Thursday, November 23, 2017


Early morning low cloud over Cairns Airport  and  view  near Lockhart River . Photographs  by roaming  correspondent, Abra .

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


CANBERRA : A clear indication that  the Liberal National Party (LNP) in Queensland  is  doing poorly and the Turnbull  government  is  impotent ,   is the desperate  decision to pull   ousted   former  Deputy  Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce out of  his own  byelection campaign  to  spruik   in  central and northern  Queensland  seats .
This move  comes after  the fiasco of Joyce  accepting    an  inaugural   $40,000   Hancock Prospecting    award    from    mining and  farming  magnate  Gina  Rinehart   for  being a champion of  agriculture .  That   Joyce and  Rinehart  did not  twig that there would be an almighty uproar  in the rural and wider  community as a result of the  award  speaks  volumes, an indication of people out of  touch  with   the  common  herd and sod busters . 
Reporters in central and northern Queensland have a record of not asking  obvious questions. Frustration at  this sorry state of affairs  regularly come through in  lively  comments in  The Magpie , Townsville's  rip snorting website , run by Malcolm Weatherup .

Why, asked one  writer,  did  not a posse of   television  journalists   ask Premier  Annastacia Palaszczuk  and the Mayor of Townsville, Jenny Hill, hard  hitting questions about  Adani   at  a   photo opportunity ?...  " How on earth do we as a community get honest, properly investigated news. TV journos  grow some balls  and  do  your job .The newspaper just won't..."

 Surely the fact that Joyce  accepted the 40 grand , said he would spend it on his farm, and  then , a  day later ,  decided not  to  accept the  dough , will force  them to  really  ask  hard questions  of  him when he lobs up north . They should also grill him about the  survey that  further confirmed that  lots of backpackers  and others  are being  grossly underpaid  in fruit and vegetable  picking , some in Queensland . He would truly become a  champion of agriculture if he stopped crooks -which includes some  labour high  outfits, some backpacker accommodation  , farmers - robbing  workers . 
In addition , Joyce and  LNP leader Tim Nicholls  should  also  be strongly grilled about Queensland now   listed as  a global rainforest deforestation  hotspot . Right now  a  farm  near  Cairns  is  the subject of  an allegation that  a large area   of land  has  been illegally cleared . The   LNP  is   backing an  easing of  land clearing  laws.  
Great cartoon by David Rowe of the Australian Financial Review sums up the unbelievable  award   to the man who was the Minister for Agriculture . The Murdoch  Townsville  Bulletin , which  has  been bellicose in its  coverage of  the  ALP campaign  in Queensland ,  gave  the  Barnaby Joyce  cheque affair  five paragraphs.  Tucked away was  a  short report about  Adani   which  said  the company, no  spokesman named, would continue to push for a billion dollars  from NAIF in an outcome which  could only be  achieved if the LNP wins the election or  Labor  overturns  its  promise of  a  veto .    


Each year the  Magnetic Island History and Craft  Centre produces  a  calendar  illustrated  with  photographs from the past  . In the case of the  one for  2018,  the  cover  photograph  is   the   honeymoon cottage , with an insect wired  verandah, from   the Arcadia  Hotel ,  used by  Service personnel on leave during  WWll.  It was relocated to the Magnetic Museum  in  2014. 
The month of  July in the calendar   surprises  with  a  c1947  view of  a  group of  topless  men on  the  verandah  of  a  building , with the large outline of a  white thumb up hand  next  to  a  name , WANGANUI , a  place in NZ . It was one  of  several pre-war huts used by Arcadian lifesavers  and friends .  The man standing in the group  appears  to be  wearing a  towel like  bathing   togs  or ,  as  a  joke,  a  baby  diaper .   The limited edition calendar  sells for  $30 , contact through Any information about  how  the building  came  to  be  called  Wanganui  and  the names of  those in the photo would  be well  received.   

Tuesday, November 21, 2017



Diverse shapes  and  views  on  Magnetic  Island , North  Queensland  . Photos by Vallis.

Monday, November 20, 2017


Thirsty, distressed green tree frog at empty birdbath  and over-sunned   young  Sunbird  rolls  about and  soaks  up water on  banana  leaves  in  short , passing shower . Vallis photographs.

Sunday, November 19, 2017


Tattered  Jewel  in  the Crown welcome  disappears down  Harpic Harry's  U-bend .

The  extensive Welcome to Magnetic Island display   now  seems  more  porous   than the border between the  USA  and Mexico  and  still  the  Townsville  media  has not  twigged .  A  large  chunk of  the  banners  covering up  the  unsightly  hole  at the  terminal , blown about, torn , collapsed ,   has   been   removed , no  doubt  due to this  blog  reporting  the  situation.  

 A Melbourne journalist, Kim Lockwood,  who earlier  this year  had visited  the island , on reading in  this  blog  about  the  banner  fiasco,  contacted  the Townsville City Council  and asked what they were  doing to remedy the situation at the ferry terminal.
The TCC  promptly  informed him   it   could  do nothing   as the terminal  and  surrounds are not a TCC  owned  asset. He was directed to the Department of  Main  Roads  and Transport  site  for "further  actioning." A strange response seeing the council  recently took part in a  PR stunt   in which  Magnetic Island was  renamed  Cowboys Island and  the councillor   for the island , Ann-Maree  Greaney,  featured in a  TV  report  for  the welcome  display in the first instance .( Then, on November  10 , long  after this blog raised the issue, Councillor Greaney  announced  she was aware of the  signage situation at the ferry terminal,  and  hoped  it  would  be  fixed  that  very  day .Not so .) 
Nevertheless, the tenacious  reporter  Lockwood  went to the Department of Main Roads and   Transport and  found  it  a weird  site  which gave him the impression that  it could not  help  because  Magnetic Island  is  not on  a  road . He  referred the matter back to us suggesting it might be  a  case of  getting our  famous  salty  S(h)ipping  Reporter  , the only one  north  of  Woolloomooloo ,  to follow  up .

 Our nautical roundsman was  located, as uusual ,  in Molly Malone's Irish  Pub  and reluctantly   paddled out to the  island  and inspected  the  now huge  gaping hole in the welcome mat . There he spotted  broken  plastic  ties   and  eyelets  scattered about the  place. The poor mutated Koala, which had  been  flapping   about wildly for weeks   , was  secured  by some ties  at a torn and  frayed edge and  would   no  doubt  burst  free  in  a  puff .

Thankfully,  a  much  blown  about and creased  panel of  a  rock  wallaby, which gave the impression it had been decapitated ,  is  one of those  sections  removed  from  public  gaze.  What  next ? Any Townsville journalist   reading this  post is welcome to  follow it  up  with the TCC as the remnants  will undoubtedly be blown away in the cyclone season . The media  should also  pay close  attention to further scoops   about to break  in  Little Darwin  involving the Townsville City Council ,  crime ,  industrial  rounds ,   health  ,  shipping  and  intriguing speculation  about  a major  media shake up  likely  to  hit  North Queensland .  

Flapdoodle Island  update :

Out of a clear blue sky , of  which not many are seen in Melbourne ,  reporter Kim  Lockwood was surprised to receive an  unexpected  email  from  the Townsville  City Council admitting  that  it is indeed involved  in  the  Magnetic Island  welcome  fiasco .  It informed him  a  report had been "raised"  , reference CSPOS/17/01458 ,  for the council staff on the island to investigate and see what could  be  done  to rectify the situation.  It went on  to say that " hopefully"  the  island staff were already aware  of  the situation and they  had already  done  " something ."   It would seem that  communication between Townsville council chambers and   Magnetic Island  staff   consists  of  writing a message in longhand, inserting it  in  an  empty  champagne   bottle  and  then chucking it  into  the sea on  the  outgoing  tide.  Why not pick up  the  blower ?

Saturday, November 18, 2017


The Frank Hardy classic  up the workers! novel   floats to the surface  on  Townsville's  troubled  civic  waters . 
The strong feeling against the Townsville City Council  and  its CEO , Adele Young, who came  from  Darwin ,  over the massive   slashing of  jobs  and  diminished  services  is  reflected in  this  two-man  demonstration  on Magnetic Island .  On  the right  is  the former Magnetic Island dump employee  Roland de Chazal ,77, who  never had a day off in seven years ,  who   got  the chop under the restructure  , a new part time position going  to  a  younger man . Roland  is wearing a T-shirt bearing the  letters  M.A.C.E.  which stand for  Magnetic (island ) Against  Council   Exploitation . 

In America , Mace is used to spray people in demonstrations  , causing involuntary  bowel   movements . There is certainly no intention on Roland's behalf to use Mace  on the TCC , although a  lot of irate  ratepayers and others would not mind  spraying  the unpopular  council  over its  intention to give $18.5million  to  the  highly controversial  proposed  Adani  coalmine.

The  longtime island  resident  dog  catcher  who also   performed assorted  vital   cleaning  duties   was  also  made  redundant .  Now  the  council sends  a  person over  on  the  ferry  once a  week  to  carry out  the  role of  a  dog  catcher , the new  arrangement  some  kind  of  secret , clothed  in  bureaucratic  , meaningless  weasel  words.  
The  other person  in  the demo  is  from  Townsville ,  former   council employee  Trevor  Elson ,  who  took a  voluntary redundancy  after  seven years' service in the Townsville Water and Waste  section, preceded by five years in council  after  hours  and  emergencies.

Needless to say ,Water and Waste is a  vital service in the Queen City of the North : looking after 100s of kilometres of sewerage infrastructure , about 200 sewage pumping stations  , dealing   with  overflows, gurgles, splish  splosh  ,  etc .
When redundancies and restructuring had been raised , the initial restructure draft showed Trade Waste Inspectors  departing from Townsville Water and Waste (TWW)  and becoming TW1s in  Regulatory  Services. The Source Control (Trade Waste)  Team Leader  and  administration  position  had  been cut . It was pointed out to  council you could not give the same service  with  half  the  staff .It painted  a picture of  Townsville  ending  up  that well known  undesirable creek without a  paddle .
Elson is politically active, once stood as a  One Nation candidate in Mundingburra  and  as  an independent for a council election .  He intends to  play a part in  the  next council  elections.    On  Facebook , he runs  Trevor Elson  Political  Thoughts, which provides an outline  of what went on in Townsville  Water  and  Waste , in which in September 2016 he had been the inaugural winner of the Townsville Water and Waste employee  of  the quarter  award.

It is a straight forward  account   which  would  undoubtedly inspire the late   Communist  author Frank Hardy   to  write a  follow up to the  1971  Outcasts of  Foolgarah  , based on the confrontation in 1951 between garbage collectors   and the  Warringah  Council , Sydney .

Hardy  converted  the situation   into  a  battle between  the workers  and  council  mugwumps  with  dire consequences  for Sydney's beaches  and politicians  .  Characters included  two very colourful and  street wise  garbos ,  an easily identified  PM  with big ears and a  media baron . It was a  rollicking   novel variously described  as   thoroughly scurrilous , possibly libellous, defamatory , blasphemous . The  unique  style , again quoting,  was  said to  somersault    from  the  bawdy  Australian idiom  ( a lot of the brown stuff  hitting the fan  and surf )  into  Rabelaisian  irony  and, at times, sheer  poetry . 

There is nothing unseemly or  rude  in remarks about the  council by the  former  council employees. Trevor Elson  is critical of the  Townsville Bulletin. He intends  coming back to  the island  again  to demonstrate with  Roland at  the  roundabout  near  the  ferry  terminal . 
Frank  Hardy took up the struggle by the Gurindji in the Northern Territory to obtain landrights and wrote a book  about  the  episode . 

COUNCIL  STINK : It is interesting to recall that  the garbage men of Darwin once went on strike  and  forced  the  mayor and  councillors  to collect the  rubbish  themselves . A  British cartoon  depicted civic fathers wearing top hats  tipping smelling  garbage  and dead cats  into  luxury  Rolls Royce vehicles .

 The editor of the  Northern  Territory News , Jim Bowditch , a close friend of Frank Hardy's  ,  supported the  garbos , which infuriated the ginger haired  mayor , John " Tiger" Lyons , a  lawyer .   After  referring to Bowditch as a  little cunt , within the hearing of journalist  Doug Lockwood, Kim's father,   the mayor  said he should  biff  the  editor . Bowditch , who had  been a commando  and had  killed many Japanese  ,  scoffed , and  intimated  Tiger was old and might have a heart attack as a result of   physical exertion . Them was fighting words .     Tiger  ordered  the editor  outside  and  the two combatants  wrestled  in  the   rose  garden   at   the  mayor's  residence,  much to the  annoyance of  Mrs Lyons ... The  bout  made  interesting  reading  in  the  newspaper and  had  the whole  town   laughing.