Friday, October 28, 2011


Advance publicity says President Obama will honour the memory of those who died and served in wars when he visits Darwin on November 17. Presumably that ceremony will take place at the Darwin War Memorial , off the Esplanade, where the large media contingent likely to lob in town will be able see how Darwin authorities have allowed glaring errors in the spelling on the western granite wall at the back of the cenotaph to go unchanged for years . This includes the incorrect spelling of the Philippines , a significant nation in American war history, as it was from there that General Douglas MacArthur was driven by the Japanese and flew to Australia , landing at Batchelor, with his wife and son. After proceeding to Alice Springs , the general’s party travelled south where he made his famous statement that he would return to the Philippines .

General MacArthur’s arrival kick started Australia’s close relationship with America eventually enshrined in the ANZUS Treaty, another reason for the Darwin memorial to be spot on . Another obvious error is the incorrect spelling of another theatre of war to the north of Darwin, in what was known as the Netherlands East Indies,now Indonesia .The memorial erroneously states NETHERLAND'S . Again , America was deeply involved in this part of the conflict.

Then the memorial wrongly refers to UNITED NATION PEACEKEEPING , when it should be plural- UNITED NATIONS , which, of course , is based in New York .

On October 18,2009,Little Darwin drew attention to this matter. Nothing happened. Again,on February 24,2010, after the annual observance of the bombing, Little Darwin pointed out the unsatisfactory situation and that there were errors on Darwin websites dealing with significant NT war sites. Incredibly, nobody in high office-the NT Government, Darwin City Council, RSL, spin doctors,the media ,the large committee planning the 70th anniversary of the bombing ,under the repugnant title of BRAND BOMBING, responded.

It would seem that Darwin needs more than a bomb under it to erase these clangers which make the place look like Hicksville . If these embarrassing errors are not corrected by February 19 next year when there will be many Americans here , some from Hawaii- Pearl Harbour- then Darwin (Australia's Pearl Harbour ), should hang its head in shame.

Little Darwin pointed out that when the original war memorial , made from granite by a Sydney monumental mason, arrived in the 1920s to be erected opposite Government House, and it was discovered that there were errors , PROMPT action was taken to make corrections within months. Some 80 years later , Darwin has failed all round to come to grips with this classic snafu which reflects adversely on the NT and could be said to be disrespectful of those that the memorial honours.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Surrounded by books, files, newspapers, paintings , musical instruments , a photo above his kitchen sink of an East Timorese hero killed in the fighting against the Indonesians,Robert Wesley-Smith is a veteran campaigner against injustices and inequalities .

During the Vietnam War, standing atop Saigon's famed Continental Hotel, where American author Graham Greene once occupied room 214 and wrote The Quiet American, about the Indo-China conflict, Darwin agronomist Robert Wesley–Smith watched distant explosive flashes in the night. It was 1972, the end of which year America heavily bombed and mined the entrance to Haiphong ,the supply port for the North Vietnam capital,Hanoi.

An outspoken opponent of the Vietnam campaign, Wes, as he is commonly known,had organised anti-Vietnam War marches and other opposition in Darwin in earlier years, his actions and comments noted by ASIO. After spending Christmas in Hong Kong with his brother, Peter , a professor of constitutional law, Wes, his then wife, Jan,in the company of a professor of political science, flew to Saigon. The flight took them over Cambodia where the landscape was pock-marked by lunar-like craters, the result of secret American carpet bombing-2.7 million tons dropped - exceeding by about one million tons the amount dropped on Japan during WW11. During their time in Saigon they met political contacts through the professor and witnessed a wild scene in a restuarant when a large American Marine went berserk and began to wreck the premises.He was nearly killed when much smaller Vietnamese flew at him. A Vietnamese police officer fired his gun into the air and rescued the Marine.

What he saw and heard about the war confirmed his conviction that it was unjust , unwinnable and that Australia should not have been sucked into the destructive bloodbath. The fact that young Australian conscripts were sent to fight there on the strength of a marble dropped out of a lottery barrel , he regarded as another obscenity .
Wars of various kinds have and still are playing a big part in Wes’s life. Born in 1942, the year the Japanese bombed Darwin,he was named Robert after an uncle who had been killed in an RAAF plane crash near West Wyalong in February of that year.

Wes's father was an Adelaide teacher,and his mother, Sheila Main Martin, a local beauty, had played the part of the Spirit of South Australia at the 1936 centenary celebrations of the state. A kindergarten and primary school teacher, a singer and musician, she hosted the ABC’s popular children’s radio program,Kindergarten of the Air, for about six years. The program was broadcast to the Northern Territory and throughout Radio Australia.On his mother’s side, he was related to the recently retired NT Chief Justice ,Brian Martin. When Wes thanked former Chief Minister Clare Martin for appointing his cousin, Brian Martin, to the top judicial post , he claims her jaw fell.
WES’s parents were bound for England, where his father wanted to be a French teacher, when WW11 broke out ; the ship turned about at the Suez Canal and resumed the voyage via the Cape of Good Hope. Mindful of the German U-boat sinking of the liner SS Lusitania in 1915 on its voyage to England , they were put ashore in Ireland, where their first child , Jerry ,was born. The family subsequently headed back towards Australia, but were not far from Hawaii when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour ; their ship was diverted to Fiji. On arrival back in Australia, his father joined the Army and became an intelligence office. Wes’s father,regarded as an expert on Japanese "order of battle," was sent to the Pentagon in 1944 when the Americans were stepping up plans to clear the Japanese from the Pacific and then went to Bletchley Park , in the UK , where enemy messages were decoded at a place known as Station X.
As Wes put it,each time his father returned from active service , his mother gave birth nine months later. After Wes in December 1942, twin brothers, Peter and Martin,were born in 1945. All, like their mother , were musically inclined. After the war, his father was a Guidance Officer for WW11 returnees. Then he became Academic Registrar at Adelaide University, having many dealings with overseas students brought to Australia under the Colombo Plan.

One of those was the Sri Lankan, Kamahl, who had been living in Malaysia . He visited the Wesley-Smith household and joined in the musical entertainment . With Wes's mother on the piano,the family gathered around heartily singing the Hallelujah Chorus and many tunes from the Oxford Book of Song. Wes upset his mother by saying she used to "thump " the piano in those happy sessions ; she responded by emphatically stating she never ever thumped a piano.

Wes’s father gave Kamahl sound advice about his future career and, as previously explained by Little Darwin, media proprietor,Rupert Murdoch,took him under his wing for two years,prevented him from being deported and helped him along the path to international fame as a singer. Kamahl recently discussed with Wes a proposal by the Wesley-Smith brothers to commemorate the great Afro- American activist, singer Paul Robeson, who came to Australia ,in a musical production . Wes fondly recalls meeting Robeson,whom he describes as a hero in the eyes of the family,at an Adelaide concert .

Wes, in suit, tie and cap, went to Adelaide’s respected St. Peter’s College, where he was president of the musical society and a versatile sportsman. From an early age, he expressed strong views on many issues including Aboriginal rights . Aged 14, he and his father had frequent , sometimes angry debates , late at night, in the study. " We argued about points of fact," Wes recalls . His father would say that Wes would have to concede that he (father) was more likely to be right because of his vast amount of experience , compared with his young son. Wes would not accept this ploy. "If you are right , with your academic experience, you should be able to persuade me by the power of your argument that you are right," Wes would counter . These lively exchanges , which generated a certain amount of tension, usually ended with Wes having to concede that his father was right-sort of- and being sent off to bed.

In his final year at school,Wes organised a daytime concert involving numerous groups. He convened a group of prefects called the Four Prefs and they sang to raptuous applause from snivelling kids wanting to curry favour. A Kingston Trio-like group included a future premier, John Bannon. One of them got sick and Wes told his brothers , Peter and Martin,they would have to get a replacement act together for the concert. The trio included a contemporary of their’s, Keith Conlon, later to become a well known TV personality in Adelaide . Called the Wesley Three, below, they put out four long play records and were popular .

NEXT : The music continues, Einstein is challenged and Wes has to decide if his future will be in NEW GUINEA OR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY?


Strange goings on in a Darwin business which has been the subject of glowing media reports and photo opportunities for government ministers and overseas corporations. Angry contractors have been demanding payment, one said to have even kicked in the main office door ; female office staff have felt threatened and phones were turned off for several days . A source says one contractor,offered less than he was entitled to, was promptly paid in full when he delivered a withering blast on the blower saying that he would turn up with a F!!!**!! representative of every !****!!** F!!! media organisation in Darwin and demand to be paid. Oddly enough, the local media seems not to have heard about this situation being talked about in many circles , yet its name has been invoked to get payment in one instance.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Panoramic recent photograph taken by Darwin resident, agronomist Rob Wesley Smith, a longtime supporter of Timor -Leste, whose eventful life and tireless campaigning for worthy causes will soon be the subject of a special Little Darwin series. Surrounded by deep water, close to Dili, with a population of about 8000, Atauro is served by a large German ferry and is being developed for tourism, especially fishing and scuba diving on the reefs . Both the Portuguese and the Indonesians used it as a prison. Because of the dislocation during those times, island couples, when they came to be married, could not supply priests with the names of godmothers. As a result, a Red Cross worker on the island is now godmother to about 60 or more people .

Saturday, October 22, 2011


AUCKLAND, (Pacific Media Centre/Pacific Media Watch): As the Libyan revolution hit its peak tonight with news of the death of tyrant Muammar Gaddafi, it was no wonder that events in West Papua couldn’t make it into the papers–even Gaddafi’s death lost out to endless pages of rugby mania. Another event occurred in downtown Auckland last night that attempted to draw Kiwis’ attention back to what really is news –tyrannical violence on our doorstep.

In the Academy cinema in the basement of Auckland City Library, Charlie Hill-Smith’s film Strange Birds in Paradise was screened at an event co-hosted by Amnesty International, the Indonesia Human Rights Committee and the Pacific Media Centre.In the film, writer, director and documentary-maker Hill-Smith starts narrating with breathtaking shots of the unspoilt parts of West Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya.

“In 1999 with a small band of hiking companions, I blithely stumbled
into West Papua from New Guinea the old Australian colony just to our north. I had travelled the islands of Indonesia for over 15 years and yet strangely had never heard traveller’s tales, media news stories, nor any accounts from this giant, forested province.”

His adventures with friends while on holiday quickly became a cultural
and political denouement for the Australian, who had grown up on
Indonesia’s main island of Java and speaks fluent Bahasa Indonesia.

“By the time my friends and I shipped out of West Papua the penny had
finally dropped and we realised we had not been hiking in a Neolithic
cultural paradise but an undeclared war zone.”

On his journey into the province, he explains that when word passed
around the villages that they could confidently speak to him, they
“opened up with stories”..." Guarded whispers of missing sons,murdered husbands and villages burnt to the ground." Hill-Smith’s personal journey into West Papua and his historical account of Indonesia’s stranglehold on the province is aided by the poignant story of three brothers, led by Donny, who set sail for the Australian coast in 2006 and caused a political maelstrom betweenIndonesia and Australia.

Donny and former child soldier of the West Papuan Resistance Movement,Jacob, gained refugee status and tell their story through song.Hill-Smithsays early in the film that the West Papua story is “a wonderful musical tradition,an ancient culture and a nightmare in the modern world.”

Towards the end of the film, accounts of the brutal killing of Arnold
are told. The man was a musician and a poet, the writer of inspirational songs that are still played and form part of the repertoire of the Australian-based group.

Australian rock musicologist David Bridie, who teamed up with
Donny, Jacob and others to record and promote their music, says it is telling that a peaceful man who writes songs was arrested and taken to the forest and told to walk away before he was shot in the back.

“You are not going to suppress a popular resistance movement by banning singing,” he says. But Hill-Smith offers some hope that the aspirations of the people of West Papua are being communicated to the outside world.

“We are reaching back in time to one of West Papua’s most important
cultural practitioners and reintroducing him to a new generation of
Papuans and the world,” he says of Ap.“His beautiful and gentle
Melanesian songs are steeped in the imageryof nature, culture and resistance.

Maire Leadbeater of the Indonesian Human Rights Committee spoke before the film and mentioned the timeliness of the event, with reports yesterday that people had been killed by the Indonesian military’s violent reaction to the Third Papuan Peoples’ Congress.Today’s Pacific Scoop report has the body count at six.

Hundreds of people were reportedly arrested from among the 5000-strong gathering in Padang Bulan, Abepura.

Dr David Robie
, director of the Pacific Media Centre, which co-hosted the film screening said about the crisis in West Papua that the public "is not very well served by the media" on international affairs in NZ. He added that while the crisis was news in leading Australian media it did not rate a mention in the local press.

Dr Robie also launched the latest edition of Pacific Journalism Review, which includes an in-depth report on Pacific media freedom,and West Papua features as the worst situation in the Pacific.

Margaret Taylor from Amnesty International said prisoners of conscience, such as Filep Karma, were still held after previous peaceful rallies and Amnesty is making a concerted push to have him released.

She said Karma was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in 2005 for
rebellion and expressing hostility and hatred towards the state under the Indonesia Criminal Code.

In July 2010 Karma was offered a remission of his sentence, but he
rejected it, maintaining that he should never have been imprisoned in the first place.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


The distinctive talent of internationally renowned Australian artist,Tony Rafty, now 95, shines through in this detailed caricature of Keith Namatjira , fourth son of Central Australian Aboriginal artist , Albert Namatjira, who looked so much like his famous father. It is interesting to note at this time of the royal visit that Keith, a teenager , was present when his father was presented to Queen Elizabeth 11 , in Canberra, on her first visit to Australia in 1954.

Soon after Cyclone Tracy , I called on Rafty at the The Sun newspaper building , Sydney , he having been responsible for me entering journalism as a teenager. He asked after Jim Bowditch, former NT News editor, an old friend . Then , from his files, he took out this drawing of Keith Namatjira , who died in 1977, and penned a message, wishing me all the best after the "STORM."

He later gave me a copy of the book TONY RAFTY’S GOLFERS A Treasury of Stars in Caricature , written by Fairfax sports writer Terry Smith, with a whimsical sketch about Bowditch playing golf and sinking ‘em at the 19th. In it Jim was drawn inserted up to his neck in the cup on a green, lining up the golfball with a prominent snozz.

Last year the Australian Embassy in Indonesia held an exhibition of Rafty’s sketches and drawings at Surabaya as part of the National Heroes Day celebrations which honour those who fought for the country during the Dutch colonial period and the Japanese occupation. ( See post below ).

An exhibition of Rafty’s cricket caricatures is now being held in the International Cricket Hall of Fame , Bowral, NSW, running through until January .

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


* Famous artist Tony Rafty and caricatures of top world golfers.

An infantryman sent to Darwin from Sydney in WW11 soon found himself in hospital with unsightly blotches on his body that would not go away . He suspected the tasteless porridge dished up each morning was responsible for him appearing to be covered in camouflage. A nurse suggested he had an allergic reaction to some chemical in his uniform material . While in hospital he entertained patients and staff with rapid sketches he drew which were displayed about the place.

The subject of one of those drawings was a man who looked after a water tank into which potato peelings were thrown to make jungle juice . A visiting officer inspecting conditions in Darwin saw the drawings , declared the person responsible a better artist than soldier , and arranged for him to be sent back south .

So , after less than five months in Darwin, another exciting chapter began in the action - packed life of Tony Rafty, nifty golfer , newspaper illustrator , war artist and correspondent, acclaimed caricaturist, Sydney journalist club stalwart and contemporary of former Northern Territory News editor , the late Jim Bowditch. Of Greek descent – surname Raftopoulos- Rafty, born Sydney 1915, had been interested in art, drawing and woodwork at school and earned money as a caddy . His golfing prowess was such that at 17 he was off scratch . During the Depression he often caddied for the architect who designed the Commonwealth Bank building in Martin Place, Sydney. The architect played golf with several cartoonists , including Jimmy Bancks who drew the famous Ginger Meggs comic strip. Rafty told the cartoonists he was as good an artist as they. As a result of his boast , he was asked to submit some of his work to The Bulletin magazine . When one was published he was “ on top of the world ”.

His involvement with golf was such that he organised higher pay for caddies and helped plan a state competition for them. In 1935 he hitchhiked to Adelaide and caddied for Sam Richardson ,giving him winning advice in a semi final game at the Australian PGA championship. Richardson’s opponent , an aggressive professional , was so annoyed by his defeat that at one stage it looked as if he was going to dong Rafty with a club.

Rafty obtained a job for a year as an illustrator on the sporting newspaper The Referee, but it closed on the whim of its irascible owner, Ezra Norton. Out of work , Rafty went back caddying until he landed a job as a creative artist on The Sun newspaper in Sydney.

Rafty’s younger brother, Stanley , dux of Sydney Boys’ High School, joined up soon after the outbreak of war, was captured by the Japanese and sent to Singapore . Tony , who had been in the CMF, went into camp at Liverpool, near Sydney , where he met an Aboriginal, “Darky ” Barnes , a good boxer, who arranged Rafty’s first ride of a motorbike, a Harley Davidson . That unnerving experience convinced Rafty he never wanted to ride a motorcycle again.

The two of them were posted to Darwin ,and eventually went different ways . Barnes trained as a commando and itched to mix it with the Japanese . Rafty subsequently caught up with Barnes in a war zone and , with the aid of a “looted camera” , passed him off as a cameraman . This stunt led to Barnes taking up photography because he became a Sydney street photographer in civilian life .

From wartime Darwin, Rafty was sent to the Australian Military History Unit, St Kilda , Melbourne, where he became a war artist, designed jackets for the Army and Air Force journals , and contributed to the propaganda effort . Posted to New Guinea by a “Pitt Street commando, ” he was sent on patrol from Port Moresby with a small party which included artist Sergeant William Dargie, later knighted, winner of eight Archibald Prizes for portraiture.

Told not to speak and make as little noise as possible, Rafty became concerned when he noticed foliage moving. He tapped Dargie on the shoulder and , whispering, asked him what he thought was making the jungle move. It was an ambush . Bullets were soon flying thick and fast. As Rafty said, it was no good grabbing the sketchbook so, despite it being customary for artists and correspondents not to engage in combat , he opened up with an Owen gun . Rafty accounted for eight of the enemy and Dargie , three. A member of the party was wounded and he was carried back to base on an improvised stretcher.

From that close brush with death , Dargie did a drawing entitled something like , Saving a man’s life, and it is now in the Australian War Museum collection . In another New Guinea incident, Rafty and others came across an abandoned Japanese camp behind enemy lines . An American PT boat came up and the crew demanded to know who they were and what they were doing . When they informed the Americans it was an abandoned enemy camp, the Yanks rushed about looking for souvenirs. One grabbed a sword. Then they discovered the place was extensively booby - trapped ; they were lucky not to have been blown up .

Rafty was present when General Blamey took the surrender of the Japanese on Borneo. He recalled that war artist Donald Friend had somehow fired a revolver during the surrender which was a stupid thing to do because everybody was tense and it could have sparked off widespread shooting. Eager to find his missing brother, Rafty flew into Singapore in a commandeered Japanese plane followed by another Japanese plane. In the uncertainty around at that time , it is a wonder they were not shot down.

His brother had been a prisoner in the Changi village , a huge area , where prisoners were kept. Rafty insists that it was the village, not the prison where most of the POWs were herded . He was told his brother had attempted to escape with two other prisoners but they had been betrayed . The Japanese had shot dead the two men with his brother .

Savagely beaten , Stanley was thrown back into the camp. Later , he was put in a boat to go to Japan to work in coal mines . However , the vessel was torpedoed by a US submarine . The submarine surfaced and after 91 survivors were taken aboard the captain said he could take no more because he felt they were a sitting duck in the event of a Japanese attack. Rafty subsequently learned from two of the submarine crew they could have rescued more . His brother was , in all probability, one of those left behind to perish . In a strange twist of fate , Rafty came across men rescued by the submarine in Penang and included drawings of them in his report which brought welcome news to anxious relatives . One thankful ex–POW wrote a message across a sketch of himself : The best Christmas my mother ever had . While in Singapore Rafty stayed at Raffles Hotel , witnessed the surrender of the Japanese and sketched Lord Louis Mountbatten and many emaciated POWs .

Rafty has vivid memories of the fierce fighting that took place in the Dutch East Indies which saw the rise of President Soekarno as leader of the Indonesian republic. Sent to cover the Indonesian war of liberation he was in a plane with Soekarno , a Dutch captain posing as an Australian soldier , and some commandoes. The plane was shot at as it came in to land and bullet holes were found in the fuselage . When Soekarno bounded from the plane to calm the large , armed , flag- waving crowd , there was a mighty roar : Merdeka ! Merdeka! - Freedom !

Fortunately , Soekarno had taken a liking to Rafty because of his rapid artistic skill . He ordered Rafty to get into a truck with him and they drove through three armed checkpoints . When Rafty inquired about the army captain who had been on the plane , he was informed he had been shot because he was a Dutch spy. Soekarno took Rafty to a village and introduced him to a self taught artist, Affandi. Affandi gave him six paintings and Tony responded by handing over a bag of Japanese Dutch guilders which he had “souvenired. ” Affandi became Indonesia’s leading national artist . A Rafty pen and ink drawing of Affandi is now in the National Library of Australia , Canberra . Other wartime sketches are in the Imperial War Museum , London.

Rafty found himself in the thick of fighting when British brigadier, A. W. Mallaby , attempting to negotiate a ceasefire between the British and Indonesians , was shot dead on October 30, 1945 at Surabaya . Seven Australian correspondents were trapped in an hotel by Indonesian rebels and a British war artist shot dead . Rafty informed Soekarno of the situation and he ordered a ceasefire. Rafty then negotiated the release of two correspondents to break the news that Mallaby had been killed. The British navy steamed in from Singapore and bombarded the area , killing many people .

Rafty, perched atop a high tower, watched and sketched the action . Later he was informed the warships had been using the tower to line up their attack. After covering the war of independence for five months , Rafty returned to The Sun newspaper.

In 1946 he reached the third round of the Australian amateur golf title at Royal Sydney and was beaten by the state champion , Kep Enderby . Enderby went on to become the Australian Attorney–General, a Minister for the Northern Territory , a judge and , like Fidel Castro, supporter of the international language, Esperanto. Of particular Territory interest is the fact that Enderby also favours euthanasia .

During his reign , President Soekarno amassed a large collection of spectacular paintings, mainly Indonesian, many of them village life scenes. Rafty described the collection as “ remarkable” and said Soekarno “really loved paintings . ” The Chinese government produced a lavish limited edition book from the collection for Soekarno. I had a copy of this magnificent volume when I ran a bookshop in Adelaide and spent many hours gazing at the spectacular plates. Uncertainty surrounds what happened to the art collection following Soekarno’s demise and the bloody upheaval that took place when Suharto took over. It was stated in some quarters that the Chinese had kept the collection .

Rafty became famous for his caricatures of world leaders , celebrities and top athletes . He also did cartoons , a weekly comment and produced comics , one called Muggs the Golfer , another about a boxer . A portrait he did of the poet, author and journalist Dame Mary Gilmore was bought by the Australian government for the National Art Gallery . When Gilmore was a young Sydney schoolteacher she encouraged Jessie Litchfield , grandmother of former NT Chief Minister Marshall Perron.

Many of Rafty’s drawings of the world’s best golfers were used in the 1975 book Tony Rafty’s Golfers A Treasury of Stars in Caricature, by Fairfax sports writer Terry Smith, see graphic at head of this article. It was dedicated to Rafty’s younger brother, Stanley, pictured as a young caddy. One of Tony’s sons , a lawyer, was named after Stanley

Rafty has covered most Olympic Games since 1948. His caricatures of sporting stars have featured in several exhibitions. Many of his drawings appeared in the popular Sporting Life magazine and he knew and mixed with all the top Australian cricketers . A Don Bradman bat, autographed on both sides , is one of his prized possessions. Over the years he went on many car rallies and vehicle test runs throughout Australia, producing numerous caricatures and cartoons .

For Pix magazine he provided a detailed route map across Australia for contestants in the London to Sydney car race . Rafty said the audacious rally driver “Gelignite ” Jack Murray, who livened things up by hurling sticks of explosives about , terrified some of the overseas contestants when they arrived in Perth from Bombay by informing them they could be speared by wild Aborigines, attacked by giant kangaroos and perish in the trackless wastes of the outback .

Rafty’s skill at rapid sketching saw him cover court cases for Channel 7. He is a founder member of the Black and White Artists’ Club and a longtime president of the Australian War Correspondents’ Association . For 23 years he was deeply involved in the running of Sydney’s Journalists’ Club , its president for a time , which caused moments of lively debate on the home front . When the former NT News editor Jim Bowditch went to Sydney he was often entertained by Tony Rafty and former war correspondent / poet / journalist Kenneth Slessor at the club. Rafty inquired about Bowditch’s well- being after Cyclone Tracy

Rafty , now in his 90s still enjoys golf and is patron of St Michael’s Golf Club , Sydney . For services to the media, he was awarded the OAM . Another honour bestowed upon him is the Greek Gold Cross of Mount Athos. Rafty has led the Australian war correspondents group at past Anzac Day marches. On a trip to Canberra in recent times he toured the archives and viewed sketches he made when he was an itchy and scratchy soldier in Darwin , and was presented with copies of several. ****Upcoming : Special messages and drawings from Rafty after Cyclone Tracy .


Kiwi journalist/author Ross Annabell has expanded his book URANIUM HUNTERS which is about the NT uranium rush in the 1950s. Ross was a reporter in Darwin at the time and became involved in the uranium boom. In a move to have the fascinating book reissued, he has written an additional chapter about his involvement in the search for uranium by a flamboyant Canadian prospector on a sub-Antarctic island 16 years after leaving the Territory. An informative email to Little Darwin, from Ross , a former editor of the NT News and the Northern Standard , an ABC reporter and freelancer, says a cousin’s house in the earthquake shattered city of Christchurch has been wrecked and it is not sure if they can rebuild on a block near the Avon River because of liquefaction. Another relative's house is a write off and there was a 5.4 shake a few days ago. Christchurch has received more than 8000 shocks. Ross also said a former Centralian Advocate reporter, Max Avery, now living in retirement at Waihi Beach, northern end of Tauranga Harbour, NZ, is anxiously watching the oil spill from the container ship jammed on a reef in the Bay of Plenty. NOTE: Tragedy Track, a book written by another Kiwi journalist, the late Eric Baume, about the Tanami goldrush in the Depression, was recently reissued with photographs of current mining activity in the area, including the pouring of the one millionth ounce of gold. Annabell's expanded Uranium Hunters, filled with interesting Top End information about the uranium boom and its colourful characters, including personal information about the media in Darwin, would be a desirable listing for any enterprising publisher and would surely sell well .

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Following our recent unusual Adelaide art nouveau drawing of the great Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova , we post this shot of her posing for the camera in Sydney during her tour of Australia and NZ, which gave rise to the tart named after her. From the Little Darwin Theatre Programmes Collection.

Friday, October 14, 2011


* These spiders deserve a soothing French kiss on both cheeks.

Arachnologists of the world unite! Sign Little Darwin’s petition to French president Nicolas Sarkozy demanding he stop spiders getting such bad parts in the fascinating TV series, Minuscule , filmed in La Belle France, played on the ABC.

Without exception, spiders, especially that cute, black, sad–eyed, little spinner, are always thwarted by insects and subjected to all kinds of indignities. Apart from being the centre of haute couture , Paris is also the headquarters for the study of arachnology- spiders.

So you would think that the French would have more respect for spiders which play a vital part in keeping down insect numbers in agriculture, without the need for toxic sprays in our tucker.

Spiders receive lousy treatment in the otherwise brilliant Minuscule series,produced by Futurikon in conjunction with France 2 and the Disney Channel.

In comparison, that cheeky ladybird gets away with all kinds of outrageous acts , ripping spider webs, dive bombing slow snails, infuriating blowflies harmlessly picnicking in smelly garbage bins, blowing raspberries at busy bees and even taunting hard working ants. One episode in which the nice spider was able to turn a plastic stick from a lollypop into a swing is no recompense for the indignities meted out to the poor blighter.

President Sarkozy should give thought to protecting French spiders while bombing creepy crawly Gaddafi , trying to save the Euro and the EU and frequently hugging and kissing Angela Merkel in public, a diplomatic act which he performs with excessive enthusiasm, prompting Mrs Sarkozy to give him an earful in the confines of one of the 1000 Palace of Versailles boudoirs.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


This touching photograph was taken when playboy King Penguin, Happy Feet,who has been making a nuisance of himself in Darwin's nightclub precinct- instead of returning to the bosom of his family at the South Pole- was reunited with his son . After some R and R in New Zealand, Happy Feet , who became a world celebrity, slipped into his Speedo's and said he was heading home . Instead, the bright lights of Mitchell Street , Darwin, attracted him . His anxious young son, Flat Foot, hardly strong enough to open a tin of Norwegian sardines, made the epic swim from McMurdo Sound to Darwin after he heard that his missing father had hitched a ride to the NT on an iceberg. Flat Foot, standing on a lucky piece of the melting polar icecap he brought with him, is shown cuddling up to his wandering father at the Darwin Police HQ, where he went bail for his pater, charged with racial slurs against Irish backpackers during the World Cup in NZ. Alert readers will note that Happy Feet is still nursing his lump of solidified whale vomit, ambergris, worth a fortune in the French perfume industry.

Monday, October 10, 2011


From Little Darwin Collection

Sunday, October 9, 2011


George Hirst , editor of the Magnetic Times online newspaper, an ideal model for a similar Darwin publication, has received an urgent message from the mother of Julian Assange seeking readers interest and support from others for her son in his difficult present situation. Her plea was headed JULIAN IN GRAVE DANGER . The High Court in London is soon to rule on whether Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault, described as bogus. The Magnetic Times post links to a John Pilger report THE "GETTING" OF ASSANGE AND THE SMEARING OF A REVOLUTION explaining the forces arraigned against Assange, which could see him sent to Sweden and "secretly and quietly" flown to the US under a legal device known as Temporary Surrender.

See and for full details. Assange’s mother,Christine, once lived on Magnetic Island with her son,and recently provided Magnetic Times with her exclusive life story because she trusted the publication.


A learned correspondent with considerable experience inside the legal profession informs Little Darwin that Australia is facing a glut of unemployed lawyers . He attributes this to the "education racket bandwagon " which is churning out large numbers of would - be lawyers, knowing full well that they are wasting their time and money . In the field of law, he says 20 percent of graduates, if lucky, will actually see the inside of a legal office.

A recent report revealed that in legal aid offices - traditionally under-funded and under- resourced-staff are stressed out , clients lucky to get a 15 minute hearing ( we cannot have cheap ,readily accessible legal advice and representation for the masses - otherwise the corrupt, archaic , ruinously expensive , so- called justice system would crumble ). An earlier study found that lawyers in some large firms were scared to take holidays as they might return to find they had been replaced while away. Small legal firms were also said to be struggling , facing rising costs and competition from the big boys out to snaffle up all the work. As a result, there are many ambulance chasers and what are known in the trade as “street rats” importuning for business .

The Bard ‘s father , said to have been engaged in a bit of dodgy wool trading and money lending,also avoided going to church because of the fear of bumping into debt process servers. Young William did not seem sympathetic to the legal profession when in Henry V1 he had the leader of a rebel mob wanting to kill all lawyers .

Friday, October 7, 2011


A furtive looking member of the Darwin City Council was observed leave behind inserts from the local rag on a seat at Casuarina Square, a rubbish bin a short distance away. The city would be knee deep in litter if everyone followed his lead.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


* Typical rabid Tory terrier terrorising Terra Australis

Australia is facing an outbreak of mad dog disease brought on by crazed right-wing politics , according to an RSPCA warning . It says dog catchers throughout the nation are exhausted coping with the many werewolves and media mongrels rushing about like dogs chasing a bitch on heat. Staff at the Australian Capital Territory pound have been run ragged rounding up barking and frothing at the mouth canines. A nasty little imported Sydney Shih-Tzu, injected with Chinese Nine Dog , disturbed the peace of Canberra for many a day until, thankfully , run over by a convoy of trucks.

Another nondescript, angry, snarling woofer frequently attacks the heels of Senator Brown and bicycle riders and is obviously suffering from rabies, posing a threat to the nation. The ACT pound is full of feeble bush-bred chuhuahuas and snappy Jack Russells , all destined to be put down tomorrow, which will be a great relief for country dwellers.

Reithweilers, badly in need of worming, are another savage breed causing problems for slave labour on the waterfront and other sweat shops across the wide brown land . Down Adelaide way there are several strange looking mutts suffering from the parvo virus which should be given the needle ASAP. Here in Darwin, an attack dog, known as Ding Dong Donovan by long suffering neighbours, frequently disturbs the peace,making more noise than cracker night , which runs 11 months of the year.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Another example of the extraordinary state of affairs in America is this appeal for funds by the Nation of Change organisation-progressive journalism for positive action-which, in part , reads:

We are witnessing a desperate time in the history of this country. Our people are jobless and enslaved by debt, being thrust into poverty without access to affordable education or healthcare. Control of the democratic process has been hijacked by corporate special interests. The plutocrats and oligarchs have seized control over the power structures, media, legal system, and institutions established to defend the American people.

We are locked into immoral, never-ending imperialist wars against outmatched nations who perceive us as pillagers and invaders. The will of the people is ignored by our government, which proves each day to be little more than a defender of the interests of the corporate state and an unfunny political spectacle designed to distract, dishearten, and disinherit our people of their rights and their treasure.

Many have given in to despair or cynicism; however there are those of us who attempt to fight back as the corporatocracy pushes our nation and global community ever closer to the brink of collapse. There are those of us committed to truth and social justice who peer behind the veil of lies and propaganda and who work to mobilize a people's revolution today at Wall Street and in the streets of financial districts across this country. In short, there are those of us who give a damn. Will you support the people's movement?

Help NationofChange continue to fight for the interests of the people. Help us to expose the truth, organize for action, and magnify voices of change while cutting through the corporate lies...

When you couple this appeal with the Four Corners ABC TV powerful report on poverty in Britain through the eyes and voices of expressive children (boy is Australia the Lucky Country!), the obvious warnings are that there have to be major changes in the distribution of wealth and politics. Then some disturbing home truths were made apparent about democracy and the West through the lively and twitchy Q and A session from the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


As everybody knows , strange things happen in Darwin’s rural belt, what with frequent sightings of UFOs. Humpty Doo was the venue for a recent extremely close encounter . Just when an electrician was about to drill a hole to run a cable for an extension light, he discovered a large, sleeping snake, piled up inside the roof of the Arnhem Nursery bungalow. It was Mr Hissy , above , a carpet snake, who has resided in the ceiling for at least 10 years. He was having a quiet kip, digesting something about as big as a football, when the electrician spotted him and freaked out. The sparkie insisted mild mannered nurseryman , Kerry Byrnes , remove the snake , about three and a half metres long, before he would continue with the job.

Kerry, a tough Taikwondo exponent and a fully paid up member of the Australasian Limp Fallers’ Club , NT branch, chickened out and called in an experienced snake man . According to Byrnes, the hero herpetologist clambered into the confined hot roof space, just above Kerry’s bed, and TALKED ??? to the reptile, obviously a snake whisperer , for 15 minutes .

Sleepy Hissy raised his head, as if listening to an Indian snake charmer, sniffed the intruder , then put his head down and appeared to resume Forty Winks . Two towels were then gently placed over the somnolent serpent's head so that the snake man could get a firm hold.

Hissy literally hit the roof . The aroused snake wound itself around the arm of his captor about eight times and applied the big squeeze, with associated painful Indian wrist burns . It developed into a fierce rumble in the jungle . Hissy regarded the episode as a gross home invasion, he having lived there unmolested for at least a decade . The brave snake man sought Kerry’s help to unwind the snake , otherwise he ( by now a shouting whisperer) could have passed out through loss of blood circulation!

Kerry manfully squeezed himself into the confined wrestling ring , with an atmosphere like a Turkish bath, and helped drag the powerful critter out. To make amends to his star boarder, Kerry is planning a special luxury pad for Mr Hissy in the ceiling to atone for disturbing his sleep. He may also present him with a brace of possums stuffed with a secret recipe of herbs and spices from the nursery’s kitchen garden .


LONDON: Hannah, the Hot Hacking Hamster, has undergone a major make over in the Murdoch empire’s campaign to crush the ABC TV’s upcoming comedy show,THE HAMSTER WHEEL, put together by that irreverent , cheeky, audacious Chaser team. The furry svengali has been made look even sexier, with windswept hair and a tiara to make her more appealing to drooling , lascivious Australian football fans . A string of Paspaley pearls adds to the allure .

Her latest publicity photo,above, forwarded to us by News International , shows Hannah without her guide to the Kamasutra . Instead , she is studying other positions for luxury furniture in her plush hamster wheel boudoir with a guide to Feng Shui. Rupert Murdoch has spent zillions trying to crack the China market , and it is understood he sees the cuddly hamster, dressed like an emperor’s concubine, as not only gnawing away at the Chasers, but also securing a vast audience in China.

Hannah’s life story is a rathole to riches saga. Her parents hid in the kitchen of a famous seaside hotel, Fawlty Towers , and lived off the scraps in bins . A Spaniard took pity on them and hid them in his bedroom until the place was closed down by the health department and they were able to escape to freedom . Hannah was born in the basement at Harrod’s, attracting the eye and patronage of a rich ratfink. She rose to fame and fortune when she appeared in Nudes of the World. (See earlier hamster/Chaser war scoop below.)