In a secret location , over many jugs of potent mead , a group of faceless Liberal Party numbers men are shown here plotting to replace unpopular Tony Abbott with jerkin-clad Malcolm Turnbull. The odd bodkin in tights , a feather in his hat , tight budgie smugglers visible in the crotch region, should ye vassals choose to peek, is demonstrating how Abbott will be instructed to graciously fall on his sword and step aside for Turnbull, who they reckon is a sure election winner and a superb yabbie and gruel chef.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Attrition strikes again. True to the culture of Queenslanders, Boonie leaves in time to attend a Rugby International game in Brisbane. After travelling thousands of kilometres together, the final division of food and other stuff is a bit like a funeral wake. He’s keen to get back for a rest (and to avoid my cooking, I suspect), and plans to leave from Brisbane a few days later on a trip to Lake Eyre! Marco Polo, eat your heart out. Boonie says he’s had enough of dirt roads so I’m unsure why he’s heading out to Lake Eyre, where I understand that dirt is endemic.
We started in Kununurra,WA, with 15 people, now there are two. Next morning Harry and I find the van park has emptied by around 60%. It’s a shock, as if the place has been swept by a plague. I guess this is the last weekend of the tourist season. Out on the road, 4WDs and their vans swarm out of Karumba and onto the highway and head south and east. It’s an exodus, but is it an exodus of lemmings? Lucky there are no cliffs within a thousand kilometres or they might drive off. At the Tavern the echoes are eerie, emphasised by the empty sweep of the empty view over the empty Gulf. Two days ago the bar was packed; at lunchtime today Harry and I are the only customers. The barmaid is bored. I guess this means it’s over.
Our return to the East Coast will be nothing new ; lots of déjà vu and not nearly as much bulldust. If there are doubters among my readers I invite them to visit me for an interminable show of photographs which substantiate most of what I’ve written. Oh wait – I’m busy that night. My final message to you is: should you ever come across a gentleman in a dirty grey-and-pink striped shirt, do not automatically push him aside or into the gutter – it may be MrJW*, who I believe is saving up for a new shirt. * This unsolicited compliment is expected to generate another tax-deductable donation to the writer from MrJW, who is advised to make contact to discuss further opportunities for positive press coverage. NEXT : Bermuda becomes delirious when crown jewels threatened - saved by miracle drug.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Overworked Brisbane detectives are investigating the theft of the Liberal National Party’s entire intellectual property. It was kept in a velvet- lined thimble in the LNP strongroom along with other treasures, such as Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s great invention - the inflatable rubber cricket bat ( now perished), the secret formula for turning water into petrol and the Gucci Bible which was the envy of Andrew Peacock. A dinosaur is helping police in their investigations as the thimble was noticed missing after Clive Palmer , disguised as a CIA agent , accompanied by a 30 metre long pet herbivore , with a forked tongue , was seen lurking about the premises . As the tiny piece of intellectual property is pea green in colour, the bellowing , windy, greedy dinosaur may have thought it a noxious weed-ragwort- and gobbled it down .
The disappearance was discovered when the naughty catheter nurse went to the vault to get a packet of re-usable band aids , kept under lock and key by the Health Department , for a politician who was badly injured using his spin drier . As can be expected , the LNP is furious about the theft because it planned to use its priceless intellectual property in a beaut pea and thimble trick. A timid vet is treating the dinosaur suspect for indigestion , inflamed tonsils , delusions of grandeur and frequent flying .
In Alice Springs drinking establishments Bowditch was repeatedly asked to describe the episode in which Miss Olive Pink hit him with her umbrella. He could have dined out on the story for years. Miss Pink , he recalled, had a long running battle with the Alice Springs fire brigade when she lived next to the fire station. She accused the men of swearing, drinking, gambling , making excessive noise. A court case resulted from one confrontation with the firemen , and Miss Pink refused to swear on the bible, but made an affirmation, saying she always told the truth. She claimed “ language used in the underworld ” had been shouted at her ; the offending language was written down on paper for the magistrate to peruse. During the hearing she clashed several times with the defence lawyer, Phil Rice. She lost the case and indignantly claimed there was no justice for women in the NT .
At the time , flying saucers were spotted in many parts of the world . Regarding them as a joke, Bowditch decided it was time that Alice had its own visitors from another planet. In February l954 he spoke to a photographer, Trish Collier, and asked her to produce a photograph of a UFO . Using what he thought might have been a shirt collar stud, she superimposed a dramatic looking flying saucer over the MacDonnell Ranges . Bowditch ran the picture on the front page, saying it had been pushed under the door of the Centralian Advocate by a person who did not want to be named. This was a true, because he had pushed the photo under the door , and he certainly did not want to be named .
The story resulted in an outbreak of UFO sightings in the Alice district , all of which he happily ran in the paper. One of the UFO stories was caused by a Canberra jet bomber which left a contrail as it flew over Alice ; apart from scaring some residents, it frightened poultry as well.
A dubious team of RAAF investigators visited the Advocate and quizzed Bowditch about the rash of UFOs in Central Australia . All those UFO reports almost certainly were sent to the British military centre which compiled sightings from all over the world. In fact, there were chunks of space vehicles - meteorites- scattered about the Centre . Jock Nelson , MHR, had several pieces of the Henbury meteorite in his home in a glass case. Another huge meteorite, roughly in the shape of Australia, was at Mt Ruddock Station, and American collectors were keen to buy the object.
FRENCH BEAT UPS
Bowditch was not alone in fabricating stories about Central Australia during l954. Amazing stories appeared in France saying two men competing in an outback car rally in Peugeot cars narrowly escaped death when attacked by “fierce natives ” brandishing stone axes and spears. According to the report three planes had been sent to the area and pilots reported an estimated 100,000 savages , a previously unknown tribe, dashing about waving threateningly at them. Bowditch ran these reports under a scoffing heading.
A drought which lasted for eight years impacted on the cattle industry . The effects of the drought were felt throughout the community. Teachers punched holes in tins and poured water in so that young children would know what rain looked like. Horses were driven mad by flies and euros were blinded by the pests. Jock Nelson called for the CSIRO rain making unit to be brought to Alice. Dust storms swept the town, wild donkeys came in looking for water , a large perentie lizard was seen panting under a fire hydrant. Flocks of birds darted about desperately seeking water. NEXT : Widespread gambling .
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Our far flung readers , many in America , the Ukraine, China hacking circles , CIA, ASIO and Wally World , have been clamouring for early photos of two talented regulars in the Little Darwin blog – Pete Steedman and Peter Burleigh . From our archives we were able to retrieve this unusual 1969 illustration by Burleigh revealing that the two Peters , along with the gifted Michael Leunig, were laboratory mice in another life. It gives you faith in reincarnation to think that all three rodents were reborn as upstanding , handsome homo sapiens . We believe the missing mouse called Basil , out strolling , became Basil Fawlty in another life.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Tonight there is a free BBQ dinner at the van park. Bring a plate and your grog and they’ll feed fish to you. And it’s true. Each of us gets a meal of fresh fish, gratis. They run a weekly fishing competition in this park and we figure the unwanted fish goes into the freezer for Saturday night. At the boat ramp, 7.04am , we are met by Elizabeth B herself who says: “You’re in trouble, you’re late.”
Four minutes is late? Yes it is. We are abused by Cap’n Bob, skipper and husband of Elizabeth B, for being grossly unpunctual. This is not a good start. Including us there are six people fishing. While we motor about 4km offshore, the skipper gives us the benefit of his experience: “Don’t hold your rod like that. Don’t dip its tip into the water. Don’t reel it in too far. Don’t let the fish get around the propeller. Don’t hold it by the tip. If I ask for your hook, don’t hand it to me like that or I won’t take it, etc etc.”
Despite all this intimidation we get into the Blue-nose Salmon, which we first ate at the BBQ last night. Whack! They strike and take off like silver bullets. Cap’n Bob has the drags on the reels screwed up tight – he expects us to simply winch them up to the boat to be netted, brutally overpowered. Nevertheless these fish are fighters, leaping out of the water, running under the boat, crossing over other peoples’ lines and taking off for the horizon. Your heart beats fast!
Unlucky people (today it is Boonie) catch the despised catfish. Cap’n Bob grimaces. “Don’t touch a catfish unless you want to experience pain you can’t describe.”The slightly luckier ones ( Boonie and Harry) catch Steelhead Salmon. “Bait,” says Cap’n Bob , these fish look wonderfully sleek and silver. “They’re no good to eat?” we ask.“Yeah, they’re all right,” says Cap’n Bob, checking whether a mutiny is fomenting, “but we use ‘em for bait.”
The water is only 2 metres deep way out here and we are fishing about 200 metres from the dredged ore-ship channel. The water is a dusty green colour, full of nutrients flowing down the creeks and channels. It’s crowded with fish. By 11am the boat has caught about 30 Bluenose. I caught four. The other people caught all the rest. We are not very happy. Clearly it’s a conspiracy – they have light-coloured rods and green-filament line ; we have black rods and blue filament. That must be it.
“And bugs,” warns Cap’n Bob. “Don’t get cut or scratched at this time of year. The water’s full of nasty bacteria. You’ll get blood poisoning quick as a wink.” I wonder if Bermuda ( a member of the party who early in the trip had accidents and suffered what looked like a bite on his leg ) could have been poisoned by a land-based catfish , but my diagnosis is distracted by a striking Salmon. I have hooked the biggest fish of the day, close to 800mm long. Everyone sees it just at the instant it throws the hook and escapes, so they can’t deny its existence, but as it swims away it increases in size in my imagination and shrinks to a tiddler in everyone else’s.
The next morning we are on time. The Elizabeth B, showing its scars, is illuminated by a light blue sky while gulls and terns squawk and wheel overhead before diving onto baitfish. Big pelicans keep their distance; fish are jumping everywhere. The weather is perfect. The three of us couldn’t eat even one of the two fish we took back and filleted yesterday, it was too big. Today we’ll keep only one fish and release any others. Cap’n Bob, who is actually smiling today because we’re not strangers, says he’ll keep some fish to give to the ‘Mister Sister’, the male nurse at the Karumba Health Clinic.
The Salmon seem bigger today. We catch around 20 between us, and have a lot more fun as we secretly ease off the reel drags and have a genuine fight with the fish. We quickly learn how to hook them in the mouth so they don’t get damaged. It’s very satisfying to let them go. The morning closes with a catch of about 25 salmon. I beat Boonie’s record for the biggest catfish. NEXT : Dirty ending for Marco Polo .
CANBERRA : Opposition Leader- turn- back- the- boats–and the-clock Tony Abbott - intends to be the Minister for the Navy as well as Prime Minister, according to an entry in the soon to be published latest edition of Jane’s Fighting Ships. Our exclusive report says a freelance photographer , disguised as a bobbing buoy , took this snap of Abbott trying on the uniform of a Rear – Admiral in the Queen’s Navy as part of Operation Sovereign Borders .
Admiral Abbott is accompanied by his right hand man , a leering bosun , Barnacle Bill , who will be in charge of applying the cat-o’-nine tail to scurvy Australian workers when the Tories storm ashore at Spithead in the near future. To make himself appear a fearsome seadog ,like something out of the Pirates of the Caribbean , Abbott is sporting a monocle . It is understood that Lady Emma Hamilton , patron of the Plymouth Old Girls’ Sailing Club, soon to teach the Indonesian Navy how to put to sea to protect its boundaries and stop the police from muscling in on its rackets , has extended an open invite to this Aussie Nelson to come up and see her sometime when he next sails into London Town aboard the scourge of the Indian Ocean , the dreadnought, HMAS Misogynist , a patch over his tattered policies , his arm hopefully not caught short , to be duchessed , like so many colonials, on his way to the Cinque Ports to down a yard of ale faster than Bob Hawke did in his prime .
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Journalist Ross Annabell was offered the editorship of the struggling union owned Northern Standard , which he joined in late April l954 . He threw himself into the task of trying to brighten and save the paper and came up against the usual union interference. However, he got out his first improved edition. Taking all the obstacles in his stride, he prepared an edition in his second week at the helm of which he was proud , but it did not see the light of day because the paper’s last linotype machine broke down. The union directors held a meeting behind closed doors and announced there were no funds to fly up a mechanic from south or buy a new lino . The Standard , which had fought long and hard for the workers , closed down . Annabell was given one month’s pay . The NT News rejoiced at its rival’s demise.
Shortly afterwards, Annabell, back freelancing , set out on a prospecting trip into Arnhem Land with Dr George Sleis who , a short time later was co-founder of the Sleisbeck uranium lodes. Dr Sleis , a Czechoslovakian trained geologist , was reluctant to have his photograph taken and his name published. It was alleged he had worked for the Germans in the uranium industry during the war and then for the Russians. There were claims that he was on a Czech underground deathlist . He had come to Australia, joined the Bureau of Mineral Resources and been sent to Rum Jungle uranium mine , later joining the North Australian Uranium Company.
The Melbourne Argus newspaper ran a weekend feature article on September 25 ,1954 by Annabell about the NT's uranium boom which covered the hectic activity taking place at the Sleisbeck mine site. After Dr Sleis received publicity for the find and his photograph was published, he became agitated. He left the company , moved into the Hotel Darwin and accused people of spying on him . So unstable was he that he attacked journalist Doug Lockwood in the hotel and pulled his hair.
Soon after, he was involved in a bizarre episode in which he built a wall of stones across a road and then lay naked on the ground . Some people driving up from south saw him and , thinking something terrible had happened , screeched to a halt to help . Up sprang Dr Sleis with a stick and began to dance about on the bonnet . Shocked, they drove off, went to the nearest town and reported the event to the police. Sleis was taken into custody . In the court application to have Sleis declared a mental defective, evidence was given about his ravings in which “ Himmler ”and Russians were mentioned.
Because of his involvement with the Standard, Annabell was smuggled into the Rum Jungle uranium mine by unionists to report on the primitive conditions for miners. Inspired by the uranium boom , about which he wrote for southern newspapers , Annabell and some others formed their own prospecting syndicate . One weekend his partners left him in a camp set up in the bush and headed back into town to resume their Monday to Friday jobs. Annabell went to a nearby hill with a geiger counter , turned it on and got a good reading. Elated, he ran down the track after his departing friends wanting to break the good news, but could not catch them. He had to wait until the weekend for them to return. During that time he danced about his “ mountain of uranium” in delight and dreamed of rolling in filthy lucre . The find became known as Annamount. NEXT : Bowditch in Flying Saucer X-Files .
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
ANNABELL SACKED, URANIUM FEVER GRIPS NATION-Continuing biog of NT Crusading Editor,"Big Jim" Bowditch
Reporters Ross Annabell, left , and Hugh Mabbett on Darwin beach,1954. As usual, Annabell has a camera slung over a shoulder .
Staff at the NT News in Darwin did not seem to last long , and the Sydney directors of the paper -Eric White and Don Whitington - were regarded as very demanding , mean and unreasonable people with whom to deal. On occasions, members of the staff in Darwin sent letters to each other purporting to be from Sydney saying that there was a bonus enclosed for having worked under difficult and primitive conditions . Needless to say, a quick search of the envelope failed to find any cheque.
Ross Annabell, a competent and a conscientious worker, was given the sack and had six weeks to work out his time. While reading the classified advertisements pageproof , he came across an advert for the free tenancy of a shack at Dinah Beach , which gave the name Gardner , c/- Lands Department , Darwin, as the contact . As he was soon to lose his accommodation at the News along with his job , Annabell contacted Gardner who proved to be a real character.
Jack Gardner , an Englishman, had been knocking about the Territory for 29 years . His father , a soldier , had been in the All India tug-o-war team . Jack had met author Xavier Herbert when he was in the Territory. He also loved reading , especially O’Henry short stories, and did some “ scribbling ” himself. Even though there was no rent, no key and no bond , there were some disquieting aspects of the shack deal .
Firstly , the owner of the shack was in Fannie Bay Gaol for sexual assaults on young boys . Secondly , Gardner had himself recently completed 12 months in prison for cohabitating with an Aboriginal woman and supplying her with alcohol . On hearing that Gardner was soon to be released , the owner of the shack had offered him the caretaker tenancy and gave him a document on Fannie Bay Gaol notepaper saying Jack was the legal occupier of the desirable piece of real estate
Desperate for accommodation and assured that the owner would not be free for a long time, Annabell agreed to move in . Gardner said he was going bush prospecting for uranium and would call in from time to time and stay for a few days . When Annabell told people he was going to live at Dinah Beach thanks to prospector Jack Gardner , he soon became aware of his benefactor’s nickname -"Gonorrhorea Jack ". Annabell gave the shack a good clean out and scrub before he moved in .
Happy in the knowledge that he would have somewhere to stay when he left the News, Annabell continued to work out his notice. However, he was asked to stay on a few days longer because of the sensational Petrov spy affair which saw the wife of a Russian diplomat who defected to Australia seek asylum at Darwin airport while being escorted out of the country by two burly guards. Annabell witnessed Mrs Petrov being taken out a side entrance to freedom while the guards pounded on the Customs door demanding her return. With the Petrov affair over, Annabell left and Bob Freeden stepped in as acting editor of the News.
Gardner returned from a prospecting trip with electrifying news - he and two others , Geoff Lennox and and Bill Lickiss had made a rich uranium strike at Adelaide River and they eventually shared $220,000 in cash and shares . Lickiss , a surveyor draftsman in the Lands Department , went on to become a Minister in the Queensland government. News of the find sent shares skyrocketing and the Top End was gripped by uranium fever . Gardner added to Annabell’s own fever by hopping on the back of Ross’s motorcycle and directing him to the find , which was close to the highway near Adelaide River .
The replacement editor at the News was another Kiwi, Hugh Mabbett , who had done some gold prospecting in Queensland. Mabbett soon quit the noisy editor’s pad at the News for Annabell’s peaceful beachside shack , much to the annoyance of Eric White and Associates in Sydney . As a result,the News found Mabbett a flat near the post office . The arrival of the wet season made the Dinah Beach shack leak, so Mabbett invited Annabell to share the waterproof flat. Once more the Sydney directors were unhappy about the ex-editor and the present incumbent sharing the same residence.
Mabbett , like his mate Annabell, became disenchanted working at the News . Packets used to arrive at the News from Eric White and Associates addressed to Bob Freeden and contained instructions and criticism . In what was described as an “ accidental opening ” involving steam from a kettle , the contents of a letter sent to Freeden were perused .
The news Mabbett read hot off the press and kettle instructed Freeden to sack Mabbett and ask Annabell to come back as editor. Made aware in advance of future developments , Mabbett quickly alerted Annabell . Sure enough, while Ross was freelancing at the ABC, Freeden came in and asked Ross if he would come back as editor. Annabell firmly declined. However, running a bit short of money, Annabell would later even consider applying for a cleaner’s job at the News , but thought it would have been demeaning for a former editor to return as the janitor. Annabell kept Bowditch, in Alice, up to date with developments at the NT News . NEXT: Dreams of being filthy rich .