Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Another  tasty   Filthy  French  Postcard  from  nomadic   Peter  and  Judi   Burleigh who arrive  back  in  Paris  from a soujourn  in Yugoslavia to resume  the  hard  life on  their cruiser
A segue, in case you haven’t looked it up in your Webster’s, is a kind of dissolve from one scene to another. It can vary in length from a few seconds to a few days. We  segued in France for nine days so we   could re-educate ourselves about the higher qualities of self-indulgence. After that we had to escape again – this time to that non-Schengen stronghold, Tunisia.
Darren and Mark came over from the UK for three days. They are good friends and know  three days is the maximum you can live on a boat together. Not only that, they are our international benchmark of what it is to be indulgent and they have surpassed us in almost every way, having started conspicuously consuming in Australia before we did. We have tested our joint stamina for Champagne and Pate and find that three days is the limit for our own livers, hearts and other vital organs to withstand the onslaught of fats, spices, sugar and alcohol. More than three days and these organs will burst out of our bodies and slither screaming into the sunset.

For your information, the best Trattoria in the world is in the French city of Dole. It’s on the left opposite the Petit Casino supermarket as you climb the main street. Look out for the two dark red awnings. It sells exquisite marinated prawns, duck liver pate with truffles, quail pies, smoked eel, rare cheeses, heartbreakingly beautiful berry tarts and probably other outlandish luxuries like Sparrow Breasts and barbequed Swan Hearts. It’s outrageously expensive and outrageously wonderful.

We pretend to go cruising in a different direction but consensus pulls us back to Dole. When you’re home, you’re home, so we moor there and don’t move again until all three of us are pale, our wallets anaemic, and we’ve used all the plates, utensils and glasses on the boat…While this decadent behaviour is happening on De Vlinder, tourists flock to the birthplace of Louis Pasteur, just a quail’s throw from our rear deck. He was born in a stream-fronted street of tanneries which runs along the bottom of Dole’s main hill. In these tanneries hides were stripped and soaked in chemicals, washed, shaved, scraped and de-scummed direct into the stream.It must have reeked like a Labor Party branch-stacking .

All aquatic life for fifty miles was dead or mutated. No wonder little Louis took an interest in purifying beer and milk, two products which had an excellent record for making people sick. Today, of course, every damn thing is sanitized. When you visit Dole and think how pretty the Rue des Tanneries is, remember your memory of the worst smell you’ve ever encountered and apply it in front of Louis Pasteur’s childhood home. You may never wear leather or drink milk or beer ever again.

The bells sound from the church at the top of the hill. They are tolling for we, who have maintained Saint Hedonism’s cultural heritage for another year but resent being woken up by some guy in a cassock jumping up and down with a rope with a bell on it. Respect is what it’s all about. NEXT: More exotic locations .  

Monday, September 29, 2014

CYCLONE TRACY : Continuing biography of Crusading Editor,"Big Jim" Bowditch

On  Christmas Eve l974 , Bowditch  went on a round of  parties.  At one he had a row with  his wife and  she  went home .  He then  drove  his   VW Khombi van   to  a party in  a  printery .  As the evening wore on and the  rain from Cyclone Tracy  bucketed down,  Bowditch became  an aggressive  nuisance.  Finally , three men  bundled him  , struggling and protesting, into a  sedan and  drove away, the idea   being to  take him home to Fannie Bay. Along the way he  grabbed the driver by  the throat.  Because of  the  torrential rain and  gale force wind,  it was hard  for the driver to see and he missed  the drive way  at the Bowditch  residence , causing   the car to  sink  down in the flooded lawn .
Betty  put her head out the window and said  she did not want Jim  home and to  take him  away . Despite that,  Jim  was “ thrown out ” and as the car  reversed in a flurry of mud and water , he tried to climb  on top .  However, he fell off  , and  the  car drove  away  into  the  tempest .
Bowditch  then  went upstairs and  took off his  sodden  clothes. Betty  and daughter  Ngaire  sought  shelter in a  downstairs  room  as the house began to break up.  Bowditch went   to  rescue  a Persian cat   just as the house  blew apart . Both the cat and  Jim  became   airborne. On landing , unhurt,  Bowditch joined his family  in  the downstairs room , and  they  huddled under  a table.


At daybreak they emerged  to  view the destruction . The main part of the house with  large picture windows  had been torn apart . As all his clothes had been blown away,  Bowditch , only wearing underpants , donned  one of  Betty’s dry   tennis frocks which had been in her car.  It was a  smart little  outfit , white with   green  piping. Unfortunately, nobody  got a photograph of  Big Jim in  a  tennis frock .

Through some   means ,  clad  in  a T-shirt and  jocks, apparently reluctant to  be seen  at large  wearing a dress, Bowditch  was   taken to the printery  , where he had left his  van.    Like  most of Darwin  , the  printery was  surrounded  by  wreckage and damaged  and  upturned cars. A scene   of chaotic   devastation  . However, right side up ,  little damaged except for a broken side window,   was  Jim’s van.  It started without any  trouble , and just as he  drove off  he  hit a Great Dane dog , Ollie , which nervously   bounded  in front  of  the vehicle.   Two headlights were broken in the  collision.  The large dog , apparently unhurt,  was  abused by Bowditch .  He said  his van had  survived   destruction in the  fierce cyclone only to be damaged by a  dog as big as  a  Shetland pony.

Bowditch, still  wearing  underpants,  turned  up  at  the    residence  of  reporter   Kim Lockwood and told  him  that at least  20  people had been killed  in the cyclone ; the final toll is given as  71,which included 22 missing at sea ,  with  those injured close to 700.   Lockwood  gave Jim  a  pair  of  shorts .

The  Bowditches  lost  just about everything in the cyclone  including  irreplacable photographs and  papers. Gone with the wind were title papers relating to  grandfather Manning’s printery in England.   The battered   Walkley  Award for the Sea Fox  saga  also  disappeared . Another loss  was  the script for the  Barcoo Rot  revue  he had  played a big part in writing in   Alice Springs  nearly a quarter of  a century  ago. 


While  Jim insisted  on staying on to report the  destruction of  Darwin,  Betty and  daughters Ngaire and  Sharon   drove south in a convoy . With them were the two pet dogs, Fosters and Snoopy,  which they smuggled into  various  accommodation places  along the way.  After reaching  family relations in Port Augusta, they made  their way  across to Sydney  and stayed with the  Freedens for six weeks.  They also spent some time at  North Head Quarantine Station  where  people they knew from  Darwin  had  been  accommodated.

One of  the  earliest   journalists to lob in Darwin after the cyclone from Sydney  was “Flasher ” Jim  Oram  who travelled  light - in  a suit.  Once  he  got to Darwin he  abandoned  the  suit coat and  tie  and chopped  the trouser  legs off at the knee . He and Jim were soon working as a team to cover the  major story. Bowditch later   flew south  to see Betty and  daughters  and  then  went  back  to  Darwin .

As part of the Whitlam  Government’s  campaign to  rebuild  Darwin  instructions were  given to employ as many people as possible  in government  positions.  Due to this   directive ,  Bowditch, journalist  Peter Blake  and  even  the Great White Hunter , Allan Stewart,  were given  jobs in the  Information and Public  Relations  section  in Darwin . Blake and  Bowditch  became involved in the production of a magazine for  the Animal Industry  Branch .  With  his  early desire to  go on the land , Bowditch thought  working  for the  AIB  would be   an ideal job , but it was  not  to be .

Stewart brought an unusual  entrepreneurial   flair to the  government department . It could  be said that he  took to the  job like a duck to water , but a  duck  not usually seen  on public service  ponds.   Sent to  the Sydney Royal Easter Show to help with the  Northern Territory’s  stand , he was  in his element.  Leaving the stand to be manned by mere  public servants ,  he made a bee-line for  the  Members’ facilities  where  he  lubricated  his tonsils, met old   business associates, cronies , and rubbed  shoulders with top   military brass,  with whom he got on  exceptionally  well .

Imagine the surprise of  the   staff  actually  working on the   NT   stand when the Royal Australian Navy Band  turned up and began to  play.  It was so noisy  people could  not  make themselves heard . It was  hard to sell the glories of the  Territory because of the  enthusiastic  naval band . The  Great White Hunter had  arranged  the band’s   visit from his  headquarters  in the  Members’ Bar .   An exasperated member  of the  NT  team , Dick Timperley ,  said he  would not be surprised if Stewart  organised a  band of  Scottish  pipers to  parachute in on  the  stand , which  would  have  been  an  awesome sight for  bystanders looking up the  kilts.

Because of damage  done to the  Fort Hill  powerhouse  during the cyclone, the supply to Darwin  often used to  switch off for some   reason  which the Department of Works  seemed unable to  determine.   On  one occasion  Clem Jones , former  Lord Mayor  of Brisbane, and a member of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission  ,  was in the Travelodge  when the  power cut out.  He  drove to the powerhouse and  asked  for an  explanation.   Court proceedings were disrupted  when the power suddenly  went  off. 

The situation was so  serious that  it was discussed at a special meeting of the Legislative  Assembly . Stewart  sat in the public  gallery and listened  to  the  debate .  Irritated  by what   he heard ,  he  caused a stir when he  called out   an  obvious military type solution to the  the problem : get a  submarine to come to  Darwin and  run a giant  extension   cord  down to the  vessel’s  powerful  generator.  The  Speaker  cried “ Order! Order !” Stewart , more red faced that  normal ,  apologised, and  stomped out. NEXT: More drama.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014



Their snouts in the public trough , top  executives  of  the  national broadcaster, soon to be  lined up and  shot by the government ,  captured here on an  ASIO  spy camera , which itself is  monitored by the Chinese Secret Service . A leaked  report says Late Night Live presenter,  Phillip  Adams , holds similar  rowdy sessions  in  the Muswellbrook  ABC  office, near his prickle farm, from  which he makes numerous  subversive  broadcasts   undermining  Aussie  Vegemite  and  wilfully fights the  deliberate  dumbing down  and  brainwashing  of  the  nation.

Our man in  Canberra, Argus Tuft , recently involved in  an  incident  with an  armed sniffer  dog  in  parliament  house , witnessed  by  Cordy , reports that  the ABC cabal will  soon  be replaced by right thinking government  appointees.
Tuft -who  has vowed he will strenuously defend himself against  any charges brought by the RSPCA- says  the  ABC has  long been  guilty of  doing their job properly, informing the  public , making superb documentaries, keeping  poor buggers still on the land despite banks , droughts, feral pigs, red tape  and  low market prices up to date with  daily rural news,   asking questions  that  journalists  are  supposed  to  ask  and  showing up  so  much of  the  commercial  crap  being  force  fed  on  the  nation.

 Of course, this could be a  lost  cause because  bogans , boofheads  and  carpetbaggers   are  on  the  rise along   with  regiments  of  goose - steppers  in  blue ties .


The Bard  has decided to change his famous soliloquoy about  the slings and arrows  of outrageous  fortune  to  include  the  danger  of  falling  mangoes  dropped  by screeching  fruit bats . This  is  due  to  the  fact that  during open air  performances   of   Romeo and  Juliet  in  Queen's Gardens , Townsville ,  marauding  fruit  bats  have   lobbed  a  few   mangoes  on  culture   vultures  from   nearby, well laden  trees, one  in  the  centre of  the  photo.  It  would  be  an  unexpected  and  dramatic  ending  if  Juliet  is   knocked out by a  mushy  mango and  carted off  to Townsville  General  Hospital  for  mouth  to  mouth  resuscitation  by  Romeo .    

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Vegetarian  Kiwi tourist  dodging  sausages plummeting to ground   from African  Sausage Tree  in North Queensland . See close up of  snags  below .


Looking in need of Maundy Money from  Her Majesty for a  Spring  nip and  tuck , this old Turkey with a wonky foot  ruffles  its scruffy feathers in an aviary in Townsville's Queen's Gardens . Originally part of   a   100 acre  botanical park started  in the 1870s, there were 100,000 American soldiers based  there  in  WWll.  Early exotic plantings  included an  acre of  grape vines . Now reduced to 10 acres-four hectares - the  highly popular  park   is  currently  the  venue  for  Shakespeare  under the stars-Romeo and  Juliet .The  Turkey  may  play  poor Yorick  in  an extended  season .   
A view from  the gardens  to Castle  Hill.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


 A   pleasing sight in  another   grand  Townsville   attraction - Anderson Gardens. The area is in the process of a  major  upgrade , the  Northern Territory  section  to  be  expanded .   Vallis  Photograph

Monday, September 22, 2014


Female  Satin  Bower Bird  with  assorted  bling.  Vallis  Photographs 

Sunday, September 21, 2014


East of  the  modern  day  mining town of Tennant Creek is  the Bill Allen  Lookout  with   plaques  that   commemorate    the   wild  and  woolly  days of   prospecting  and  mining  in  a  region  which  saw  several  gold rushes .    One  mine was  even named  Eldorado  and produced  much  gold and copper . Other  very  rich  mines were Juno  and Warrego . The  town  was surrounded by  mines .
Jack Noble , a tough  old prospector , went from  rags  to  riches  and owner of the local pub  , but  still looked decidedly  ragged. There  is a wonderful  photograph of  him, one-eyed  and  battered,   hunched  over a  dolly  pot . His partner ,Weaber, was totally blind.  In May 1950, a Sydney newspaper  reported  that  Noble, then 60,   discoverer of  Noble's Nob,  described as  the  biggest gold  producer  in  the  world ,  was heading out  west   by  car  along the 20th parallel  to The  Granites , another  gold bearing area in  the Tanami Desert , still producing  right  up  to  recent times .  Apart  from finding Noble's Nob, the report said he had  also discovered Weal Doria , ore from which  crushed 50 ounces to the  ton .  
 Nobles  Nob   regularly produced assays  which  exceeded 100 oz  (3.2 kg) of  gold per metric ton. One  particularly  rich area within the ore body produced over 300 oz per ton and during its existence  produced over  a  million  ounces  (32 tons) of  gold.

 One of  the many  famous  finds was  made by Joe Kaczinski and Bill Bohning who named their claim  after Kaczinski's dog, Peko. Peko Mines was established in 1949 and, during  its  forty-year history, it made a major contribution to the development of Tennant Creek. When this  writer   called on  the  manager at Peko Mines in the late 1970s  he  was  invited  home  to  lunch  and  discussed  Australian authors .

A woman  who lived  through  the tough , wild west days of  Tennant Creek and beyond, was  Mona  Minahan , who told  me how she had  been present when a  man had  been shot dead  in  a  Tennant Creek  pub.   Old Jack Noble she described as  a rough  old  bushie .  Mona ,  went to Alice Springs  from Adelaide   to work for the  Kilgariffs , who ran the  Stuart Arms Hotel .  Bernie Kilgariff became  a popular  politician .   On  her   own , she  ran supplies out to miners and prospectors . Late in  life she  ran  a  hotel  in  Alice  Springs  and  when   drinkers became  punchy  she ordered  them  outside  and  refereed the  fisticuffs .
Wolfram was  also extracted from the Centre and this plaque records the fact that Chinese  were  brought in by the Commonwealth to mine it during  WWll. If I remember  correctly, Italians  had  also been involved  in  early wolfram mining . There were  many characters in Tennant , including boxer, miner Al McDonald , the  Maori  Mayor of  Tennant  Creek ; spritely betting shop proprietor,  Alfie  Chittock ; the  many  unsung Aboriginal women  who formed night  patrols . The  community sent fiery telegrams  to  Canberra  complaining about  poor services , a  camel  participating  in a  demo . There was uproar when the  price of  beer  was   put  up.  A former Chief Minister of the  Northern Territory  , Ian Tuxworth , received  part  of  his schooling  in Tennant .  

Eldorado  prospector  stakes  out  claim , soaks  up  golden  sun .
In the Northern Territory  Police Force  a  posting  to Tennant Creek , where the first constable  was  set  up in  a  tent ,   used  to be regarded as  banishment  to Siberia . For  further information and  many photographs there is an excellent website ... fortennantcreekers .com
Photographs  by  Outback  Correspondent , Abbra  


Vallis Photographs

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Spring  Is In The  Air :  Copyright  Bucklee Bell .

What   beautiful   beings  human animals  really are . Carrying  that  organic  computer around in the top of our heads. My philosophy of art is “Everything goes”. You can use whatever materials  and  tools you have to "mine your mind" and see what comes out of that brain upstairs. "No Rules" ;  everything  depends  on the eye of  the  beholder . What is  art?  You can design skyscrapers  that reach into the sky, you can paint  cats for the  rest of  your life  or  you can weld  huge metal and  plastic  monstrosities  that  fight  each other , or possibly use a microscope to tattoo " Love is all  you need " on a fly’s ass . Art  is  whatever  you  think  it  is.

Thus  read  the artist’s statement    in  the  2012  catalogue   for  an  exhibition of his   paintings  entitled  OFF THE WALL , staged by  the  Faculty of Fine  Arts   at   Chiangmai  University, Thailand  . He went on to say his first awareness of personally meaningful art was discovered in  the works  of surrealists , in particular  Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, May Ray and Yves Tanguy ; throw  Picasso into  the mix.
By Peter Simon
 In 1967-1970 ,   Bucklee was  a stand out   player  in the Underground Comix movement  in  San  Francisco and  Berkeley, California  ,  under the  name  Buckwheat Florida, Jnr. An example of his black and white  pen and ink art of  that  period  follows.

 In  1969, his work  featured  in  the  joint   Undergound  Comix  Show  at the Sy  Lowinsky Gallery ,Berkeley.  One  of  those  who rose to  fame  and  notoriety  from  that  period , Robert Crumb , recalled  that  Buckley  Bell’s  drawings  inspired  and  blew  his  mind .  Of  Crumb,  described  as    a counterculture cartoonist who dropped  LSD and  for  four decades, it has been said,  his  style  and  satirical tone   shocked,  entertained ,  titillated  and  challenged , this   was  seen  as   high  praise.
A  recent article  by  Steve Burgess  in  Salon  asked if  Crumb , who invented the  sexy comic  character Fritz  the Cat  , was  the Bruegel of  the  times  or  suffering  from  juvenile vision.
Bucklee and Crumb did not meet in person . Bucklee was told that Crumb  had  said  he wanted to meet him . However,  because  each one  was  distracted  at a  special Comix  event , they  failed to do so .  As   Bucklee put it , this was because ,  Crumb , raunchy singer-songwriter  Janis Joplin  and   others were "schmoozing"  and he (Bucklee)  was high on  wrong drugs , paranoid,  and  left.

Joplin's  psychedelic Porsche  convertible  the  morning she  was  found dead due to a drug overdose. Known as  the Queen  of Psychedelic , she  was  27.  Crumb  had  designed   the  cover  of  one  of  her  albums .

  In following years  Crumb had a comic called Facts O'  Life  Funnies  -hippie sex education, women's rights  - in  which  Buckwheat Florida and girlfriend , Strawberry Fields,  who  got  preggers , figured. Because of  this, Bucklee was not  sure if  Crumb regarded him as  a hick .  Later on , through  a French bookdealer , he  corresponded  with Crumb who  critiqued  his  art , which was appreciated . In  what  could  be  regarded as "revenge" for Crumb having sent him up in 1970,  Bucklee  provided  the  following  painting . 
Copyright Bucklee Bell
Entitled   ATTACK ON R. CRUMB'S  PICNIC  , it shows Crumb and comic artist Aline Kominsky , Crumb's wife  , she armed with  a  swat,  telling Robert   Fritz  the  randy cat seems to   have outlived his time as  a throw rug ; there are more insects  invading  the outing  than  in a Hitchcock horror movie;  ants  are  stealing hotdogs;  tits  are  mentioned in an article; is  that a  crank handle in  the  snake's mouth ? The reclining man  with the long  flowing beard  is  a Crumb character , Mr Natural ; other Crumb  creations  are in  the  fabulous  mix. Bucklee was inspired by a joint cartoon Aline  and  Robert  drew  for   New Yorker .
Little Darwin contacted  Bucklee , 69, in  Chiangmai where he and his  wife run Kesorn Arts which sells ethnic arts and antiques...textiles, silver jewellery  and  trappings of various tribes . His  artwork is  shown  in  various  galleries .

 Bucklee  was  born  in   North   Florida, the   Deep South,  the  day  before  the  Germans  surrendered - Adolf  and  Eva safely ensconced in  their U-boat on  the  way south , as he put it .  
About  eight , he   realised whites  did not treat  black  people nicely , which affected him as  the years went  by. In 1963 , a Baptist Christian boy, he went to Florida State University in Tallahassee , possibly  thinking  of  being  a missionary  to  Africa.  But alas , after long all night " meaning of life in  the cosmos " ramblings  with  some interesting students , he dropped  "  fantasy  based religion  by the wayside".  After  that , he got into student government  and state  politics  by  1965, reading  Ginsberg , Keroauc  and  writing  poetry. 

Then   he "got lucky" and  with  a  roommate , who was  returning home,  went  to  San Francisco  where  he  watched the  beatnik  to hippie era unfold  before his eyes. " I  was  in over my head . I loved  to doodle  and when I  was  zonked   Don Schenker, publisher of Yellow Dog Underground  Comix, saw my books and printed my art in several issues." 

In 1969  Bucklee  published  his own comic , Suds , under the  catchy monicker Buckwheat Florida, Jnr. Suds it  was  that so  impressed Crumb .   In the l970s  Bucklee  moved  to the mountains of North California to get away  from big city life. During that time he got into the  habit of using uppers  to do art work and  as a result both his art and  body suffered . In 1977, his daughter  was  born and he swore off “bad drugs” because  he  wanted to see  her grow  up.  For  years  he  had  lost  the  desire to  do  art .
He can be contacted at  buckleebell@hotmail.com

 NEXT: A visit to Thailand  sets  him on a  new  course in  life as  a  renowned  bead  expert  and author on the subject  with  a  renewed  interest  in  painting, often expressing  strong views  about  politics , war  and  the  environment .