Thursday, September 30, 2010


One of our correspondents,a keen observer of Queensland politics, predicts that Federal Coalition leader ,Tony Abbott, could be removed in similar fashion to that of Kevin Rudd if he persists to act like a rampaging Hollwood championship wrestler . He bases this on the quick demise of the former Queensland Leader of the Opposition , Lawrence Springborg , after he failed to win the 2009 election which saw Anna Bligh elected premier .

A veteran of the Queensland tag wrestling-head and groin kicking school of politics , Springborg overplayed the “ferocious” opposition role during the 2009 state election , especially in respect of the oil pollution episode , and turned many people off , nevertheless taking 10 seats from the government.

With Anna Bligh now under serious attack and internal bickering growing within the Queensland Liberal Nationals,likely to see the removal of its hapless leader, John-Paul Langbroek , Springborg is again resorting to his strident old self, in the process sounding remarkably like Abbott- peas in a pod of killer whales .

Our Sunshine State pollie Wally watcher says for aggressive Abbott to survive as leader , he desperately needs to engineer or have created through some unforeseen circumstance an early return to the ballot box in the belief that the Coalition will win.


If the Gillard government looks like surviving for a reasonable time, the Coalition , it is suggested, would be forced to the inevitable conclusion that Abbott would not be a certain winner in the gruelling next Tour de Australie on a bicycle with over inflated tyres , despite a course of strawberry flavoured growth hormones .

Therefore , the only presentable member of the Coalition with a favourable public profile (itself a telling fact about the lack of talent ) , Malcolm Turnbull , could do a Lazarus, which would require a quadruple bypass in his case because of the snarky old guard in the Libs.


Expect an announcement soon on a new structure in the Territory Families unit as a result of serious shortcomings revealed by court cases and reports . Indications are that it is going to be a top heavy regime with little assistance for those on the lower rungs who are run into the ground trying to cope with the demand for services.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


During the pomp and ceremony associated with the official opening of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly-part of the self government celebrations- the Governor–General, Sir Zelman Cowen, recalled how he had dived for cover during the fateful February 19, 1942 Japanese attack on Darwin. A junior naval officer, he had arrived in Darwin in late 1941 when the Naval Officer In Charge of the Northern Territory was Captain Ernest Penry Thomas.

Cowen had been on duty when a signal came through about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Captain Thomas was asleep at the time , so Cowen , “ fearful” of the officer, decided not to wake him and break the momentous news. Not long after , Cowen told the Assembly , he (Cowen) had to dive for cover in a gutter when the Japanese pounded the city and harbour.

Recently looking back on notes connected with Sir Zelman’s speech, I wondered just who was this Captain Thomas who scared the pants off his junior rating and could not be disturbed from his slumber to be informed about the day of infamy that caught the mighty American fleet off guard.

Captain Thomas had come to Australia from Britain as Commander ( second in charge )of HMAS Canberra and at the age of 52 was NOIC Brisbane . His reign as the Territory naval chief was from January 1,1940 to Feb 21 ,1942 . Googling revealed interesting additional information. It seems Captain Thomas may have been something of a stern old salt . The Journal of Australian Naval History Vol. 3, No. 1 contains details of how Lieutenant Syd Sharp was subjected to the eccentricities and attitudes of senior officers , one being Captain Thomas. Sharp received lessons under the tutelage of the”ancient” Lieutenant Commander Hoskings RN and the “affable “ ( and thirsty ) Lieutenant Commander Horace Thompson in l940.

Thompson instructed Sharp to sit down and drink scotch. Sharp, according to the Journal , also learnt an early lesson about the contagious effect of thwarted ambition as he witnessed Thompson’s hostility over the promotion of Farncomb and Collins( after whom our subs are named ) even though he ( Thompson ) passed out ahead of them at RAN College.Thompson resigned in 1943 “ a bitterly disappointed man”.

Lieutenant Sharp ,who had undergone antisubmarine officer training , was sent to HMAS Melville, Darwin, as a watch keeper in January 1941. Captain Thomas, however, had different plans , and sent him out for several months of mine sweeping experience. Back watch keeping at East Point the day of the attack , Sharp had just finished breakfast, heard planes and expressed relief that it was “the Yanks” coming to help us. The navy man said after the attack, in which he lost some friends, they had been left to scrounge for food and had to trap wild geese and catch fish with traps made from “purloined “ wire netting.

The Journal continues: Captain Thomas was transferred to Brisbane days after the first bombing. He was told of the Japanese air armada spotted over Bathurst Island beforehand and was apparently convinced that Darwin was about to have “visitors”, but neglected to disperse the fleet lying at anchor or de-congest the bottleneck at the wharf . His indecision was noted at the subsequent Royal Commission but Thomas’ s two year posting to Darwin had come to an end anyway.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


A tragic death took place at Fannie Bay races on Saturday and failed to rate a mention in the media . The victim could not be revived by St John's Ambulance paramedics because they had RUN over the poor little blighter . According to a mug punter who has a pet Cockatoo called Dame Leonie , the sad event took place during the running of the last race. Across the track trotted a family- mother , father and two children. It was your average Plover family out living dangerously . One of the two tiny chicks went straight ahead and was run down by the ambulance. The other chick did an about face and scampered back across the track. The Darwin Turf Club may have to buy a brace of Andean Condors to make sure the track is clear of Avian obstacles in future race meets. Paramedics should be warned about dancing balls of cotton . Who knows, Plovers and the dangers they pose might be on the agenda of next month's AGM of the Racehorse Owners' Association of the NT?.

Sunday, September 26, 2010



Scouting gave young Bowditch his first understanding of the immense poverty in London. Each Christmas the scouts would obtain donations of food from their parents, parcel them up and distribute gifts in wheelbarrows and billycarts to the poor and needy.

The people who received the gifts lived in deplorable slums.
Most of the homes consisted of one large room with a fireplace; there was no plumbing. Communal toilets and taps were in the courtyards . The scouts , bearing the gifts, would approach the hovels blowing whistles. The object of all the noise making, in Jim’s opinion, was more to bolster the scouts own spirits than to let the unfortunate recipients of this Christian charity know they were coming.

"We used to think that these strange people we had seen emerging from these places on previous occasions might be dangerous to us, ” said Bowditch. “The real tragedy of the situation was that the people could not afford to refuse the food, but they hated us. They would emerge from their filthy rooms, snatch the bread and dripping, or whatever, from our hands and slam the door in our faces.”

The squalor of the fetid residences compared with the leafy estate upon which he lived at Sidcup made a vivid impression on young Bowditch. At home Jim used to say it was wrong that people had to live that way .From time to time , he also spoke out about other things which he thought were wrong in society , causing his parents to jokingly comment that he was “ our little socialist” .

His brother, Peter ,was also in the scouts and they went on annual camps, looking very much alike because of their hair. Jim was supposed to take care of Peter- because he was older- but never did. They performed in the annual scout concert, the Gang Show, taking part in singing, sketches and , at times , dressed as girls. The two engaged in frequent fist fights

On several occasions Jim stood up to his father over the way he treated his mother . Responding to being chipped by Jim , Captain Bowditch once chased his son who climbed a chestnut tree and spent most of the day and part of a chilly night out on a limb. It was an ignominious situation for a boy nicknamed after Boadicea, the warrior queen.


An embarrassing error dealing with the bombing of Darwin occurs in information on an important Northern Territory website. According to the parliamentary library has a painting of the corvette HMAS Kootoomba (sic) under attack in Darwin Harbour by Japanese on February 19, 1942.

The correct name is Katoomba , which was launched by the Deputy Mayoress of Katoomba, NSW, on April 16, l941. The painting, by Keith Swan, is on loan to the Legislative Assembly from the Australian War Memorial. The Katoomba was in dry dock when the Japanese attacked and escaped unharmed , its crew having put up a fight against the enemy planes.

HMAS Katoomba, in company with HMAS Deloraine and HMAS Lithgow, sank the Japanese submarine 1-124 , the first enemy sub sunk in Australian waters. The vessel was present at the surrender of Japanese on Timor in September 1945.

It is hoped that this error and the clangers pointed out by Little Darwin in respect of the Esplanade war memorial can be corrected before the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin which is being planned by a high powered committee under the repulsive marketing heading : BRAND BOMBING

Friday, September 24, 2010


Blamed by religious fanatics for Cyclone Tracy , Dr Dorothy “Dot” Cole , 81 , has died in Townsville after a series of strokes . Fiercely committed to social justice and equity, she was a pioneer in the field of women’s health in North Queensland. In her time she was instrumental in bringing a fertility control practitioner to Townsville,lobbied for and assisted in running the city’s first women’s shelter which opened in 1975, assisted in the opening of the rape crisis centre and in 1983 was involved with the first abortion clinic in Townsville. Dot also assisted in the creation of the Aboriginal and Islander Health Service in 1980.

Her tireless efforts, especially in fertility control, drew what has been described as flak,hate mail and vitriolic letters . This included the bizarre claim that Cyclone Tracy had been God’s punishment for Dot’s work in the area of women’s fertility.Dot was also involved in the campaign which secured the broadcasting licence for Townsville's community radio station,4TTT-FM. A sample programme submitted to the Australian Broadcasting Authority , a copy of which is in the Little Darwin filing cabinets, included a women's health session conducted by Dr Cole with appropriate music. Another who supported the campaign was Chips Mackinolty,now a well known Darwin resident.

She and her husband , Alastair, who had been the superintendent at Townsville Hospital ,contributed to many worthy causes , including the arts , and lived on Magnetic Island where they actively campaigned to prevent despoilation of the island by those eager to turn it into the “new Noosa”.

In recent years Dot was in a group of placard waving protesters at the island ferry terminal informing guests at a development party that they and the project were not welcome on the island.
In 2005, James Cook University awarded Dot an Honorary Doctorate of Letters for her mighty efforts .Both she and her husband were avid yachties and sailed far and wide along the Queensland coast. Dot also helped a daughter run the Mary Who bookshop in Townsville . A large wake will be held on the island on Sunday

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


As a result of global financial instability, a lot of overseas money is being" parked" in Australia waiting to see what is going to happen in the US and elsewhere . As a result, expensive real estate is being bought in Sydney and just left unoccupied, according to information supplied to Little Darwin through our many contacts . With the US dollar diving , fears of stagflation , the Fed said to be about to print another trillion , Europe sick and some currencies regarded as worthless, Australia seems like another planet divorced from the global mayhem.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Well, children, here is a scarry story about grumpy , groaning , gormless, growling gremlins like Dr Seuss’s Grinches which will no doubt make you wet the bed tonight . The first Grinch, you will recall, was that naughty grouch who stole Christmas and upset the funny, purring pussycat in one of the Queen Mother’s many hats.

This latest , well - illustrated book, you can see, is about a whole mess of Aussie Grinches –local bad boys and girls known as the Coalition -who want to steal the wholesome Australia government . No , Little Nell, Coalitions are not the same as Incontinents , that’s what Mummy and Daddy call you and your brother when we wake you each morning.

Here we go ... Once upon a time , the Leader of Opposition Bitchiness , a whining Grinch, called in his mentor ,Old Nick , and they drew up a plot to take over the playground, smash garden gnomes and allow carpetbaggers with shovels to run off with all the yummy lollies. In the process, anything green would be sprayed with acid and subjected to offensive graffiti .

Princess Julia was having a bad hair day when a faceless Spangled Drongo informed her that the Grinches were planning to run amok and steal her return ticket to fairyland. If successful,she would be left stumbling about in the dark with a Hurricane lamp like Florence Nightingale in the blood soaked Crimea.

Sunday, September 19, 2010



In the Johnny Cash song , A Boy Named Sue, the lad so named by his irresponsible father grew into a spirited, pugnacious individual . In the real life case of a schoolboy burdened by a difficult father and bearing the nickname of a legendary British heroine , he became a decorated soldier and an audacious Northern Territory editor.

He was Frederick James Bowditch , born July 27, 1920 , at Lewisham , south-east London. His bloodlines included printers' ink . The second eldest of five children , he had been named after his maternal grandfather, Frederick Manning, who lived in and ran a printery in a large Victorian building in the High Street, Lewisham.

Grandfather Manning had an uncle and cousin in the printing and stationery trade . In the 1881 British census Manning was listed as being 17 years of age and a bookbinder. He grew into a large , tall man . Because of his bulk , he was called “Frederick the Great. ”

As the grandson named after him grew his family called him “Big Jim”, not because of any outstanding physical characteristic, but simply because he was slightly taller than most boys , though lean. Like all the children in the family , four boys and a girl, Jim inherited his mother’s somewhat prominent nose . He was very fond of his mother- a gentle, placid but tenacious woman who was bullied by his father , Captain Hugh Bowditch , a former British Army boxing champion . Captain Bowditch , awarded the Military Cross in World War 1, boasted of quelling a revolt by Indian troops by shooting dead a number of the unfortunate men on or near the front line. Much to the consternation of neighbours, he blazed away at stray cats with his Service revolver which he had kept . Even when police called to investigate the shots , Captain Bowditch was able to bluff them out of taking any action .

When he was about five, Jim was found to be suffering from anaemia, a condition common on his father’s side of the family ; his father had been anaemic . Jim was placed on an iron – rich diet of chopped raw liver and watercress.

A frightening experience for him had been the removal of his tonsils and adenoids in an operation carried out on the kitchen table. His mother and father stood beside him to make sure he did not jump about while the doctor held a funnel doused with anaesthetic over his face. Immediately, he began to dream that he was in a canoe on a very long, fast flowing river. Somewhere up ahead was a waterfall, and he was going straight over the edge ... He awoke on the kitchen table in excruciating pain, hardly able to breathe or swallow.

Because of his similar sounding surname , schoolmates nicknamed Jim after the prominent figure in British history, Boadicea, the legendary warlike Queen of the Icanti tribe. Popularly depicted carrying a shield and trident, she defiantly fought the Roman invaders. Like the warrior queen , Bowditch had an impressive mane of hair.

The early childhood years were fairly affluent ones for the Bowditch family. His father was an electrical engineer in a large company, Philips, and earned good money,enabling them to live on a wooded estate at Sidcup, Kent. Captain Bowditch wanted one of his sons to continue the family name in the ring . Boxing gloves were kept at home , and he frequently sparred with his sons, strongly urging them to pursue the “ manly art”.

Because of his bigger build, Jim was pressed into the school boxing team and for each win his father rewarded him with five shillings . He received a mind-scarring thrashing from one particularly good boxer with whom his father had him matched to provide the necessary “ backbone ” to become a fighter. Violence, in many forms, would stalk Jim throughout his life.

His father extolled “ manliness ”, and the eldest son, John, because he was artistically and musically inclined , had a difficult time at home. Captain Bowditch liked his drop. Under the influence of liquor, he would indulge his peculiar sense of humour. At random, he would select a “ funny” name from the telephone directory. Smelley , a common name in Britain, gave him considerable entertainment. Late at night, in his cups, Captain Bowditch would call up a Smelley . “Are you Smelley ?”he would would demand in a deep military voice. When the surprised person answered in the affirmative , Captain Bowditch would then bellow, “ Well, what are you going to do about it ?” He would then, in Jim’s words, “ laugh himself silly”. The Smelleys of London were not the only ones to receive such strange calls from his intoxicated father.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


The relentless stormtrooper mentality of the Federal Opposition is evident in its every utterance. This aggressive attitude is a clear indication that parliamentary sittings and public discourse will be a verbal blitzkrieg ,especially as Tony Abbott has repeatedly said the role of an opposition is to " ferociously " challenge the government . Thus calls for a modicum of goodwill in Australian politics appear verboten when it comes to members of the snarling right .

Surely , after an election in which the electorate at large expressed disdain for the usual phony wars engaged in by both major parties , the Tories have learned something. Apparently not. The Coalition , like the Taliban in Afghanistan , has rejected any idea of a democratic election and a civilised exchange of ideas to advance the nation. It is plainly all out war and the shrieking conservatives will use endless improvised explosive denouncements to try and bring the government down.

Abbott is reeling about the nation like some imitation Tony Mundine , sounding and looking like a punch- drunk , postering, lantern –jawed Mussolini who almost managed to get Sydney trains to run on time. Liberal leading lights regularly appear with incredibly stern expressions on their faces as if suffering from excruciating piles while shouting some new pox upon the government. Together , Shadow Foreign Minister ,Julie Bishop, and dear old Alexander Downer, bucketed the appointment of Kevin Rudd as Australia’s Foreign Minister.

It has to be said that the warm reception given Rudd on his arrival in Washington from President Obama and the Secretary of State , Hillary Clinton, shows that he can handle this post with great aplomb , not that there should have been any doubt about his capacity to do so. Are there any small l Liberals left in the Coalition, or have they all turned into rabid bitsas, barking at the world and spreading disaffection and fleas throughout the nation?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


From New Zealand friends and contacts have come emails containing information about the Christchurch earthquake which caused damage estimated at $4billion. Of immense interest was the Christchurch Quake Map compiled by Paul Nicholls of the University of Canterbury Digital Map Group on which provided a dramatic time lapse view of the earthquake , second by second, indicating the intensity and depth of the seismic swarm that followed . It is truly fortunate that there were no lives lost in the quake as it was as strong as the one that devastated Haiti. Many fine old buildings have had to be destroyed . There have been hundreds of aftershocks , some felt in the national capital, Wellington , and the economic impact on NZ will be enormous.

In the Canterbury Plains a 20kilometre long "hump" has been thrust up on farms and there is concern that aquifers used for irrigation have been filled in or disappeared. Silos were also knocked over on some farms.
Some relatives we had to lunch recalled being in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, during strong shakes, one as powerful as the recent one in Christchurch, which bent the blades on fans in the hospital, a “whooshing” sound being heard as it struck . This reminded my wife that a similar sound, like a truck pounding along a road, was heard during a quake she experienced in South Australia.

Discussion on the earthquake in Christchurch resulted in a Darwin resident saying that when she was coming back on a yacht , which had taken part in a Darwin to Ambon yacht race , the vessel was hit by a huge wave in the Banda Sea, an area where many quakes are centred, which stove in the forecastle and was thought to have been generated by an undersea upheaval.

This morning an email arrived from the Magnetic Island Times online website with the interesting news that a $30,000 German seismometer buoy anchored in the deep Kermadec Trench , north of New Zealand ,keeping watch on seismic activity, has been found washed up on a beach south of Townsville ,Queensland .


A member of the British aristocracy is coming to Darwin to try and find her missing son . She is Lady Addle , a descendant of a long line of inbred village idiots. Her missing son, Nigel Addle 111 , fled to the colonies after he had a fling with a milkmaid on the leafy ancestral estate. He flung the contents of a milk pail over the maid and she grabbed a broad sword from the castle wall and chased him , threatening to cut off his knickerbockers.

The Addle family has a proud history of cowardice since 1066 , and young Nigel was no exception when confronted by Betsy, the comely milkmaid. He fled to London with a local conman , Dick Whittington, and then caught a clipper for Orstralia

Since then, Lady Addle has only received one alarming, short letter from her runaway son , sent from Darwin . It read : Dear Mumsy, It ain’t half hot here . Gainfully employed selling dolls eyes and mothballs . Next month I will help colonial cobber, Guy Fawkes, blow up the NT Legislative Assembly. Your Infectious son, Nigel Addle 111.

Lady Addle had a touch of the vapours when she read that her wayward son is suffering from something infectious, hoping it is not a reportable social disease picked up from a windjammer dunny seat.

She and her chinless daughter , Mopsy, will be arriving in Darwin next week to search for young Nigel who bears a striking resemblance to the cheeky Mad Magazine urchin.
Any reader knowing the whereabouts of young Nigel should contact the Salvation Army and the Bomb Squad.


The name of controversial journalist, publisher and “ spy “ -Maxwell Newton- was unexpectedly raised during a Little Darwin trip down memory lane with a visiting female journalist . She surprised by revealing that she had once worked for the late Newton, a powerful person in political and financial circles in the 1960s .

An unusual interview helped her secure the job with the brilliant and influential publisher who was both a workaholic and an alcoholic. He was stretched out , flat on his back on a table . It was no Hollywood casting couch situation, he was just resting after putting to bed one of his publications, and needed to take a break. She was not hired on the spot , but several people informed her that they had heard she was going to work for Maxwell Newton, he probably having let it slip in places where journos gathered to slake their thirst. And so it came to pass . Working for the Newton dynamo was always lively and interesting . Early in his career he published several profitable country weeklies in Canberra .

As the tireless managing editor of the Fairfax owned Australian Financial Review he built up its circulation, turned it into a daily, and attracted top writers, one being Max Walsh . When the conservative Sydney Morning Herald fell out with Prime Minister Robert Menzies over the 1961 credit squeeze it directed Newton, who had written speeches for Dr Evatt, to help the ALP leader Arthur “ Cocky ” Calwell in his election campaign. The government scraped home with a two seat majority.

Fed up with the Fairfax camp, where he said company policies , made by men not competent, after non- rational consideration , were handed down , like tablets, from one man, he quit. The departure of Newton caused some deep soul searching within the upper echelons of Fairfax and a power struggle. Newton became Murdoch’s founding editor of The Australian , the paper launched on July 15,l964,when it was produced in Canberra to challenge the Fairfax hold on the national capital.

During that demanding period , Murdoch was sometimes seen at Canberra airport in his pyjamas at night trying to get the paper’s matrices on a plane to Sydney and Melbourne , despite fog threatening to close the drome. Newton usually did not get to bed until 2.30am and was reportedly woken at 8.30am by Murdoch telling him what was wrong with the paper. Newton resigned in March 1965 because of Murdoch’s complete direction of every aspect of the paper.

Newton obviously knew how to pick women with talent and potential. Apart from our friend who saw him stretched out like a talking cadaver in a morgue, another of his staff , nicknamed Miss Moneypenny of James Bond fame, went on to be the right hand of PM Billy McMahon and media mogul Kerry Packer.

After some health and financial setbacks, Newton, who joined Alcoholics Anonymous , left the country under a cloud, said to owe taxes , and ended up writing on matters financial for Rupert Murdoch in America as well as running a consultancy. He was refused entry back into Australia , the reverse of Paul Hogan's situation, because of taxes he owed , and died an exile at the age of 60.

A documentary covering the disappearance of PM Harold Holt in 1967 and the resultant jostling for power behind the scenes, stated that Billy McMahon had been blocked from becoming the replacement PM because of strong opposition to him from John “Black Jack “ McEwen , leader of the Country Party. There was talk of McMahon having made frequent visits to the residence of Maxwell Newton , branded a spy for Japanese business interests.

NOTE: Anyone interested in wanting to learn more about Newton should read his biography by his daughter, Sarah Newton, published by Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1993. (A Little Darwin classic repeat )

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Darwin agronomist, Robert Wesley- Smith,it seems, is always looking at ways to help the people of Timor Leste. Right now he is working on plans to construct a large water tank to provide an orphanage with water during the dry season. He noticed that a two storey building built for the Carmelite nuns has a large roof area with a massive run off in the wet , so started the grey cells working. He is off to Timor Leste in a week to try and put his plan into action. Roads in the area where he will be going have been damaged by heavy rain.For decades,Wes actively campaigned for the nation's freedom, gave free advice in his field of expertise , and even designed small stoves to reduce the amount of wood needed to cook meals .

could support quality teacher training ,for which there is a big need. The Catholic training college at Baucau produces 50 graduates a year and is limited by lack of funds. Another college is being started at Welaluhu, near Natarbora, on the south coast. Australia, he says, does not target /identify its aid so that most people are not aware of it, unlike the Chinese who build large buildings , probably with Chinese workers, sometimes not well located in terms of town planning - but people can see them.

Poor ,but generous Cuba , he points out could set a lead for Australia. On September 28 in Sydney a special film evening will be held to celebrate the graduation of the first 18 East Timorese students through Cuba's medical training aid program, which began in East Timor in 2003. A report in Green Left said most of the students spent years studying at the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba before returning to the medical facility in East Timor to complete their studies. More than 400 East Timorese doctors will graduate in the next two years and more in years to come. Cuba also trains students from the
Solomons,Vanuatu,Fiji,Tuvalu,Nauru and Tongo .

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Through our spies in the west, Little Darwin can reveal the list of titles from which grumpy ousted pollie , Wilson "Iron Bar " Tuckey, will select the name for his proposed fiery political blog. Inspired by a KFC commercial is THE TUCKEY PLUCKER BUCKET , which will come with a healthy serving of blowflies or National party brickbats. Then there is a strange one, UNCLE FESTER'S SPEEDING TICKET EVASION ADVICE BUREAU , probably connected with the Top Gear crew who were terrified by South Australian motorists .

It is understood Tuckey is keen on the suggested blog : THE FERROUS KNUCKLE DUSTER . WILSON'S HAMMER AND SICKLE was rejected because it brings back blood soaked memories of the crazed Russian leader , Joseph Stalin

Friday, September 10, 2010


Architect Karl Schrimpf who died recently had contact with some of the powerful men of the turbulent 20th century. During a discussion with him , he told me Hitler had presented him with an Iron Cross and Cardinal Ratzinger , now the Pope, had engaged him to design some buildings for him, and intimated the associated drawings were here in Darwin. Don't think it had anything to do with expansion of St Peter's in the Vatican. Schrimpf , a member of the Deutscher Klub , Darwin , was interested in history. To the Legislative Assembly he donated the Northern Territory flag designed by Robert Ingpen which was unfurled for the first time on July 1, 1978, the date the Territory was granted self-government . I first met Karl at a damp ceremony to honour Inspector Paul Foelsche , a former officer of the Hussars, who ran the early police force, buried with his wife at the Pioneers' Cemetery , Darwin.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Fleeing the grime of London and its oppressive social order,an unusual teenager , Jim Bowditch, sailed for Australia in 1937 in search of a new life .

Soon after arriving in Australia he made representations on behalf of a band of unemployed men and was punched in the mouth by an armed police sergeant , a blow which broke a tooth. This brutal encounter did not deter Bowditch from taking up further just causes . Confronting the establishment and fighting for the underdog became a way of life for him.

Even during his distinguished war service which saw him perform repeated acts of bravery against great odds, he clashed with superior officers , military police of several nations and incurred so many fines that he frequently organised gambling and other lurks to get spending money.

One of the deep psychological scars he carried from WW11 was his mutilation of a young enemy soldier with a knife during a dangerous commando operation. After the war , his life took an unexpected turn when he became an “ instant editor” which enabled him to build up a reputation as a fearless , crusading journalist. From ramshackle newspaper buildings with clapped out equipment , he fought to right many wrongs .

It mattered not if you were regarded by society as a mental defective, an escapee on the run from police , a woman with children facing eviction or a member of one of the richest families on earth, Bowditch was prepared to take instant, often daring , action to help , assist or rescue you.

He not only reported events and gave supportive editorial backing for many issues , he became personally involved in cases . Apart from covering the news, he often was the news throughout Australia . His many campaigns shaped the nation’s attitude in relation to such matters as the White Australia Policy, indentured labour, NT political reform and Aboriginal advancement and land rights .

Even though he was portrayed down south as “ Mr Darwin” because he had his finger on the city’s pulse , it was Alice Springs which played a pivotal part in his life . There he became involved in politics, union activities and developed a growing “ crusading zeal ”.

Being married to Bowditch was no bed of roses. His second wife, Betty, who bore him four children, is a special person who deserves a chestful of medals and then some for putting up with him . Many of the people interviewed for this book volunteered the view that Betty Bowditch is an exceptional woman .

Jim Bowditch did not believe in home ownership and possession of land, saying land was there to be used for the benefit of everyone . When it came to clothing, he did not worry much about having a wardrobe and would literally give away the shirt from his back .

While he loved his own children, he told them that they could not be treated any differently to the kids up the street . He instilled in his children the message that they must never let anybody put them down during life. A cigarette hanging from his mouth , Bowditch often sat up late at night pounding away on his portable typewriter. After a short sleep, he would rise and once more begin tapping away at the keys.

This is a tribute to a man who , with great courage and flair, fought for humanity in general. Over time, his “ larrikinism” and erratic behaviour tended to overshadow and detract from the greatness of the man .

At times he mockingly described himself as “ a bit bent ”. For the first time , this work contains a detailed medical explanation for his excesses . The saga also gives an insight into Australia’s own prolonged McCarthy era during the Cold War when Bowditch and many of his associates, exercising the rights and freedoms of individuals in a democracy, were closely watched by the nation’s security network.



The wartime exploits of James Frederick Bowditch were discussed at the recent Z Force reunion In Queensland at which the WW11 training base on Fraser Island was recalled. Covering the event was veteran reporter , Les Wilson, who worked at the NT News in the 1960s when Bowditch was the editor of the newspaper.
Wilson told Little Darwin that he got an instant response when he asked a 92 -year old veteran if he had known Bowditch . The informant , a tailor by trade, was nattily attired in a three piece suit he had made 30 years ago which looked as if it had just been bought off the rack . It was pointed out that Bowditch had been mentioned in several books, including one with the title , Silent Feet .
We passed this information to Betty Bowditch and said we would track down the book, the existence of which she had not been aware.**** THE CONDENSED, ACTION PACKED LIFE OF BIG JIM BOWDITCH , DESCRIBED AS THE LAST OF THE FIGHTING EDITORS , STARTS ABOVE , AND WILL BE RUN AS A WEEKLY SERIAL .

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


The 1954 Charles Chauvel film , Jedda, which starred Territorians Robert Tudawali and Rosalie Kunoth , made a big impact on audiences and the Australian film industry. It also sparked a souvenir industry .

Some years ago , I found a wooden carving of an Aborigine on a round wall plaque on Magnetic Island. Attached to the back were paper stickers on which was penned JEDDA above the name ROBERT TARRWADIE (sic) . It was obviously Robert Tudawali , described as Australia’s first Aboriginal film star.

The National Museum of Australia collection contains a Brownie Downing ashtray with a portrait of Jedda, one of several inspired by the film. The ashtray portrait of Jedda is one of the illustrations in an article about Aboriginal representation in the ceramics of Brownie Downing and Martin Boyd pottery, by Victoria Haskins , in The World of Antiques and Art, December 1999-June 2000.

The world premiere of Jedda was held in Darwin at The Star theatre . A young reporter who covered the major event for the NT News was Bill Tuckey who went on to become a renowned Australian motoring writer and author . Tuckey was so impressed by the film he said Jedda was the biggest promotion for Australia since discovery of the platypus.

Tudawali , or Robert Wilson, working as a gardener, wore a white suit to the gala occasion. His co-star, Rosalie Kunoth, of Alice Springs , was decked out in finery . Recently , I spoke to a woman in Darwin who had attended the Jedda premiere . She said everybody had dressed up to the nines and the street had been packed with people wanting to see the unusual event .

Unfortunately for Tudawali , his career became something of a roller coaster ride . After his film fame, he found it difficult to live in the Bagot Aboriginal reserve in Darwin where he was a house painter . In 1960 he appeared in the TV series Whiplash which led to roles in the film Dust in the Sun and the play Burst of Summer . From time to time he got into trouble drinking. To get away from his problems , he became a stockman at Wave Hill and involved himself in the Gurindji landrights struggle. While helping load a truck in Darwin with supplies for the Gurindji , he became ill and was found to be suffering from TB .

He died in 1967 at the age of 38 after receiving burns in a drinking party at Bagot . There was a confused claim that an attempt had been made to burn him alive after he had a row with some people . His co star in Jedda also experienced tough times after her moment of fame , but as Rosalie Kunoth Monks rose above her difficulties to become an inspiration to Aboriginal people in the Centre. Even now she is speaking out about conditions at Utopia.


WARNING : the woods are apparently filled with hairy Yowies . During a recent interstate trip, a Little Darwin staffer had an interesting conversation with a seemingly sane person who has been on two Yowie hunting safaris. On one , near, Kilcoy ,Queensland, which boasts a Yowie statue , his guide was Cryptozoologist ( a person who studies the existence of scientifically undiscovered animals) , Steve Rushton, well known in Yowie circles and in cyberspace.

Rushton was equipped with Russian night glasses and a movie camera was set up with trip lines to catch any marauding Yowie on film . The night glasses revealed an amazing amount of activity in the bush. During the cold night , strange sounds were heard and the camera flash went off. They jumped out of their tent , saw nothing, and a subsequent examination of the film revealed a large Red Kangaroo had bounded through . Another safari was in the Jamieson Valley , where residents had reported screams in the night and an arm smashing through louvres, leaving behind strange hair. Tracks showed a creature had plunged down steep rock ledges with apparent ease. . Clumps of pineapples had also been torn out of the ground

It seems Yowie hunting can be dangerous –one enthusiast had a marriage break up because he spent so much time chasing the elusive critters.

Intrigued by this info, we wondered if the mystery fecal matter popping up in Darwin Harbour could be due to a huge colony of Yowies disguised as Irish backpackers. By Googling, we found that there had been several Yowie reports in the Top End media. In the Acacia Hill area in 1997 a woman ,Kate Jones, not her real name, reported a Yowie on her mango farm spooked horses and caused a cow to jump a fence.

More than two metres tall, smelling of urine , with dull ,reddish brown hair ,another Yowie was reported in the Litchfield Times . Then something like “ a bloody big gorilla “ was seen near Adelaide River, according to the NT News . When it was suggested that somebody was playing tricks , an irate gun toting rural woman warned that down her way they shot first and asked questions later, so any dude pretending to be a Yowie with three toes had better look out. These weird things have been seen in many parts of Australia, from the Flinders Ranges of South Australia to Cairns and beyond. One sighting has been attributed to a bear which escaped from a circus in 1959.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


It has come to pass-my mother has died in a palliative care ward at the age of 90. She was from a family rent by sectarian divisions . Baptised a Catholic as a baby , after her mother, she was then baptised a Presbyterian by the other side. Her parents divorced. In my ignorance of this double dip and brand , I told a nun who came to my mother's bedside that she was Church of England. A priest who had called on her previously asked if she would like a blessing, to which she replied, tongue in cheek and a roll of eyes , that she would need a multitude.
In preparation for Mum's death , my half brother and I went through her private papers and made several discoveries . Folded into well worn squares was a letter of reconcilation from her husband, father of my half sister and half brother , unsuccessfully beseeching mum to allow him to return to the bosom of the family, he missing her and the kids. As a young man he had been a" biscuit bomber" , pushing supplies out of planes skimming across the jungle ridges in New Guinea, and had suffered from his wartime experiences . They divorced in 1973, religion again rearing its blind, punitive,legalistic head . Mum had written on the back of the letter that it was for the children to show how much their father had loved them.
There were references from the time she worked as a nurse at a Methodist geriatric home in Sydney where she often had the task of laying out the dead. A handyman there , Jack, hit the bottle , made a pass at a prim nursing sister, and outrageously declared that a lot of silvertails tried to "square their nob" with God by making donations or confessing their sins before they died.
As a schoolgirl, my mother, something of a tomboy, went to a concert attired as a paperboy , shouting her wares . When I became a reporter and decided to go to Darwin in 1958, she strongly advised me to always wear a hat to protect myself from the sun. A typical son, I took no notice of that advice and it is now my excuse for being troppo and weather beaten.
When a nun raised the subject of God,Mum replied:" We have one God. Don't know who he is or where he is. But we are all the same." Drifting in and out of consciousness ,she was capable of both lucid and irrational statements . Several times she told me to get and read the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper of June 12,1920 -the day she was born-which was in the bottom of a chest of drawers at the retirement village where she had been living. It had been given to her by my half brother as a birthday present.
Our sister ,who had looked after mum for many years , often with little thanks , deserves a Croix de Guerre for soldiering on in difficult circumstances. My brother and I selected a site for a memorial rock in a cemetery on which there would be a plaque with space for seven lines of text, not much for a life which could easily fill an entire edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, she being present in the early days of the Australian crawl technique of swimming, engaging in roller skating and ice skating at the Glaciarium, dashing home during the Japanese submarine attack on Sydney Harbour, working in a wartime factory making parts for a bomber,going bush and working on a sheep station and in a guest house, scrimping, saving, battling for her family, whipping up sponges galore, buying me an Army BSA motorbike ( which she feared) and throwing a plate of spaghetti in my face when she was under great domestic stress and I was being a thoughtless smartarse.
On a piece of paper torn from a small notebook was a quote my mother had read in a book : So many Gods, so many creeds/So many paths,that wind and wind/When just the art of being kind/Is all the sad world needs.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Driving about Brisbane in what could unfairly be called a clunker, I realised that God was giving Little Darwin an exclusive tip about who would win the race to form government . Attached to the dashboard by a blob of blue tack , up against the speedometer, was the patron of travellers, Saint Christopher . The sainted one was facing FORWARD -the direction in which a certain ranga intends to head on the pilgrimage to the light on the hill.

My chauffeur was a skilled Sydney bus driver who knows how to drift race and thus was able to weave in and out of the traffic as if in the safe hands of a host of Heavenly angels. Because Saint Christopher constantly attracted our attention, it was noted that the fuel was getting low, so drove into a service station to fill up. However, we thought the noble car ,on loan, probably ran on leaded petrol .

The dashing chauffeur asked the Indian service station attendant what fuel was used in a leaded machine . No idea . Wonder if it is this stuff called Vortex which aptly describes the present political situation? Off we drove to another service station and were told by the female attendant that she thought you added oil to the fuel . It was indeed a miraculous situation as we were obviously riding about in a Victa lawnmower,once a proud Australian invention,now apparently wholly or partly made in America .

Reluctant to squirt oil into the tank , we drove off into the boisterous traffic on the road to Damascus , hoping and praying that we would not be caught short . Of course, all was revealed . Our limo ran on unleaded and , on reflection, I think either the saint or the kid he had sitting on his shoulder had red hair...another pointer to the election outcome? Sinful punters may use this parable to place a last minute bet.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


The enforcement of no smoking on public transport in Darwin needs tightening up and drivers given firm instructions about what to do when passengers flout the rules. Passengers in a bus complained to a driver when several men began smoking .The driver said nothing , did not speak to the offenders and made no radio call . The men were still smoking when the bus arrived at the Casuarina interchange and there were no transit officers waiting for them.


While being driven to Brisbane Airport , Little Darwin was shocked to see a huge billboard boasting AUSTRALIA'S SLIMMEST CONDOM! This is a proof positive that those depraved socialists- many of them southerners - have turned Sir Joh's God- fearing, peanut- chomping , hand- clapping yokels into residents of Sodom and Gomorrah . While some of his political mates and a cop or two were exposed as Rubbery Figures , there was no way he would have allowed such blatant adverts for condoms to dominate the skyline in Bananaland.


The devastating Christchurch earthquake comes at a time when major players in the insurance industry have been closely assessing involvement in natural disaster prone areas such as North Australia. A large Queensland company recently pulled out of the Territory . The reinsurers - who insure the insurance companies -are jacking up their rates, which will flow through to higher premiums . TIO will experience the impact .

Thursday, September 2, 2010


On seeing the above start of a heading in The Australian Literary Review of September 1 , we wondered if this humble blog was being berated as we understand a few readers would like to give us the Italian slipper treatment on a dark night , tugboat foghorns mournfully sounding on the waterfront. It turned out to be an interesting feature in which Geordie Williamson suggested ways of improving Australian literary criticism , regarded as very poor . Surprise-right at the end of the article was yet another glowing tribute to Darwin's own scribe , author and reviewer, Nicolas Rothwell . It spoke of "Rothwell's thrilling and provocative" 2007 Colin Roderick Lecture.
Coming after the high praise of Rothwell by the ABC's Late Night Live presenter , Phillip Adams, this North Australia representative of The Australian is fast becoming a national treasure and, to really annoy him, a celebrity. If the accolades continue, it will not be safe for him to venture out for a latte at the Ducks Nuts without some pesky cameraman trying to snap him engaged in creative slurping . He'll probably have to quit his leafy mansion in the sky and seek solitude in the Humpty Doo wilderness .

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Little Darwin now has an original copy of the Sydney Morning Herald for June 12,1920. While browsing through it we came across an advertisement for two nurses for the government hospital in Darwin. The salary was 170 pound ($340) a year with food, light ( a kero lamp ?) and quarters provided. Applicants needed certificates in midwifery and general nursing . A first class fare was provided for travel to Darwin and half salary while in transit .