The Bulldog Track by Peter Phelps plus some

Another book launch at the local though I’m not attending this one. That’s a definate – no if’s nor buts. On a work day and I’m reluctant to take any days off until my final curtain call in coming weeks, plus I overdid it at the charity Bookfest last weekend. Take a peek….


Peter Phelps is an Australian actor who made his name in some truely dreadful Australian soapies back in the late 70’s. You know, the kind that gets lapped up. He has recently written a book about his grandfather, Tom Phelps, who seventy five years ago survived the other Kokoda Track, the Bulldog Track, in PNG.

Never heard of The Bulldog Track? Neither had I! Back in the 1940’s work was scarce in Australia and many of those men who were too old to go to war, found work in the goldfields of New Guinea. Of course, no one was expecting the war to come to the Pacific, but it did, and the Japanese took the northern cities of New Guinea.


As word of the invasion and the atrocities being committed spread, Tom and his fellow workers, men of differing nationalities, trades and professions, were caught in the middle of it all. After the airfield was bombed, the Australian military told them to get out via the ‘other’ Kokoda Track. They set off through the jungle into the unknown.

The Bulldog Track is some one hundred kilometres due west of the famous Kokoda Track and crosses some of the most rugged and isolated terrain in the world, combining hot humid days with intensely cold nights, torrential rainfall and endemic tropical diseases such as malaria. Bulldog Track was longer, higher, steeper, wetter, colder and rougher than Kokoda Track.

Peter Phelps shares the story of Tom’s escape via foot, canoe, raft, schooner and rat cunning which were documented on Tom’s pith helmet in indelible ink that he wore during the duration.

Phelps Junior as a young man was in an Australian movie which made a huge impression – and yes, partly because of his poor acting. The Lighthorsemen is a 1987 film about the men of a World War I light horse unit involved in Sinai and Palestine Campaign’s 1917 Battle of Beersheeba. The film is based on a true story in which 800 young Aussie horsemen obey the order to gallop their horses across three miles ( that’s longer than the Melbourne Cup!) of open desert into shell fire and machine gun fire. Of course they succeed. There wouldn’t be a movie otherwise. They break through Turkish defences to win the wells of Beersheba.


In all this blood, guts and way too much mangled equine flesh to mention Phelps has a romance with an Aussie nurse, who was played by Our Sigrid, who was the belle of the ball before Our Nic. Talk about stuffing up a good yarn.

So, no, I won’t attend the lunch, though I’ll probably order a copy of the book.

Cheeta and Tarzan.

So I was in dire need of a laugh. Dealing with taxation, superannuation and insurance companies is just no fun at all. Agreed?

Me Cheeta by James Lever is Cheeta the Chimps memoir. Yes, you read that right. Cheeta, the chimpanzee that featured alongside Johnny Weissmuller in the Tarzan movies back in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Of course you remember Cheeta, don’t you? He and Maureen Sullivan, Tarzan’s Jane, we’re forever jostling for Tarzan’s attention. I don’t believe he was very fond of Ms Sullivan at all.


Cheeta’s role in the Tarzan films and TV series was to provide comic relief, convey messages between Tarzan and his allies, and occasionally lead Tarzan’s other animal friends to his aid.

Cheeta was just a baby when snatched from the African jungle by an animal importer who at one time supplied NASA with monkeys for its space program. He was forced to earn his keep by making movies amongst the fake jungles of Hollywood. Just like many Hollywood stars both before and after him, Cheeta suffered addictions of both drinks and cigars.


Cheeta’s social commentary of the 30s and 40s is what makes this such a fun read. His dislike of Rex Harrison, Mickey Rooney, and Charlie Chaplin borders on plain bitchiness. He shares tales of the shenanigans at Hollywood parties and is quite the raconteur.

But it’s not all Samantha Markle : Cheetah shares his fondness for Mr Weissmuller over their many years together, despite the stars predilection for fiery partnerships, which included Lupe Velez, the Mexican Spitfire, who died with her head in the toilet bowl.


Cheeta outlived both Sullivan and Weissmuller. Retirement in Palm Springs brought him contentment and an interest in artwork.

Well worth the read. I have no idea what is fact or fiction, and it doesn’t matter. It made me forget all that adult stuff for a while…..

The Tarzan books, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, were actually my first book collection. Every birthday and Christmas I would spend any Gift Certificates at the local bookshop on the next instalment in the series. Paperbacks only, and they were $2.00 a book.


And, be honest: who didn’t watch the Saturday afternoon Tarzan movie on the telly?And Jungle Jim every afternoon after school?


Meet My Nemisis

Frank Zappa once said, “Too many books, too little time”. So true.

This quote has eased my guilt when I’ve had a book that I’ve just not been able to finish. There aren’t that many, as if I’m getting bored and losing focus a little skim reading does the trick. Some books will sit on the bedside table for months at a time because they are challenging but I will persist, especially historical or financial tomes. ( Sorry, Bernadette, still working through two of yours).

Meet my nemisis.

Big print, only 200 pages, and I love cats. Grew up surrounded by cats. Siamese cats were the brothers I never had.  Eight months in, and it’s Sayonara. I just can’t get into it. Even the title puts me off. Strange, isn’t it? That such a simple little novel could be the one that beats you…..



It’s not the whole animal book thing either as this one made great train reading fodder.



Gizelle is a 160 pound English Mastiff who has a wonderful relationship with her human. Personally, I was continuously wondering how you could afford to feed such a massive woofit. No tears, but rather joy that people and animals can coexist so beautifully. There’s a Lesson right there…….

And on an even brighter note, the ceiling fans have at last been turned off and it looks like our first rainy day since before Christmas. The garden will be so grateful. It cooled down so quickly that I defrosted soup that I had made from the Xmas Ham bone for tea. Three months of salad takes its toll, you know.

Bentley And Me

A few years ago, whilst doing the long haul flight from London to Brisbane after having visited my student daughter, I watched a movie on the 747 called Marley and Me.

Do you know this movie? If you do, you will be well aware that it is a movie which ensures an increase in the price of Kleenex shares as it is a five star tissue movie. Very embarrassing: I sobbed for the duration of the flight across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as the Black and Mediterranean Seas and the Brisbane River, and anything in between.



Okay, so I don’t handle sad movies with animals very well. Bambi? Never managed to get to the end. Same with Black Beauty, Flicker, and those wretched Lassie movies that were so much a part of my childhood. My mother took me to the cinema as a ten year old to see The Incredible Journey, a tale of two dogs and a Siamese cat who don’t relocate so well and undertake a massive journey across America. I was a mess. Then my favourite aunt took me to see Born Free as a holiday treat. Do you know the true story of Elsa the lioness? We both howled like babies and had to excuse ourselves before the end of the movie.

Starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston Marley and Me is a nice little movie about a couple who grow into a family which includes a Labrador by the name of Marley

The movie was transposed from the book, Marley And Me: Life And Love With The World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan which is pretty much a plot give away.

I am currently babysitting my other daughters Labrador, Bentley. He is a beautiful pup without a mean bone in his body. Good natured, loving, and inquisitive. He is also much like Marley in that he has a taste for socks and underwear, and has been known to chew through outdoor furniture and air conditioning units. This morning when I awoke I found Bentley playing with half a green tree snake. I can only imagine where the other half of the snake went………


Labradors make fantastic Guide Dogs for the blind, Assistance Dogs for epileptics, and Murray the Labrador is a Gunner in the Australian Army where he is also a trained assistance dog helping the enlisted.

Bentley is a beautiful pup whom I absolutely adore. He is however, best described as a scone who hasn’t quite risen.

Bentley is on a strict diet of a Kibble for breakfast and tea though as a loving grandmother who delights in walks with the pup for an hour each day, improvises to jazz up his meals, just as I did with my own Little Ones.

Here is a recipe for Bentley’s favourite meal.


A Cup of Kibble

A Tablespoon of  Mashed Potota with an egg mixed through

Two teaspoons of cooked peas.




I never said I wasn’t eccentric.