Wednesday, July 31, 2013

PLOT TO OUST MAD MONK - Revealed for the Faust time !

 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   superb  yabbie   and   gruel    chef.   

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

EXODUS / DEJA VU / CLOSING CREDITS - Peter Burleigh's Memorable Bulldust Diary Nears End

In his  noble  Pajero ,  Burleigh  handles   Bruce  Highway

 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 .       

THE GREAT FLYING SAUCER HOAX-Continuing biog of NT Crusading Editor,"Big Jim" Bowditch

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.
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

BULLDUST DIARY ENTERS CATFISH COUNTRY - Peter Burleigh's safari reaches Karumba .

 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

DEATH OF THE NORTHERN STANDARD - Condensed biog of NT Crusading Editor ,"Big Jim " Bowditch

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  Whitingtonwere 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 .