Sunday, November 29, 2015

SYRIA INSPIRED ART DECO STAR

A  recent  acquisition is  this 1927  British  illustration -Astarte ,The Syrian Venus and Her Attendants -by the outstanding Russian-born French artist, Romain de Tirtoff (1892-1990) , known by the pseudonym of his initials , as pronounced by the French, Erte. The son of a Russian admiral,  he  moved to Paris, discovered the art nouveau drawings of  Aubrey  Beardsley , and became  renowned  for  using  art  nouveau  and  deco in  fashion, jewellery , interior decorating , his  striking  graphic  design skills producing  many  covers of  leading  magazines such as  Harper's  Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Ladies Home Journal, Vogue  and  Illustrated  London  News.  

Costumes he designed included  those for The Ziegfeld Follies and  Follies  Bergere. In Hollywood, he designed  sets and costumes  for  films  including  Ben Hur and The  Restless  Sex which starred Marion Davies , the film financed by the media magnate William Randolph Hearst.

BAT MOBILE DRIVES BATS BATTY

Amorous , quick  moving  micro  bats are both deceived and frustrated by Little Darwin's  mobile of ceramic hanging  bats , above, bought at a Darwin  craft  fair by a  daughter, which  dangles  from  the  front  verandah. The small bats , keen  to  get friendly with  our seductive looking  hang  abouts , are  noticed  at  dusk  and dawn  flitting  around   the  uppity  bogus   bats  inviting   them  to  fly  away. Cuddly , affectionate  micro  bat  on  the wing  after  insects  and close encounter  with  the opposite sex   shown  below . 
 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

WE , THE PEOPLE , ON MARCH TO SAVE THE PLANET FROM DISASTER

Across the nation ,the world , marches  are being held to  drive home to the politicians that the Paris talks must really come to grips with the greatest threat to survival of the planet .The march taking place in Townsville  comes at a time when  it has been revealed  that large parts of  the north are  being  clear-felled under approvals given in the  last moments of the Campbell Newman government , but allowed   to continue because of  legal  manoeuvres and  what appears to  be  timidity  on behalf of  the  Queensland  government. Massive , corrupt , logging   in  PNG is devastating the environment as it is in other parts of the Pacific .  Add to this  the  huge fires burning  in  Indonesia  which  blanketed  a large  part of South East Asia  and the picture is grim in our region .
 

Monday, November 23, 2015

KANGA HITS LION FOR SIX


Belting  New  Zealand  at  the  Gabba recently could be taken as  sweet revenge for  the  All Blacks defeating the Wallabies in the World Cup . An early  postcard  shows what  great sportsmen we Australians are when it comes to matches  with  England  . It comes  from the collection of  Magnetic Island  researcher and  cricket  fan, Gary Davies ,  who once  wielded  the willow himself  in  the  Old  Dart .

Sunday, November 22, 2015

ALFRED HITCHCOCK SCENARIO

Across the Australian  tropics flying foxes ,also known as fruit bats, are on the move in large numbers as  the above photographs of Cairns , North Queensland , at dusk show. Similar  numbers have also  been  seen  flying over  Magnetic Island , off  Townsville .Slight rain on the island this morning resulted in swarms of  flying ants, fed on by birds   Photos  by  Abra.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

NEVER NEVER LAND POLITICS STUNS OBAMA , TURNBULL , DEFENCE , US AMBASSADOR

Due to all the antics  going on  in the chaotic Northern Territory  Country Liberal  Party government , headed  today by Adam Giles ( who knows what  the  morrow will  bring  in the game of musical chairs ? )  , the  regime is firmly  regarded locally,  increasingly elsewhere in the  nation   and in the corridors of power in the United  States,  as  some kind  of   Banana Republic.

While polls  predict the CLP will  be hammered at the next election , the  ALP  is not  in  the  best   position  to  benefit from  this situation as its deposed leader, Delia Lawrie , is going to stand as  an independent  in her seat , and almost  certainly win.  Unlikely  ALP candidates  have been suggested  for several  seats.
 
Undoubtedly  benefiting  from  the  two major  party tension  and  uncertainty  is  the  brand new  1Territory  ( One Territory )  Party, a non-aligned,Territory-centric group.  Little  Darwin  has  received  intriguing  info, not all favourable ,  about  the new  chums   on  the Top End  political  scene , so commissioned  a correspondent  to  put an  ear  to the ground in the Top End , loiter  about  dingy  drinking establishments  and   noisy  coffee dens,  ask questions , and  file  a report ,  with a warning to go  easy on the expense account .

First off , our investigative  reporter  said  PM Malcolm Turnbull was obviously  misquoted when  the media said  he described  Darwin as the most  dynamic place in Australia . What he actually  said  was  that  the Darwin government situation  is dynamite,  with  a  spluttering  ,  Pink  Panther " bome"on the premises . 

While  Turnbull  was in Darwin  receiving  the Crocodile Dundee treatment  in  the  Northern Territory  News  he made  inadequate statements  about the CLP signing over  the port of Darwin to  the Chinese , an incredible act  which upset President Obama , Chief  Minister  Giles was  bunkered  down  in  far away Alice Springs.  [Readers of  this blog will recall that on the subject of  the port 99 year lease, we pointed out  that  like Queen Victoria , the Pentagon was not amused , before it became  a  hot issue .] 


 Strange  indeed  was the reaction by the now federal Treasurer , Scott Morrison, who made a big thing about border security in another life/portfolio, saying the NT Government was responsible for  leasing  the port  to the Chinese and that it was not the act of  the vigilant  feds.  Excuse  the  inexcusable  honourable Chinese  schoolboy  pun, on the ABC  Insiders , Clive Palmer appeared  to  put a clacker up the clacker of  the Turnbull government  when he said it was absurd that the port had been handed over to the Chinese  and  that you could not buy a port in  China .

Add to the Territory  explosive mix   the   latest  shemozzle  over the CLP move to  oust  the  redoubtable NT Legislative Assembly   Speaker , Kezia  Purick ,  a feisty  CLP member who recently threatened ousted  federal   Defence Minister Kevin Andrews with  painful  treatment  involving a ring used in animal castration  , followed  by  a declaration  by NT Attorney-General , Johan  (John) Elferink Minister  , naturally variously nicknamed The Elf and The Fink , that he will  not stand at the next election for  Port Darwin gives the impression  that  the government  is imploding and is on the verge of collapse .   Last February Elferink led a failed late night bid to oust  Giles in  a  farce which seemed like  the ancient  Indian game of  snakes and ladders ...one minute you are up, the next down  the bottom.
The  game  they  play  in Territory  politics.

Recently  Elferink  said  he would like to slap a female member  of the Legs. Assembly, which  caused  an uproar  and a call for his resignation . All  these   incidents , as expected , received a  certain amount  of  coverage  in the local media. However, our  reporter was surprised  that  the  media has failed  to pick up the fact  that a prominent member   of  1Territory  received  death threats, which were reported to the police .
 
Floating  about  the  town  is  a  claim  that Country Liberal  Party  polling  had revealed  an  8 percent  support  for 1Territory , which  was quickly  said  by the CLP  and its twitching  supporters  to  indicate  there was  no  great  threat to   the government.      However, this  supposed  polling  is said to had  been done before the  party was  officially formed and   accepted  by  the NT Electoral Commission.Here are other items  of scuttlebutt  picked up about  the  new  party  which  has  set  a  dingo loose  among  the  pigeons  :

* A  person claiming to be from  an  "oil company "offered  financial help to  1Territory  and  was  told  no thanks .  It was pointed out earlier in Little Darwin, that   the  party  is opposed to  fracking  and  is calling for a moratorium  in  the NT.  At a  recent public meeting  in  Darwin  , ALP leader Bill Shorten was asked  a number of  questions about  fracking  from  1Territory backers, which  later led  to a  terse exchange with  a  local  ALP member .  

*The  party's  website conducts online polling on a wide  range of issues - euthanasia ,  age care, domestic violence , rehabilitation of mining  sites , juvenile crime, the use of  RU486, even  asks if politicians , like employees in the mining industry and  other large companies , should undergo drug and alcohol tests .
 

*  A growing number of  organisations and individuals  have made contact with the  new  party.
 
*The fact that two former CLP presidents , who resigned from the party for various reasons , are  leading lights  in  the nouveau  party concerns some.They , however , have  stated  people  with various political leanings , fed  up with the present  NT government , the local  ALP  and  Canberra  control of  the  two major parties  , are  rallying  to  the  cause . Our correspondent  was  told  these two  high ranking ex CLP members  "know where  the bodies are  buried "- and this could have led to the  death  threats.  We  await the next exciting  report from our roving reporter with great interest -as does the CIA , an army of Chinese  hackers ,  ASIO , FBI et al .   

Thursday, November 19, 2015

MAN FRIDAY COMES TO RESCUE IN NEVER ENDING ISLAND DRAMA

Unhand my partner ! Shrieking female in attack mode .
The  latest  trauma in  our  nesting  resident Curlews with  two eggs was the  arrival  home of   the  male, limping . On examination, it was  found there was a cut on a  leg. To the rescue came  Bev and  Jason  from  the Mexican  restaurant , Man Friday, both  longtime members of the Magnetic Island Fauna Care Association .

Bev picked up the injured bird  which screeched loudly and the female jumped off the eggs and  came   rushing in  with  wings outstretched and  joined the uproar . From a medical kit, Bev  attended to the  cut,  Jason  wrapped the leg in a  bandage. Then the bird  was  placed inside  a  MIFCA   zip up playpen ,below, supplied with  water and  food over  the coming   days .
Curlew  recovery  ward near  blog den .
When Bev visited  the patient one day it was taken outside the pen and placed on the ground to see  how   its leg  was  responding . What happened could only be described as being like a Moon rocket launch at  Cape Canaveral ... he zoomed off  and flew into a clump  of  palms  and golden  canes  at  the back of  the  block .
 
Still limping, right , he nevertheless  took his  turn on the eggs over the following days.On several occasions during the night this  blogger has  stumbled out  of bed on hearing shrieking , an indication that the  Curlews  were upset.  On  one occasion, a  fat possum was seen sitting within  pecking range of  the  bird sitting  on  the eggs .

One day the Curlews became upset when  the friendly visiting Kookaburra dropped in and took up a position   not far from  the  bird sitting on  the eggs. By waving a  broom  in front of him, he was reluctantly  induced to  fly away and  leave  the  Curlews  relaxed - until the next  incident...the hatching ,  due  tomorrow , and  two cats have been  seen  roaming  about  the street .


Jason recently  rescued a baby Curlew in a pitiful state , covered in  a mass  of Green Ants, one of  its eyes so full of  the  ants  it  has lost the sight . He took it to the island vet , obtained  special ointment  for the other eye and it is now being looked after by  another  carer, the Queen of the Jungle , who is  currently entertaining   Larry  the Talking  Lorikeet  while  his  owners  are  at  sea . 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NUGAN HAND BANK FUGITIVE REVIVES STRANGE DARWIN EVENTS

The discovery in America after 35 years of a fugitive  key figure  in Australia's  sensational Nugan Hand Bank scandal  has created  mounting  interest in many quarters, especially  Darwin . The bank was a front for the CIA and dealt in drugs , guns and  money laundering . It has  even been  suggested it had a hand in the  dismissal of  the Whitlam  government, diverting  money to  the  Liberal  Party for  election  campaigns.  

As a result of the  latest  development , the New South Wales State Coroner , Michael Barnes, has reportedly said  he  would  consider reopening  the case  into the  suspicious shooting  death of  the bank's founder  , Frank Nugan , 37. 

Nugan, an Australian lawyer, reputedly associated with the Mafia  in Griffith, was  found shot dead  in his Mercedes  on  January 27, 1980, near Lithgow , NSW, a  .30 rifle found  with  his  body. Intriguingly , in his  briefcase was  a list of prominent Australians in politics, sport and  business , with  handwritten amounts  of  money , some six figures, next to names . Also discovered  in  Nugan's wallet was  a  calling card from William E. Colby , a former director of  the  Central  Intelligence Agency and  legal adviser to the  bank .   
 
A bizarre report  said a  bible with the name William Colby, a Catholic,  nicknamed "the warrior priest ", had  also  been found in the   car. [It is interesting to note that Colby drowned in a lake  under uncertain circumstances  in  1996  when he went for a canoe  trip  alone  late  at night . His son subsequently was quoted  as claiming his  father had  grown tired of  life  and burdened  by  his   CIA involvement  had  taken  his  own  life.]
 
The  bank ,  founded   in  Sydney , had  branches in the Cayman Islands, Chiang Mai , Manila , Singapore, Hong Kong,  Hawaii, Taiwan  and  Washington.
 


At  the first  inquest into the death, held in the  Lithgow courthouse in May 1980,  there was a finding  Nugan had died of a self inflicted shot to the head .  Nugan's  partner in the bank, Michael Jon Hand, a former US Green Beret ,who had served in Vietnam , told the inquest  the bank was insolvent, owed at least $50million. Then, after destroying the bank's records,  sporting a false moustache and possibly even a beard , see  above,  looking  like a  Marx  brother , he  flew out of  the country  on   false identity  papers to Fiji in June and seemingly  vanished . As a CIA operative, it was said he probably  re-entered the  US  and  was  given  a  new identity.
 

Midst ever  astonishing  revelations  about the  shonky bank in which many Australian investors lost money , attracted by the promise of high interest , it was suggested the  body had been that of a drug dealer and that  Nugan  had  faked his death and gone into hiding . If that was the case, who was the body in the Merc ?   The  body was  exhumed  after a statutory declaration  statement   Nugan   had  been seen in a bistro in Atlanta  and , based on dental evidence , it was  confirmed  to  be  that  of  Nugan.

The co-founder of  the bank,  Hand,   was recently   tracked down  by Sydney author, Peter Butt, to  Ohio  Falls, USA, where he is living   under the name  of Michael Jon  Fuller  and  manages a  business  which  makes  tactical weapons  for US  Special Forces , hunters  and others .

Confronted by Channel 9,  Fuller/Hand  retreated to his home and locked the door. Subsequently, his company  reportedly  issued  on his behalf the following  short statement : "A recent news story has surfaced from 60 Minutes Australia condemning Michael Fuller as a criminal because of an incident that occurred in Australia over 35 years ago. This is untrue and inaccurate. While we empathise with those who lost money , as with any investment, Michael Fuller is not to  blame."

 It has been pointed out that  Butt was able to find Hand, yet the top security and detection  organisations of  Australia and America  could not-despite the fact the runaway  still  had  his original  American social security number .

Furthermore, it has been published that only 2000 of the 18,000 pages of  a royal commission and other  reports into  Nugan  Hand  have  been  declassified , indicating there  is a  massive cover  up .
 
In a series which started in this blog in November  2010, it revealed a  strange  Nugan Hand connection with Darwin  when  detailing  the  story of the independent newspaper -The Darwin Star -named after the blood and guts  Hong Kong Star , which  kicked off  soon after   the  1974 Cyclone Tracy (  See THE DARWIN STAR MEDIA WARS, Parts l and ll .) Also mentioned  was  another  strange American  organisation  in Darwin  which  called itself the Institute  for  Cultural  Affairs, ICA  for short ,which described itself as  a supposed American Australian friendship  organisation, believed to be a  Central  Intelligence Agency  front.


In  the posts  we  told how  one of the principals in the Darwin newspaper, Sandra Byrnes, had been  surprised  to receive  telephone calls   from a  person she  believed to be   Frank Nugan , above,  who asked  many questions about  the  paper and  others  interested   in  it .  
 
There were astonishing revelations at a subsequent royal commission  and a joint task  force report on drug trafficking  regarding the activities of the Nugan Hand Bank. It was said the bank had acted as a CIA front to finance  the war in Laos by laundering drug money.
 
On the Australian front, Frank Nugan was even linked with the mystery disappearance of Griffith politician, Donald Mackay. The name of prominent  businessman  Sir Peter Abeles  was  mentioned as Hand, who migrated to Australia in 1967,  had once worked   for  one  of  his  Australian  companies .
 
During the shock revelations  and reports, Sandra Byrnes's ears  pricked up when she heard the name of an American , a member of  the odd  Darwin organisation , the Institute for Cultural Affairs , who came to  the newspaper office  from  time to time . 
 
The very initials , ICA , could and were  taken to really  be the CIA. Three American  families lived in the  ICA  compound in Parap Road , outside of which was a small brass plate with  the letters  ICA above the  street number.
Taekwondo exponent  Kerry Byrnes,  invited  to  odd  ICA sing-a-longs , on his souped up ride on mower , about  to cross  Mason-Dixon Line .
The  folksy Americans approached Sandra's husband , Kerry , above , and invited him to join their  organisation , which held  picnics at places like  Berry Springs, where they sang  songs . It was not a religious group, extolled the American way of  life, said  Pine Gap was  good for Australia  and that the US was sorry  so many people had been killed  in Vietnam  but Communism had to be kept at bay .
 
The ICA had presented  poorly written press releases which  were usually binned  at The Star . However, the ICA newsletter was printed  on the premises . What was  plainly a public notice  was presented as a news item and Kerry told them they would have pay for it as an advertisement. In the minds of many people in Darwin at  the  time , it  was  a CIA front.
 
As The Star grew in popularity, challenging the Murdoch owned Northern Territory News , various groups , including the Territory government  tried to influence its content.  A number of large media organisations showed and indicated  an  interest  in  the paper.
 
A strong approach was made  by the well connected Jewish journalist, PR , politician ,organiser of Royal tours and a Papal visit , Sir Asher Joel , of Sydney, through one of his companies ,  Carpentaria Newspapers ,  Queensland. Joel, with backing from  Mount Isa Mines, had forced News Limited to  close  the  Mount  Isa Mail .
 
Another organisation which "sniffed  about "was thought to have been connected with  the Sydney Morning Herald. There was hearsay that Sir Frank Packer's Consolidated Press had an agreement with Murdoch  not to get involved  with any competitive  Darwin paper  because ConPress had or was interested in the TV station.
 
 Kerry Byrnes  also  received a number of unexpected calls  from Catholic Action leader, B.A. Santamaria,who warned about the danger of allowing " Communist unions" into  the newspaper. During one of these conversations , Santamaria addressed him as "son", and asked Kerry , a Catholic , where  he had been educated.  On stating  Marcellin  College ,Camberwell, Melbourne, run by the Marist Brothers , Santamaria  said  he knew  it well .
 
At a  Darwin   location ,  quaintly described as  being deep in horse shit and  empty beer cans , a polo cross  gathering  at Fred's Pass,  Kerry Byrnes ( not Packer)  and The Star were  soundly  abused  by a   somewhat tired and  emotional  millionaire,who suicided  some years later . In an unsolicited testimonial , the  gruff fellow  described  The Star  as a fucking , pinko, commie publication , or words to  that effect . Furthermore, he said he would call  in at the paper office  on Monday and  buy  the  wretched  rag.

Unfortunately , he  did not keep his  promise , which would have  produced a dramatic change in the lifestyle  of Kerry and  Sandra. They now run Arnhem Nursery  at   Humpty Doo.

For a  highly detailed account of the Nugan Hand  affair  see Crimes of  the Patriots : A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money and  the CIA  by respected  Wall Street Journal  investigative  reporter Jonathan Kwitny  and   Google .

Saturday, November 14, 2015

CANBERRA'S EXCEEDINGLY AGILE AND NIMBLE CLEANERS SWING INTO FRUITY ACTION

In  a  strategic  major  decision , the  Liberal Party  Funk Bunker , under  new management ,  today    appointed  the  international   cleaning   firm   of   Agile and  Nimble  (  No Liability )  Inc., head office in the Cayman Islands , to  secretly  do  room  makeovers  after  wild  football   parties  on  the premises.  
 
Skilled , underpaid members of  Agile and  Nimble ,  above ,  are shown   rapidly cleaning   up  the mess  following a  sensational  bash  for  Big Banana   who was ousted after a bunch up . Canberra  Hospital emergency services  and  the maternity ward  were  placed on  alert during the  ensuing drunken  farewell  in  which Lady Fingers , under the influence of penny gin ,   peeled off  her gear  . That cad  Cavendish  stood on  a marble  pedestal  and  recited Eskimo Nell , all 157 verses, and  some tired  and  emotional person  tackled  a  brass   statue of  Billy Bigears , dislocating his  shoulder in the process . 
 
The cleaner in  the bucket ,who has  the disgusting   habit of licking carpets, became intoxicated  after  running  his   tongue   along the axminister during the strenuous , thirsty , 18 hour shift . He  was  placed  in the bucket  to  make his maiden speech   and  sober up in what is a kind of footie sin  bin , similar  to  the crowded 1000 gallon  watertank  where low hanging  ALP  members, laughingly suffering from the Freckled Banana Disease , were  sent  by  Bronwyn  Bishop  when she  was  the  flighty Top  Banana in  the steamy jungle  plantation.

Friday, November 13, 2015

AUSTRALIAN BABY CLAMS UP

With Compliments of  the  Season , this postcard of  Frank Butler , six and a half months, in a giant clam shell , was sent to the Forsyth family of  Fort Largs , Adelaide . Photograph by Walter J. McNeill , Port Adelaide.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A KIWI CROCODILE DUNDEE

The   talented   New  Zealander, Barry Crump , subject of  this Hodder  Moa  Beckett  book, a pleasing acquisition , was  more  a  Crocodile  Dundee  type than  Australia's   Paul Hogan .  

He  hunted  many animals, wrote a book about  his  lively experiences  crocodile  shooting in Cape York, North Queensland , spending  time in Cooktown and  Cairns , fired many rifles and  wielded  a  considerable  number  of  large, sharp knives  in  his  life .

Crump spent much of his life living in the bush , moving about from  time to  time , trapping rabbits , hunting , fishing .  As a result  of  the  title of  his first book ,which sold 300,000 copies,   he  became  known  as  A Good Keen Man  , based on  the  life of  a  deer culler .

The  book  about   crocodile shooting , Gulf, published in  1964 , was later changed  to Crocodile Country.  Another of his books bore the title Bastards I Have Met , which  sold  well .

With a partner , George Johnston, Crump  ran bush camps  for boys and at one in 1969  five teenagers drowned in Lake Matahina  after a vehicle  accident . Both were  charged  with  manslaughter , later dropped . 

This blogger , who  spent some years  in  Kiwiland , followed the activities  of  Crump ,  and  for  some uncertain  reason  attributes   to  him  a story that a  woman  married  to a   ranger  left  him  because  he regarded  ground  up deer antler  as a powerful  aphrodisiac  which  he  had  on his porridge  each  morning . Crump   married  five  times .
 
Like  Paul Hogan , Crump   was  regarded as  something of a larrikin and   regularly appeared  on TV, excelled   in a  show Town and Around causing laughter  with  outlandish  yarns and jokes .  In  recent years  he  became the star  of  a series of  television  adverts  for  Toyota Hilux and also wrote poetry .

 His  24  books, still in demand ,  have  sold  well over  a  million copies . When  Sydney's  King's Cross Whisper  launched  the Kiwi  Whisper  in  the  l960s it ran a  spoofy  item  about  Crump  which apparently incurred   his  wrath and  he threatened   to  sue .

SAILING SYDNEY SANS SOUCI


The  beauty  of Sydney Harbour was  such  that visitors  from  interstate  and overseas  could  have  their  photo taken  in  a studio on  a  set representing  a cruising yacht . These  two  circa 1955  postcard sized copies   were  taken by Smiling  Snaps , Piccadilly Arcade , Sydney . The  smiling yachties  here  may have  been  visitors from  South  Australia  as the snaps  were   found in a  bundle of old  photographs mainly  dealing  with   an   Adelaide  family.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

TOP BOXER DEALT DEADLY HAND

Former  Australian  boxing champion, Max  Carlos ,  with  jubilant supporters, fish and  chips shop proprietor , Alan Curry , left,   and  Jack  Gale ; his trainer , the   legendary  Ambrose  Palmer , one of whose boxing troupe was world champion Johnny  Famechon ,  in  background. Mrs Palmer became  one  of  Max's "mothers" during  his  boxing career, looking after him and  giving him  sound  financial  advice  as  well .

 ***************************************
The  keen  blackjack player in the Townsville  casino,  former  Australian    boxing   champion  Max Carlos ,  from Melbourne ,  drew attention , not  because of  his fame , but   because  his eyes  were  taped  wide open  with  micropore  surgical  tape  and  he  was  slow  making  bets . Nonplussed security  staff  kept  an  eye  on  this  unusual  looking  individual .
 

Carlos  had undergone  operations for   brain tumour  ,  23  years  after  his last  bout,  which   left  him with severe  double  vision  and   droopy  eyelids  ;  he had also  survived  a  bad  car  accident . During  his boxing career he had received many cuts about  his eyes.
 

Several weeks before coming to Magnetic Island  for a break and  another tilt  at the  card  tables , a  neurologist , after  tests  , had  broken  the  bad news  that  it  seemed  the  cancer was  coming  back.   Soon after  arriving on the island,there was an ominous event when Max  , on an outing,  complained  about  not  being  able  to see  in  bright  sunlight.


At  one stage  in the casino,  Lady Luck  seemed not be  favouring him , his chips dwindled , but  later on   he  had a  pile   in  front of  him .  Elated  over his win , he returned to  Magnetic Island   , where  he  and wife Yvonne , had a  time share ,  and  a   son , Jason,  and wife , Bev ,  still  live  and  run a  Mexican restaurant - Man Friday-and also cater   for   Full Moon  parties at the  XBase backpacker  resort .
 
The   day  after  the  casino episode , Max  collapsed  with  a  brain  tumour  and  was  helicoptered  off  the island  in  a coma,  his  casino winnings  , amounting   to about $1000 , were found wrapped up  in  various  amounts-$600  and  $300 in  two bundles- in  his  clothing .   After  a month in Townsville  hospital , two weeks  in  intensive care ,  he was flown to Melbourne  aboard  a  Qantas flight.




In  hospital  , with  difficulty  communicating  because of  his condition  ,   a  copy of  the above article  by veteran  journalist Ron Reed   was  placed   above  his  bed.It shows Carlos in one of  his memorable clashes  with  Aboriginal boxer ,George  Bracken , from whom  he  took  the  Australian lightweight  title .

The  same photograph  appeared in the Townsville Bulletin  earlier this year but  only named  Bracken , the  other  boxer  unknown .


One of  two nurses  attending  Carlos   read   the  article  and, thinking he could not hear because he was in a coma ,  commented," He  must  be  an  important  person .  Out of  the  blue, Carlos  clearly  responded  , " I  am a VERY  important person ." He  died  in a nursing home on  May 12 , 1996 , eight  months  after  collapsing  on  the island. 


Mrs  Carlos arranged  for  her  husband's  corneas  from  those  troublesome eyes , about which he had received  many bad  cuts in his boxing career,  to  be  donated  to  an organ  bank . She   was  informed  that they  were examined , found  to be  acceptable , and   two  people  subsequently became  recipients.  She and   Max  had  discussed  and  supported  organ  donation . 

*********


Max's  father , a  Spanish merchant seaman , Domingo  Carlos Santos , who went under  his  father's surname , Carlos ,  was  said  to  have  been  shipwrecked on  a  1920 voyage  between  Australia   and  New Zealand , rescued  and   brought  to  Sydney  , where he met    his  wife , who at some stage may   have  been a  cook  for  shearers .

A  short , nuggety man , he  built  the family home himself  after the  first weatherboard   house  in Shepparton , Victoria ,  was destroyed by  fire. The family  lived  in tents  on site  as  he  gradually   constructed   the  replacement building   in   brick . There were  five   boys in  the  family  and  four of them  took  up  boxing . 
 



 The Argus newspaper of June 26, l952 ran  a story about two of the Carlos boys, from "a family of fighters" , Max , 16, and Jimmy, 18 , beating opponents in a Victoria versus New South Wales  competition in Sydney . Jimmy was quoted as saying  brother Avian had  missed  out  being selected for the Victorian team ; the eldest  brother  had  boxed in  the Army. Their   father  was  said to  have  boxed in  the " Navy ". The  Carlos boys  were   so  good  in  the ring  that on  one night  they   won   three Victorian  state  titles  in  separate divisions .
 
Max began  work as a  tailor   when he was   14  and  was selected  to represent  Australia  at  the  1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne , having fought  some 55 amateur  bouts , only  losing  two . It was a  proud moment  for  the  20 year old.  A week before the  Games, however,  he injured  a disc in his back and  his first  bout  was   with    the  fighter  favoured to win the gold medal in  the  division , American  Joe  Shaw.  

It was  a tough  encounter, Shaw won on points , but  Carlos  broke one of  Shaw's ribs and  inflicted a bad  cut  about an  eye  which  forced the American out of the tournament .The night of the finals , Carlos was sitting  ringside when  he was  tapped on the  shoulder   by  Shaw , who reportedly  said ," Hey , Maxie, look at these  two bums  fighting for our  medals ."

Max finished his tailoring  apprenticeship  at Shepparton then moved to Footscray to  train as a professional under  Ambrose  Palmer , the  official  trainer  for  the  Olympic  squad .
Carlos  on cover  of  Ring magazine after winning title .
Carlos became  one  of  Australia's most popular  boxers. His epic  battles against  George Bracken in 1957, l958 and 1959  in Melbourne's Festival Hall , nicknamed the Hall of Pain , were a sell  out . Carlos  won  the first two , Bracken  the  third . While  boxing  , he  was  also employed by  the well known menswear firm Roger David  for six  years and  would  often  turn  up  for work   nattily attired,  showing  physical signs of  a  tough  time  in  the  ring .
 
********* 


On  a  recent   visit  back  to Magnetic Island , Mrs  Yvonne  Carlos, above, who had been a shorthand typist , told of  her  life with  Max . She recalled that while   Max  was  training   in  Melbourne  with Palmer  and she was in  Shepparton , he used his Olympic  jacket, of which  he  was most proud ,  to   hitchhike  to  see  her...dubbing  it  his " hitchhiking  jacket".  Melbourne  motorists, it seems ,  did not hesitate offering  a lift to a man in an  Australian  Olympic Games  jacket .

His parents  moved from Shepparton to Pascoe Vale and ran a milk bar,his father's hamburgers  popular . Max's mother took advantage of  her son's fame  and   renamed  the business  after him , displaying  some of  his  photos  and  trophies .  

 Max  reluctantly  gave up  the ring   after  a   fight   in which his eardrum burst  and  he was  hammered .  Before the bout  ,  he  had experienced  a  sore  ear  and  his mother had  tried  to ease  the pain by getting him to hold his head over a   steaming bowl. Instead   of  withdrawing from  the  event ,  he  went  ahead.  His balance  affected, he had little memory of the  fight , except  he seemed to  be floating and he was belted  around the  ring . His wife  was  ringside   and   said  it was  a  horrible  sight  as  he  had  blood  coming out  his  ear .  A  newspaper headline  subsequently announced   CARLOS QUITS , a  major event  as he  had  a big  following throughout Australia , regarded as a skilled  and  clean  fighter .
 
After his retirement from the ring  they  ran  a successful  menswear  store in Shepparton  and Max was a  fight referee for TV Ringside , a popular show, hosted by  Ron Casey and  Merv Williams . Max wore the latest  fashion  and  Williams once said he only wished  they  had  colour TV as " Maxie" was wearing  mulberry shade trousers  and  a  raspberry coloured   shirt . 

 Fight fans  would  come into the shop , argue about his decision in  fights and  often  leave with  some trendy clothing , which was good  for  business   . Another  venture was  a  motel .
 
With their  four children , they went on an overseas  trip in 1977  and while  in Spain  tried to find  out  anything they could about Max's father , born in 1891,  having  very  few  leads .
 
When  asked  where he came from in  Spain , Carlos senior had  said a place which sounded like Huon , which Mrs  Carlos  seemed  like  the  Tasmania  timber . In Barcelona , a man said there was a place ,Gijon,  in  the principality of Asturias , which  was  pronounced  this  way .


Following this  up , they  made  contact with a number of people , including a lawyer , and  were met with  open arms by a  helpful  family. Mrs Carlos and daughters  recently made a  trip  to Spain, Italy and  France.A fireman near Pamplona , Spain ,  has produced  a  family tree  and there are Carlos  links with  Argentina . 
   

The  above photograph is a  close up  view  of  the rare  crocodile   skin   Australian  Lightweight   Champion's   belt   Max  received   for  beating  George  Bracken  in  l958.  Bracken , born  on  Palm Island , of an Aboriginal mother and  Indian father, first  fought in the Jimmy Sharman travelling boxing  troupe in Townsville. Over the years he spoke out against  imprisonment of Aboriginal  people in settlements   and  missions  and exploitation  of  Aboriginal boxers . 

 In one of the matches between the two, Carlos  wore  a  Footscray jumper  into the ring  under his robe  and Bracken sported  one for Geelong , having  been trained by Kid Young , with  whom  he  boarded  in  Geelong .Carlos  quipped  that he  had to cut off a  leg  and not eat or drink for 12 hours  to get down to the 9 stone 9lb professional lightweight limit  to  fight Bracken .  Mrs Carlos  laughingly added  he  also said   he  would   have to  get her  to cut his   hair and  fingernails  to  get  his  weight  down .

FOOTNOTE : Mrs Carlos  revealed she had firmly  believed  that  Lindy  Chamberlain  had   been  innocent of  killing her baby  , Azaria , at  Uluru  in  the Northern Territory. It had shocked  her that so many  people  vehemently  declared  that  the Chamberlains had conspired   to kill   their  beautiful   child .

Monday, November 9, 2015

ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME AND ARTY FARTY , MEDIA MAD AYR

To  hell with melancholy John  Masefield  wanting   to  go  down to  the sea again , this  writer  wants  to  return  to  the interesting Queensland  sugar town of  Ayr  ,  which is not far from the  briny anyway . This  desire  developed  as a result of  a recent  one  day trip  from Townsville to Ayr  and  environs  in  a small  car  fitted  with   four new  spark plugs,  causing it  to run like a  powerful , dodgy  VW diesel .

In  a  search and discovery drive  about  picturesque  Ayr  several streets  were noticed  bearing the  names of   Australian capital  cities. Checking , it was  found that  every capital has  a  street  named  after  it , the start of Canberra  Street  below.
 

Ayr  has a special place in the  fading memory bank of  this  writer as  my wife and I  quickly  passed  through  the  town  on  the way to Adelaide from Townsville   after  Cyclone  Aivu  in  1989   and  noticed  the wooden  Catholic  church  at  Brandon  leaning  at  a  drunken angle . The church   has been  rebuilt  and  seems  to  be  on  a  new site .  As  shown in the previous  post in this blog, Ayr  has interesting  buildings , the post office , below , another  one  of  note . 

Famous  artists are also  daubed  about  Ayr's streets-Picasso, Rubens , Gainsborough ,  Drysdale , Constable. The  royals also  get  a  run .
 
 It is good , however, to see forelock tugging is  not rampant  in  the area as  an irreverent online publication , The Burdekin Herald , takes the  mickey out of the local establishment, the Queen, politicians , the Murdoch  owned punchy Burdekin  Advocate , ( online it  claims to punch above  its weight ) , even sportsmen.  
 
One of the Herald's  many  exclusive  stories  revealed that  the  Burdekin Shire Council planned  to  release  thousands of  deadly  Black Mamba  snakes to  eradicate  cane  toads . The newspaper  claims  to  employ 200 journalists  in  the media  capital  of  Australia-Ayr.
 
Wandering about Ayr on foot , this  writer came across some Nazi daggers  for auction and only bought  one  book from  an op shop because the  Salvation  Army  store , unfortunately, was  shut  and one could only  press a pointy nose  against the   window  and stare at  all  those  volumes on  the shelves , the  titles of which  were unable to  be  read  at  the  distance. The  chair , above , attracted a lot of attention  in  a  large furniture  shop .

LUCKY  RABBIT  FOOT NOTE : Little Darwin has been  flooded  with requests from people  wanting   this blog to give  their   town  a quirky  write  up   like  the  ones  we recently did on  Ayr  as  someone  there  won  $23.3 million  in  Powerball  soon after .  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

ART DECO AYR ABOUNDS IN SURPRISING ATTRACTIONS

The  art deco influence is evident  in the Queensland sugar town of Ayr, 88 kilometres  south of  Townsville ,  as  this  unusual clock  and weather  vane , a memorial  to  a strong minded  Burdekin  pastoralist , John    Drysdale, of the Pioneer  Sugar Mill ,  shows . Regarded as  the local sugar  king, Drysdale ,  a canny Scot,   intolerant of  government interference in the  industry,  opposed trade union  activities , arbitration courts , price regulation  and the Australian Sugar  Producers' Association ,  died  in 1928.

In 1910 he  had  taken   up  1280 acres of  land  in  the Burdekin River area  and with  a government concession  built the  Inkerman  Mill and tied up many local  cane  producers  on long  term  agreements  with  high payments  and  obstructed  attempts  to  build  a rival cooperative mill  in  the district. 

When  community groups  held  talks  to  discuss  how to erect a memorial  to  commemorate his contribution  to the district , a minister of religion suggested the establishment of a centre for  youths, which  was disregarded , the  unusual  clock  getting  the  tick of  approval .
 
An interesting fact is that Drysdale was the great uncle of  artist Sir (George) Russell Drysdale , famous  for his  pioneering , stark  paintings  of  outback  Australia .

In  1930  young  Russell  worked  for a few months  at  Pioneer, coming up from Melbourne  where  he attended Geelong Grammar . Russell  had  gone with  an  uncle  , Cluny , from  Pioneer , on a business  trip back to Britain  the  following year .
 
The artist  was appointed to the board of the Pioneer Sugar Mills Pty. Ltd.  in 1947 and made regular  visits to North Queensland , calling Pioneer ,where his father had worked for a time before moving to Melbourne ,  his "spiritual home " . He was  knighted for  his contribution  to Australian  art .

The 1964   book, John Drysdale and the Burdekin, by Roy Connolly,  published by Ure Smith ,  included sketches of  the  industrious  engineer  by his grand -nephew, Sir Russell Drysdale. Two streets in  the  Ayr district bear  the  Drysdale  name .
 
 
A  short distance from the clock is  the art deco like  fronted  Delta Cinema , saved by the international golfer Karrie Webb  whose parents now run the business .The  history of the building goes back to 1909 and  it supposedly was  the  first  country cinema in Queensland  to show talking pictures . In 1961 it was  converted into a supermarket , a Chinese restaurant ,an office supplies store , a nightclub  and  a  ladies  clothing store.
 
Left  empty  for years,  it was brought back to life in  the late 1990s  when Karrie Webb , brought up in Ayr, bought  it  to give back  something to  her  hometown .   
Geometric pattern above the entrance to the cinema . Below: The Delta in 1910 at the time of its opening . A  bachelors' ball  was  held  followed by an amateur theatrical military comedy drama , All for Gold ...Burdekin  Shire  Council photograph .