Thursday, July 31, 2014


In 1979 , when  this   song  graced  the  airwaves   it   could  have  given the impression  that  Australia   had  been  whipped  up   by  an early  TV  chef  high  on   cooking  sherry  .  Why?   Because  it   declared  that  the  nation  was  a  smorgasborg - as   Greek  as  souvlaki,  Irish  as  a stew,  Italian  as  spaghetti,  Danish  as  blue   , Dutch as  gouda , Middle  Eastern as  lamb,  German as  a  dumpling  and  Yankee as  a  ham.  The  troubadour  who  sang  this  unusual song  for  his supper  was  a Smith ,  but no ordinary  Smith...Salvador  Smith ,  who claimed  to  be  a “ dink-ie-die  Aussie .’’ With  an obvious identity  crisis , he   went on  to  say  that  he  was  Turkish  as  coffee  and   Pom   as  strawberry jam .  As  the  Chinese  contributed  much  to   the  nation  it  is  a  shame  they  did  not  get  a  mention  along  with   dim  sims   or  spring rolls.   Words  and  music  were  by  Peter  Best . Copyright was  in  the name  of  Acme Pty. Ltd.,  all  print  rights  controlled  by  April  Music  Pty. Ltd., 15  Blue  Street , North  Sydney .


Abandoning   their   cruiser , The   Butterfly , in  France  ,   our  roaming  correspondents , Peter and  Judi  Burleigh, head  to  Dubrovnik , providing    further   entertaining  pages  from  their  travel  diary .  

Croatia fought a nasty  war  against  the Serbs in the  90s. That  fact , apart from knowing Serbia used to be part of Tito’s Yugoslavia,  is  the  sum total of my knowledge of  the country – oh yes, and  that it’s not part of  the Schengen Agreement although it’s  applied for membership.

Consequently we front up to our flight on Aigle Azure , the unknown charter airline, to fly to Dubrovnik. Terminal 2B at Charles de Gaulle is similar to Room 101 in the Ministry of Fear and is over-stuffed with lost souls in bureaucratic limbo, a shrilling of screaming kids, and blank-faced officials wishing they were somewhere else. On cue we switch on our mental ‘blank mode’ which gives us cow-like stoicism and the patience of Job.

Our first week is spent on the MB Leonardo, a small 12-cabin passenger cruiser. Our route hugs the Dalmation Coast from Dubrovnik to Split and back again. The crew of  five speak English (or different versions of it) and are efficient and friendly. The boat is spotless, the cook tries hard, the days are sunny and of perfect temperature, and the Croatian villages are pretty and picturesque. 


We stop in a different village harbour each night, some large and developed like Split and Hvar, others with concentrated charm like Karcula and Cavtat. One of our favourite Sydney eateries was the Balkans Seafood Restaurant near Taylor’s Square in Darlinghurst, and we found the same BBQ style is a Croatian standard. Fresh calamari and Sea Bass cooked over the coals doesn’t get better than this. 


It disturbed to realise the war was happening in 1992. But tourists have their own needs; remembering a conflict is not on their agenda.  Far from being claustrophobic the boat is relaxing and exciting at the same time. Two of the crew are named “Igor” but bear no relation to Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant. We vow to repeat the experience sometime, preferably with a group of friends.

Our second week is spent in the Epidaurus Resort near Dubrovnik. Despite its name it’s not a plastic surgery clinic or a tattoo supermarket, it’s all Germans fighting over deck chairs and guttural karaoke in the evenings - but that’s the worst of it. The best of it is the ‘all-included’ wrist band we wear 24-hours a day which entitles us to all food, drinks and activities in unlimited quantities. The Croatian staff is smoothly professional and good-natured.



For a brief seven-day interlude to ingest some French wine and  good food we return to  the boat before travelling elsewhere to avoid the Schengen curse.  When we arrive at the Franco-Swiss border we  find  a railway strike has been invoked to prevent us  getting to Dijon and St Jean de Losne.


Finally, after travelling 16 hours from  Dubrovnik, we  finally fall into the bed on the boat. Welcome to France. Sometimes it’s hard not to get pissed off  with  ‘Liberte, Equalite, Fraternite’ when all you want is get on a train and go home.  We renew our dialogue with our friends in various supermarkets, load up with the promised food and wine, and settle down to  some  really  sumptuous consumption. NEXT:Man's best friend is a camel !!!

THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL AND BILLY BORKER : Continuing biog of Northern Territory Crusading Editor,"Big Jim" Bowditch.

In April l967 the Gurindji petitioned the Governor-General, Lord Casey , seeking to gain tenure of their tribal land  in  the Wave Hill-Limbunya area .  The petition  carried the  thumb prints of  Vincent Lingiari , Pincher Manguari, Gerry Ngalgardji  and Long-John  Kitgnaari. It explained the document  had been transcribed,  witnessed and  transmitted by Frank Hardy  and J. W. Jeffrey, a Welfare Department  officer , sympathetic  to the Gurindji cause , because the  Gurindji  had never  had  the opportunity to  learn English .  It  read -

We , the leaders of the Gurindji people, write to you  about our earnest  desire to regain tenure of our tribal lands in the  Wave Hill-Limbunya  area  of the Northern Territory ,  of which we were dispossessed in time past, and for which we received  no recompense. 

Our people have  lived here from time immemorial  and our culture, myths, dreaming and sacred  places have evolved in this  land .  Many of our forefathers were  killed in the early days while trying to retain it.  Therefore we feel that morally the land  is ours and should be returned to us.  Our very name Aboriginal acknowledges  our prior claim.  We have  never ceased  to say  amongst ourselves  that Vesteys should go away and leave us to our land .

In the attached map , we have  marked out the boundaries  of the  sacred places of our dreaming , bordering  the Victoria River from  Wave hill Police Station to Hooker Creek, Inverway,Limbunya, Seal Gorge,etc,.  We have begun to build  our own new homestead on the banks of  beautiful Wattie Creek  in the Seal Yard area, where there is permanent  water.   This is  the main place  of our dreaming  only a few  miles  from Seal Gorge where we have kept   the bones of our martys  all these  years since white men killed  many of our people.  On the walls  of the sacred caves  where their bones are kept  are the paintings of the totems of our tribe.

We have already  occcupied  a small area at  Seal Yard  under Miners  Rights held by  three of our tribesmen.  We  will  continue to build our  new  home  there ( marked on the map  with a cross), then buy  some working horses with which we  will trap  and  capture  wild  unbranded  horses and cattle.  These we will  use to build up  a cattle station  within the  borders of this ancient  Gurindji land.   And we are searching  the area  for valuable rocks which  we hope  to sell to  help feed  our people.   We will  ask  the N.T. Welfare  Department for  help with motor  for pump, seeds for garden, tables, chairs, and others things as well .  Later on we will  build  a road and an airstrip  and maybe a school. Meanwhile, most of our people  will continue to  live in the camp  we have built  at the Wave Hill Welfare Centre  12 miles away and the children continue to  go to  school there.  

We beg  of you  to hear our voices asking that the land marked  on the map  be returned to the Gurindji people. It is about 500 square miles in area but this is only  a very small fraction  of the land  leased by  Vesteys  in these parts.   We are prepared to  pay  for our land  the same annual rental  the Vesteys  now  pay.  If the question of compensation arises , we feel  that we have already  paid enough  during  50 years  or more, during which time  we and  our fathers   worked for no wages  at all much of the time  and for  a mere pittance  in  recent   years. 

If you can grant  this wish  for which we  humbly ask, we would show the rest of Australia  and the whole world  that we are capable of working  and planning  our own destiny as free citizens .   Much  has  been  said about  our refusal  to accept  responsibility  in the past  ,  but who  would show  initiative  working for starvation wages , under impossible conditions, without education  for strangers  in  their land ?   But we are ready to show initiative  now .  We have  already begun.  We  know how to  work cattle better  than  any white man and we  know and  love this land of ours.

If our tribal  lands are returned to us, we want  them, not as  another  " Aboriginal Reserve ", but as a leasehold  to be run cooperatively as a mining  lease and cattle station by the Gurindji Tribe.  All practical work will be  done by us,  except  such work as  book-keeping, for which we would employ  white men of  good faith , until such time as our  own  people are  sufficiently educated  to  take over .  We will also accept  the condition that if  we do not  succeed  within a reasonable  time, our land should go back  to the  Government.  ( In August last year, we  walked away from the Wave Hill  Cattle station . It was said that we did this because  wages  were very poor  ( only  six dollars per week ), living conditions  fit only for dogs, and rations  consisting  mainly of salt beef and  bread.   True  enough.  But we walked away  for other reasons  as well.  To protect  our women  and our tribe , to  try  to stand  on our own  feet.  We will never  go back  there.  ) .  Some of our  young men are working  now at Camfield  and Montejinnie Cattle Stations  for proper wages .  However,  we will ask  them to come  back to our own Gurindji  Homestead  when everything is ready...

In  his reply, Lord Casey said the Vestey’s  lease did not  expire till the year   2004. Robert Tudawali  also supported the Gurindji  and  took   part in the campaign   . He was  about to go to  Wave Hill on a  supply truck run  from  Darwin   when it was discovered he was  suffering from TB and  Captain Major went in his place .   Tudawali  died a terrible death  in July  l967 at the age of  38  . In a deathbed statement  to police he claimed  that he had been drinking a  flagon of wine with others  near Bagot  when a row broke out over his  12 year old daughter.  He had been knocked to the ground  and grass  deliberately   ignited to burn him .  He died of burns to the chest, back and arms .   Police, however, said it was not clear what had happened. There was a suggestion that  after drinking, Tudawali might   have   woken up after  drinking and, feeling cold,  set  fire to the grass  to  warm himself.

Hardy  was involved in a  more light-hearted event  in  l967 - the Australian  Yarn Spinning Championship , an NT News promotion .  He was  pitted against a colourful local identity, the much tattooed  Tall Tale  Tex Tyrell who had  won  a Talkathon in  Alice Springs back in l954 , about which  Keith Willey  had written a lively account .  There were several photographs  of  Frank , he being  billed as  Billy BorkerHardy .   Hardy  boasted  a  “secret weapon ”-his pipe, which he  jabbed to emphasise a point. Judges included Cec Holmes and Doug Lockwood .
 The event was staged in the Hotel Darwin and eventually won by Hardy  after  Tyrell collapsed  following   more than three hours of earbashing.  A subsequent  Swan Brewery  advertisement in the  NT News carried  drawings of  Hardy and Tyrell which  were probably  done by  Frank.   A lengthy article  by Hardy explained how he had become involved in the contest -Bowditch and others in  a pub  had urged him to  enter . NEXT : A quiet place to write a book

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DIARY OF A CURLEW CARER # 1 Enter the Killer Kookaburra

The arrival or  two more  cute  baby Curlews  is  a  wonderful  event . But  protecting them from predators brings back bad memories .The very first Curlew protected to a stage in  growth when it  was  felt to be  “safe” disappeared  overnight .

 A cat, a  dog , a snake ?  Then  along  came  Chicky, mentioned  several times in this blog , who survived  the  marauding  Barking  Owls  and  other  predators .  When  Chicky’s  parents became  broody again , they drove  their  offspring , upon  which   they  had  lavished  care   and   protection ,  away  from  the  backyard  so  that  they  could  canoodle .  Chicky  joined  the  large  number of  Curlews who  congregate out the front .

Each  time booted-out Chicky  dares  to venture into the backyard seeking  to  be  fed by  my wife, its father homes in like an Exocet missile, wings  outspread , screeching ,  and  drives its sibling off  the  range . Poor Chicky  has  bravely snuck  into the  kitchen  on  two  occasions ,  seeking  sympathy  and  tucker .

Banished to  the front, Chicky has teamed up  with  Yellow Baby,  hand raised  since a baby orphan , its name due to  the  fact that  it  has  a  yellow  band  on  a  leg. When my wife   goes out the  front of  the house and calls Chicky  up run  Chicky, Yellow Baby... and an increasing   number  of  buddies  trying to  pass themselves off  as  Chicky  for a  quick  feed.

 When  my  wife was  feeding  the  father in the backyard one  afternoon, a Blue-winged  Kookaburra swooped down   and started to  gobble down  the  food.  Knowing  that  Kookaburras  kill  baby  birds, including Curlews,I dashed out  waving a  broom to  drive  it  away. The  Kookaburra  seemed  to  think  it  was a game and  flapped about  the  yard , me  running   hither  and  thither,  like  the Fuller Brush Man .  From  the  fence , the Kookaburra   looked at  the  Curlew mother with  the chicks  and  she  responded  with  a  hiss.        



The Kaikoura Star, a weekly ,  like so many newspapers in the country is owned by an Australian conglomerate, Fairfax . The Media  Entertainment and Arts Alliance says that in Australia  1500 journalists  were made redundant  during 2012-2013.  Between  3500 and  4000  journalists  now work  on  newspapers , down from 6500   five years  ago.    

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


CANBERRRA:  We can  exclusively reveal  that  actor  David  Suchet   is   really here  on a top  secret assignment -  as a consultant  for a proposed   Australian version of  the   hilarious  BBC TV series  Blott On  The  Landscape.

In the  British smash hit  , based on the 1975 novel by Tom Sharpe ,  Suchet   played  the  part  of   Blott ,  a  former  German prisoner of  war  gardener , who  helps   bossomy  Lady  Maud  Lynchwood  save  her  ancestral  mansion  being  destroyed  to  make way for  a  motorway, an  act   secretly  supported by her  unfaithful , money- hungry husband,  Sir  Giles  Lynchwood,  a  dodgy politician, played  by that arch villain , Arthur Daley (George Cole ).

Suchet  reluctantly  admitted he was  approached by a group of investors ,one thought to be Phillip Adams of the ABC, to act as a  talent scout for the Aussie  series ,  called  Blotto  On  the  Australian Landscape.  With  Coalition  governments  promising to build  more infrastructure roads in  Australia   than  the  Holy  Roman  Empire , it is thought now is  an ideal time for the Aussie remake.

Furthermore, it has been suggested  past and present  politicians  should be  considered   for   parts   in  the series. The  casting  couch  could  be  occupied  by a  host of  would be  starlets   wanting  to  play the   Australian equivalent part  of  frowsy   Mrs  Forthby , who  panders to  Sir  Giles’s  odd fetish , at  times  greeting  him at  her home   dressed up as  the Naughty Catheter  Nurse  or  a  schoolgirl, even gagging and tying  him  to  the bed   .  Suchet  said  Mrs  Forthby  is a kind of  Madam Lash  personality . Did  Little Darwin , he asked, know anyone who  fits  this  description  in  the  political   world   ? Do  we  ever !!!!

The actor, made famous by the  Agatha Christie  series , said he  found  comments by the  Federal minister for rustic ventures  , Barnaby Joyce, above , most interesting during the recent ABC   Q and A session .  Fascinating was  the  fact that  the  minister plays with  a  killer  tick.

“I am sure Agatha Christie could  have  written  a  play  around such  a  murderous  insect , if  she had known   that  it existed,” he  added .   At the end of  Q and A , Barnaby pulled  the  pet  tick from  his pocket  and  showed it to  Suchet, who fell to  the  floor with  fright and lay there like a corpse until revived with smelling salts by  the ABC soon to be sacked chief tea lady and head of  program planning  , Miss  Marple .


Volcanic cloud  formation  Coral Sea .Vallis Photograph.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Days  before the  Federal  and Queensland governments gave the   green light for Adani , an Indian  mining company, to proceed with its $10 billion Carmichael project  in the Gallilee Basin,  GetUp , the independent  and not for profit campaign group, sent  out  the  following  surprising  email  :-


This is almost too dirty to believe.  Adani  is a coal company with a record of environmental destruction across the world: destroying conservation areas, bribing government officials, and blatantly ignoring environmental regulations. Now they want Australians to trust them with the world's largest coal export  facility on the Great Barrier Reef coastline. So when GetUp members made a video explaining Adani's history, it  went viral online and was noticed by potential investors across the world.

Then, suddenly, it disappeared.  It looks like an individual who has a business relationship with Adani set up a fake website, uploaded our video, and launched  a  copyright  action claiming our video  as  their own. That  means the video has been taken down just  days after  Adani  announced  it  was  looking  for  banks  to  fund their project.

We can't be silenced now. It's time to fight back. We're urgently working with lawyers and YouTube, and we're confident the video will be back online soon. But that's not enough. The message is obviously working - so let's supercharge it. If  enough of us chip in, we can make sure every investor, banker or politician who researches Adani sees the video and learns that this company should not be trusted to operate on our Great Barrier Reef.

Here's what we know about  this  video incident:

A copyright complaint was lodged to YouTube by someone from an obscure website. The website is mostly empty, containing only random pieces of content. The website has uploaded an exact copy of our Adani video through a different video provider, back-dated  the  video to last year, and claimed it as their own.

The person who uploaded the content and lodged the copyright claim has a very distinctive  name, which also happens to be the name of someone who works for an  Indian insurance company. This same insurance company also happens to be a  close business partner with none other than Adani. Doesn't look good, does it?

The video puts the spotlight on Adani's frightening track record. It highlights Adani's documented history of theft, bribery and corruption. It implores investors not to help Adani construct the biggest coal mine in Australia, build the world's biggest coal port on the Reef coastline, or traffic coal through the Great Barrier Reef on thousands of ships.  

The video had been seen by tens of thousands, including many of Adani's potential investors. Online platform Upworthy picked up the video, giving  it truly global exposure. Just days after it was released, the Courier Mail wrote a piece titled "India's Ministry of Environment found Adani violated environmental conditions but company expected to be allowed Queensland mine". And now, at the most critical moment for Adani's plans to industrialise our Reef, the video has been removed. This is our chance to show we will not be silenced by anyone. That our voices, together, are bigger than whoever is trying to hide the truth.

If enough of us chip in, we can make sure that every time someone searches for Adani online, the first thing they find is our video - a clear explanation of their history of bribery and environmental breaches.
Click here to get involved.

PS - We're working with online advertising experts to target investors, bankers, business partners, and politicians both where they read their news, and any time they research Adani's project online. Every time someone searches "Adani" or "Abbot point" or similar terms, there's a bidding war between advertisers who want their  ad displayed. So if we want to reach potential investors, and show that Adani is not trusted by Australians, every extra dollar beats these people at their own game. Alone, none of us can fight back against a huge company like that, but together, we can make sure that everyone knows they should not be trusted with our Reef. Can you join us? A  southern media report  claims  Adani  is  in  dire financial  straits .

Sunday, July 27, 2014


From the safety of its mother's tail feathers , three day old Curlew watches more adventurous sibling in  the dangerous  blog  backyard .Barking Owls  beware.
Soaking up  some  sun.
Family  in  seedling  patch , regularly nibbled by  Possums,  poses  for mug cameraman  who   forgets  to  put  the  chip back in  the  camera, thus missing out on  some  wonderful  shots as  they  wander  about  the  yard .


An  exclusive   expose  by    an   anonymous   mug   punter , close  friend  of   the   desperadoes  involved   In   this   failed  Fine  Cotton - like  turf  swindle ,  which  involved  the  misuse  of   Defence  Department  equipment .

Bookies can smell a set-up from four furlongs away on a windless day  and  Fannie Bay's rough-and-tumble  mainly blue-collar ring  was no different, but that  didn't stop one small  group of punting  tragics from giving  it a go.

The  players in the great bookie plot were led by one James Arthur Ramsay, better known as Jerker Jim and later to be a co-founder of the Kings Cross Whisper , but at that  time reporter at the NT News. Jerker, formerly of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Albany, Gympie, some of which locales he departed in unseemly  haste  with various citizens wanting to know what happened to their money, either loaned and given over  to a sure-fire get-rich scheme engineered  by Jerker,shown below when he was editor of the Waratah Whisper .

Three  other toilers at the ramshackle NT News office made up the rest of the team-- Peter Blake, enthusiastic but not too successful Fannie Bay regular and ironically years later to become a Darwin bookie himself, photo at top ; Margaret Greenberg  reporter and  fearless but perennially-broke punter whose good looks enabled her get on the nod with the more randy members of the Fannie Bay bookies " fraternity," and   Grahame Aimers, lanky Kiwi linotype operator and flatmate of Ramsay and Blake and like many  Kiwis of that era, closer to  a  quid  than  the  print. 


The final player shall be known only as Bill the Soldier, thirsty army sergeant stationed  at Larrakeyah Army Barracks , befriended by Jerker during many a session at  their  favorite watering hole, the Vic Hotel, where the clientele was ruled with avuncular discipline by Richard Fong Lim, a good bloke whose brother Alec, coincidentally,  was a Fannie Bay bookie.


At that time (early mid 1960s) the Darwin Turf Club got its radio broadcasts of the Saturday races courtesy of the ABC, but occasionally prior commitments meant these broadcasts were delayed. Such occasions were the cricket tests, the national broadcaster's holy grail and not to be interrupted for any reason, Also, technical problems would  sometimes delay the broadcast, prompting some bookies to let eager punters on after the advertised starting time, for up to three or four minutes, a fact noted by the band  of   desperates.


This course of events was at the heart of the scheme to dud the  bagmen. The ultimate beauty of it was that no laws would be broken. by betting after the starting time, the satchel-swingers had no comeback if they got taken to the cleaners by astute students of ABC radio form.


The big hurdle facing the would-be ring raiders was how to get the result of the non-broadcast races onto the track where the discreet plunges on the winner would be orchestrated.  Learning the result was easy -- phone mates in the south and listen to the broadcast, or have somebody with communications equipment powerful enough to tap into the race broadcasts on the Sydney and Melbourne radio stations . Remember we are talking pre-mobile and internet days and it was not as if somebody could stroll into the racecourse car park with a bloody great ham radio strapped to his back and tune into the races. To say that this would not attract unwelcome official attention is  rather like saying horse shit won't attract flies.


Still, wouldn't it be lovely if somehow, somebody could be positioned unseen in the car park within easy sight of the betting ring, and such accomplice would semaphore the result to members of the group, quids clutched in clammy hands and ready to invest on the sure thing with  bookies still looking for action after the starting time.

Enter Sergeant Bill  for his starring role. He had access to an army communications truck, and so the ability no-one else in Darwin possessed, picking up the race calls direct from Joe Brown and  Ken Howard  when the Darwin Turf Club had no live broadcast. Bloody perfect!The following Saturday there would be no broadcast of the first two races in the south because of cricket commitments-- and this was the window of opportunity. Depending on starting  times this gave  the group potentially the first  four races to bet on.


However stern rules applied --  (1) If a bolter came in at big odds give it a miss --investing 20 or 30 pounds  on a 33/1 shot would certainly ring alarm bells with the bookies particularly after the race had started and very likely such bookie would look very hard at the person wishing to place such a bet, maybe even suggesting  he  fuck off  and stick his money you-know-where . (2) Don't bet with the same bookie twice  and as there were four people handling the commission this was no problem. (3) No more than 30 quid in one bet -- also not  a problem because the total bank for the ring-raid was about  200 quid. (4) Bet each way when odds allowed it and have a second losing bet on another horse to help allay suspicion. With up to four races to have a crack at, the haul for the day could reach a couple of grand -- serious cash for impoverished NT News hacks and  an  army sergeant.

 Race day loomed and all concerned hoped it would  culminate in a rollicking evening  at the Hotel Darwin lounge bar or the Fannie Bay Hotel, -- traditional sites for Saturday night roistering. -- the Vic being reserved for routine week-day tippling.

By Thursday night the plan was ready to snap into operation. Bill had the army communications truck lined up, and the gang of four had targeted the bookies who, on previous  form, would be be taking on punters after starting time.

This is how the betting coup would work. Blake was the point man stationed at the end of the betting ring where he had an uninterrupted view of the nerve centre of the operation -- Sergeant Bill's truck. As soon at the horses crossed the line Bill would hold up a piece of paper with the winner's number and Blake, Jerker, Greenberg and Aimers would fan out to get the money on. It looked foolproof and it was.


Just one problem. Less than 24 hours to race day the Darwin Turf Club announced it had arranged an alternative broadcast and there would be no interruption of the race calls. And so, the Great  Darwin  Betting Coup collapsed. There was indeed a gathering of the gang of four at the Darwin Hotel on Saturday night, where, in a sea of beer, they pondered  what might have been. Oh, and to add their sorrows, they had all done their money at the races that day.