Thursday, May 31, 2012


A small but vocal group supporting WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, gathered in the rain in front of Federal Member, Ewen Jones’ office in Townsville , calling on the Australian government to do all in its power to help Julian Assange. George Hirst , editor of the Magnetic Times online newspaper, issued a disclaimer saying that , as a journalist, he took the unusual step of joining the demonstration in solidarity with a fellow journalist and a former Magnetic Islander who has been more effective in exposing the truth, than any other individual in history. Hirst said he believed his report of the demonstration was fair and accurate. The supporters, who numbered about 20 and included several Magnetic Islanders, held placards at the busy peak hour intersection of Ross River Road and Nathan Street. One woman huddled with a baby, another with a kitten. And while the swish of traffic nearly drowned out their voices ,the spirited group chanted “Free Assange” and, quoting the WikiLeaks founder, “Courage is contagious!” And on a day in Darwin when a Timor Leste freedom fighter was honoured at Charles Darwin University, no journo , academic , letter writer or local politician felt inclined to speak out for Assange . See


Two American journalistsAmy Goodman (above ) and Allan Nairn - were beaten by Indonesian soldiers at the 1991 Santa Cruz Cemetery Massacre , Dili, East Timor. Nairn, who threw himself on top of Goodman in a bid to protect her, was bashed with the butts of M16 rifles and had his skull fractured .

Nairn was declared a "threat to national security" and banned from East Timor, but he re-entered several times illegally, and his subsequent reports helped convince the U.S. Congress to cut off military aid to Jakarta in 1993. In a dispatch from East Timor on March 30, 1998, Nairn disclosed the continuing U.S. military training of Indonesian troops implicated in the torture and killing of civilians. In 1999, Nairn was detained briefly by the Indonesian Army in East Timor, where he had chosen to remain after most other media had evacuated following East Timor's independence referendum.

Today Amy Goodman is a powerful voice in alterative media. She hosts DEMOCRACY NOW!, a daily international TV/radio news hour on more than 900 stations in North America . She has received many awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the George Polk Award. In 2001, she declined to accept the Overseas Press Club Award, in protest of the group's pledge not to ask questions of keynote speaker Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and because the OPC was honoring Indonesia for their improved treatment of journalists despite the fact that its forces had recently beaten and killed reporters in occupied East Timor. In 2008 Goodman received the Swedish Government Right Livelihood Award,often called the "Alternative Nobel Prize". The award foundation cited her work in "developing an innovative model of truly independent grassroots political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media."

Goodman and Nairn returned to East Timor to witness the freedom celebrations and Darwin agronomist , Rob Wesley-Smith, helped them get their reports out via Darwin. Goodman has just written a piece for Nation of Change , Progressive Journalism for Positive Change , making the point that whistleblowers like Julian Assange suffer and war criminals walk. See http://www.nation/ for WIKILEAKS, WAR CRIMES AND THE PINOCHET PRINCIPLE.

In her article,Goodman raises the belief that if Assange is deported to Sweden he will be onpassed to the US where some officials, politicians and raving commentators have been baying for his blood . Goodman points out that US Secretary of State ,Hillary Clinton, is soon to visit Sweden and asks : Why?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


This picture on the activist Avaaz site shows the bloodied bodies of some of the dozens of innocent children, brutally murdered by the Syrian regime at Al Houla last Friday . The caption says : Dozens of children lie covered with blood, their faces show the fear they felt before death, and their innocent lifeless bodies reveal an unspeakable massacre. These children were slaughtered by men under strict orders to sow terror. Yet all the diplomats have come up with so far is a few UN monitors'observing' the violence. Avaaz team campaign director, Alice Jay, says that as a parent of a five year old daughter , these images are almost unbearable, but that we must not look away -- and that we can help end this slaughter. Now, governments across the world are expelling Syrian ambassadors, but unless we demand strong action on the ground, they will settle for these diplomatic half-measures. Our governments , she says, are deciding what to do right now. But they will settle for hand wringing diplomacy unless we demand firm action .

The UN is discussing what to do right now. If there were a large international presence across Syria with a mandate to protect civilians, we could prevent the worst massacres while leaders engage in political efforts to resolve the conflict.” I cannot see more images like these without shouting from the rooftops. But to stop the violence, it is going to take all of us, with one voice, demanding protection for these kids and their families.” Jay urges viewers of the Avaaz site to sign a petition for UN action . See (World in Action) and sign petition to UN .


The Magnetic Times online newspaper website contains a letter from Julian Assange's mother in which she responds to smears against her son who has just lost his London appeal against deportation to Sweden. Magnetic Times editor George Hirst is trusted by Julian's mother and the above photograph was taken when Julian lived on the island. See for her extensive letter .

Monday, May 28, 2012


Looking like an apprehensive canary, this is the last picture taken of satirist Barry Humphries just before he was forced by two Sumo wrestlers , at gunpoint , down an explosive gas filled coal mine with a naked flame after making rude remarks about mining identities on Q and A. By request, his ashes and scorched raincoat will be scattered by David Marr from a trolley in the Canberra suburb of Fyshwick.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


A Darwin resident back from Bali was struck ( not bitten ) by the fact that very few of the many canines there actually bark. This is so unlike Darwin where yapping dogs are such a problem - morning, noon and night. If the Balinese can keep dogs quiet, why not here? Darwin City Council should investigate this wonderful situation as a matter of urgency. A former mayor who had a close encounter of the barking kind, who is now at a loose end and confined to his kennel , should be hired to fly to Bali and report on how to mute mutts.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Shaun Micallef is Mad as Hell but nowhere as deranged as the many Darwinites tormented by watching #!*!# !!!! Channel 7 Two , its signal dropping in and out. Like Peter Finch, long suffering residents should be rushing to the window each night and yelling that they have had enough and Southern Cross TV should be taken off air if it cannot get its act together. Not only does the signal drop out with maddening frequency, it is then followed by an infuriating stream of adverts and 57 views of various parts of Australia. Across the city, idiot box watchers are no doubt becoming idioter,frothing at the mouth like rabid dogs . There is a broader issue here and that is that TV reception in many parts of Darwin is bad . No political party has yet picked this up because they are not really tuned into what is bugging Territorians . Using fruity language , a longtime Darwin identity said that because of the constant Channel 7 loss of signal and the incredible number of adverts, promos and the bloody (his mildest expletive ) travelogue , a half hour film extends beyond a performance of the Indian Mahabharata , the longest poem in the world , a short version performed at Perth and Adelaide Festivals running to nine hours . This viewer was reduced to fury attempting to watch the Channel 7 frontline police report which included footage of Darwin boofheads , the signal almost completely off the air, which is where Southern Cross should be placed by the licencing authority.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


On the hallowed Fitzroy Crossing- Curtin Airbase-Broome leg of his outback pilgrimage , Bulldust Diary scribbler, Peter Burleigh, sees signs of a Biblical deluge and meets the local godfather with the washing machine monopoly.

At the midway point between the Bungles and Broome is the Fitzroy River, a legendary stream I’ve wanted to see since I was a kid. It is barely flowing now, but you can see that it has recently smashed its way through the landscape. The water is a slate grey colour; the scrubby desert runs right up to the banks. No green undergrowth leaks out from under the trees. Apparently nothing is watered by the riverflow except the magnificent trees that tightly delineate the banks. High up in their branches you see dry debris marking the upper level of the flood. The proportions are definitely Biblical.

The town of Fitzroy Crossing occupies a vulnerable location; photos in the van park office show we would be under five metres of water if the water had came down last night. The bar would be above the water though, thank the lord, because it’s perched on a huge man-made mound. With all this water it’s easy to imagine turning the desert green with a little determination and diligence. That’s what they thought the Ord River scheme would do, which as far as I can see is a failure: rice and cotton failed; vegetables failed...about all that’s happening is mango plantations and, of all things, sandalwood plantations. I haven’t checked my facts though, but why let the facts put you off your opinion?

We are talking to a stranger about his experiences when his satellite phone rings. He is alarmed, thinking there must be an emergency back home in Perth or wherever he is from. But no, it is his wife calling from the showers a hundred metres away, and would he bring over her hairdryer.

The highway runs straight and straighter over this vast flood plain. It’s perched on a mound almost four metres above ground level, no doubt at a huge infrastructure cost with a disastrous financial return; perhaps its strategic value is worth the investment. The scrubland between the Fitzroy and Broome is colourless and scant, like hair on the head of a very old man. We pass along the southern boundary of RAAF Curtin, where there’s a detention centre. Didn’t see any boat people. Not surprising; if they look out their windows, they see Dante’s Inferno and don’t dare escape.

The Broome Tourist Information Office is staffed by blondes who are wishing they were in a Cable Beach bar. Broome is packed to the rafters with tourists and drop-ins. A big whiteboard shouts "FULL" against all five large van parks. Luckily no one makes a crack about "no room at the inn"– however, as good or bad luck would have it, an unpowered site suddenly becomes available. Broome has three overflow facilities for vans: the Pistol Club (a dustbowl, apparently), the PCYC (I don’t want to stay anywhere near the police), and the Seventh Day Adventist Kingdom Hall facility. Hallelujah.

We are directed to a tin-fenced enclosure jam-packed with vans of every race, creed and cult. Our site is at the rear of the Kingdom Hall. This is not an appropriate venue for atheists like us, but we’ll keep our faith in disbelief to ourselves. This place is great. Clean, organised and controlled except for dogs urinating outside the fence. Our backpacker neighbours play Jim Morrison’sThe End” at full volume and are scourged in a friendly way by Jim, the Adventist manager. They meekly reduce the volume from 50 to 12.5.
Adventist washing machines are 5 bucks a go but are on a kind of religious self-control system. Worse, you’re not allowed to use the machines from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. Saturday is their Sabbath, when we’re treated to hymns, chanting and the clunking of teacups for four hours. Displays of Christian honour are a challenge for people like us (eg: atheists), who must be assumed to have no redeeming features.

Janey and I listen to hymns of self-denial – something else we don’t believe in - while we eat a huge breakfast of fried eggs, bacon and Baked Beans (Broome Coles, on special, $1.00/can). They leave us to enjoy their hospitality without conditions. What they don’t do is act like missionaries who flog their version of JC's short earthly tenure with a foot in our door. Well, it’s true they can’t resist handing us a photocopied sheet called "A Message from your Dad" when we were leaving. It is a collection of slightly threatening homilies like “I know the number of every hair on your head”, “All you have done and will do is in my sight” and “I know everything in your heart.” It is signed “Your Dad, Almighty God.”

Broome is a delight, in particular its historical architectural character of high roofs, wide eaves and light-coloured corrugated iron internal and external walls. Little remains of the sleazy racially-exploitative pearling town of the early 1880s except a few Chinese street names and a couple of Asian General Stores. Any Chinese you meet these days greet you with "G’day mate", or "owyergoin"? The main street has a whimsical set designer’s charm and includes the Sun Picture theatre, from 1933, the oldest open-air picture theatre still operating in Australia. It offers deck chairs facing an outdoor screen.

Long ago I went to a similar theatre in Roma, Queensland. Under every patron’s arm was a half-carton of cold cans. You sat 0n deck chairs on the dirt floor, above you only the stars (the real ones, not the Hollywood ones). Signs said "Only one person per chair", presumably to reduce the incidence of unmarried mothers in town. You’d empty a can first, then throw it at the screen, which had been made from kerosene tins hammered flat and painted white. Audience reaction to the movie could be quickly and emphatically expressed. Nowadays this practice is banned because the popping and clanging of cans (not to mention the drunken laughter) disturbs the audience. The Australian joy in larrikinism, which still endures in our present group of camping aficionados, has been diluted by Political Correctness.

It’s a jolt to the heart when you notice aircraft, large aircraft, drop to within a few metres above your head as if they’re landing at the end of the street. In fact the Broome runway does begin at the end of the street. The planes skim the tops of the one-storey buildings, shave the top strand of the airport fence and put down within spitting distance of the toes of your sandals. No pretending there’s no airport noise near town – it’s right in the middle of the bloody town, so make a feature of it. Remember, weird is good. Where would we be without folly to amuse us? Who knows what history you’re going to write until you write it?

Broome’s Cable Beach is spectacular. At sunset dozens of cars assemble right on the beach in ordered rows. Clothed and unclothed people stare into the slanting orange sunset from the edge of the manicured lawn in front of the Cable Beach Resort and Zander’s Restaurant. Digital cameras click in a storm of virtual shutter sounds. Below us, groups of camels are silhouetted against the water. They wade through the shallows carrying dorky tourists at $80 a go. For a sunset evening in mid-winter it’s warm, tropical, not humid, delightful.

Back in town, Matso’s Restaurant is the best we found in Broome. It has its own brewery. The success of our night was the “Smokey Bishop” dark ale named after some transgressionary cleric or other; we bought a case for the road. Our approval of Matso’s food was unanimous – impressive given that the collective wisdom of our group is as elusive as jelly nailed to a wall.

Monday, May 21, 2012

THE TREASONOUS NEWSPAPER- Continuing biography of NT editor " Big Jim" Bowditch, by Peter Simon .

*Bowditch, second from left, performing in the 1951 Alice Springs Theatre Group's performance of J.B. Priestley's play, They Came to a City. He also performed in the thriller, The Shop at Sly Corner, with his wife in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest , he in the part of Algernon ; Agatha Christie's much praised , now politically incorrect , Ten Little Niggers, saw him again strut the boards .
Because of his involvement in political and union activities in Alice Springs , Bowditch soon became president of the ALP and at an early date was urged to stand for the NT seat in the House of Representatives. He declined to nominate,saying that he was just a recent “ blow in ” and that he felt John “ Jock ” Nelson , son of Harold Nelson, the Territory’s first MHR, was the right person for the job.

Jock had been educated at Pine Creek and Darwin. In Darwin he had worked as a newspaper boy and , perched in a tree , had witnessed the demonstration against Dr Gilruth at Government House . After a period working as a “jackeroo ” , Nelson became a boring contractor and agent in Alice Springs . During WW 11 he carried out drilling in New Guinea and rose to the rank of sergeant. Following in his father’s political footsteps, he was elected to the NT Legislative Council in 1947.

With Bowditch playing a large part in his election campaign in the Centre , Nelson in 1949 stood for the NT seat in the House of Representatives against the incumbent , Adair “Chill” Blain . In October 1949 ,Blain ,in one of his last parliamentary speeches , took the opportunity to appeal to the electorate, belittle Nelson and settle a few scores with the “treacherous ” communists of Darwin. Showing that he was concerned about conditions for NT government employees, he said he had spoken to “ Mr Bowditch” about a justifiable increase to clerks’ pay because of a 25 per cent increase in rail freight and ticket charges.

Then Blain proceeded to attack Nelson and the Northern Standard newspaper in Darwin which he said was run by communists... “ I sympathise with this young fellow ( Nelson ) who has been nominated as the Australian Labour Party candidate for the forthcoming general election ,” said Blain . His candidature was being sponsored by the Northern Standard , a “ treasonous paper”. The Minister for the Interior knew that Nelson, in his innocence , was being used by communists . This “young man” Nelson, unfortunately did not realise that he was being used by the communists .“That young fellow is playing with fire in allowing his candidature to be sponsored in this treasonous paper, the Northern Standard . ”

The paper, he continued, had been communist controlled ever since the former editor , Don McKinnon , had been “ kicked out” of the union executive, which was “ 95 per cent communists ”. He hastened to add that this percentage did not apply to the rank and file. Blain demanded to know how the Standard obtained printing machinery from the Army “for a song” after the war . ( The answer was simple : during the war, the Army had taken over the newspaper building and its plant was used to print the Army News. )

In calling for a Security Service Branch to be opened in Darwin , he told parliament that “ agents of Russia” could do a great deal of harm to Port Darwin , stopping the flow of fuel to military bases. “What is going to be done about these communists astride our road to Singapore?, ” he asked . Communists in Darwin- men and women - were able to “ flit back and forth ” by air to Singapore , Timor and Jakarta . These people were trying to win the “multitudes in Indonesia into the communist camp.

During his speech Blain was reminded that the subject of debate was estimates. Nevertheless , Blain continued his attack on communists in Darwin. He admitted to having taken part in drawing up a list of known communists in Darwin . The list , he stated, contained 83 names , many of them on the government payroll. There were another 23 people whose names had “ not been listed publicly .” He claimed the government would be surprised if he named those whom he “suspected to be communists .”

A sincere, likeable and honest person, Nelson did not rate well as a public speaker. To overcome this shortcoming , Bowditch , big on oratory , would write a speech and deliver it on Jock’s behalf at a public meeting , saying the worthy candidate was out bush campaigning, unable to get back in time. Admitting that his speeches got a bit flowery - one running for about two hours - Bowditch enjoyed the experience and utilised some of his debating and theatrical skills .

Bowditch’s prominent position in Alice politics brought him into contact and conflict with the indefatigable, forthright and outspoken medical man, Dr V. H. Webster , who had been elected to the first NT Legislative Council for the seat of Tennant Creek in 1947 . Dr Webster was renowned for having made the statement that every man and women in the Territory needed to drink several bottles of beer a day to keep healthy . He also wrote a slim volume on first aid which was an invaluable aid to people living in the outback . Policemen in particular made great use of it when they were involved in situations demanding quick , and sometimes life saving action . Standing as an Independent ( Non Socialist ) Labor candidate against Nelson, Dr Webster claimed during the campaign that the full force of the federal ALP Government was being directed against him .

In his capacity as ALP president , Bowditch derided the claim . He said both Dr Webster and Blain had consistently attacked the ALP with a tirade of abuse and destructive criticism . “ I regard Dr Webster as a political opportunist, whose aim for a long time has been primarily to hear his own bellowings reverberate through an astonished House in Canberra, ” Bowditch stated . Years later , Bowditch said it had been a great shame that Dr Webster did not not make it into federal politics because of his determined approach and strong oratory . Dr Webster had also made scathing comments about the running of Darwin Hospital which caused an uproar.

When Nelson won
the election Iris Bowditch became his electorate secretary . In Nelson’s words, Jim “held the fort” in Alice Springs in the early days of his parliamentary life. At his first ALP meeting in Alice as a MHR, with Bowditch in the chair , Nelson gave an acccount of parliamentary proceedings , spoke about the Korean War situation and the government’s Communist Party Dissolution Bill . Right from the very beginning of his time in Alice , Nelson said anyone with a hard luck story had a willing listener in Jim .

On the conservative side of local politics was Edward “ Eddie” John Connellan , pilot founder and chairman of the outback airline , Connellan Airways Ltd , later Connair Pty Ltd. Connellan was also founder and president of the Northern Territory Development League and president of the Pastoralists’ Association. He also became a member of the Legislative Council. Connellan was a close friend of the strong - minded , ruthless and influential John “ Black Jack” McEwen , leader of the Federal Country Party, later the National Party.The previous post in this series mentioned that Alice Springs identity,Colonel Rose, headed the North Australia Party, known as the Nappy Party. NEXT: Bowditch crusades on many fronts .

Sunday, May 20, 2012


CANBERRA: The advance crew for an Australian version of the British TV farce BLOTT ON THE LANDSCAPE has arrived here , causing both unease and hysterics in political circles. According to the BBC publicity department , the 13 part show, though top secret, will include a plethora of scheming politicians, a titled wife who wants to cash in on Tony Abbott’s maternity leave plan as soon as possible, a weird, goose-stepper who lusts after the job as presenter of the ABC’s Gardening Australia TV show , evil Doctor Smirk who runs a shooting gallery where effigies of Liberal leaders are squirted with water pistols filled at the Darwin poo shooter and a secret plan to reroute the east coast Pacific Highway through Uluru .

The BBC says auditions will be held for the role of the Naughty Catheter Nurse / Nanny Whip who specialises in disciplining politicians and prancing about in assorted frilly garments and leathers. Political pundits have recommended a certain person who regularly performs like Madam Lash and a White Pointer in a feeding frenzy when interviewed. BLOTT ON THE LANDSCAPE, the adaptation of Tom Sharpe’s novel, was a hit in Britain ; it starred David Suchet (Poirot ), George Cole ( Minder ), Geraldine James ( The Jewel in the Crown ) and Julia McKenzie ( Miss Marple). It contained grotesque characters, sexual embarrassment , comic violence and pompous bureaucracy ... a plot which seems strangely familiar.

Unlike the original TV show in which there was a stately Rolls Royce , Little Darwin understands the Australian version will feature a leaky Bentley made available by a patron of the arts who lives in the hills near Melbourne , eats fish fingers for breakfast and has an impressive Barbie Doll collection. His bunker is also likely to serve as a squeal-proof Aussie love nest set in the series.

Friday, May 18, 2012


To mark Darwin’s Fashion Week, we present these fashionistas from a bygone age . There is an extremely dubious claim that the stern-faced woman with the fancy gloves was Darwin’s first female motorcycle cop, serving under Sergeant Graham Rees , and also dressed up as the Fairy Godmother at the annual Policemen's Ball in Mitchell Street.The woman standing next to her in the drab dress is believed to have been an aunty out of work . Photos from Little Darwin Ephemera Collection.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Kevin Rudd will have no trouble translating this Cantonese sign . Other mug punters , however, will not realise that this is not a Chinese incantation but the remains of a large sign on the reception desk which greets customers at the grotty Westpac Bank Casuarina branch. It should read HOW CAN WE HELP YOU? In its unsatisfactory form , it has been on display for many months along with shabby chairs, the plastic covering the arms peeling , and the unseemly stains on the footpath at the very entrance, the latter in situ for aeons . Little Darwin emailed Westpac HQ PR mandarin Paul Marriage , who promptly passed the spring roll to offsider Danny Long (senior media relations/corporate affairs/sustainability ) who said the NT regional general manager with responsibility for handing out free salty plums to Territory suckers would shortly be in contact . That email was dated May 13. Today-May 18-having not been contacted , called at Westpac and nothing had changed -same cryptic reception message, peeling and corroded chairs, yukky pavement upchucks /discharges . Graffiti on the wall in the inadequate nearby carpark which is like the dodgems . More than that, a close examination of the overall banking precinct revealed the general rundown state of the business area. Dead fronds hanging from a palm tree ready to fall down at any moment , possibly on people, stained columns, remains of a burger with the works which has been outside the Commonwealth for more than a week ( junk food clings to footpaths like super glue-imagine what it is doing to your intestines ) ; weeds in dirt patches posing as gardens which are full of butts, bottle tops ,even the emptied contents of a vacuum cleaner displaying many paperclips, plastic, mounds of dust and fluff. We all know that banks do not collude when it comes to setting rates , but surely it is possible for all the banks in the precinct to get together and arrange to clean up the place.

VICE-REGAL HIJINKS IN ALICE : The Big Jim Bowditch saga by Peter Simon.

In his position as paymaster in the Alice Springs Works Department , Jim’s duties were not onerous. His boss was the resident engineer , D. D. ( David Douglas ) Smith , the initials also said to stand for Doctor of Divinity and Dashing and Daring . Also known as the King of Alice Springs because he headed the most important government department , Smith was married to a former Miss Tasmania beauty queen. He had played a major part in surveying the route for the railway line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs and was involved in building the wartime road from Alice to Darwin , a feat which Americans were often erroniously given the sole credit.

Like so many Centralians, Smith, at times described as a tough James Cagney - type, had strong views and a vision for the development of the Northern Territory. A member of the NT Development League , Smith in 1944 wrote a lengthy document outlining how he thought the Northern Territory could and should be developed. At the outset , he said it had taken a war to alert the nation to the importance of the Northern Territory , Australia’s front door. His blue print for the advancement of the Territory included an extensive network of railway lines, arterial roads, re-afforestation , mining, fishing and pearling. On the subject of tourism, he foresaw a bright future and pointed out that in Canada it was a huge moneymaker. For the NT to develop the way he outlined , he said it would require a man with the courage of Cecil Rhodes, the entrepreneur who was said to have done more than any other man of his time to expand the British Empire. A man whose initials were taken to mean Dashing and Daring could well have been the Cecil Rhodes of the NT if given his way . Smith had the grand vision, the practical Territory experience and the eagerness to do great things. Apart from those qualifications, he wore the head attire of great adventurers and pioneers, a pith helmet. Smith became a member of the Legislative Council and strongly put his views for Territory development.

The person occupying The Residency , regarded locally as Government House, was veterinary scientist , Colonel Alfred Lionel Rose . He headed the Animal Industry Department and represented the Administrator in the Centre. Bowditch had only been in town a short time when he nearly collided with Rose in the street one evening . At the time, the colonel was wearing a turned up hat like that worn by the Light Horse Brigade ; a khaki shirt on which there were some “ gongs” (medals) , Bombay bloomers ; long sox on which there were boy scout like tabs , something to do with a Scottish regiment with which he was associated. And from the top of his nose there was a big hair , about six inches long , which curved back towards his forehead.

Rose shouted something at Jim and just reeled away . Bowditch thought it had to be one of the town’s characters. When he described this individual to workmates and asked them who he was , they immediately said it was Colonel Rose.

Over the years Jim got to know Rose well describing him as a legendary figure-eccentric, haughty, irrepressible , studious , tough, at times cold and a veterinary scientist of great renown. Entirely his own person , a devoted father and a man who could not tolerate , and quickly detected “ bullshit , ” he was admired and loved by many people in the town.

The son of a minister of religion, he had served in World War 1 , was a veterinary officer at Cootamundra in NSW from 1928-40 ; served in Light Horse regiments and Militia 1930-40; during World War 11 he served in armour and as a staff officer for Combined Operations in the Middle East, New Guinea and the Netherlands East Indies . His wife, Helen , died early during his time in Alice ; he had a son and two daughters.

Bowditch recalled a major social event , a fancy dress ball in the Commonwealth Bank staff quarters , where Rose caused an uproar. Like so many isolated centres , women were fashion conscious and dressed up for special social events. In the case of the fancy dress ball the women had gone to much trouble and expense making elaborate gowns and paying a lot of attention to their hairstyles and make up. It was attended by leading citizens -public servants, businessmen , cattlemen and their wives . Rose turned up during the evening dressed as a sheik draped in a sheet and wearing a turban. There was a loud cheer as he joined the happy throng. Much to their surprise and horror , he pulled out a fire extinguisher from under his sheet and sprayed the revellers. Women shrieked as the foam ruined both gown and coiffure . Some men grabbed him and took him back to The Residency. Once again clad in a bedsheet, Rose appeared at another party and , in missionary mode , cried out , “ Oil, oil for the lamps of China !”

Driving under the influence of liquor cost him 20 pounds ($40) in a case in which Rose represented himself in court . Charged with negligent driving after an accident with his car, he said a fly had flown into his face and distracted him . His fine was paid by “ admirers ”.

On one occasion some important people were entertained at The Residency and Rose climbed onto the roof and dropped bottles down the chimney. After a day at the races it was reported that the good colonel had again clambered onto the roof of The Residency and fired random shots from a . 303 rifle. Swinging from a chandelier was also claimed. A pair of panties was seen fluttering from the flagpole at The Residency during a vice-regal visit by Lord and Lady Slim .

The Slims loved the Centre and when they came to town for a debutantes’ ball Lady Slim had a sore back. At the function a heater was placed nearby to ease the pain. The piece de resistance at the major social event was a swan made from ice on a bed of red roses , representing the Red Centre, with an electric light underneath which Lady Slim was required to switch on. When Lady Slim turned the light on the hall blacked out because a fuse blew. There were no spares in the building and people sat in the dark waiting for the lights to come back on . In the gloom, a Mrs East offered Lord Slim some sartees which were nearby. He replied that he used to be given sartees for breakfast in India. While the embarrasing situation continued , Reg Harris , an electrician, who contributed much to community life in the town, rushed around and got the lights back on again. In readiness for a visit by the Governor -General , the Duke of Gloucester , the hot water service at The Residency was improved. However, when the Duke turned on the hot water the whole town blacked out. For some strange reason several residents threw stones on the roof of The Residency during that visit.

While some VIPs were settling in for the evening at The Residency , Rose knocked on the door and presented them with a jerry saying they would probably need it during the night. He also livened up proceedings when he was a member of the NT Legislative Council. On one occasion , he was half sitting in the chamber with a glass of rum in hand when he said, “All I can say is that the Director of Lands is a plain bastard.” The Director rose and said, “ I object to being called plain.” Rose headed a political group akin to the County Party , the North Australia Party , nicknamed the Nappy Party.

During a Royal visit , Rose received international notoriety when he silenced the hubbub of the assembled loyal throng by heartily telling them to , “Shut up!”NEXT: Growing involvement in politics and the media .

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


This weekend, the eight most powerful leaders in the world will meet at the G8 summit and could agree to a plan that could literally stop climate change!It’s crazy, but right now, our governments give nearly $1 trillion a year of our taxpayer money to Big Oil and Coal to destroy our planet. Key leaders, including President Obama who is hosting the G8, have already agreed to stop these polluter payments. Now, if we demand they act on their word and divert this huge sum into renewable energy, experts say we could actually save our planet!It's a simple no-brainer that our leaders have already agreed to. Let's hold their feet to the fire, and push President Obama to lead the world's largest economies to turn these polluting subsidies green. Sign the urgent petition below and forward this to everyone -- a massive campaign now can force them from talk to action: new plan to save the planet/?vl

The only reason we shovel cash into the coffers of Big Oil is their lobbyists have a stranglehold on our governments. But if we demand that our leaders green our tax-money, we’ll increase total global green investment by 400% making solar and wind energy cheaper than oil and coal -- in the process saving the planet by putting Big Oil out of business! We’re rapidly reaching a point of no return on climate change and a treaty to prevent catastrophe is years off. Fortunately, momentum behind this new planet saving plan is building. New Zealand, Mexico and Switzerland are calling for an agreement now, and policy makers from 20 countries including the US, Brazil, and China have just voiced their support. All G8 leaders have publicly committed to ending these dirty subsidies, and right now President Obama is pushing for US legislation to stop them. Our planet is being destroyed at a terrifying rate and this is our best chance to stop it. Now is the time for action, but without massive public support, the powerful polluters could stall the proposal. It's up to us to counter the lobbyists with extraordinary people power. We have three days left to get Obama to lead. Sign the petition.


In Queensland , from Gladstone to Townsville and beyond, there is growing deep concern about environmental damage caused by the frenzied activity to expand mining activities, handling facilities and massively increase coal exports. At Townsville there has been a demonstration at a mining conference -Future Visions and a Snapshot of Today- expressing alarm at proposed developments. North Queensland Conservation Council coordinator, Wendy Tubman, said the coal industry was a dinosaur with the potential to cause massive damage to communities, land and waters .Tubman spoke of the rush to massively expand coal mining, increase coal export facilities by six times, and drill tens of thousands of coal seam gas wells .

"Australians are giving up so much , but it comes at a price", she said."We know that UNESCO is already extremely concerned about proposals for vast coal exporting facilities on the coast adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area."Add to this the loss of farming land and habitat, the massive demands for water, the toxic waste output, the negative impact on families and communities associated with fly-in-fly-out workforces, the costs of a two-speed economy to manufacturing, the loss of tourism appeal, the risks to health and the contribution to climate change – all partly caused by coal – and it is obvious that the future could look very grim indeed. Coal is a dinosaur fuel and we have the resources and technology now to replace these dinosaur fossil fuels. It's time for Australians to stand up and tell the dinosaur fuel lobby to stop blocking our clean energy future." Cartoon by George Hirst.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Unlike the NT Government spin machine (more later ), Westpac responded quickly to Little Darwin’s email raising the shabby state of the Casuarina branch ( see post below ). The senior media relations manager corporate affairs and sustainability , Danny John, replied from Sydney and said the NT regional general manager would be in contact.

Further information about the Westpac office at Casuarina and the overall state of the banking precinct has surfaced.Commenting on the well worn Westpac office, a customer told Little Darwin that there used to be a time when the branch seemed to be undergoing perpetual change with new carpets, new furniture and new layouts . Now it was just plainly rundown , almost as if it was going to be closed down , moved to a new location . Another customer told of a strange event in which a bank Johnny armed with a broom once rushed out and broke up a noisy row on the footpat . Perhaps a new broom is about to be wielded at Casuarina. Bank on Little Darwin to let you know what transpires.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Following complaints about the rundown and dirty state of the Casuarina banking precinct , Little Darwin emailed the head of Westpac’s group media relations , Paul Marriage, and asked when his bank’s grotty Casuarina conditions , offensive to customers, would be rectified , those old unseemly stains at the main entrance giving a shuddersome new meaning to the banker expression- bottom line.Be assured Little Darwin will let you know if Marriage arranges a J-curve ( an economist's term for an about face/upturn/ better look) through a much needed spring clean and refurbishment in the furniture and signage areas.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Despite customers voicing their disgust at the grotty surrounds, litter including fag ends galore, shabby office furniture , Casuarina banks have failed to respond. An offensive looking deposit- either food or vomit - outside the Commonwealth Bank caused a woman to engage a staff member over the issue . How could bank staff enter the building and not arrange to have the pavement cleaned up instantly , she asked. The entire banking precinct, she added, presented a rundown , dirty look whenever she went there to do business. Little Darwin recently drew attention to the repulsive stains on the footpath outside the Westpac entrance ( puke,urine or excreta), its tattered and corroding customer chairs, letters missing from interior signage. Westpac fashion - plate Gail Kelly would not tolerate this situation at head office . Running a branch office in Darwin which looks like something out of the Third World reflects adversely on Westpac.

Friday, May 11, 2012


( In scenes reminiscent of How the West was Won and Dug Up , Bulldust Diary columnist/illustrator , Peter Burleigh, acting as head scout, leads a trusting pack of pilgrims out of Kununurra deep into dangerous UFO and dingo country. )

Judi flies in to Kununurra to join me for a week’s travel to Broome. In Canberra the night before she left it was two degrees below zero. She arrives wearing polar knickers. Other ladies arrive,too, until our party numbers 17 souls, including: two ex-magistrates; two current aldermen; a gynaecologist ; a dental nurse; a retired mining engineer; an executive information technology placement consultant ; a veterinarian nurse ; someone’s daughter and her boyfriend; a retired interior designer ; a demolition contractor ; a Canadian undertaker ; an American real estate manipulator and your finger- licking Bulldust Diarist.

This hand-picked group of retards will either do well together or re-create the wreck of the Batavia. Someone’s daughter and her boyfriend will fly out to Darwin in the morning, so attrition is striking early. Tonight the local Speedway does a good impression of a future NATO air raid on Damascus. Petrolheads from all over the place have poured into town, exhausts rumbling, beer cans tumbling. The Speedway lights flash around the horizon and the thumps, bangs and screams of fireworks echo through the town, speaking of great destruction and bloodshed.

But we ignore all that as we are in the Coles Supermarket, provisioning for our trip to the Bungle Bungles. Those who are reading this series of travelogues may already be using the term “Bunglers” to describe me and my fellow travellers, but I assure you the Bungle Bungles is the name of a pile of rocks in the desert.

On our way to the Bungle Bungles turnoff we pass through Turkey Creek, another of the glum little refuelling outposts along the never-ending highway. You have to leave your driving licence or credit card at the cash register before they’ll switch on the fuel pumps. People have been filling up and running away without paying. Fuel in both forms is expensive: diesel is $2.00 per litre; a steak sandwich $9.50, which brings me to chicken.

What a debt we owe to the humble chicken. How many of them have died and will die to keep us sandwiched, roasted, saladed and breakfasted? Yet we make jokes about them, call them cowardly, burn, boil and roast them. If we ever need another religion based on an example of sacrifice, my vote is for the chicken. I hope a talented poet will write a “Chicken Odyssey” some day.

The prehistoric quality of the road out to the bunch of Bungles is legendary, but in fact proves to be the easy part. Once we reach Broome we plan to leave the surfaced highway and return northeast to Kununurra along the Gibb River Road, as infamous a track as ever forded the River Styx.“The life expectancy of your car (being a non-Toyota) will be about 40 minutes,” gleefully sneers one local.Another advises: “Lookin’ at that country is as exciting as watching yer verandah warp.”

Meanwhile, they’re right about the track to the Bungles. It takes 2.5 hours to travel 52km. You turn off a perfectly good sealed highway onto a dirt track which soon becomes a Big Dipper with added potholes, rocks, corrugations and multiple river crossings. To get to the National Park you must pass through private property and only a few weeks ago, before the State Government stopped him, the landowner was levying a $20 “transit fee” on every car which went through.

If you want to see what the Bungles look like, find them on the internet. I can’t describe them as well as a photo can. They’re spectacularly old; they say 300 million years, although why it isn’t a more specific 305 million or 417 million isn’t clear. They are domes of black-and-red striped rock, formed by millennia of floodwaters and before that the tides of the fabled inland sea covering Central Australia. Look, it’s easier if you simply come over to my place and check out my photos. Why the legendary”‘slide evening” has fallen out of fashion I don’t know.

We walk for kilometres around these colourful knobs. The walks seem much longer than Chairman Mao’s. All of us now have legs more muscular than Superman’s. Time moves incredibly slowly here, and in summer the superheated air and sunlight are heavy enough to cause their own erosion. It’s mid-winter now yet the days are around 33 degrees. The rains have receded, leaving a few small pools crowded with doomed fish. The silence is deep. You feel privileged to be here.

We find a kind of weirdcrop circle” in the grass which may be the landing place of an alien spacecraft. It’s dominated by the black-and-pink cliffs of the Bungles. We decide to camp on it, confident we can out-weird any alien who comes along. We circle the wagons around a campfire and cook our modest eye fillet steaks. Wine appears from hiding places and by morning there is a large pile of empty cans and bottles. The volume of alcohol consumed each night proves just how hard and tough life is out here.

We wake to an anguished cry of “Dingoes stole my Helga’s!” Dingoes have not carried away any child or drunken compatriot but a loaf of bread is missing and bags of Muesli lie in the dirt, ripped open/disembowelled/missing/molested. The word goes out: be alert, not alarmed. The second night passes without incident (what goes on in your tent stays in your tent).

[Astute Little Darwin readers will notice that Burleigh's rendition of the swashbuckling dingo is obviously influenced by the tapes he plays in his car about scurvy seadogs roaming the bounding main. Heavy consumption of his ship's daily ration of Mad Dog Morgan's Blood could explain the incorrect spelling of muesli . ]

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Taken with a spy camera , this mousy scene reveals the Canberra headquarters of a political party which believes all its Christmases are coming at once –in the very near future, maybe next month. Twitching with expectation , the mice have hung their bumbags on the mantelpiece in the firm belief that one of several overweight Santas , who reside in the Great Slagheap at the North Pole, whipping worker elves all year round , will slither down the chimney and reward them for being good little rodents. Already drunk on Christmas punch , the vermin seen here preparing for a premature white Xmas are nicknamed Mr Squeaky and Mr Grumpy .

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


American columnist/author , Chris Hedges, who has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for the Christian Science Monitor , National Public Radio , the Dallas Morning News and the New York Times , for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years , has written a startling article about the current state of the world with the heading THE IMPLOSION OF CAPITALISM: WELCOME TO THE ASYLUM, which first appeared in April 30. It opens with the following gripping statement -

When civilizations start to die they go insane. Let the ice sheets in the Arctic melt. Let the temperatures rise. Let the air, soil and water be poisoned. Let the forests die. Let the seas be emptied of life. Let one useless war after another be waged. Let the masses be thrust into extreme poverty and left without jobs while the elites, drunk on hedonism, accumulate vast fortunes through exploitation, speculation, fraud and theft.

Hedges later writes : It is the self-deluded, those on Wall Street or among the political elite, those who entertain and inform us, those who lack the capacity to question the lusts that will ensure our self-annihilation, who are held up as exemplars of intelligence, success and progress. The World Health Organization calculates that one in four people in the United States suffers from chronic anxiety, a mood disorder or depression—which seems to me to be a normal reaction to our march toward collective suicide. Welcome to the asylum. [Truthdig probes beneath the headlines and provides a different perspective to much of the mush served up by conventional media.]

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


The Federal Coalition , having tried everything under the sun and hand to bring down the Gillard Government ,with the help of mining magnates, goose stepping media mates and other vested interests , is showing signs of becoming incredibly desperate to grab the reins of office. As a result , it has called in these champion trumpet blowers who brought down the walls of Jericho with their tootling to circle parliament house and drown out any good news for the nation . It is likely that the perpetually flabbergasted Shadow Boxer , Joe Hockeysticks , will join the trumpeters - dressed in a Salvation Army uniform , beating discordantly on a big bass drum . Christopher will join in with his squeaky piccolo . Don’t look now, but it seems one of the gun trumpeters has dropped a pickle or a semi quaver into a most embarrassing position . (Postcards from Little Darwin Ephemera Collection .)

Monday, May 7, 2012


Proof positive that Australian women have long wanted to get their hands on a Yank is revealed in this early price list for Adelaide’s New York Import Company, from the Little Darwin Ephemera Collection. It specialised in WEAREVER aluminium cooking utensils and offered a wide range of goods from combination egg poachers , cast kettles , frying pans , tea strainers, soup ladles and even Turkish baths which , with a stove , head and face steamer , cost one pound ten shillings ($3). Having a bath with a Turk, says the list , is better than a cold shower , stimulates the pores and is also a boon to rheumatism sufferers. The advantage of the kettles was obvious-no solder or joints. NOTE : Aluminium cooking utensils were later found to be injurious to health.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


War correspondent/author , Jill Jolliffe,is moving from Darwin to Macquarie University, Sydney , where she has a John Dunmore Lang Achievement Fellowship . Jill, well known for her involvement in the East Timor struggle from the very early days , will work on her autobiography while at the residential college. In March she delivered a talk WAR,PEACE and Truth-Telling at the college . Her book , Balibo, about the Balibo 5 , was made into a film starring Anthony LaPaglia as journalist Roger East . In 2006 she received Yale University's Globalist Journalist of the Year Award. Jill says she will eventually end up in Melbourne where she was a very active university student.


Bearing the Adelaide stamp of the South Australian Publicity Censor, May 1, 1944,this official photograph shows a British submarine flotilla alongside a parent ship in Holy Loch,Scotland, where nuclear Polaris missile armed submarines would later be based . The tattered caption states the submarine second from the right is HMS Upright, famous as the only submarine in the world to torpedo and sink a floating dry dock and bring down an enemy aircraft. However, Wikipedia, running the same photograph, presents a different story, saying Upright is second from the left , which appears to be correct going on its silhouette in another photograph . Built by Vickers Armstrong, the submarine was commissioned in September 1940 and went into action in the Mediterranean, at times under heavy depth charge attack in waters off Tunisia and Libya , accounting for a torpedo boat, merchant vessels, the light Italian cruiser Armando Diaz and the dry dock which was under tow. Upright was scrapped in 1946. The troubled Collins Class submarines were built in Adelaide and PM Julia Gillard recently announced 12 new submarines, costing $36billion ,will be built there . Whether these would be fully designed here or from an overseas design has yet to be decided . Opposition economic spokesman Joe Hockey said a Coalition government would look at buying cheaper subs overseas if they were available. (Photo, taken 1941, is from Little Darwin Ephemera Collection .)

Friday, May 4, 2012


The High Court’s shock ruling in the James Hardie case that board members are responsible for statements issued by companies has caused pandemonium in business circles. Our exclusive photograph shows the animated response during discussion of the ruling in one of Australia’s top 500 swinging companies. The depressed looking chairman gagged on his banana, another member , renowned for stealing paperclips, attempted to drown himself in a bucket .There was a disgusting display by a chump who licked the morning tea caviar bowl clean, saying he would probably be forced to eat homogenised peanut butter sandwiches from now on.The fourth board member , on $150,000 a year, plus fringe benefits , including free tickets for the elephant ride at Taronga Zoo, said he would be forced to sweep streets if board members had to actually read and understand company reports and not mislead the ASX .

Thursday, May 3, 2012


A prominent member of the Melbourne Club is shown here being driven home by his chauffeur after celebrating the looming slaughter of the Gillard Government and the enslavement of the workforce. This well known captain of commerce is on the board of several top companies. Wild celebrations have been taking place in the big end of town in Adelaide, Brisbane , Perth and Sydney .


ATTENTION GAIL KELLY: The Westpac branch at Casuarina gives the impression of a Third World country. On the footpath outside the door there are large old stains which look as if made by puke , blood or excreta . Enter the branch , often too small to handle the number of customers who have to queue for service, and you spot a worn , large curved reception desk which seems to carry a message in large letters that the bank has ways to help you. Only trouble is that the sign is damaged , some letters missing . Nearby are seats on which the black plastic covering is peeling , missing in chunks, revealing almost corroded frames.

The desk at which customers fill out paperwork has a cardboard sign , part of which is missing and biro has been scribbled on it. How a bank which just made $3billion profit in the first half of the year allows this Bank of Nigeria- like shambles to exist in Darwin requires an explanation and some very prompt remedial action. Have the staff ,especially the head of the branch, displayed in Amazonian proportion on the front wall , said anything about this to head office? It would surely not break the bank to whip out and buy some decent chairs to replace the leprous ones and hire somebody to erase those off-putting stains at the front door.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


(Succumbing to the beauty and harshness of the outback, Bulldust Diary contemplative columnist /illustrator, Peter Burleigh , conjures up an image of Dolly Parton in Big W apparel on the Timber Creek-Kununurra road trip) .

Timber Creek is another fuel stop with a van park and a public bar attached. It’s about 450km east of Kununurra. The bar is your basic “hose out the blood and the vomit” setup, with tiled walls and a corrugated-iron barfront. As usual the windows and doors are protected by metal mesh. It’s like stepping into a jail cell. There’s a whiteboard on the wall with a “Banned” list on it, names of people who’ve been exiled from the bar for unacceptable behaviour. Because this isn’t your genteel cocktail lounge in Palm Beach, the behaviour must be pretty rugged to get you on the list. Another shorter list is headed “No Service Until Their Bill is Paid”.

My Camp-O-Matic opens up like an accordion on a grassy slope at the bottom of which is a large pool of primordial soup. Sure enough there are freshwater crocodiles in there, grunting and splashing and generally exciting the curiosity of the Nomads who do their best to die prematurely by sticking their cameras in the crocs’ faces.

Across the WA border the state’s riches are suddenly evident. Kununurra is a well-tended town. Jets fly in and out. The Speedway features on Saturday nights. Parks flaunt crisply mown green grass. The liquor laws are tight. No full-strength beer available before 12 noon. You can buy low-alcohol bellywash until 5pm and then you can buy full-strength beer but only until 8pm. Individuals can buy a maximum of two bottles of wine per head and then only after 5pm. You should see the queues! For us this is akin to Armageddon but the bar staff tell us “Buy your two bottles, go outside and put on a hat and sunglasses and come back. We guarantee we won’t recognise you.”

Lake Argyle (Ord Dam) and Lake Kununurra feed the lawn town’s sprinklers 24 hours a day. Hordes of Nomads crowd the van parks – we’re staying in the one named ‘Kimberleyland’, which fits with the Disneyesque world view preferred by the superannuated. Van parks are unreal oases in dramatic isolation from life on the road, where the eagles wheel and dive above dead roadkill and blacker-than-black crows simply cock one eyebrow and step aside for you to pass. They don’t bother to lift off, the cunning buggers. Whether you’re in a town or not, there’s always the paler blue sky, vast, never-ending, cloudless, exhilarating.

The eye and the mind are attracted by visions of creatures and men struggling for life against the elements and so it’s a surprise when you realise it’s starting to absorb you, too; a transition so subtle and deep that words fail you. If you try to talk about it people look at you as if you’re a big girl’s blouse.