Sunday, September 17, 2017


 Revealed  in this recently released book   is  the  little known  fact that a  19-year-old  Australian , Keith Falconer ,  in a  secret  base  in  Townsville, North Queensland , intercepted  a Japanese  radio  message  containing  vital   information  that  led  to  Operation  Vengeance in which   America   shot  down  the  bomber in which Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto , responsible for the  attack  on   Pearl  Harbour , was   travelling  on   April  18 , 1943 . 
Radio  message interceptor   Falconer  was  not aware  that the  encrypted  enemy message contained the  itinerary for  Admiral Yamamoto's proposed  morale  boosting  flight   to  bases .  The  Townsville  intercepted  message was promptly  passed  on  to Brisbane and  US Navy  cryptographers . (One account , without mentioning Townsville , says radio listening  posts in Pearl Harbour, Washington and   Melbourne  picked up  the  initial  vital  itinerary . )   
Harvard educated Admiral "Eddie" Yamamoto , Naval Attache to Washington  1919-1921,   a marshal admiral ,  commander-in-chief  of the Combined  Fleet, is  shown  here  addressing  navy  pilots in  Rabaul , New Guinea ,  a few hours before he died. The  approval  to "get  Yamamoto "  was  supposedly    given  by   US  President  Franklin  D. Roosevelt .
The Admiral  and his  staff took off   from  Rabaul  in  two  bombers  ,  escorted by  six   fighters ,  and  headed  for  Balala , a small island off   Bougainville . They  were  intercepted   by  US Army  planes  from Guadalcanal , fitted with long range tanks,   and  vengeance  extracted .   
 Author  Collie details how a   fake Queenslander  building was built  near Townsville  to  house  the  purpose built  intercept  station .  Early Darwin eavesdropping  on  the  enemy  is  covered  in  the book , published by Allen and Unwin . 
 More  interesting WWll  history came to light  as a  result of a  visit to the reading room at Special Collections , Eddie Koiki  Mabo Library , James Cook University , Townsville , when  this    postcard   for   Queensland  WWll historic places  was obtained .   
The  Little Darwin  WWll    file  contains  photographs   of  New Guinea , Townsville  and  the  Northern  Territory , ephemera  ;  a Japanese  sword  from Bougainville  and  a  painting .

Friday, September 15, 2017


Early  morning  30kms  trek  on  Magnetic Island
Terminal and  hills

High tide  at  entrance to safe harbour .

Picnic Bay with Townsville  in distance .

Thursday, September 14, 2017


Following the  sad ,  mysterious  disappearance  of  two eggs , the Little Darwin  resident   Curlews  have  produced  yet  another egg , this  time  close to  the house, under  the  Lychee tree, in  between a  pot of  parsley and another  of mint.  A marauding  Barking  Owl  recently pounced on  one of  two  chicks   down the street ; during the  night  disturbed  Curlews   can  be heard  calling   out  in  the  district . Curlew couples  on the verge of  nesting  are  apparent , one  duo   at  the  front  of  our  residence , almost certain  to  nest near  our wheelie bins .   In a street  close to  here  there is  a nesting Curlew surrounded by an arranged  ring of  palm fronds , a  kind of  protective   Stonehenge ,   an  icecream   container  of  water  provided  inside   by   a  considerate  resident . 
 In the event that the egg survives and a chick emerges , we intend  to name it after  our   flighty , fashion setting  correspondent , Peter  Burleigh, who flaps about  France and is  negotiating with  Hollywood  to make a hit series about Curlews, which he  says should  be on  the Australian coat of arms , not the emu .  


One of  the little  known  attractions of  Townsville  is   Anderson Botanical  Park which abounds in  interesting  plants-a world cycad  garden, North Australian natives, tropical fruit tree , clumps of  bamboo - a wide range of  birdlife, a  large pool filled with dancing  Lotus , walkways.  Photographers  Abra  and  Vallis  combined to produce  this special  study spread over a year  capturing  entrancing   aspects  of  a  greenbelt  in  a  drying   city .

A rare misty morning .

Avenue  of  Bismarckia nobilis  Palms . From  Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean , these palms were named after  the German  chancellor , Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898 ), said to be  one  of  the  few  times  a  botanist  named   a   species after  a   politician .


In another puzzling  appearance on the ABC's  7.30 Report , Deputy Prime Minister , Barnaby " Kiwi Kid"  Joyce , got tough on fairies , told  them  to buzz  off , above. It is tipped that he and   Bob Katter  senior  will  compete against  each other in  the North Australian  Eisteddfod  Impromptu  Babbling  Speech  section , in  Darwin .
Each  time Katter  rises to ask a Question Without Notice , ASIO   and  Border Control are alerted as  his  query ,  which  reads  like  a  random  50 page extract  from the  Encyclopedia Britannica, is believed to  contain a   coded message  for Martians planning  an  invasion of Planet  Earth .   Unlike  Barnaby , Katter has  not mentioned terrorists and  testicles in the one sentence . Cleopatra , somehow, did get  a mention by the  Kat  in  a  Hat. 

Stiff  competition for  sheep shagger .


Proposed  LNP  bullet  train  track  Townsville to  Mount  Isa .
In  another  steam  driven  election   promise,  coal fired LNP  head ,  Tim " Little Toot" Nicholls,  today outlined stunning    plans  for  a  revamped   railway   network   in   Queensland   in  the event  that  the  he  can   derail the  Annastasia  Palaszczuk  government  at  the  next  election .  

Fans  of    the  kiddies  show ,  Timothy  the Tank Engine,  know that public servant   dispatcher    Nicholls  was  in charge of  the  big ticket  office in  the   Campbell  Newman   scrapmetal   yard   when  a massive  contract for billions was  let  to build  new   trains   for Queensland   in   India , which have been  found  not  to  meet  the  requirements . Oh sugar!!!

As a result , people attending next year's  Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, including Prince Charles and Camilla ,  may have  to travel in a fleet of VIP rickshaws and on  pogo sticks  because  Queensland  Rail  will   be  in  a  state of   meltdown by  then.
Little Darwin's  railway  roundsman , Casey Jones , can reveal  that the LNP has been impressed by the Congolese  railway  system  in  Darkest  Africa  which runs on  the smell  of oil  rag ,  its  rolling stock  consisting of   cast  offs  from Germany , China  and   South Korea , which would give  rail travel  in the Sunshine State  an exotic  edge over  the  Trans Siberian.
Exlusive impression of  the proposed new LNP Congo type train on the scenic   Cairns to Kuranda  trip .  

Monday, September 11, 2017


 As a young girl Queen Victoria was an avid collector  of  seaweed  which  was  dried , pressed  and  placed in  an album. It is  highly likely that the young Queen  invited Albert  to come up  and see  her  pressed seaweed collection  , which  would  have impressed  the  red-blooded Teuton  no end  . 
 During  the Victorian era  seaweed  collecting  became  popular   with  women , enabling many to  escape the  domestic  bondage of  the  times  , enjoy strolls along the  foreshores  ,  some  engaging  in  scientific  research . While the book shown below  appears to have been written by a  woman , Shirley  Hibberd, the author was a man,James, who played a  large part  in  popularising  gardening for the masses  , collecting  seaweed , edited  early   magazines which dealt with the  subjects .  
Another collector of  seaweed  was novelist, poet and  journalist  Mary Ann  Evans  , sub editor of  The Westminster   Review ,  whose  pen name was  George Eliot . She not only pressed  seaweed  but  a  philosopher  to  her  bosom . Seaweed caused  Wordsworth  to wax lyrical ; seaweed inspired   artist and philosopher , William  Morris (1834-1896) , of the Arts and Crafts movement , and featured  on  wallpaper  and   china .

A prominent "seaweeder " , Margaret Gatty , a children's book author , married to a vicar , took up the hobby while convalescing  after childbirth  by  the seaside at Hastings in l848. Her  epic  study of the  subject , called  algology , British Seaweeds, was described and illustrated in 86 coloured plates. A species of Australian algae , Gattya pinella ,was  named  after  her .  
In the Special Collections  section  of  the  Eddie  Koiki  Mabo Library , James  Cook  University , Townsville , is the  above impressive 1884  album containing exquisite  full page  pressed  seaweed.   It  is  a presentation  copy with an inscription  that  reads :
The address ,"Simla "  in  Paignton, Devon , raises a possible link with  India , Simla  being  the  place  where the  British   went  to escape the hot Indian summers  during  the time of  the Raj .   A quick check  showed  that  Annie Slade,  born   1861,  had been  the daughter  of  a tea merchant , who on his death in  1917  left  an estate valued  at more than  9000 pound ;  Simla House  , at one time  occupied by  the  Bailey family , was  bombed by the Germans  during WWll. No readily available info could be found  about the recipients of  the  collection , the  Slatters.
Going on the  title of the album it  at first raised  the possibility  that it could  have been  so  named  by  a  scientist  who  came  into possession of  the collection  at  a later  date ,  or else  Annie  was deeply scientific in her approach to  seaweed  collecting  ,  not only naming   each specimen  but the place  from whence it  was  gathered  , Torquay one  source  .

 The  volume came  from  the   library  of  English marine zoologist   Sir Maurice Yonge  (1899-1986) , who led the  Great Barrier Reef  expedition of  1928-1929,  one of  the first  scientists to undertake  rigorous  exploration of  reef organisms  in  the field . The  collection was   bought by  Townsville's  Australian Institute of Marine Science , later  transferred  to the university library . Late in life , Sir Maurice  and  his  wife  visited  Townsville .

 Acquisition  of the invaluable  library  is  covered in  amusing  detail  in the recently published book , A Life Underwater , by  Doctor Charlie Veron , the Australian called the Godfather of Coral ,  one  of  Tim  Flannery's  heroes and likened  to  Charles  Darwin  by  Sir  David  Attenborough . 

More about  the interesting and  vital   contents  of  this  book , the  author  ,  the Great  Barrier  Reef , climate  change   and   Adani    upcoming .