Monday, January 30, 2012


At a time when PM Julia Gillard has urged journalists not to "write crap, " the nation knee -deep in excreta which fraudulently poses as "news", a welcome development in the Australian media scene will be the launch in February of GLOBAL MAIL , an online venture designed to produce public interest journalism. Backed by internet entrepreneur and philanthropist,Graeme Wood , its editor- in- chief will be former ABC journalist , Monica Attard, winner of five Walkley Awards Attard also hosted the ABC's Media Watch for two years.

Attard has attracted former ABC colleagues Ellen Fanning and Stephen Crittenden to the team . Another interesting member is Mike Bowers , former Sydney Morning Herald chief photographer, presenter of the entertaining TALKING PICTURES weekly round up of political pix on the popular ABC’s INSIDERS . Wood has guaranteed Global Mail for five years for up to $20million , saying he is worried by the decline of good journalism. He donated $1.6 million to the Greens before the last federal election , the largest individual political donation in Australian history. He also gave $15million to set up the Global Change Institute think tank at the University of Queensland. The funding model of Global Mail is based on Pulitzer Prize –winning US website which kicked off in 2007 with a $30million gift from billionaire philanthropists Herb and Marion Sandler. Global Mail , with a yearly budget of $3million, will have a staff of 17 and provide investigation , analysis and colour , updated each day.

It already has five foreign correspondents,including Wood’s stepson, Nick Olle, son of the late ABC journalist , Andrew Olle , seen on assignment in Darwin, once when the ABC management refused to allow him to talk on the "illegal" radio with East Timor. Global Mail will not charge readers , not sell ads. Updates will be run in Little Darwin.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


God said let there be light -and there was light . But it is doubtful if He meant that there should be something like 20 halogen downlights pumping out heat in each of the Masonic Homes villas at the Tiwi Gardens retirement village. There seem to be more halogen downlights in the village than in all those apartments tarted up in the highly popular reality TV series, The Block.

Halogen Lights over stoves in the units were so hot that steam could be seen rising off hands on which there was moisture. Imagine the heat being pumped out in the ceilings , surely of some concern? Google halogen down lights and there is talk of them being not only damaging to the environment and expensive to runbut allegedly linked to house fires during the disastrous national batts scheme .

Installing large numbers of lights which pump out heat seems inappropriate for the tropics. Indeed, there is a body of opinion in Darwin that halogen lights are likely to explode in electrical storms. A fire in the residential section of Kormilda College involved a halogen downlight .

The Masonic Homes nursing home at Tiwi Gardens experienced a lengthy period when expensive night safety lights were blowing with great frequency. Nothing was said publicly about this and it has never been stated what caused the problem , how much it cost to rectify . From time to time , the fire brigade is called to the nursing home after alarms are triggered , the latest last week .

In the villas , after many months of strange events involving people clambering inside the ceilings, shifting batts about, a report that things had been seen which “ were not right”, somebody else climbed into ceilings and took quick photographs , Masonic Homes ( for Residential Care/Retirement Living/ Community Care ) issued a bulletin to all residents on January 3.


Word went about the villas that the halogen lights were going to be replaced by LED lights at the direction of “SAFETY” authoritie . Then on January 16, a contradictory notice , headed VILLA DOWN LIGHTS was issued . it said:

“Thank you for your patience and cooperation with this project. We have now had THREE independent contractors look at this issue and advise us on the best solution. Heat hoods , or down light shrouds as they are commonly known, are currently being fitted to all villas. The original electrician (not mentioned by name ) recommended that the existing down lights be changed from dichroic halogen down lights to compact fluorescents . Unfortunately this is only a bandaid fix and will not stop future replacement globes reverting back to the old dichroic lamps .

“Advice received from the down light manufacturer on installing correct heat hoods and removing loose insulation away from the down lights will effectively dissipate any excess heat.

“This is in accordance with the requirements of the AS3000 wiring rules and meets the applicable AS3000 standards.

“DURING THE COURSE OF THE WORKS ANY NON COMPLIANT OR UNSAFE CABLING IS ALSO BEING RECTIFIED .” Further details and clarification could be obtained from Dave Moss and Cathy Orr on 8922 6600.

Tradesmen who turned up to insert the hoods were not from the biblical sounding FAITH CLOUD , took far less than an hour to do the work , no power was cut off .During discussions , it was said that the original contractor had " refused to come back " to Masonic Homes. Another fascinating comment was that there were so many downlights in villas that a "young apprentice" must have been instructed to cut them in to gain experience .

So now , with the hoods on, the lights still pump heat down into the villas, built with Federal and NT government financial contributions . The contradictory notices sent out by Masonic Homes raise many questions . For example, how come there might be any "non compliant or unsafe cabling" in the roof of a fairly new project ? Was there an external audit of the wiring , or was it left up to self certification? How do fluorescent globes magically revert back to dichroics? Were any compliance checks made of any work carried out during construction of the 34 villas? Is this hood insertion an el cheapo way of partially dealing with the situation ? There are other questions that a probing reporter could ask.

The ABC was made aware of the situation on several occasions , and once it discovers how Territorians cope with the loss of a pet goldfish it will almost certainly shine the spotlight on retirement villages. The Henderson Government was also made aware of the lighting situation and other matters of concern at Tiwi Gardens ,and it was suggested the MINISTER FOR THE AGEING ,Rob Knight, should call for a report into the design of and provision of other features in NT retirement villages. So far there has not been any sign of light or action at the end of the ministerial tunnel . However, in his capacity as YOUTH MINISTER , just this week , Knight, recently also rerouted into the Attorney-General possie , posed for a media photo opportunity on squash courts. It is doubtful that there are any squash players in retirement villages , but the occupants sure as hell know how to vote.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


There is a tragic story in this scene of Cyclone Tracy devastation at Nightcliff. A family with young children lived in the ground level house in the foreground , its roof missing . Just before Christmas 1974 , the family were delighted to move into a brand new government house in the northern suburbs , which , like so many new dwellings , blew apart as if made of straw, they being blown out into the maelstrom . A daughter was killed, the mother scalped and developed gangrene after being hit in the armpit by flying roofing iron ; the husband was severely traumatised. Had the family remained in the older ground level house they would not have endured such a terrible ordeal.
Following the initial disastrous Christchurch earthquake in which many lives were lost , more than half in the collapse of the comparatively modern six-storey Canterbury TV (CTV) building , constructed to the NZ earthquake building code , there has been a call for the construction industry to be overhauled , its workforce retrained. There is a message here for the NT , where it is blithely stated that in Darwin buildings are constructed to the cyclone code.

A fact finding investigation carried out by a special committee for the Department of Housing and Construction into the way Cyclone Tracy impacted on government buildings , published March 1975 , reported :
* Notable examples of bad construction practices which left serious misgivings that they were widespread .
* Timber studs cut through entirely to allow them to be straightened .
* Cyclone bolts in many walls were wrongly positioned , some only anchored into nogging pieces which were end-nailed onto floor joists.
* Top cyclone bolt connection details changed without approval of the structural designers.
* The investigators were told “detailed supervision”of construction was not practicable in Darwin –reliance on contractors and their tradesmen being the normal practice, making quality control difficult.
* Suburban public buildings performed particularly well , except with one notable exception, the Darwin Community College, which collapsed due to the main reinforcement splices not being properly attached.

While much of Darwin’s population had been evacuated or departed overland , when word got out that the confidential report had found evidence of shonky building practices in the construction of government housing , there was anger and talk of Jerry builders , people with blood on their hands.

In dealing with the obvious need for a revamped cyclone code , the report said this would have immediate and far reaching ramifications for the building industry –particularly in the residential design and construction sectors.The level of trade competence and understanding of the cyclone provisions and the supervision of building work would be critical to the success of the code.

While new construction techniques were being evolved ,there would be an immediate and continuing need in the “ education and reattituding” of all concerned in the building industry.

Today , anybody with knowledge of the building industry nation-wide knows of pressure on contractors and tradesmen to get things done fast , on the cheap , completed ahead of time to earn a bonus, to get on with another pressing job. Terms such as rough as guts, banged up in a hurry without proper regard for the workmanship and integrity of the buildings , have been used to describe the situation in some instances . So- called project managers who fail to pay attention to work as it progresses , which endangers tradesmen on the job and , eventually, occupants have also been mentioned. Little Darwin knows of instances where tradesmen employed on “choice developments” have advised friends not to buy into the projects because of the poor workmanship.

A supervisor on a much boomed , expensive, seaside project was heard shout at his workers that they had 20"fucking minutes" to get something in place before knock off time. This was obviously a fine example of quality control. People standing nearby then heard what sounded like sledge hammers beating against metal .

Darwin buildings
are said to be built to “Cyclone code ”, which sounds reassuring , but it is suggested could be misleading as self certification plays a big part- signing bits of paper that job and overall components of the construction and fitting out are up to standard . In other words , a situation similar to that which existed before Cyclone Tracy . Certification papers have been sighted by this writer on which it is hard to decipher the name of the person making the declaration and the company concerned , in one case the firm not listed in the phone book.

Self regulation has been shown not to work in many commercial enterprises. Little Darwin spoke to a tradesman whose job it was to correct numerous interior shortcomings in project homes for a southern firm which operated in several states , riding a boom , eventually the subject of media reports about extremely bad work . It appalled him that the company , contractors and inspectors all appeared to have turned a blind eye to what was going on , just going with the flow for the quick buck .

Evidence that the NT’s building industry certification system was not working properly surfaced in March 9 2009. The then Minister for Planning and Lands , Delia Lawrie, announced a 24 month building certification moratorium across regional towns ,including Tennant Creek and Katherine. Mention was made of the "problem of attracting and retaining qualified staff " and the “ grave difficulty” in attaining qualified building practitioners .

On the subject of self certification , a panel report on the NT government’s own website contains the statement that the self certification process appeared to need urgent review . Proposals to broaden the range of building work which could be self assessable or exempt were not supported by some of those interviewed by the panel .

NEXT : What exactly did Chief Minister ,Paul Henderson , mean when he told the media that we are ready for "the big one." Is he being ill-advised? Are vital papers revealing the true situation being hidden, disregarded ? These and further matters will be raised in this ongoing series which covers issues of vital importance to the Darwin community and cannot be swept under the carpet .

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


The extreme measure of placing the Little Master, Sachin Tendulkar, on a rack to make him the Big Master and sprinkling his rice bubbles with powerful Aussie uranium plainly failed. Furthermore, the brave cricketer began to moan and scream as the Opus Dei rack tightened up, causing his team mates to become rattled, and that is why they collapsed in the third Test match . Still, Tendulkar will loom like a giant when he takes the field in Adelaide , as shown (above ) by our talented artist, and may just get his 100th century.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Doing a bit of basic , old fashioned journalistic follow up, Little Darwin rang the Darwin Council to find out how Luccio Cercarelli , nominated in the NT News as the person to fix the gross Darwin War Memorial spelling errors, was getting on with the onerous task . He was busy in a conference, so we left our name and number . Not long after , Mark Blackburn of the DC rang back and discussed the issue . It was amazing , he said, that nobody had noticed the incorrect spelling of two countries and the United Nations , which had existed for years .When we pointed out Little Darwin had raised the matter well over a year ago , he seemed doubly surprised , gobsmacked perhaps more apt . Then we told him that Little Darwin had specifically notified the Chief Minister ,through his strategist, Fred McCue , and asked what the CM was doing to rectify the gaffe with the 70th anniversary of the Darwin bombing fast approaching . Chief Minister Paul Henderson, we told Blackburn, did not respond to Little Darwin's warning emails and obviously did not alert the DC. Strange . The NT about to be embarrassed nationally and internationally, and the CM does not spring into action to try and resolve the snafu .

The Little Darwin post on January 20 about DARWIN OFFICIALS AND MEDIA BOMBING OUT over the war memorial caused the number of hits to skyrocket. Blackburn says there is no way the memorial errors can be rectified by February 19; while something could be done to cover up the incorrect apostrophe in NETHERLANDS (NETHERLAND'S) EAST INDIES , the error in the spelling of the PHILIPPINES (PHILLIPINES ) posed a problem as did the reference to the UNITED NATIONS in the singular . He was not certain if the names were engraved into large panels of granite or marble .

When it comes to war history , the NT News itself has a problem spelling the names of WW 11 place names . In the January 24 edition THE YEAR THAT WAS pictorial section showed WW11 veteran "Ted Milliken" with a chest of medals who had served in PAPA NEW GUINEA ( sic ) , Nauru and The PHILLIPINES (sic).

Monday, January 23, 2012


First in a series raising serious questions about Darwin’s readiness to face disasters and everyday events which place emergency services personnel , volunteers and the public at risk . It will cover ignored warnings , inadequate and claimed dangerous building industry practices and laisser-faire inspections,running emergency services on the cheap, senior officers failing to respond to extensive correspondence pointing out potentially deadly flaws in disaster planning .
Outspoken veteran journalist, editor, publisher and political activist, Pete Steedman, firmly believes that Australia repeatedly fails to learn the lessons of how to prepare for and cope with the aftermath of natural disasters. Steedman was deeply involved in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy, producing a newspaper with another journalist, John Ball, for Darwin residents who had been evacuated or fled overland to all parts of the country. Ball, who had resided in Hong Kong, brought his experience of living in the typhoon prone British colony to the Darwin post –cyclone situation . Both of them witnessed at first hand ,with critical eyes , how Darwin responded .

Steedman subsequently produced a report for the Federal Government on Cyclone Tracy and how to cope with and better deal with problems revealed by Cyclone Tracy . In compiling the report , Steedman carried out research into past disasters in Australia , including the 1967 Tasmanian Black Tuesday bushfires which claimed the lives of 62, injured 900 , made 7000 homeless and caused damage of more than $40million . He also looked at the 1939 Black Friday bushfires in Victoria which killed 72 people.

Steedman’s comprehensive report, originally running to about 1400 pages, contained wide ranging advice on how to cope with future disasters and the needs and demands of the populace , was hand- delivered to Canberra about October 1975. The Whitlam Government was sacked by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, in November and the report, which contained criticism of the way the disaster had been handled , seemingly vanished into thin air.

Later, Steedman became aware that an invaluable book, prompted by the 1967 Tasmanian bushfires -BUSHFIRE DISASTER:An Australian Community in Crisis, Angus & Robertson, 1975 – had been written by Ron L. Wettenhall . The book , Steedman says, should be read by everybody concerned in natural disaster planning as what it had to say is valid today .

Wettenhall was a reader in Political Science at the University of Tasmania at the time of the fires and became a volunteer during the emergency, his Hobart home threatened . Due to his interest in government and first hand experience of the bushfire tragedy, he began to examine and question how Australian social organisations responded to such stress. He prefaced his case study with a discussion of the nature of disaster planning and preparedness . [ Steedman commented that the book included an invaluable review of the disaster history of Australia, which would have saved him a lot of hard work and sweat in compiling the Cyclone Tracy report.]

made the point that there was a persistent tendency on the part of planners to see disaster as an engineering problem, rather than a sociological one .

He dealt at length with organisational involvement during the primary emergency(rescue) ,secondary emergency (remedy) and the longer term recovery. He suggested existing organisations were most effective during the rescue phase and during the longer term recovery , but their inability to handle the secondary emergency phase led to the development of emergent groups.

A review of Wettenhall’s book by Russell R.Dynes, Disaster Research, Ohio State University , praised the author and said the study could be cited as the initial step in systematic disaster research in Australia ,in the same way that Samuel Prince’s study of Halifax in 1920 was a starting point for research in North America .(This was a reference to the 1917 huge explosion in Halifax ,Nova Scotia ,when two ships collided and one loaded with 200 tons of TNT,10 tons of gun cotton ,35 tons of benzol and 230 tons of acid caught on fire. The subsequent enormous explosion killed 1900 ; churches, houses, schools, factories , docks and ships were destroyed. Hundreds of people were made blind by glass fragments , amputations ran into hundreds . It was described as the largest man-made explosion until the atomic age. Oppenheimer studied the effects at Halifax when calculating the impact of atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.)

Reviewer Dynes made the point that the book was in the process of publication at the time Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin, when the “ new ” National Disaster Organisation came into operation for the first time.

Following the deadly Black Saturday Victorian bushfires of 2009 , Steedman, who once held the former seat of Casey for the ALP ,part of the area consumed by the blaze , toured the district in which 173 died and saw problems which had been evident after Cyclone Tracy.

It was obvious, he said, that modern pre-planning for major disasters had failed to understand the lessons of previous bushfires and the post -disaster situation was too bureaucratic and slow .

The recent floods in Queensland, he continued , had highlighted the same flaws . Premier Anna Bligh had done a wonderful job in the first instance, but now the stage had been reached where disgruntled victims, frustrated by insurance companies, paperwork and overloaded bureaucratic system ,not trained to cope with such situations , wanted to almost “ burn her at the stake”-Steedman renowned for strong and colourful expressions. The Queensland disaster measures and others across the nation continued not to come to grips with the reality and demands of such events, he added.

Steedman said he had no doubt the Northern Territory would be found wanting in the event of another major cyclone, despite all the lip service and statements made about the state of preparedness.

A man with a big picture outlook, Peter Steedman, did research work for several politicians and is shown here with Paul Keating , who had the same approach. At the time this photo was taken Steedman was executive director of AUSMUSIC , a national organisation , designed to get the fragmented Australian music industry, not achieving its potential, really humming. In particular , it gave young musos in schools, garages and on Aboriginal settlements , backing , education and skills to mix it in the tough cold world of the entertainment industry .


A Nightcliff barber shop , broken into several times, has moved into new premises with a strong protective grille over all windows. It is a stone’s throw from the office of the Nightcliff ALP gavel banger , Jane Aagaard , and a short distance from the Nightcliff Police Station , the one identified for years as a POLI E STATION ( letter C missing, not replaced as if a Third World country...similar to the Darwin War Memorial fiasco . )

Another nearby barber shop , also subjected to break ins, operates behind a security metal screen and reinforced door. These tonsorial artists , trying to earn an honest buck , at times must feel they are like Elmer Fudd - receiving a frequent, unwanted number one economic haircut by that crazed barber , Bugs Bunny , to the tune of Rossini’s opera , The Barber of Seville .

Saturday, January 21, 2012


How a Territory battler, Shirley Collins, rose to fame in the art world and was ruined by involvement in a poorly organised Australian government backed promotion –the Bank of America Down Under Tour of the USA in the lead up to the Sydney Olympics. Part 1 of a special Little Darwin series by Peter Simon.

It was an immensely successful Darwin art and social event – the official opening by Lady Susan Renouf of GRANDEUR OF LIGHT , the spectacular masterworks exhibition of watercolours by Territory artist , Harold Thomas, designer of the National Aboriginal flag. Hosted by the director of the Raintree Gallery , Ms Shirley Collins, a key figure in the promotion of Aboriginal art and crafts in Australia and overseas, it was an ambitious affair from the start.

Top.-Beaming Shirley Collins , flanked by celebrated Territory artist, Harold Thomas , on the right , and his son , also Harold, the night of the launch. Above.- Collins with Administrator, the late Commodore Eric Johnston; Lady Renouf having a warm conversation with Shirley’s sister, Barbara Nasir . Bill Baird, Shirley’s brother, is on the left of this snap
Behind the scenes details of this glittering event are told here for the first time. A letter had been sent to Lady Renouf’s prominent agent, Kiwi Harry M. Miller , in Sydney, asking if she could officiate. Much to everyones surprise and delight, she agreed to come to Darwin.

Collins took out a $10,000 bank loan on the strength of this to cover the event and a flight and accommodation package deal was arranged with Ansett . Then an airline strike hit the nation and it looked as if the event , set down for September 3, 1989 , would have to be postponed. In an obvious tight corner, Shirley approached the RAAF base in Darwin and asked if they could possibly uplift Lady Renouf. The RAAF came back and said yes, a Hercules transport would be coming this way and Lady Renouf should be advised to wear thermal underwear as it would be cold in the plane.

Having been the subject of a minor controversy when she appeared fully clothed in a TV advertisement for Sheridan bedsheets when married to Andrew Peacock, a minister in the Australian government, Lady Renouf would, no doubt, have slipped into fleecy-lined apparel for the exciting trip to Darwin with dexterity and aplomb .

Through dealings with the British magnate, Lord Alistair McAlpine, who had bought up a large part of Broome and established a high class resort at Cable Beach , Collins invited him to the exhibition. Describing him as a "wonderful man," Collins said he had long bought from her , interested in Tiwi art, particularly that of Declan Apuatimi. He telephoned her on receiving the invite and said, "You must be joking?"... firmly stating he was only interested in cultural art, not modern, western- style painting , which made up the Thomas offering .

Collins insisted they were exceptional paintings,with Territory scenes and subjects , and that he should consider buying some of them for Cable Beach and other properties. Lord McAlpine, the British Tory treasurer, who bought much Australiana, including early rustic furniture and objects , took her advice , flew over from Broome in his private Learjet for a pre -opening viewing , the exhibition not yet properly hung.Impressed by what he saw , he asked to meet the artist , then announced he wanted to buy the lot for $100,000.

Collins said this caused another unexpected problem : everything sold before being thrown open to the public. Other paintings, not in the catalogue , had to be brought in and displayed in the foyer for others to buy .

Lady Renouf and daughter , Miss Caroline Peacock, fortified against the cold , duly arrived in the lumbering Hercules. The opening took place in the Sheraton Hotel, attended by 500. On the night, Lady Renouf had been "absolutely tickled pink" by the attendance - "everybody was there" - and she was enthralled by the artist and his paintings ."We had a great time together," Collins recalled.

Harold Thomas , born in Alice Springs, had studied at the
SA School of Arts and became involved in the Aboriginal civil rights movement. He also studied Social Anthropology at the University of Adelaide.

At the time of the Darwin launch he was already an established artist in Australia and overseas,with works in private and corporate collections. Acqusitions and commissions involved the WA Art Gallery, a large number of paintings in Darwin's Travelodge ,first day postal covers .Commissioned portraits had been done of Roger Woodward, the Australian internationally renowned pianist;Australian Aboriginal tennis player,Yvonne Goolagong-Cawley; NT MLAs Dawn Lawrie and Jack Doolan.

The exhibition’s souvenir catalogue carried a foreword from Chief Minister Marshall Perron in which he said it was the most valuable exhibition ever staged of works by a NT artist . Much credit, he added, must go to the director of the Raintree Gallery, Shirley Collins . Collins acknowledged the valuable assistance of Sandra Oldroyd of Kudos Exhibition and Gallery Promotions in staging the successful event .

The exhibition’s souvenir catalogue carried a foreword from Chief Minister Marshall Perron who said it was the most valuable exhibition ever staged of works by a NT artist. Much credit, he added, must go to the director of the Raintree Gallery, Shirley Collins. In turn ,Collins acknowledged the valuable assistance of Sandra Oldroyd of Kudos Exhibition and Gallery Promotions in staging the successful event .

While here, Lady Renouf visited Raintree Gallery, flew over Kakadu, toured the Ranger uranium mine, cruised Cooinda and Yellow Waters and visited Nourlangie Rock . Because of the ongoing airline strike, Lady Susan had to take the long way home , flying to Bali, from there to Tasmania and then to Sydney . There had never been such a fabulous launch for an Aboriginal artist anywhere else in Australia , probably never since . Shirley Collins and her Raintree Gallery were much acclaimed and held in high esteem.

Despite it being a wonderful night , and a sell out , getting a carrier Collins could trust to deliver the paintings undamaged to Lord McAlpine in Broome and finding an insurance company to cover the movement had been " an absolute nightmare."

Today , Collins is a pensioner, in ill health, facing medical probes; her family, with whom she lives, has been forced to look for accommodation as the rented house in which they live is up for sale and they have to be out by the end of this month . On top of this , she awaits, with growing trepidation , the result of a court decision involving here application to the Federal government for a special payment , virtually her last hope for justice .

NEXT : The struggling daughter of a Stolen Generation mother, Shirley Collins pulls herself up by her bootstraps and becomes a major force in the Aboriginal art world, recognised nationally and internationally .

Friday, January 20, 2012


At this extremely late stage , the responsibility for rectifying the years - long cock up over the gross spelling errors in the Darwin War Memorial has been passed – faster than a ticking brown parcel- to the Darwin City Council .

Long after Little Darwin repeatedly revealed the embarrassing situation , and that recently the Chief Minister had not responded to our questions on the subject , the NT News said an anonymous reader had drawn its attention to the blue. Under a large heading , SPELLING MISTAKES SCAR THE CENOTAPH , the story simply repeated what Little Darwin had stated , but said it was up to the DCC infrastructure general manager , Luccio Cercarelli, to fix the major blunder.

He may have been given the job because his name suggests the possibility that there could be a dash of fine Italian red coursing through his bloodstream, and Mussolini managed to get the impossible done by getting the trains to run on time in Roma .

You would think that chiefs of staff , news editors , chief snoops and others in the media pack would immediately sense that this is a major local and national story to FOLLOW UP THEMSELVES . So far it has been all quiet on the western and media fronts .The News continued on its merry way chasing crocs, bonking animals , imminent cyclones (yippee!) and UFOs . The ABC is still trying to find out how Territorians cope with the loss of a pet goldfish.

Here we have all kinds of people from the Chief Minister down, including the usual opportunistic blowhards, saying that the bombing of Darwin day should be a national holiday , that not many people "down south " are aware of what happened here in 1942 . Up here , in Darwin , all the powers that be did not notice anything amiss at the cenotaph. So February 19, the 70th anniversary of the bombing, is just around the corner. The ceremony will be attended by the Governor–General, the US Ambassador , many other visiting VIPs. Can unfortunate Cercarelli , surely not likely to be called “Lucky”Luccio after having the hot potato dumped in his lap so late in the piece , emulate Il Duce and perform a miracle in granite ?

Will the media ask questions like: Is there a crash campaign to rectify the errors before February 19? If so, what is involved? If not, why ? Could a local stonemason carry out the remedial work? Who did the original stonework? How did this absurd situation occur in the first place ? How come nobody from the RSL, the legion of historians , war authors , government ministers and their spinsters, the military brass-who regularly attended ceremonies at the memorial-did not notice anything wrong in the spelling of two countries and using a singular form of United Nations?


Cemeteries are fascinating places. Little Darwin personnel and correspondents have spent many hours in cemeteries, studying inscriptions on tombstones in Australia, NZ , Asia and the UK .Here in Darwin , the Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory (GSNT) does wonderful work researching the last resting place of people in bygone days in scattered cemeteries , resulting in the erection of informative plaques . The above Coomalie Courier photograph was taken at one such plaque installation ceremony at Stapleton . The GSNT secretary, June Tomlinson, recently back from a UK study trip , meeting researchers there interested in the Territory , is in the centre of the photo ; another GSNT member ,Vern O'Brien, a walking encyclopedia of NT knowledge, is on the far right, in the public service- type long white socks. Among other things, Vern is the GSNT cemetery coordinator and many volumes from his large book collection , dealing with the NT , which survived Cyclone Tracy, are in the GSNT reference library. On the far left of this photo is Bill Roberts, of the Coomalie Creek Council,greatly interested in local history,who has long been searching for the grave of Constable Thomas Charlesworth, from Southport, who drowned during 1884 floods. From time to time, Little Darwin will post further unusual cemetery stories from the Territory and elsewhere .

Thursday, January 19, 2012


A short distance from the electorate office of Chief Minister Paul Henderson, in the Hibiscus shopping centre warren , the butcher shop’s special lines board boasts RABBI . Presumably this should be RABBIT -not a person who bangs his head against the Wailing Wall?

Another tempting offer is ANGAROO meat . There could be inspiration at the chop shop for Rolf Harris, if not busily engaged carrying out a Royal commission to do individual portraits of all the Corgis in vivid British Paint , to write several new big selling records. Anchor or Tie My Angaroo Down, Sport being one . Two Little Rabbis has a catchy ring to it, but would not sell on the West Bank . Apparently the Chief Minister must not buy his meat from the Hibiscus butchery , otherwise he would have noticed that some swine ( Miss Piggy? ) had tampered with the special lines list and pointed it out. Recognised as the NT patron saint of the fireworks industry, the Chief Minister, we are informed , invites neighbours in his street to a sausage sizzle for the festival of bangs in a nearby park on NT Cracker Night , which few manage to attend , seeing you have to bring your own snags , propellants and megaton bombs.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Twins are the subject of a series that has started running on ABC TV. From the diverse and unusual Little Darwin files come these early pix on the subject of double trouble. At the top , circa 1918, twins Eileen and Betty, aged 1 year 11 months, appear in a Geo. A. Rogers, Rundle Street, Adelaide, postcard , sent to Auntie and Uncle Frank. Below, left, the same girls, aged seven , in postcard to same Auntie and Uncle, wishing them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Bottom , right, twins Mary and Joan at Hogan’s Royal Hotel ,Gundagai, NSW, 18/4/25.

In a move probably designed to annoy his twin brothers , Darwin agronomist Rob Wesley-Smith provided the above snap of Peter and Martin, in the Adelaide Hills , with faithful Cocker Spaniel , Chips, a name perpetuated with successive dogs of the same breed . Oops! The hound dog was actually a Red Setter , Terry by name, who belonged to an uncle . The writer of this post once worked on one of Australia's biggest selling Sunday papers and DOG OF THE WEEK was one of the reasons why it was so popular with the intelligentsia of Sydney . If you got your doggy statements incorrect you could upset the readers and the editor might bark at you as circulation figures plummeted .

Here again are the pooch- loving Wesley- Smith twins , Martin on the left , Peter on the right, in football gear,posing with the family Holden . Little Darwin has seen a pic of the fine Cocker,Chips, and extend our apologies, along with a sack of Smackos, to make up for our gross error. Rob's brothers share a very creative house and are involved in numerous humanitarian and social justice issues as well as production of acclaimed musical shows.

Monday, January 16, 2012


A sign of turbulent times–activist US media site calling for donations to stage a mass occupation in San Francisco’s financial district in a few days. In an earlier New York occupation, people demonstrated outside Park Avenue apartments of billionaires, including that of Rupert Murdoch. In the words of the Bob Dylan song , also rendered by Simon and Garfunkel , the times they are a-changin', windows and walls are rattling , the waters are rising .
A manifestation of the deep unrest in America and other parts of the world is the OCCUPY WALL STREET movement which spread across the nation and overseas like wildfire. While there is much talk about the so-called Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East, there are abundant signs that the US is on the verge of a massive social, financial and political upheaval , such is the immense dissatisfaction with the nation’s institutions .

While the mainstream US media has attempted to downplay and belittle the OCCUPY WALL STREET demonstrations, NationofChangeProgressive Journalism for Positive Action- both supports, covers and raises funds for OWS. NationofChange recently ran an opinion piece THE FAILURE OF OUR” FREE “PRESS , by William Astore , which asked if America truly does have a free press ,one willing to challenge the powerful and serve the people . Much of the mainstream media,it stated, willingly acted as “stenographers”to the high and mighty . It is recommended reading at

Sunday, January 15, 2012


IF THE GODS HAD INTENDED US TO VOTE THEY WOULD HAVE GIVEN US CANDIDATES–this is the title of a book by Jim Hightower, above, an influential American commentator and author , whose well- written and researched material often has direct relevance to Australia- and our soon to be beefed up garrison towns of Darwin and Katherine .

A cowboy hat wearing Texan, Hightower should not be regarded in the same breath as a certain vacuous sombrero toting North Queenslander. His daily radio commentaries are carried on more than 150 commercial and public stations , on the web, on Armed Forces Radio, and on Radio for Peace International. In addition, he also publishes America’s fastest growing political newsletter –THE HIGHTOWER LOWDOWN-with 135,000 subscribers .

An important person involved in production of the newsletter is Australian journalist/author, Phillip Frazer, who worked with Ralph Nader and has been mentioned in previous special Little Darwin posts dealing with Melbourne university magazines and several ground breaking publications . Frazer will be the subject of a separate article in the near future .

Hightower has spent three decades Fighting the Powers that Be on behalf of the Powers that Ought to Be ...consumers, working families, environmentalists , small businesses and “just- plain- folks.”

He believes the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom .He has become a leading voice for 80 percent of the people who no longer find they are “ within shouting distance “ of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top.

Hightower works closely with the alternative media , one being NationofChange-Progressive Journalism for Positive Action . A recent piece of his in NationofChange dealt with Afghanistan and covered the corruption, incredible US expenditure there of $8billion a month, the poppy trade , the Taliban and Pentagon hawks . He has received both the Alternative Press Award and the Independent Press Association Award for the best national newsletter .

A New York Times bestseller author , apart for the title in the intro to this post, he has written THIEVES IN HIGH PLACES: THEY’VE STOLEN OUR COUNTRY AND IT IS TIME WE TOOK IT BACK. Another catchy title aimed at those who sit on the fence : THERE’S NOTHING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD BUT YELLOW STRIPES AND DEAD ARMADILLOS .

A former editor of the Texas Express , he says he keeps his ever-ready Texan humour up front , practicing the credo of an old Yugoslav proverb : “You can fight the gods and still have fun.”

Friday, January 13, 2012


The brief "police blotter " type media reports of Darwin incidents are often vague and raise a lot of questions . In one recent puzzling report about a person being chased and robbed at Nightcliff , it was said the victim did not want to lay charges. Now there is a story circulating about Nightcliff that a man -82 years of age - up early to get a copy of the NT News at a servo station , was set upon and bashed , his wallet stolen . Furthermore, he is now supposed to be in RDH in a coma . Are these one in the same incident or two separate ones ? In the second account, the man is said to have seen someone being bashed and called upon the attackers to stop , and was then attacked himself.


Word has come through that well known Darwin journalist,Peter Murphy, has died in Victoria . Pete had been on palliative care for cancer . He worked on the NT News ,The Star and had a long spell with the Everingham Government . Condolences to his family .


Friday the 13th is not a lucky day for hard working Darwin area police: three of their number finished up on this very day, bound for interstate. *** The Feds are said to be closely looking at the operations of a Darwin business.*** A recent American visitor-a high ranking Catholic clergyman-found Darwin as hot as Hades . It would have been nice to have interviewed him as back in the US of A we understand he had many dealings with the Mafia, presiding at weddings and funerals , such functions coming complete with armed guards outside . Wonder if he was a fan of the highly rated TV mobster series,the Sopranos? He was taken to Crocosaurus Cove where the airconditioning brought heavenly relief. *** Nightcliff residents report that "DIRTBAGS"- are again congregating in the area and causing all kinds of trouble- the most recent being the robbery of a person outside Woolworths and the smash and grab raid on a car outside the Nightcliff Uniting Church .*** A large CAS BOYS sign has been sprayed on a wall at the Nightcliff village store, not far from Jane Aagaard's office , which somehow had escaped her notice .

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


The British publication, Punch , marked Bert Hinkler's history making 16 day solo flight to Darwin in 1928 with this cartoon and a corny poem -Hinkle,Hinkle ,little star ... Since then, Darwin has shot the pesky patriotic kangaroo and the stars have been converted into the balls that hang outside pawnbrokers' shops. Today the momentous aviation event and others are part of a shabby , neglected display in the CBD.
Behind a glass showcase in the Victoria Hotel arcade,off the Smith Street Mall, are priceless autographs and messages scratched and drawn on the stonework by pioneer aviators who stayed in the hotel. Also inside the container are spider webs and numerous gecko and other insect droppings. In the fading pictorial display of the famous aviators, national and international heroes in their day , what appears to be the adhesive backing is visible in linear streaks . When Little Darwin inspected the site this week the metal tubs in which are plants on either side of the display also contained empty cans, cigarette butts , other litter . Cobwebs were also visible at the top of the pictorial display. How can this neglect of a national treasure be allowed to exist without somebody in government, local government , the legion of local historians , political advisors and emeritus whatnots failing to notice ? This is a silly question, as the errors in the Darwin War Memorial attest . There is no signage in the Mall, experiencing difficult trading conditions, drawing attention to what should be a prized national aviation site. There is , however, an arrow pointing to the nearby toilets , hopefully they are not locked as troublesome passengers off cruise ships often complain about being caught short . Any tourist stumbling on the actual link with Australia's and the world's aviation history, part of our heritage , would be less than impressed by the present state of the display.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Fearing that the entire sub-continent will erupt in revolution and flames if India does not win the remaining Test matches in Australia , extreme measures are being taken to make sure "Little Master" Sachin Tendulkar gets his 100th century and leads the team to victory. Our exclusive photo shows Tendulkar being stretched on a rack so that he becomes the " Big Master" instead of the smaller, rather insulting , title . A psychiatrist has said Tendulkar is subconsciously mentally exhausted from being called the Little Master , which puts the brilliant cricketer in the same school as weirdo Tiny Tim and other height and brain deprived celebrities. The trick cyclist said it would boost Tendulkar’s confidence if he strode onto the field , standing tall, perhaps renamed " The Big Basher from Bengal". Acting on this sound advice , sporting Sachin agreed to the drastic action of being stretched on a rack borrowed from the NSW branch of Opus Dei. In addition ,wholesome Australian uranium , mined in the NT, is being sprinkled on his rice bubbles each morning to give him a healthy , defiant glow when he wields the willow and faces towards Pakistan . Little Darwin has secured global pictorial rights for this secret operation and will show you, our esteemed cricket tragics, including the fireworks loving couple at Marlow Lagoon, the change in Tendulkar’s profile , which will be written up in Lancet and the Catholic Weekly.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


From versatile Catalinas , Bowditch hurled grenades at Japanese ammo barges and plucked frightened fisherman out of their boats for intelligence gathering...
In another unusual wartime experience , Bowditch and operative , former Victorian wrestling champion ,George Carter, were sent to a Z- Force establishment near Toowoomba to help develop a new technique of parachuting men from Liberator bombers. Parachute drops were usually made from DC3 aircraft and when the Japanese saw one of these planes they went on the alert . It also made them suspect there were Allied troops on the ground receiving supplies. It was thought that a good way to insert a small special group would be to have them drop out of a bomber. The bomber could fly into a target area , unload some bombs and on the way out also drop parachutists for covert operations. Bowditch and Carter first practiced sliding out a chute in the bottom of a fuselage mock up.

After a night of heavy drinking in the mess, Bowdith was not feeling the best, and and when he entered the chute he jumped prematurely from the plane , ending up miles from the drop zone. He made his way to a road, was picked up by a farmer and asked to be taken to the nearest pub. While the military were out trying to find their missing parachutist he was having a hair of the dog. Carter , who revelled in physical fitness , enjoyed the jumps more than Bowditch. He was such a good chess player that he played Bowditch with his back turned.

During a break in parachuting tests , they got a lift into Toowoomba with an officer whom Bowditch described as a real “ Colonel Blimp ” type- fat, pompous and nasty . The officer, who had a chauffeur driven car , picked up a young girlfriend and took her to the pictures.

Carter and Bowditch headed to a pub . When they ran out of drinking money , Bowditch went to the picture theatre and got them to flash a message across the screen for the officer. The officer, probably thinking there was an invasion on, rushed out and was most annoyed when Bowditch bit him for some drinking money. Driving back to camp in the officer’s car, Bowditch asked the driver to stop so that he could relieve himself. The gruff officer told the man to drive on . Bowditch reached across , grabbed the driver by the throat and the car skidded to a halt. Jim then jumped from the car, climbed onto the bonnet, and urinated on the windscreen. He got back in and they drove off without a word being said by the officer who just stared straight ahead.

The next day Bowditch was told a recommendation had been made to send him to officers’ training college but he had blown it by urinating on the officer’s car the night before. Even though he had missed the opportunity to become an officer and a gentleman , he described the urination event as one of the most satisfying pisses in his life. In one grand act it had shown the officer what he felt about his chauffeur , his car and his “dolly bird ”.

On several occasions Bowditch spoke as if he had been considered for or even participated in early selection trials for Operation Rimau (The Tiger ) , the ill- fated raid on Singapore shipping. In brief statements, Bowditch indicated he had been dropped or rejected because he had trouble with his eustachian tubes , lost his sense of direction when submerged and became seasick. He implied that he and several others had been rejected. While no corroboration of his involvement in training for Rimau could be found, the late WA Z Force man , Jack Sue said that because of secrecy at the time , it was possible that he could have gone through selection / elimination trials.

Operation Rimau was similar to the earlier successful Operation Jaywick. Instead of using canoes as had been the case in Jaywick , Rimau was provided with battery powered one- man submersibles known as Sleeping Beauties (SB) which were 12ft long. Bowditch said they were hard to control . Trying to ride a motorbike underwater was how he described the situation . The operator, wearing a kind of frogman’s suit with a mask and oxygen container , sat on the SB . There was a half steering wheel and a control panel . The idea was that the SB porpoised along , the rider coming to the surface to see where he was going and then dive. Once they got next to ships limpet mines were then to be attached . At the outset of training , it was made clear to all the men that if they found the submersibles hard to handle or had any other problems , nothing would be held against them for pulling out

As an indication of the dangerous and audacious raid, this is what happened to Rimau. The British submarine HMS Porpoise took the raiding party and their 15 submersibles into the attack zone, a Chinese junk was seized and the commandoes loaded their gear onto the vessel and sailed for Singapore; the captured Malay crew from the junk were brought back to Perth by the submarine . A patrol vessel was encountered and its crew , except for one who survived and raised the alarm , were killed with machine guns fitted with silencers.

The Japanese eventually captured a number of the raiders and they were regarded by the enemy as heroes because of their audacious planned attack on Singapore. In fact , the Japanese Commander in Chief , General Itagaki , addressing the field staff of the 7th Area Army, said he felt ashamed by the brave actions of the Rimau party , whom he described as heroes. For the Japanese to win the war , they had to be braver than these men . Because the captured men were regarded as heroes , they were beheaded in July l945 , a month before the war ended .

Published by Leo Cooper, London, 1991,this book confirm's Jim's comments about Hugo Pace,described as a "close friend " of his in Queensland , of French-Egyptian parentage , who had served in the French Foreign Legion and died in Dili in l945,aged 25,listed as one of the Rimau "unsung heroes". In other earlier published accounts of Rimau, Bowditch said Hugo had been wrongly listed as Page , there having been another person named Page in the party .Author Silver, with research by Major Tom Hall, tells how an Irish actor, Ron Fletcher , who had jumped ship in Australia subsequently served in the NT with the North Australia Observer Unit,known as the "Nackeroos", was selected for Rimau, eventually beheaded. Bowditch said there had been wild talk the Japanese knew in advance that another raid on Singapore was being planned , even that a spy in WA might have alerted the enemy. It was said that there had not been enough secrecy about the operation during training in Fremantle and that when the submersibles were being transported across the Nullarbor by train they had even been uncovered and shown to people .

Bowditch was sent to Morotai in the northern end of the Netherlands East Indies ,captured by the Allies in September 1944 and turned into a major staging post for the retaking of Borneo and the Philippines. There he was involved with Americans who flew “ Black Cats ”- Catalina aircraft painted black . The slow , highly manoeuvrable amphibians, with a crew of seven to nine, had twin 50 calibre machine guns and carried bombs . They could also fire torpedoes, drop depth charges and lay mines. Rescuing downed airmen was another role . Ammunition barges were attacked , and while the Americans blazed away with guns , Bowditch hurled down grenades. Though slow , the Catalinas often flew on the deck , skimming across the water at night to surprise the enemy. The Catalinas would swoop down on terrified fishermen, pull them aboard , and fly off with them for interrogation to obtain intelligence about the Japanese.

One of the men who worked with Bowditch as an interpreter in the Catalinas was Malay operative, Ali bin Salleh, who had been indentured into the Australian pearling industry at Broome when he was a teenager.

When war broke out , Ali had trained in Perth and then became a member of Z-Force , going on dangerous missions in the islands . He was especially useful for communicating with and interrogating locals.

The huge American workshops at Morotai impressed Bowditch. The American habit of only drinking tea cold and occasionally putting an egg into a glass of beer surprised . Promotion to the rank of sergeant came in January l945.

NEXT: More dangerous operations and the mutilation he performed which haunted him for the rest of his life.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Chief Minister Paul Henderson has been sending out invites to the celebration marking this year’s 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin , organised under the offensive title BRAND BOMBING-like Heinz tomato sauce and baked beans . There is outrage down south about the same commercial approach being taken to the nation’s ANZAC DAY planning for 2015.

Little Darwin is still waiting for the Chief Minister to respond to our questions about what he is doing to correct the gross spelling errors in the western wall of the Darwin War Memorial. There is an attitude within the NT Government spin doctor team that it does not respond to outfits like Crikey and blogs.

This is foolish – and dangerous for the government . In America the blogosphere is a potent political force which is rattling the conventional media . Little Darwin first pointed out the war memorial situation on October 18, 2009 -plenty of time, you would think, for remedial action. Nothing happened . Apparently the government prefers responding to the needs of the easily manipulated , local , dumbed- down news treatment .

In recent months, on several occasions , questions were directed to the Chief Minister via Fred McCue for a response . No reply -no email, no letter in a bottle , not even a phone call from Fred , renowned for seemingly having a Blackberry glued to his ear. Total silence . Why ? If the fact that Darwin’s war memorial has glaring errors with the 70th anniversary coming up , and the Chief Minister, on the face of it , is doing nothing to rectify the situation , then forget the notion of statehood , try Banana Republic for size.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Strange as it may seem, Little Darwin has received an exclusive report that the star of an American TV series -SpongeBob SquarePants - and his mother saw in the New Year celebrations in Darwin. Our informant was rap dancing in Mitchell Street just before midnight when he claims he saw the famous sponge and his keepers . Artistic by nature, our man quickly drew the above family group on a soggy beer mat from Monsoons. It shows an apprehensive looking young SpongeBob (left )following his mother(right) , obviously aghast at the goings on . The non- sponge looking person in the drawing is believed to be marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg who created SpongeBob. Hillenburg is very protective of his creation and , hearing about Darwin's polluted beaches, took water samples before he reluctantly allowed SpongeBob to soak up some of the Mindil water, warning him to watch out for crocs and algal bloom. It has been suggested that because US Marines are great fans of SpongeBob he will make regular trips to the Territory to cheer them up when they are stationed in the Top End. No doubt some readers will take this story with a pinch of SALT , but the local media will be green with envy when they read this showbiz scoop .

Monday, January 2, 2012


(CURRIED FROG UPDATE : The Star , sadly no more , gave the NT News a run for its money. The lax person responsible for frog control at the paper -especially in the ladies toilet, where reporter Gourmet George caused sitters to scream - was Kerry Byrnes , now of Arnhem Nursery, who can be heard regularly croaking away on the ABC's gardening program. Recently he was treated like a visiting rock star and gardening guru at Borroloola when he and Sandra drove through there on the way to Cairns via the Gulf country ).The crazy frog story appeared in Troppo , also produced at The Star , and helped put some zing , spice and mirth into the town, much needed right now .

Sunday, January 1, 2012


After many years of not eating raisin toast, this grumpy staff of life muncher recently had cause to buy a sliced loaf and give it a go. Even before placing two pieces in the toaster, I knew, by the feel and the smell,that I would be disappointed. All modern bread churned out by large commercial combines, to my way of thinking , is insipid , tastless gunk.

I know the labels proclaim all kinds of health giving ingredients, but they fail the all- important taste and smell test. If you keep a breadstick for more than one day, it has the consistency of a star picket and causes dental fillings to fall out. In the good old days, gastric juices automatically flowed and you felt glad to be alive when within cooee of a REAL bread shop with a tantalising aroma.

As expected, the raisin toast popped up with the texture of emery paper and tasted like gecko droppings. My fond memories of REAL raisin toast go back to a time (more than 50 years ago!) when ,this will be hard to believe, newspaper copyboys and cadets aspiring to be journalists spent hours drinking cups of coffee and slice after slice of scrumptious raisin toast, while making profound conversation about Hemingway and femmes , one being that sexy singer,Dusty Springfield. Boy, did it cause consternation and an outbreak of post- pubescent acne when it became known that she was a lesbian .

My early consumption of tasty toast took place in Sydney’s King’s Cross , a tame bohemian area in those days compared with the sleaze and violence of today. Because I moonlighted as a weekend helper in Halvorsen’s Bobbin Head boatshed, I was often cashed up and could big-note myself by ordering another round or two of raisin toast, or make a loan of a few bob .

Long before Paul Keating warned that Australia could become a banana republic, it seemed the nation’s raison d’etre was to produce more excellent raisin toast, making us a contented , happy and innocent community.

One of the places which served up a particularly nice plate , REAL butter adding to the treat, was the Californian Coffee Lounge , frequented by many Europeans. It transpired that ASIO agent , Dr Bialaguski , took the wayward Canberra Russian Embassy official, Vladimir Petrov , to the Californian and eventually inducing him to defect, thus resulting in the dramatic rescue of Mrs Petrov at Darwin Airport, with assorted political ramifications and the long- running Tory Reds under the bed threat . One wonders if the seductive appeal of Australian raisin toast prompted Petrov to come in from the cold.

Another place which served good coffee and raisin toast was the Arabian Coffee Lounge , where the Kiwiwitch,” Rosaleen Norton, swayed in and out on occasions , the walls of several cafes carrying her crazed murals. A bathtub she shared with a male artist was said to rival a Jackson Pollock painting. If only I could travel back through time on a broomstick and savour REAL raisin toast; I would not mind being lashed to a dunking stool after such a treat and lowered into the murky waters of Darwin Harbour .--- By Peter Simon