As we mark 100 years today the end of the first world war. There will be many spoken words today about the human suffering but I want you to think for just a moment and to spare a thought for the suffering of another animal of which not one had volunteered to be involved in one of the saddest chapters in humanities history and in many ways, they suffered much more by the burden placed on them ....... no one captures that suffering more than the below poem written by Neil Andrew – I spoke to you whispers


I spoke to you in whispers
As shells made the ground beneath us quake
We both trembled in that crater
A toxic muddy bloody lake
I spoke to you and pulled your ears
To try and quell your fearful eye
As bullets whizzed through the raindrops
And we watched the men around us die
I spoke to you in stable tones
A quiet tranquil voice
At least I volunteered to fight
You didn't get to make the choice
I spoke to you of old times
Perhaps you went before the plough
And pulled the haycart from the meadow
Far from where we're dying now
I spoke to you of grooming
Of when the ploughman made you shine
Not the shrapnel wounds and bleeding flanks
Mane filled with mud and wire and grime
I spoke to you of courage
As gas filled the Flanders air
Watched you struggle in the mud
Harness acting like a snare
I spoke to you of peaceful fields
Grazing beneath a setting sun
Time to rest your torn and tired body
Your working day is done
I spoke to you of promises
If from this maelstrom I survive
By pen and prose and poetry
I'll keep your sacrifice alive
I spoke to you of legacy
For when this hellish time is through
All those who hauled or charged or carried
Will be regarded heroes too
I spoke to you in dulcet tones
Your eye told me you understood
As I squeezed my trigger to bring you peace
The only way I could
And I spoke to you in whispers......

A Soldiers Prespective to recent allocations of war crimes by the Australian SAS

The writer wants to remain anonymous, He served 14 years in the ADF, 9 years as a Royal Australian Regiment infantryman and 5 years with the Special Air Service Regiment. 

The Special Air Service Regiment seeks out and destroys Australia’s most dangerous enemies. It targets the leaders of terror organisations who are shielded by suicidal, heavily armed Jihadis embedded amongst co-operative “civilians”. Our enemies don’t like us and they do their best to kill us with no moral restraint and complete impunity.  The Mujahideen don’t have much use for a Human Rights Commission.

The SAS cannot fight enemies like that by adhering to normal Western moral standards. If we did, it would be leveraged as a weakness by the enemy.  We have to keep them guessing about our limits.  I wouldn’t deploy if I was working with blokes who operated like predictable Mr Nice Guys. 

The ADF is currently conducting a full-blown enquiry into "rumours of possible breaches of the laws of armed conflict” by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.  We are alleged to have operated with “disregard for human life and dignity”.  Fair enough.  I don’t know one bloke I served with who has a high regard for the lives of terrorists.  There’s nothing dignified about IEDs and their fighting methods either.

We are not sent out to deliver a personal dignity entitlement to our enemies.  We go out to kill them. Right now the Chief of Defence Force is doing immense damage to our troops deployed in Afghanistan. Australian taxpayers are paying for ads in the Afghani press encouraging Afghanis to dob in Australian troops for war crimes. How idiotic is that?  What a propaganda gold mine;  and you can be certain the enemy will be using it against us.

The Australian enquiry will receive heaps of responses from the enemy, let’s face it they are embedded among the local Afghans. And what will it achieve?  How do you think Australian troops will respond to allegations against them from the enemy? This might be difficult for outsiders to hear, but even if boundaries have been overstepped, unless the entire patrol turned on each other there will be little chance of any evidence to support any claims made by the enemy or Afghan civilians.

SAS troops obey orders.  We go where we’re ordered to go and act as we’re ordered to act.  There’s no allegations that I know of that say SAS troops have failed to obey orders.  Whatever’s been done has been the work of a highly disciplined team of professional, accountable soldiers operating within their own internal chain of command - and that goes all the way to the top.  Smiling politicians are always on hand to get their photo taken and congratulate us on our results.  Well God help any ADF leadership that tries to hang a few young troopers out to dry.

So what are we stuck with?

  • A bombardment of allegations that will ALL have to be investigated at taxpayer expense.

  • SAS unit members taken away from their duties to “help” the investigation and for interviews with investigators.

  • The usual bags of tax payers money given to the enemy in compensation for alleged wrongdoing by us - even if unproven

  • SAS tactics and operational security compromised by our own Government and Defence force due to a call for an open investigation and for transparency from left wing journalists to mention a few.

  • Resentments amongst the SAS members and as is common practice much more secrecy, which is a certainty at the grass root levels.

The ADF’s investigation into the rumours has already been leaked to Fairfax and the ABC who've made the leaked material public. As a result of Fairfax and the ABC’s reports, the Russians have now joined in to make life more difficult for us in the field. On Saturday the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement about “The crimes committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan”.

Using the ABC and Fairfax’s reports, the Russian statement said Australians have engaged in “systematic, unauthorized and groundless use of weapons, particularly against  civilians.”  It quotes the ABC as the source for “shocking facts about cold-blooded murders committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan”. Total bullshit, created by our taxpayer funded broadcaster to be used by our enemies against us. The ABC is always going on about Russia and scandals.  Looks like they've made one of their own.

There are plenty of problems in Australian society. There is definitely a problem in the ADF. But it’s not the war fighters.   

It’s our leadership and the tone they set - from the PM down.

Signed, John Anon.


We recently joined the company Tripfuser as a local expect offering great holiday packages to Townsville and Magnetic Island. Tripfuser started offering holidays in Asia first and has only just Launch in Australia. The Tripfuser concept and business was born in Melbourne Australia in 2016 (those smart aussies). The founding CEO was formerly the COO of Intrepid Travel Group and saw an opportunity to customise holidays for the everyday person online.  Tripfuser is the Airbnb of the Holiday world if you like, it takes away the need to go to a travel agent to book or customise a holiday package. You can do it all online using a cleaver software package. The unique innovation in this approach is it puts you in direct correspondence with the Tripfuser local expert who knows the area your wanting to visit and the best things to do. There will be a number of online holiday packages to select from but there is nothing stopping you from mixing and matching to make the holiday customised to your needs and often at a much cheaper price than what you would get going through a travel agent for the same reason Airbnb is cheaper than hotels. See more at https://www.phocuswire.com/Startup-Stage-Tripfuser


Bill Crawford a lesson in Life & Leadership

After retiring from the military, Crawford procured a job working as a janitor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He was not openly eulogized by any of the cadets and staff because he was humble and liked to keep anonymous. "Mr. Crawford" was described as "an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy." Crawford being shy and unassuming did his work well and "blended into the woodwork and became just another fixture around the squadron."

Cadet James Moschgat "was reading a book about World War II and the tough Allied ground campaign in Italy," when he read an incredible story of a private William Crawford

He was serving as a private with the 142nd Infantry Regiment 36th Infantry Division in southern Italy. On that day, he was acting as a squad scout when his company attacked Hill 424 near Altavilla Silentina. During the battle, Crawford twice moved forward through continuous fire and, using hand grenades and his rifle, destroyed machine gun nests which were holding back his platoon's advance. After the battle, Crawford was captured by the Germans and presumed dead. So in 1944 the Medal of Honor was presented posthumously to his father. Crawford was among a group of soldiers rescued from German captivity in late 1944 after his father had received the award. 

In that book was a picture of a man who resembled his squadron janitor. Moschgat shared this with the other cadets and confirmed the story with Mr. Crawford who at first was reluctant to say anything but than replied similar to "Yep, that's me." When asked why he did not talk about it, Crawford said, "That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago." The word spread with new formed respect for Mr. Crawford.

In time, Crawford told his story and things he had learned in life to each academy class. His example also taught them many lessons. These sometimes subtle lessons became of great importance to many of the cadets. Here was a man presumed dead, whose father had received the Medal of Honor for his son from an Army general, then who returned with honor and continued to serve his country and later served them as a janitor.

After returning from WW2 Crawford re-joined the Army and served over 20yrs retiring at the rank of Master Sergeant. Throughout his career he reluctantly wore his medal. Crawford because he had been later captured and made a POW during WW2 never had a single ceremony or recognition regarding his Medal of Honor award. The cadets at the USAF Academy decided to change this. In 1984, Mr. Crawford was a guest for the graduating class. Many past graduates, generals and VIPs attended this graduation. President Ronald Reagan arrived and presented the Medal of Honor to Crawford and formally recognized Crawford's action. In his remarks, President Reagan cited a few leadership lessons they learned from their janitor. Later these lessons were formalized by the former cadet, now COL Ret. James E. Moschgat:

Bill Crawford, our janitor, taught me many valuable, unforgettable leadership lessons. Here are ten I'd like to share with you.

1. Be Cautious of Labels. Labels you place on people may define your relationship to them and bound their potential. Sadly, and for a long time, we labelled Bill as just a janitor, but he was so much more. Therefore, be cautious of a leader who callously says, "Hey, he's just an Airman". Likewise, don't tolerate the O-1, who says, "I can't do that, I'm just a lieutenant.

2. Everyone Deserves Respect. Because we hung the "janitor" label on Mr. Crawford, we often wrongly treated him with less respect than others around us. He deserved much more, and not just because he was a Medal of Honor winner. Bill deserved respect because he was a janitor, walked among us, and was a part of our team.

3. Courtesy Makes a Difference. Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or position. Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond a team. When our daily words to Mr. Crawford turned from perfunctory "hellos" to heartfelt greetings, his demeanour and personality outwardly changed. It made a difference for all of us.

4. Take Time to Know Your People. Life in the military is hectic, but that's no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with. For years a hero walked among us at the Academy and we never knew it. Who are the heroes that walk in your midst?

5. Anyone Can Be a Hero. Mr. Crawford certainly didn't fit anyone's standard definition of a hero. Moreover, he was a private on the day he won his Medal. Don't sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who rises to the occasion when duty calls. On the other hand, it's easy to turn to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don't ignore the rest of the team. Today's rookie could and should be tomorrow's superstar.

6. Leaders Should Be Humble. Most modern day heroes and some leaders are anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your hero meter on today's athletic fields. End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are what we've come to expect from sports greats. Not Mr. Crawford-he was too busy working to celebrate his past heroics. Leaders would be well-served to do the same.

7. Life Won't Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve. We in the military work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right? However, sometimes you just have to persevere, even when accolades don't come your way. Perhaps you weren't nominated for junior officer or airmen of the quarter as you thought you should; don’t let that stop you.

8. Don't pursue glory; pursue excellence. Private Bill Crawford didn't pursue glory; he did his duty and then swept floors for a living.

9. No job is beneath a Leader. If Bill Crawford, a Medal of Honor winner, could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity? Think about it. Pursue Excellence. No matter what task life hands you, do it well. Dr. Martin Luther King said, "If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be." Mr. Crawford modelled that philosophy and helped make our dormitory area a home.

10. Life is a Leadership Laboratory. All too often we look to some school or PME class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership laboratory. Those you meet every day will teach you enduring lessons if you just take time to stop look and listen. I spent four years at the Air Force Academy, took dozens of classes, read hundreds of books, and met thousands of great people. I gleaned leadership skills from all of them, but one of the people I remember most is Mr. Bill Crawford and the lessons he unknowingly taught. Don't miss your opportunity to learn.

The bold print in 9 & 10 are comments made by President Ronald Regan during the ceremony that presented Bill with his Congressional Medal of Honor.

Crawford died at age 81 on March 15, 2000, in his residence at Palmer Lake. Upon his death Governor Bill Owens authorized all Colorado flags to be lowered to half-staff in his honor. He is buried at the United States Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs. He is the only non-USAF US Army enlisted person buried there.

Jika-tabi shoes from the battle of Milne Bay

When Japanese forces landed at Milne Bay in New Guinea in August 1942, they were equipped with two armoured tanks and distinctive split-toed boots that puzzled the Allied troops. It was only after World War II when Australians identified the shoes as jika-tabi, rubber-soled footwear that separated the wearer's big toe from the others. They were developed around the turn of the 20th century by the brother of the founder of the Bridgestone tyre company, and they were based on the design of the traditional Japanese split-toed sock.

A pair of jika-tabi boots captured at the Battle of Milne Bay is on display at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) with other material originally gathered by the Army to help Australian troops understand how the enemy worked. Australian soldiers thought the "otherworldly" shoes were made for climbing trees. The Japanese were somewhat mysterious to us ... they had this aura of being supermen. The Battle of Milne Bay (August 25 to September 7, 1942) was a victory for Allied forces. It is regarded as the first major Pacific conflict in which the Allies decisively defeated the Japanese on land. The battle began when elite Japanese naval troops attacked Allied airfields on the eastern tip of New Guinea. A total of 167 Australians and 14 Americans were killed; Japanese casualties were much higher at around 750. Japanese soldiers who fled into the jungle found their boots were a liability. For weeks afterwards the Australian forces ... we’re tracking those stragglers the Japanese forces had left behind. The Australians were able to track them easily because of [their boots'] distinctive pattern."

Jika-tabi shoes still worn by the Japanese to this day, these days, jika-tabi shoes — sometimes known as ninja boots — can be seen in samurai movies, on running tracks and even on the catwalk. Their light, durable grip is still favoured by Japanese gardeners and construction workers.

Australian Railways WW2


World War 2


I didn’t know a lot about what happened with the Railways over the six years of World War 2 (WW2). The little I had read was that their infrastructure was totally worn down during the conflict.

So, what did happen with the railways in WW2?

Well certainly what was different from peacetime was that railway systems, such as the New South Wales Government Railways (NSWGR), had to manufacture and assemble a wide variety of defence equipment, using skills and tools usually employed for building and repairing locomotives and rolling stock. During the War, the NSWGR made machine tools, jigs and gauges; shells; radar antennae; tanks; aircraft parts; gun barrels, shields and brackets; military and hospital tents; collapsible canvas water tanks; haversacks and kit bags; gun covers and over 4,000kms of rope to name a few things the workshops across Australia made during WW2. Yet they still had to maintain their locomotives and rolling stock, expected to perform well beyond peacetime limits, while building and modifying wagons to transport military supplies. Beaufort Torpedo Bombers were assembled at Chullora Railway Workshops in 1942. State government and private engineering firms, co-ordinated by the Federal Government, worked together to meet Australia’s defence needs and create mass production, on a nation-wide scale. The military materials and articles required a higher degree of complexity and accuracy than had ever been attempted in Australia. While the railways were not structured to carry out this sort of collaborative effort, they did their best in the circumstances especially when the War moved to Australia’s doorstep.

After the coordinated strategic Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbour, Singapore and then Darwin, Australia military planners were in a massive state of shock and so was the population and Commonwealth and State Governments.  Most industry around Australia depended on coal as did much of the population domestically. Australia was deficient in petrol and diesel fuel, leaving the overseas supply lines for powering motor vehicles and planes highly vulnerable. Trains such as the Silver City Comet and railmotors were also open to interdiction of their oil supplies at sea. The realities of war started to bite when Britain applied pressure on the Australian Government to reduce petrol consumption in order to assist with Britain's foreign exchange problems. For a country that was entirely dependent on imported petrol, Australia did not have sufficient petrol storage to carry it through any long-term disruption to supply. It was obvious that the steam railways would be the core of civilian and military transport in war. Defence Department identified railway workshops that could be turned to munitions production and other tools of war like planes and tanks.

Australia had placed itself in a dangerous position defence-wise through the 1930s. It had relied on British manufactured goods so heavily that Australian manufacturing remained underdeveloped, leaving the country without a firm economic base approaching WW2. Only months before the outbreak of the War, the Australian and British Governments reached agreement that the whole Australian wool clip would be purchased by the United Kingdom for the duration of any war. This would have implications for the railways in cartage to port as the British forces would urgently need copious woollen clothing for fighting in the approaching Northern European Winter. 

A scheme was adopted that provided for 21 armament annexes associated with State Government undertakings, especially railway workshops, and private factories to be established should war occur. Major emphasis was placed on the manufacture of fighter aircraft with the Defence Department assembling parts made mainly by State Railway Workshops. Another priority that was pursued was to produce petrol from oil shale at Newnes and Glen Davis in Central NSW. However, it was not until August 1940, a year after war had broken out, that the production of petrol commenced – a product very much dependent on rail transport. In many areas where railways might need relief, roads were fit for only the lightest motor traffic. Even major highways had not been constructed for long-distance heavy haulage which was commonly restricted by legislation to prevent competition with State-owned railways.

There were inherent features of Australia’s railway systems which presented obvious difficulties for satisfactory defence transport. Not only did gauges range from 3 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 3 inches, but locomotives and rolling stock varied in type and power from one State to another. Further, the load to be carried could not be constant either in quantity or weight except over specified lines within a single State. When resources had to shift quickly across long distances from manufacturing and population centres to defence outposts, these impediments would dog Australia throughout the War and shock and frustrate the American forces from when they arrived.

Meanwhile, restrictions on road transport through petrol rationing meant that those affected turned to the railways. There were growing demands, also, from the munitions program and troop movements. But this was all steady as you go – suddenly everything changed with the shock bombing of Pearl Harbour.  The massive attack meant that the United States was, unreservedly, a full fighting ally in the Pacific whereas, up to this point, it had only been Britain and its Empire countries. The enemy was powerful and in the first dark weeks Japan’s southward advance seemed frighteningly irresistible - the new ally’s Pacific battle fleet had been decimated. Suddenly, in 1942-43, Australia’s defence expenditure rocketed to 36.8 per cent of GDP.

The threat Australians felt was immediate and terrifying. At this moment, Australia stood alone and its own efforts would determine whether the final outcome would be defeat or successful defiance. Now it was war in the Pacific with its uncompromising challenge, which swept away the barriers and shattered the resistances and reservations to going on a Total War footing. As discordant as the railway systems were, almost having been constructed by States not to mesh in with their neighbours to prevent siphoning of trade – the systems had to be made to work a lot better for the nation’s sake.

Queensland Railways in the War Zone

In Queensland, a major logistical hotspot of the War, the story was the same with investment in the Railways having all but dried up leading into the War. This had major repercussions when Japan entered the global conflict and suddenly there was perceived to be a serious threat of invasion. There was even talk of abandoning everything north of the ‘Brisbane Line’ (basically the NSW/Queensland border) and concentrating the fight on defending the industrialised South-East. No matter what the strategy, it was obvious that troops had to be moved north to the War Zone, while Australia also became the closest safe supply base for the Allies in the Pacific.

During the 1920s and 1930s Queensland developed as one of Australia’s important food producing regions, especially for sugar, bananas, fruit and vegetables, meat and dairying. However, the outbreak of the War saw many rural workers enlist in the services, causing shortages in production. During 1943, heavy demand for beef from the growing number of Allied service personnel stationed in North Queensland outstripped supply from the region’s meatworks. A rocketing demand for canned meat for combat troops accentuated the critical supply situation. Two large Army-operated meatworks and cold storage facilities were established at Mount Isa and Charters Towers. However, this required large mobs of cattle to be railed from Western Queensland on a rail system stretched way beyond peace-time capacity. The frozen beef had to then be transported by rail to Townsville to Australian and US forces.  At Townsville and other coastal areas, the threat from the Japanese had become so great with code breaking indicating at one stage that the enemy was planning to mount a 300-plane attack on the northern centre, that schools were closed down and many women and children railed to safer centres inland or south. Meanwhile, the forestry and timber industries were among the first in Australia to be declared essential services in an attempt to exempt loggers, saw millers and carpenters from military conscription. However, the large enlistment of Queensland bush workers meant that the supply of timber from the northern rainforests fell just as demand for defence purposes increased. In the middle of the War, this demand was met by the mass production of pre-cut buildings by the American forces for bundling together in Brisbane and forwarded by rail to operational areas like Townsville for assembly. The Railways Department also placed heavy demands for sleepers. Cairns had long been the centre of north Queensland’s timber milling industry. From mid-1942, the town’s sawmills and furniture factories operated full-time on defence works. A timber product in great demand was three-ply veneer, manufactured in sheets cut from large kauri pine logs from the hinterland which were delivered to Cairns by rail. This traffic multiplied several-fold as the plywood was used locally in the manufacture of everything from bunk beds and prefabricated huts to barges, landing craft and aircraft propellers. 

With large concentrations of troops at military camps throughout North Queensland, there was an increased demand for fruit and vegetables. While efforts were made to grow much of this locally, considerable quantities had to be shipped from the South by rail even from as far as Victoria. Southeast Australia’s rail system was further stretched, as it was already hauling heavy consignments of troops and munitions, as well as non-perishable foodstuffs to Queensland and the Northern Territory. As rail transit time from Melbourne to North Queensland was seven to eight days, it was challenging for the State railway systems to ensure that fruit and vegetables arrived in edible condition. Another chokepoint for the Queensland Railways was in sugar production where the over-zealous internment of the many Italians in the industry, coupled with an overloaded rail system handling other critical demands, held up cane supplies to the sugar mills and the refining of raw sugar. To make up for labour shortages in this and other areas of food production in the North, hundreds of volunteers who had enlisted in the Women’s Land Army were put on trains and headed North to help out in growing food to supply concentrations of up to 90,000 Australian and American military personnel.  From December 1942, the headquarters of the Australian Army in North Queensland was transferred from Townsville to the Atherton Tableland. This was only the beginning of further pressure on the Queensland Railway network. Soon, a huge schedule of construction work commenced in building camps, stores, bakeries, mess kitchens, jungle training facilities, entertainment halls, sewage plants, army farms and a war cemetery, most materials having to be shipped in by rail. At its peak the region’s new hospital complex included a convalescent depot of 1000-bed capacity and two general hospital units, each with 1200-beds generating a large passenger traffic and use of ambulance cars.

Meanwhile, in South East Queensland, in 1940 large orders for the manufacture of shells and grenade casings were placed with Ipswich Railway Workshops which eventually produced a huge quantity of munitions. Once produced, the Railways had the job of transporting the armaments. At the same time, Queensland Railways was working flat out handling the increased output of the West Moreton coalfield near Ipswich in the production and transport of coal for power generation, metal smelting and meeting its own massively increased locomotive demand. Further North, with the threat to coastal towns and military depots, enlarged fuel and munitions storages were shifted inland to Charters Towers and as far as Hughenden to be beyond the reach of Japanese aircraft. However, this put further pressure on the transport task for Queensland Railways, coupled with the establishment of large troop training and billeting areas at Kuranda and the Atherton Tablelands.

As a result of these heroic War efforts, the Queensland Railways as with its interstate counterparts ended the conflict in a rundown condition with a huge backlog of repairs that took years to restore. The railways played a far great role than they would have ever have expected to play in the desperate struggle for survival during WW2 they not only helped to produce everything from Grenades to fighter aircraft but they had to transport everything across our vast continent

Interesting Facts about Antarctica

Coldest place on earth where a high ridge in Antarctica has recorded temperatures below -133F/-93C

Antarctica is the largest desert in the world

The average thickness of the ice is approximately 1.6 Km

Winds in some places can reach 320Km/h

90% of all meteorites ever found have come from Antarctica

The largest ice berg ever measured is bigger than Jamaica estimated at; 11,000 square/Km; it broke away in the year 2000

There is treaty signed by 38 countries that prohibits military/mineral/nuclear or waste disposal activities

There is over 300 lakes beneath Antarctica that are kept from freezing by the warmth of the earth’s core

Husky dogs have been banned from Antarctica since 1994

You cannot work in Antarctica unless your wisdom teeth and appendix are removed

Antarctica is the only continent without a time zone

The ice sheet of Antarctica has been in existence for at least 40 million years

Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, highest and driest continent on earth

90% of the world’s fresh water is in Antarctica

Some parts of Antarctica have had no rain or snow for the last 2 million years

Antarctica is the only continent without reptiles

There are no polar bears in Antarctica

The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica is twice the size of Europe

Townsville Whale Watching Tours

A TOWNSVILLE man got a scare yesterday when he saw a pod of six humpback whales rushing towards his boat. Joe Martin took a friend out fishing near the Cape Cleveland Light yesterday about 2pm when he saw the mammals approaching. The whales were heading straight for his boat and he became afraid the boat would be swamped so he quickly started up his motor and sounded the horn. The whales dived underneath the boat and resurfaced on the other side. They came so close he was almost able to reach out and touch them.

Mr Martin said it was a surreal experience. "It was a once in a lifetime opportunity," he said.

He spent about half an hour watching the animals before they headed out to the open reef. Humpback whales have been frolicking in Cleveland Bay of Townsville over the past week as they begin their migration to warmer northern waters. Mothers and their calves are expected to be a common sight, playing in the waters off Townsville from now to August, and then in September as they move south again. Passengers on board the Magnetic Island ferry were treated to displays of whales breaching near the vessel in Nelly Bay last week and whale watching tourists were not disappointed. Townsville Whale Watching Tours marine biologist Chris Mirbach said the graceful giants had been sighted weeks earlier than was usual around the Palm Islands. "We have a 95 per cent success rate of seeing whales there, and every time we see them it is pretty special," he said. "They do have quite a few migration routes, Migaloo the white whale will change his migratory path every year."


Season Starts July 1st 2017 Max. 6 people Experience the new Townsville day tour, cruise around the beautiful Palm Islands searching for Humpback Whales and snorkel in the sheltered and calm waters of Curacoa Island. Departure: daily from Townsville CBD at 07.30 a.m. Launch vessel at 9.30 from Lucinda Return at approx. 5 p.m. to Townsville.

For Bookings: Contact Tropical Travel on p: (07) 47 72 58 00 Or e: info@tropicaltravel.com.au

The Story of Leslie Allen (Bull Allen)

(Nick Named – Bull) because he was as strong as Bull with a heart to match

Born in Ballarat East, his early years were difficult. After he was abandoned by his parents at the age of 12, he began working as a farm labourer. By the time he enlisted in the army in 1940, the 23-year-old was a tall and powerfully built man who earned the nickname “Bull” for charging through the opposition on the football field. Personally brave, Allen struggled with authority.

Australian and American soldiers rarely served together in the front line in the war against Japan in World War 2. Buna in late 1942 is a notable exception. Another, and less known, instance took place on Mount Tambu in the mountains above Salamaua (Papua New Guinea) in mid-1943.   

In 1943, Allen was awarded a Military Medal for recovering Australian wounded under fire near Wau in February. Five months later, on 30 July, he again repeatedly risked his own life when rescuing at least 12 wounded American soldiers during fighting on Mount Tambu.

Yet Allen was also a man badly affected by his war service. In the Middle East in 1941, he had been hospitalised with “anxiety neurosis” and when he returned to Australia from New Guinea his behaviour became increasing erratic. In February 1944, he struck an officer and was demoted. In September, Allen was discharged from the army suffering “constitutional temperamental instability”, “anxiety symptoms”, and malaria.  

So traumatised was this veteran of the Libyan, Syrian and Salamaua campaigns, that Allen retreated to an uncle’s farm and lost the power of speech for a time. In early 1945, he was awarded the United States Silver Star Medal for his services to the Allied cause. Among the many people who expressed their congratulations was Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  In 1949, Allen married Jean Floyd, who had been a nurse during the war.