The Bombing of Darwin

Today, the 19th of February, is the 78th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin

This was the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia. On that day, 242 Japanese aircraft , in two separate raids, attacked the town, the ships in Darwin Harbour, and the town’s two airfields. This was an attempt to prevent the allies using them as bases to contest military developments close to Asia.

Darwin Harbour

The Japanese inflicted heavy losses upon Allied forces at little cost to themselves. The urban areas of Darwin also suffered some damage from the raids and there were a number of civilian casualties. More than half of Darwin’s civilian population left the area permanently, before or immediately after the attack.

Beautiful Mindil Beach was the site of mass graves, as it was following the devastation of Cyclone Tracy in 1974.

A memorial ceremony has been held every year since early on in the 21st Century. At the Cenotaph in Darwin, at 9:58 am, a World War II Air Raid Siren will sound to mark the precise time of the first attack.

Cenotaph, Darwin. NT.

I’ve read three novels by Australian authors this year (Territory by Judy Nunn and The Last Mile Home by Di Morrissey), which have featured the Bombing of Darwin. It appears that the Government censored information about losses at the time so as not to frighten and panic Australian citizens.

Belinda Murrell’s The Forgotten Pearl is Historical YA Fiction which I highly recommend giving insights into this period, and includes the Fall of Singapore and the mini submarines in Sydney Harbour. If you’ve got a teenager battling with history classes at High School this sure as hell beats dates written in chalk on a blackboard.

*In October 2015, the Chinese-owned Landbridge Group won the bid for a leaseof Port Darwin. The Northern Territory Government granted the company a 99-year lease for A$506 million.

No Comment.

Libraries, Linguistics & Fantasy

A couple of years ago I attended a talk given by Roly Sussex about the role of Libraries in future years given that the world is becoming so heavily digitalised.

Roland (RolyDenis Sussex is Emeritus Professor of Applied Language Studies at the School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies of the University of Qld. He hosts a talkback radio program broadcast across the country and has a weekly column in newsprint. Comparative Linguistics may sound a little on the dry side but this fella is as fascinating, and as funny, as all getup.

I was reminded of this outing when I accompanied a friend to a Fantasy Writing Workshop on the weekend at one of Brisbane’s outer suburban Libraries. A newer Library than my local it was connected to a swimming centre, just as Sussex indicated in his discussion of Libraries becoming the community hub of suburbs in the future.

And what a lovely, little, user friendly venue it was too!

My local Library hosts numerous Clubs – writing, jewellery making, chess, mahjong, robotics, crafts – and supports a diverse demographic. Next weekend they are even showing classic black and white movies on a regular basis which will be beaut with a coffee from their Cafe.

The Logan North Library at Underwood just changed the playing field. Fantastic and fully utilised on a Saturday afternoon which was good to see.

Why the Fantasy Writing Workshop? You’re right : it’s not my thing. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins is about my only foray into fantasy. 

Many years of assisting people with their career choices means that I was fascinated to learn what motivated young author, Tara Ingham to get into fantasy writing. Old habits seem to die hard…….

Ingham started writing at 14 and is an inspirational speaker. We sat with three young high school lasses who were fully engaged with the proceedings.

I had better try to order Once I Rise and Once I Remember from the Library.(refer http://www.taraingham.com).

Museums Aren’t Dead

The Redland Museum is my local history museum and is situated in the suburb of Cleveland, Brisbane. It specialises in preserving the Redland’s social history from 1842 to the present day.

Each year the Museum hosts the local community theatre group who perform an Australian-themed play over a period that includes January 26th – Australia Day. The event is a fundraiser for both the theatre group and the museum and is an example of community working together at its best with meals being prepared, cooked and served by both volunteer museum staff and the performers.

With the rain we were prevented from eating alfresco under the towering eucalypts, and instead dined amongst the Cobb and Co Carriages and fencing wire display. As always it was a hugely entertaining night.

The Museum takes pride in regularly changing its exhibits.

Room For Reading explores its large collection of children’s Annuals and favourite books such as Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ together with nostalgic Christmas cards and postcards sent from France by soldiers in the First World War.

Extended to February29th.

Publishers of magazines and periodicals introduced ‘Annuals’ during the first decades of the 19th Century. By the late 1800s, the genre of children’s annuals developed rapidly. Publishers competed for their share of this emerging, and increasingly literate, reading audience. The ‘Boy’s Own Annual’ and the ‘Girl’s Own Annual’ engrossed young readers with adventure stories for boys and educational articles for girls. I always opted for the Boy’s Own myself.


Who would buy a bag from Harrod’s when this was on offer at Notting Hill?

Other books on display include Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and W.E. Johns pilot and adventurer ‘Biggles’ as well as  children’s books by Australian authors such as ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’, ‘The Magic Pudding’ and ‘Blinky Bill’. I will forever remain enamoured by the Gumnut babies….

It’s a small exhibition but it brought back many memories.

NOTE: I was talking to an English lass today who was unfamiliar with May Gibbs and her gumnut babies. So, for cultural exchange purposes a photo of gumnuts, which were the idea behind Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. Beautiful, aren’t they?

Dorothea Mackeller Got It Right.

In good news the Currowan Fire burning in the Shoalhaven for 74 days was set to “out” by the NSW Rural Fire Service on Saturday. In Qld’s South East corner, and much of the eastern coastline, I came out of the theatre to wade through foot high rain water surging across the lawn. Not an elegant exit and I expect that I’ll be up for a new pair of shoes. *

I love a sunburnt country, 

A land of sweeping plains, 

Of ragged mountain ranges, 

Of droughts and flooding rains. 

I love her far horizons, 

I love her jewel-sea, 

Her beauty and her terror 

The wide brown land for me! 

Dot Mackeller certainly nailed it, didn’t she ?

Perfect weather for the flicks so saw the 2019 remake of Midway. Quite enjoyable except that I kept looking for Robert Mitchum as General Halsey confined to his hospital bed with shingles. The visuals literally had me on the edge of my seat though the aerial attacks on the Japanese ships in the last battle were way too Star Warsey.

Being stuck indoors made for crafty activities. Easter treats prepared for the kiddies who use the Little Community Library- forward planning is a positive, right? – and pots painted and planted as fund raisers.

Regardless of weather the house requires a major tidy. Child home midweek and she is a neat freak. Hope she remembers how to cope when I hand her a golf club and send her out into the garden to do battle with the cane toads that abound in this big wet………..

* Thoughts with the daughter and a girlfriend on cyclone watch.

The Daughter, Books and Jaipur.

I’m looking forward to having my youngest daughter home for a few days following her five month work stint in India.

Means I have to stock up on bubble bath, cab sav, and errrr……blue vein cheese ( which I detest and refuse to keep in the food fridge in case it contaminates anything). And yes, with a good book in hand she will require all of the above for recuperative purposes and all at the same time!

Cat Balou attended the Jaipur Literature Festival last month. The JLF is the largest free literary festival in the world which takes place in Jaipur, India, with the Diggi Palace Hotel and surrounding gardens serving as the main venue of the festival. I’m so looking forward to hearing about her adventures. I know she’s posted a box of books to her home address.

She tells me she also splurged on a scarf made from the same material as one of the tents at the festival. Now thats clever marketing.

Works as a scarf too

I’ve been boringly good and not spent a penny on books this year. I’m thinking of talking to my local councillor about adding one of these up next to the Little Community Library. What do you think?

Ooooops, sorry. I lied. I did buy some books.

Radio Plays : Then & Now

The Argonauts Club was an Australian children’s radio program, first broadcast in 1933 on ABC Radio Melbourne. It became one of the ABC’s most popular programs, running six days a week for 28 years until October 1969, when it was broadcast only on Sundays and was finally discontinued in 1972.

When I was very young, and before my fascination with Daniel Boone, Jungle Jim, and Jim Bowie on the tele I was an Argonaut. It’s what we did in the early sixties. My allegiance switched to the Mickey Mouse Club.

Last year one of the local community theatre groups held an evening of radio plays at the local museum. Originally written by Steele Rudd, the pseudonym of Arthur Hoey Davis (14 November 1868 – 11 October 1935) an Australian author, was best known for his novel On Our Selection.

Staged as a broadcast from a radio studio with one stand-up microphone, actors with scripts in hand and the indispensible sound effects, the four episodes followed the process of Dad’s  deciding to shift from the horse and buggy into a new-fangled piece of machinery, with everyone offering help or an opinion.

It was a fun night with the presentation by The Forgetting of Wisdom, a collective of semi-retired professional actors who made it entertaining as well as educational. Afterall, Dad and Dave were well before my time!

There will be another Radioplay at the Gold Coast Little Theatre on February 26th.

Based on the story by Dashiell Hammett, and the 1936 movie starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, The Thin Man centres on Nick and Nora Charles, a rich and glamorous couple who solve homicides in between cocktails.

If you’re looking for something to do these are good fun.

Retirement : it’s tough:)

Around The World Reading Challenge : Nigeria

Half Of A Yellow Sun by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie sat on my bedside table for a fortnight before I found the courage to open its pages. My knowledge of Biafra was limited to memories of my mother getting angry when we left mashed pumpkin on our dinner plates. “Think of those starving Biafran children”, she’d say. I still have no stomach for mashed pumpkin.

Biafra, officially the Republic of Biafra, was a state in West Africa which existed from 30 May 1967 to January 1970. Causes of the Biafran War include ethno-religious riots in Northern Nigeria, a military coup, a counter-coup and persecution of Igbo living in Northern Nigeria. Over a million people died during this period with hunger killing more Biafrans than bullets and bombs.

The novel takes place prior to and during the war, focussing on the relationships of five people’s lives : twin daughters of an influential businessman, a professor, a British citizen, and a houseboy named Ugwa. The effect of war on these characters and how all their lives change is a massive story, massive because it covers so many themes: culture, tribalism, corruption, politics, gender inequality, family, education, greed, power and history.

Despite the brutality and ugliness of war the author still manages to capture the beauty of the country and her people.

My total unfamiliarity with the subject initially threw me though once I made it to the end of Chapter 1 I was hooked, thanks mostly to the author’s imagery:

There was something polished about her voice, about her; she was like the stone that lay right below a gushing spring, rubbed smooth by years and years of sparkling water, and looking at her was similar to finding that stone, knowing that there were so few like it.”

Half Of A Yellow Sun is a massive story told by a writer who grew up in the aftermath of the war: “The need to write about it came from growing up in its shadow. This thing that I didn’t quite understand was my legacy. It hovered over everything”

“She told them about the Biafran flag. They sat on wooden planks and the weak morning sun streamed into the roofless class as she unfurled Odenigbo’s cloth flag and told them what the symbols meant. Red was the blood of the siblings massacred in the north, black was for mourning them, green was for the prosperity Biafra would have, and, finally, the half of a yellow sun stood for the glorious future.”

Half Of A Yellow Sun is a great read. Now I’m on the hunt for the DVD.

About The Author:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria, where she attended medical school for two years at the University of Nigeria before coming to the United States. A 2003 O. Henry Prize winner, Adichie was shortlisted for the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing. Her work has been selected by the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and the BBC Short Story Awards, and has appeared in various literary publications, including Zoetrope and the Iowa Review. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and longlisted for the Booker. She now divides her time between the U.S. and Nigeria.

Next Stop: Russia with Dr Zhivago

Would it be cheating if I bypassed the book and went straight to the movie?