   showed  that  in the Highlands  the  local schoolteacher had not been  paid for months  and   children were  sitting on the  school floor because  no  furniture had been provided ?
*Why  have  there  been protests  against you  by  students , doctors, pilots  and port workers ?
* What  is being done to improve the PNG   health system , reports having highlighted  gross   inadequacies and  concern  about  drug resistant TB spreading   into   Queensland  via  Cape York?
*What is your reaction to the Singapore court  case , resulting  in the jailing  of two people, in which it  was alleged this  month that    one million   dollars ,  meant  for  PNG   community colleges , had been laundered through the  account of the founding  PNG prime minister, Sir Michael Somare ,  which  he has  denied ?  
* Why were  the funds of the  PNG anti corruption squad, Task Force Sweep , cut  by your  government ?  
There are other questions that  could have been asked in Townsville , including the claims  that  money diverted from  PNG   has  been used to  buy  real estate in  North  Queensland. Manus detention  and settlement of refugees in PNG ?So  did the Townsville  media raise any of these obvious questions  with the PM? Apparently ,  not one . 
However, the Murdoch Townsville Bulletin  ran a  piece  which  read like another North  Queensland  media   cargo  cult story   about  the possibility of a direct  Air  Nuigini (sic,three times ) service between  Townsville and  PNG providing    employment and investment opportunities .  Beaming  O'Neill  was  quoted  as  saying he wanted the  link  yesterday .

The report  did not mention  the fact that  Qantas  is  dropping   its   Cairns-Port Moresby direct flights   from  the  middle of  next  month , Air  Niugini   , correct spelling  , increasing  the  service , the Cairns office pictured above  . It would have been interesting  to know what  PM  O'Neill  felt  about Qantas  pulling  out of PNG. A few days later , the Townsville Bulletin had another  go at the story in which  it  managed to  correctly spell  Air Niugini   seven  times and excitedly said the  "buzz" is  growing  about  possible  flights  to  Port Moresby .  

Air  Niugini  inflight magazine Paradise ,September - October  1990 , illustrates Great  White Bwana   introducing  snooker  to   PNG  ;  the wartime  cargo  cult  in  which all manner of  goodies  could be  expected  to  drop out of  the sky   continues  right  up  to  today in  isolated  media   tribes   on   nearby   mainland  Australia .

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


 Mary Penton ,  seen here  playing  drums   with wooden  coathangers, died  recently  in  Darwin , aged  94. Known as the Op Shop Queen  because of her many  years  with the Nightcliff Uniting Church Op Shop ,  her  unknown  prowess as a drummer  was revealed  when the drum kit  was  set up in the church  in  readiness  for a  service , without drumsticks . 
On December  10, 2011,   Mary  turned  90 and  op shop staff held  a  special party in the church  at which  the   lighthearted ditty  about  her , below , composed by  artist Shirley Downing, widow  of  Reverend  Jim Downing , of Alice Springs , was  sung to  the tune of Sydney's  Hornsby Girls' High  School  song ,  Mary and  Shirley  both pupils  there . 
During WWll, Mary, initially employed inspecting materials  bought  for the armed forces , became a member of the Women's Australian Air Force, the WAAFS, and  made  a  helicopter flight in the early 1950s.  Her funeral service will  be at the Nightcliff  Uniting Church  on  September  29 . 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


During  the  federal  election campaign  for  the  Queensland  seat of  Herbert,   won by the ALP  , an economist  standing  as  a  Katter  Party  candidate  said  Magnetic Island,  going  on  the  average age  of  an  island  resident, more than 50, was   an oldies   hotpot area  with lots  of  business  opportunities  to   cater  for  this  demographic .

 Cyclops, more  than  two decades  older  than  the  average islander, did not want to  rain  on  the  economist's  bottom  line  by  pointing out   that  attempts to  cash  in  on  these  spritely  islanders who take part in  power walking, yoga , Tai Chi , boot  camp , attend University of the Third Age  , snorkel and just love  needlework   , to use a Wall Street Journal  term , had  come   a   gutsa.

Take  the  proposal  to  turn  jungle country, left  to  the Catholic Church  and  known  as   the Pope's Land  , into  a  retirement  village, which  raised  strong opposition  and did not eventuate . It was pointed out  that  part  of  the  bush  flooded   during   monsoonal rain  and  water ran for months . Other reasons  why the islanders did not want the  bush  chopped down  included  the fact that it is occupied by Curlews, Coucals , visiting  Torres Strait Pigeons , grunting Koalas , Spangled Drongos,  snakes , lizards.  
Another   well  set up  tourist  facility  announced  it  intended  converting  its   beaut waterfront  resort into  a retirement  village , but   abandoned  plans because  of   the  lack  of   interest .   

Imagine  the shock when  that  famous   old  girl, New York's   Statue of  Liberty ,  has just taken up  residence on Magnetic Island  and  is offering to help overcome  the obesity problem  in  Queensland . A bit tottery on  her gams  after all those  years  out  there in  the open on Ellis Island  , she was  snapped, right ,  outside the Magnetic Island Pharmacy, Nelly  Bay, holding  in  her  free left  hand  what  looked  like  a  Manhattan cocktail .  

In an exclusive interview with  little Darwin , the statue, about  to slip into a   mini skirt to  expose her  knobbly  knees to  glorious  Aussie sun ,  said  she was  sick and tired of  wearing  that unfashionable  robe  ; she had also  found it  painful   holding up  that  heavy liberty  torch  in  the extreme   Big  Apple  weather , which had resulted in  arthritis .  "I'm a bit rusty in  the knee  joints and hips , as well , love , " she   told  this  blogger, himself  on  new  medication  .
To prove her point ,  from her private  album ,  the statue   provided  this 1876  photograph, below, of the massive   torch  component  and  her right  hand  before the   statue was   completely assembled .


Julia Clark, third woman to receive a pilot's licence from the Aero Club of America , in her  plane, 1911. British born , she emigrated to America  and  settled in  Denver , enrolling with the Curtiss Flying School in San Diego .  A member of an exhibition team ,  she struck a  tree   while taking off  in poor visibility  and became the  first female pilot to  die in an air  crash  in  the  United States  the  following  year

Sunday, September 18, 2016


A  1943 map showing the range of  bombing  operations  from bases  in  Australia...Darwin,  Cairns, Townsville, Mackay clearly  visible . The  map  surprisingly supplied  information  that  stationed  at  Darwin, long range bombers  could strike Japs as far north as Davao,Philippines. From a base on Cape York , enemy  warships at Truk, the  Carolines  could  be  reached  in  five  hours. If  fully  developed and supplied, the American air  base  at  Guadalcanal  could  guard  sea  lanes  for  a  radius  of  1500 miles .  
Interesting books and magazines  with details of  American  and  Australian soldiers  and  airmen  based  in  North Australia  during  the  Second World War  have come our  way . Of  particular  note  is the  January   1943  issue of  the  American  National Geographic  Magazine with a  well illustrated  article by  roving  photographer-writer   Howell Walker -American  Bombers Attacking from  Australia .
While the text does not specifically mention places by  name  in Australia , the accompanying  above  map  is  full  of  place  names .  One  photograph , below  ,  shows  500lb bombs camouflaged by  the  distinctive magnetic  anthills typical  of  the NT ; another  photograph  showing  men digging  a   trench says it has to be in Queensland  as  it  is  in  a cotton field , the only place where cotton is grown in that country .
After  reaching Australia, Americans,  Howell wrote ,  acquired the Aussie habit of drinking lots of  tea  , and liking it . "Their regular tea parties helped pass  time while they were waiting  for word  to get  going on the next mission," he continued  .  A local welfare room, run by  friendly ladies supplied  tea for a small charge , because it was hard to get during the war, but  they donated  all the bread  for toast and sandwiches , and made  cakes  with  their  own  hands .
The tearoom only admitted men in uniform at any time between 10 in the morning  and 10 at  night and  American airmen   could  be  found  at  the  tables .
The  superb pictorial coverage includes the  above shot of a  co-pilot who liked  painting bombers, his  art adorning an American officers' recreation  room in Australia .
The  Flying  Fortress  Tojo's  Physic  gets a  special mention . Howell went on a  six bomber  raid  on the Japanese base at  Lae , New  Guinea, during which they were attacked  by  Zeros . The caption on a  photograph says  it is of  men in "the bush " lined up at a tent for a physical examination,  far removed from  a comfortable Australian town , in the wilderness  camped in tents  among gum trees, anthills and  indelible red dust.  

NOTE : Howell  Walker  came to the Northern  Territory  after the  war  , in 1948,  on  assignment for  the National  Geographic Society covering the American -Australian  Scientific  Expedition   into  Arnhem  Land .

Lockwood logs in : Upon reading the above post ,  Melbourne  journalist  Kim  Lockwood responded  by saying he  has the autograph of Howell Walker, obtained in the early  1950s, who was  a  regular  visitor  to  the Top  End . Kim also pointed  out that the anthills in the wartime article were not of the so called magnetic  kind . They  were, he said , common-or-garden anthills .The magnetic variety  have flat sides, with their sharp edges pointing  to magnetic north and south,which no one had adequately explained, going  on about the flat sides with east and  west faces, soaking up the sun . These  anthills occur mainly in the latitude of  Adelaide  River.