Saturday, May 31, 2014


Snappy  dresser ,  name  caller  (sooks , whingers , bounders , grub...the latter shouted with  a weird  Croweater accent ) and   Minister  for  Education ,  Christopher  Pyne ,  above ,  sported  a  trendy  Alan Jones designed  hessian  yachting jacket  and  a  pink (shades of  Don Dunstan !!!)  imitation ivy  league , open- necked  shirt  when  he  appeared on  the  ABC  TV  Insiders . During  the interview  with  Fran Kelly ,  Pyne  appeared  to  require  a  university  refresher course  as  he  could  not  exactly  remember  how  he   paid  for  his  university legal  degree  at  the University of South   Australia .
While  at  university  he   fought   those   dangerous  Lefties  who  challenged  the  divine  right of  the  Adelaide  Club  conservatives  who  had  a  beaut  gerrimander  like  Joh’s  going  for  years .  The  sartorial  minister  was  interviewed   in  Adelaide  ,  the    launch  Popeye visible ,  tied   up  on  the bank  of  the  Torrens  River , waiting with a picnic hamper of  freshly  picked spinach ,  colon clearing  pie  floaters   and  the  desirable , lolly-legged  Olive  to  clamber  aboard  for  a  romantic  cruise  to   the  weir. 
 During   the   interview ,  Pyne several times   expressed  obvious  dislike for  Fairfax  Media because  they  had  reported  him  correctly in saying  debt collectors  should   chase  people  who  had  crossed  the  Styx in a ferry  without   paying  off   their university  loans ;  deflated Treasurer,   Joe  Hockey  ,   also   thought   this   fair  and   reasonable , despite the  fact  that  as  a university student  he  had   bellowed  against  rising  fees.   The   PM  contradicted   his   two  ministers   over   loan  recovery and  the  ship  of  state careered   along   its  way , heading  for  the  Bermuda Triangle, Pyne  and  Hockey  chundering  over  the  rails  due to  the rough seas  of  public  outrage.


An exhibition about  the early  photographer and writer Ted  Ryko  is  about  to  be launched in  Darwin  at  the Northern Territory Library , Parliament House . Ryko rode   a bicycle from Adelaide to Darwin in 1914. A  granddaughter,Michele Adler, has recreated the  ride from Tennant  Creek  to Darwin  and a  nephew, Reverend  Howard Pohlner, will launch a  biography of  Ryko  on June 11 .

Friday, May 30, 2014

THE DARING ROCKEFELLER PLAN-Continuing biog of Crusading Editor,"Big Jim" Bowditch .

In   November   l961    Michael  Rockefeller ,  son  of  Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of  New York, disappeared   on  an  anthropological  expedition in  what was  then  Dutch  New   Guinea .

Rockefeller , described as an aesthete,  had wanted to study architecture  but was forced   to yield to parental pressure   and took up  economics.  While at Harvard University  he heard  of an  expedition of anthropologists and a film crew  to the Baliem  Valley  of  Dutch New Guinea  to make a record of tribes whose primitive agricultural  society  was  yet untouched  by western culture. He joined the  expedition telling his parents he wanted to  do something romantic and adventuresome  while there were still  far away  frontiers  to explore .
By  Peter  Simon
While  on the expedition  he was informed that his parents  were  going to divorce.  He returned  home to New York, told his parents  he was going to be an anthropologist , and then flew back to  Hollandia , the capital of  Dutch New Guinea.   There he teamed up with  Dutch   ethnologist   Dr Rennie  Wassing    and they went on   a two month field  trip   gathering  material  for the New York Museum of Primitive  Art .   They travelled  aboard  a catamaran powered by   two  l8  horsepower  motors-collecting  artefacts , carved shields , canoe figureheads and shrunken heads. They also  planned to  record chants and  war  cries .

A large wave  swamped their  catamaran   near the   Eilander River . The two clung to the   vessel ; Michael decided  to try and swim  11 miles to shore . Wassing pleaded with him not to  go  because of the  obvious danger, the waters containing crocodiles and  sharks.  Despite those pleas,  Rockefeller tied his glasses to his head,  strapped  empty fuel   cans  over his  shoulders for  flotation, and  swam off …never to be seen again .  

The catamaran was  eventually found  drifting  and    Wassing   raised   the alarm.  When  Bowditch heard  about the  disappearance of Rockefeller he  proposed   flying to the area  from  Darwin to  search   for him .   He felt that because he had served near that area  during the war, he might know some  of the natives , a  very long  shot. Rupert  Murdoch, who owned the Northern Territory News , had promised to  have the first  story from the area  and  discussed  the  matter  with  Bowditch  and  a  top executive ,  Ken  May.  

A major problem was  getting approval from  Dutch authorities to fly into  Merauke , the nearest   place to where  Rockefeller had  last  been seen.   If no  quick  approval could be  given for landing at Merauke , Bowditch  suggested he  could  parachute  into the area .   It was my lust to get the story that made me suggest the parachute jump, ” Bowditch explained.


The  problem  was   discussed   with  light plane operators in Darwin .  They  indicated   a willingness  to fly to  Merauke,  as long as he could get   Department  of Civil Aviation    and  Dutch approval for the  flight.  To prepare himself  for a  daring   and  dangerous   assignment   should the   green light be given  , Bowditch obtained a parachute and brought it  back to the  NT News  office.  

During the evening , with  the help of  many  cans of beer,  Bowditch demonstrated the  technique of  parachute  jumping  to   reporter Les Wilson.  Bowditch , parachute on  back,  would  mount  his desk, jump and  roll.   Laughter also flowed   when he said  that  the  parachute  canopy,  opening  with a jerk ,  would probably snap  his old  bones.   The  vision of  a  fractured  Big  Jim  landing   in  the jaws  of crocodiles intent  on  extensive mastication  added  to the  madness of the  evening.    Wilson had a few jumps  himself  with the parachute  strapped to his back.  It was  another memorable evening  in  the  newspaper office which  had  witnessed  many strange  nocturnal events , including  this  writer  trying  to  throttle  the  editor.

It was  finally decided  that   Sydney reporter    Brian Hogben  and  photographer  Ron Iredale  would fly from  Sydney  to Merauke  via  Port Moresby , New Guinea .   Bowditch said  Murdoch and May  probably came to the  conclusion that it would have been too risky  and possibly very  expensive  if  Bowditch had  perished  carrying out his dare- devil  parachute drop.

Nelson Rockefeller senior flew  to  Port Moresby  with Michael’s twin sister  in a chartered  Boeing 707 and  a party of  17 Pressmen.    A TAA  Catalina  was  made available  for the search party at  Merauke .   A huge  land, sea and air search  , which included  the Royal Dutch  Air Force , failed to find any trace of   Michael.    It was felt certain that he  either drowned  or  had  been  taken by a  a  crocodile or a shark. 

The disappearance was  front page news in Australia  and America . From New York reporter Zell  Rabin wrote that  Hogben’s reports  had been  given prominence in major  American  newspapers. President  Kennedy asked the Australian Prime Minister , Mr Menzies,  to help in anyway he could  and   RAAF  Hercules  transports   with helicopters  were  sent from  Queensland to  join the search. An offer was made to send  a  US  aircraft carrier ,  but  Rockefeller  said it was not needed.  Convinced that there was little hope of  finding his  son , he  returned to America .

Before he left  he personally  thanked  many of the people  who participated  in the   search for his son, including the  Australians.   Many  indigenous  people  had  taken part in the  hunt  and  one of the  richest  men in the world  stood with naked   locals  thanking  them for  their efforts in  trying to locate his  son .  

Wild rumours circulated about the  fate of  Michael  Rockefeller .  One story  claimed  he made it ashore  and hailed a party of warriors  whose  village  had recently   been attacked  by Dutch soldiers  killing  several of their  tribe in a so called  “ pacification”  campaign.  According to this  report he had been killed  and  eaten .

There was even a bizarre suggestion that Rockefeller’s head had been shrunk by tribesmen  and his  glasses  placed  around the neck.  In his  observations of  the area  in  which  he had  worked, Michael  Rockefeller  recorded the  tragic impact of  western culture. He said  the area was filled  with a kind of  tragedy where many of the villagers  had reached the point  where they were beginning to doubt  their  own culture  and crave western things . The west, he said,  thought  in terms of  bringing  advance and opportunity to   such a place . In actuality it brought  cultural bankruptcy which would last for many years.  The area, like every other  corner of the world , was being sucked into  a  global  economy  and a world culture  which  insisted on  economic plenty as a primary ideal .

 Years after the event , reporter Les Wilson received  a   telex message  informing  him that   he and   Jim Bowditch had  appeared in a  beat up  on the front page of a   New York  publication  dealing with the Michael Rockefeller  disappearance.  The  story  had  Bowditch and Wilson  practicing  parachute drops  not in the  office of the NT  News  but in  places all  over  New Guinea  as  they searched for  Rockefeller. Next: Things that  go  thump  at  night  in  pubs  and  bombing turtles.


CANBERRA   : Political  insiders  say  controversial   Speaker of   the House of Representatives , Bronwyn Bishop, right ,  is  soon to  audition for  a  leading  role-La  Stupenda-in  an  Australian   musical   version  of  Lord of  the Rings  .   On   the  other  hand ,  some  say  she   plans  to   open   a    chain  of  superior   hoopla   and    pin  the  tail on  a  donkey  with  a  face like  Bob Ellis  franchises   throughout  the South  Pacific  and  Cambodia .   NEXT : Her  replacement - a  real  lady - with   scoop  photograph .

Thursday, May 29, 2014

DARWIN AND AUSTRALIA BETRAYED -Continuing biog of Crusading Editor,"Big Jim " Bowditch

There was  a  shocking  epilogue  to  the  Stayput  Portuguese  story .   Seven   years   after  being  allowed to stay in Australia , one of  the  three who sought  asylum , Jose da  Costa , murdered   his Greek   employer,  Andreas  Koklas  ,  while  they  were  making a  holiday   trip  around Australia. He  drove off  in  the   man’s car ;  from  the  victim's   bank  book    he   attempted   to  draw a  large amount  of  money  to  flee  the  country .   At  Tennant Creek  he  had  tried  to sell  a  camera  belonging to Koklas to a policeman . He  was  arrested   and   brought  back  to  Darwin  for  a  jury    trial .

Bowditch  went  to  Julio  Borges , who had first enlisted his help to keep the three in the country,  and  expressed  his  deep dismay  at  what  da  Costa  had  done,  saying  he had  let  down  the   people  of   Darwin  and  Australia.  The  other  two  Portuguese  stayputs   were    shattered  by  the  enormity  of   what  da  Costa  had  done.  In  an  expression  of  regret,  da Costa  was  reportedly   “ upset ” for  what  he  had  done  to  Jim  Bowditch .

The court   was  filled  with  angry members of the   Greek community   who  wanted  da Costa  hanged.  Judge  Blackburn   passed  the  death  sentence .  Personally  distressed  by  the  case , Bowditch  nevertheless  campaigned  to  save  da  Costa  from  hanging  and  the  abolition  of   capital  punishment   in  the  NT. Da  Costa  did  not hang  and  capital  punishment   was  eventually  abolished.
Recalling  the   Stayput  Portuguese  saga , Julio  Borges , in  l982 , still   expressing   dismay at  what  da Costa  had  done , letting  down  so  many  people , said  the then   Darwin  Portuguese  population  of  about  500    regarded  Bowditch as “ a  great  man ”.   Members  of   this  segment   of   the  Darwin community   still   went  to  Bowditch   for  help  with  problems, even  though  he  was  no longer  editor  of   the  NT News .
In 2004 ,  stayput  Norberto Andrade  , in a telephone interview ,  still marvelled  at the way   Bowditch  , lawyer Dick Ward ,  unionists   and  so  many other  people  in  the community  had   rallied to  help  the trio. In particular, he singled out  Bowditch   for    high praise. “ I will never forget  him until  I  die.”

When  asked  what  happened  to  da  Costa , who had  been saved from hanging  ,  in  part    due  to  Bowditch’s  campaigning , Andrade   had  this  to  say  : “ I heard  that  he  was released from  jail in  Adelaide  and  became ill.  When  told  that he was   suffering from  cancer, he went  home  and   killed   himself .” NEXT: Another  international story

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Collector and  researcher , Gary  Davies , of   Magnetic Island , with  the  footscraper  he  bought   at  the grand  1978  Dutton   estate  contents  sale .
Years  after  the auction , dealers  and collectors  spoke in  awe  about  the  event , the   Duttons  said  to be  regarded  as  South Australian  royalty  in  their  heyday .   Francis  Dutton  made  a  fortune  in mining  , became  the  SA Premier and  later  the  state’s Agent –General  in London.

The   day  of  the  auction  ,  Anlaby ,  with  its  elegant , long  driveway,  large courtyard  surrounded  by numerous buildings ,   folly overlooking the  tennis court   which  served both as a  grandstand  and   a  water tower,   had  shrunk  to  a small   holding .  Professor    Geoffrey  Dutton,    born   in 1928 ,   had    literary and  publishing interests  and  upset  the  conservative Adelaide Club with his republican views . He   resorted  to   pig  farming  in  a  vain  and  desperate   bid  to  keep  the  estate  going .  
During  his  time  running  Anlaby   literary and artistic  guests included  Patrick White,  Yevtoshenko ,  Max Harris ,  Sidney Nolan  and   John  Olsen.

Buyers came  from many  parts of Australia  for  the closed  circuit  television  auction , staged in  a large tent .   Gary , a secondhand  dealer ,  drove  to  the  property   early ,  eager to  have   a   close  look  at  what  was  offering .
 By  Peter  Simon
 He  noticed that   there  were   trucks  unloading  old wares and  suspected   the  auction  was  being “ padded  out ” -  a common activity  in  Adelaide (and  elsewhere ) -  to cash in  on  well attended   sales  . Because of  this  , Gary  said  he closely studied  the printed catalogue  and  checked ,  as  much  as  possible , that  items  he  was   interested  in  came from  the estate .  As  mentioned  earlier  in  Little Darwin ,  Gary, keen on Australian literature, had  taken  a  copy of  Geoffrey Dutton’s  poems   to  Anlaby  and  got  him  to autograph  it  for  him.  

Like so many in  the big crowd , Gary and his wife  explored  the  sprawling  estate , a  woman ,  believed to  be  Geoffrey Dutton’s wife , the  author Ninette ,  came  up  and  said  they  were  in an area  not open to the  public .  The   huge  library , built  up  over the years ,  had already been  sold  to  a  prominent  bookdealer, thought  to  be  from   Melbourne.  


Items of   interest  included model yachts  . One  of  the  unusual   items  offered was  a   radiator and   other spare  parts  for  the 25hp , four cylinder , Talbot  car   driven  from  Adelaide  to  Darwin    by  Harry Dutton-Geoffrey’s father - and Murray Aunger in  1908.  Aboriginal artefacts  said to have  been given  to the  two pioneers on the Darwin trip were  included  in  the  auction .
In  what  had  been an  office , Gary  bought  the  paper  files , ephemera. This   included  a circa 1890s , large leather bound   stationery sample catalogue  with  pages bearing watermarks and  envelopes - described as a beautiful work of art  by Gary . On a  spike was a cluster of  paperwork , some addressed to Squire Dutton, related to stumpjump  ploughs , steam engines , brochure  after  brochure , receipts  with  duty stamps attached  , correspondence .

A wonderful  buy , for a mere  six  to eight dollars each, were  a quantity of  shearers  forms,   two or  three metres long , like pews , each  branded  H. R. Dutton  on  the base .  When  the  Dutton  empire was riding the  golden fleece  boom  it took  seven  months for a  large team of shearers  to clip   some 70,000 sheep .

Other purchases included  the  billiard  cue  holder, above , now used  as  an  umbrella  and walking stick stand  in the Davis household  on  Magnetic Island , where they run a nursery and landscaping  business ;  the  small  table  is  also  from   Anlaby. 

When  Gary  was  living  in  Bordertown , SA , the National Trust  bought  some of  the shearers  forms and  other  items from  the  Anlaby auction.
Another  person who  attended  the   auction  is  former  Melbourne and  Adelaide  antique dealer , Alan Jones , who recently  moved  from   Malaysia to  Ireland  with  his  wife , Pat.  His Adelaide business, at Largs,   went under the deceptive  name , The Junkery . An  avid collector , he is a man of  many skills  and  even  turned  wire coat  hangers  into   model  aeroplanes .
Over the phone from Ireland , he recalled  the   Anlaby  sale .  A  great  buy , he said ,  had  been  a  Huon Pine  desk  with   lift   up  leather  panels .  Being  a  keen collector  of   nautical  items ,  he  also bought a  photograph  which  appeared to  be  a  bridal  party  posing  against  the colonial  South Australian  gunboat , Protector, skippered at one stage  by Captain Creswell,  father of  the  Royal Australian Navy.  In 1900  the  Protector headed for  the  Boxer  Rebellion  in   China ,  but  arrived   after  the  siege . During WWII the vessel  was  recquisitioned  by the  US Army  and on a  voyage to  New Guinea was damaged in a collision  with a tug at Gladstone  and  ended up  a  rusting  hulk  on Queensland's  Heron Island , still  visible  today.
As  a result of  the  Dutton   fame ,  Alan  said he was able to readily  sell  anything  he  bought  from  the  auction .
This  writer  and  his  wife  visited  Anlaby  several  times  in the l980s  and  met  its then owners , Dutchman Hans  Alders and his  wife, Gill, from  Echuca, Victoria , who put  much time  and effort into restoring  the glory of  the homestead , turning  it  into  a  bed and  breakfast .
They  brought  with  them  from  Echuca  an impressive collection  of early horse drawn  vehicles, including  a  sombre, glass  sided  hearse , complete with  black plumes,  a  Cobb and Co. coach .  Gill threw herself  into  restoring the massive rose gardens which had  made Anlaby famous worldwide , there  being  14 gardeners at  the  time .
In  his  autobiographical , Out In The Open , Geoffrey  Dutton wrote  that his  mother  had a  gun with  which she shot  rosellas attacking  her  roses . While entertaining Lady Spencer,  whose  son , John  Althorp , Princess Diana's father , working as an ADC  at Government House in Adelaide,   she  shot  a  bird on the wing   which  fell into the   guest's  teacup. Dutton said his mother    complained  that  between  rats , rosellas   and   the Labor Party  it  was difficult to get a  decent rose  to grow.

As I walked  about  Anlaby , in an empty  building running off the courtyard , hanging  from  a  nail  was  an early Glass  car tyre  , with an attached  faded  note  saying  it  was used on  the  run  from  Adelaide  to  Darwin .
The Alders   asked  me  to keep an eye out for anything  related to  Anlaby, Gill especially  interested   in  books on  old roses.  A 1935 souvenir  booklet  I  bought at  auction  stated that  in the nearby   town of Eudunda , Francis Dutton had  been known locally as “the Squire.”
 While rummaging through  a jumble of books in a Port Adelaide secondhand shop , I found  a 1903  revised   and enlarged  edition  of the  Poems of Henry Clarence  Kendall , containing  a Henry Dutton bookplate, Geoffrey  Dutton’s paternal  grandfather.
Fossicking  through  an  op shop in Angaston I  came  across several boxes of paperbacks , mainly  Sun Books, and  some letters  from Geoffrey Dutton , co-founder of  the publishing house ,  all of  which I  bought . One  of  the letters related to the  break up in the early 1980s  between Dutton  and his  wife , renowned enameller, artist and broadcaster  Ninette,  greatly interested in  gardens  and  wildflowers . After living  in Canberra for a time , she moved to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales.

 There was a  copy of Geoffrey  Dutton’s book, published by Penguin/Viking, about  Australian  literature –Snow on the Saltbush –the cover of  which  was  by artist John Olsen, who had signed  the  title  page.  
One  misty July when my  wife and  I  visited  Anlaby  it presented  an English  vista  with  jonquils , paper whites  and  snowdrops  in  profusion. We also went to  a nearby  old church  built  as a memorial to Helen Elizabeth Dutton  and  16 - year - old  Ethel  Dutton, the  latter having  been drowned  at  Granite Island , Victor Harbour , after being swept  into the sea  by  a  large  wave  in  1892.