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H -BLUEY and CURLEY
Jottings on a jungle yisit to the re 1 "Blueys" and "Curleys"-written by Allan Burbury and illustrated by Alex Gurney (creator of "Bluey" and "Curley").-Special to "The Mercury."
TI/TARTIME padres aren't quite like
' * their civilian counterparts. Still, we must go on believing that padres tell the truth. That's the only reason I repeat this one, because this padre as- sured Gurney it was true.
Chess, like checkers, dominoes, poker, ludo, and tall stories-claim a lot of time in the mess huts. The padre had battled his way through hours of silent contemplation to the chess semi-final. The great night arrived, and the semi finalists were locked in undisturbed combat. Earlier spectators had found something else to do somewhere else.
Rigid in their intensity, the oppon- ents sat there. The padre felt some- thing heavy on his foot, but he did not move. Minutes later, he looked up from the board, and saw why his op- ponent had been patiently supporting an unexplained weight on the back of
It was a great snake-possibly a keen chess fan, but in any case looped from
the padre's foot to the opponent's neck.
Okay, okay, it's the padre's story, not
. # * *
C^URNEY' was keen to sketch ^-* natives and native scenes. Some of his sketches were lost one day when our faithful jeep was almost sub- merged in a flooded river, but he brought others back to Australia. Alex became very interested in the activities of the Australian New Guinea Adminis I trative Unit, known as ANGAU. He
listened to the natives' pidgin English,
and watched them at their work.
Up on Huon Peninsula we spent a few nights near "Little Bondi" beach, where each afternoon could be seen hundreds of Australian soldiers, back from the mountain campaign, sunbaking on the beach or surfing in the caressing warm "water of the tropical seas.
Gurney, one day, trudging through the sand, tripped over a brown body
stretched in the sun. "You belongem Angau?" asked Gurney, airing his fluent pidgin. "Hell, no," said the brown man, "I come from Bondi."
One native who caught Gurney's interest was Come-too, who slung the ill-fated hammocks. His claim to special fame was that he was musical. Squatting by the fire, he played a quaint native instrument-a toosap-in appearance a cross between a Jew's harp and a shanghai. His music was so muted it was hard to hear, but one war correspondent assured us that his pet melody was "When Come-too toots a two-step on his toosap down at Goosap."
* * * * -
JEEP journeys provided us " with plenty of incident. "Go ahead, brother; have a crash'.' was one cheery road sign we glimpsed as we began to slither down a steep, greasy hill which led to a flimsy bridge over a- rain-swollen, rock-bestrewn river.
But transport planes were the chief means of travel; a service so highly de- veloped and efficiently conducted that catching and changing planes sometimes seemed as simple as taxi-hailing in pre-
Gurney tells me that his flight back to Moresby through a cloud-filled Ko- koda Gap failed to arouse his artistic appreciation of the sharp-toothed, saw edged mountain peaks which, thrusting through the mists, seemed almost to be brushing the wings of the plane.
It was on the following morning, re- turning from Cape Gloucester, that I had the luck at Nadzab to be rushed straight to another plane which was moving on to the airstrip to take off for Moresby. We refuelled at Lae, and. the only passenger, I stretched on the seat and went to sleep, highly pleased
with things. Gloucester to Moresby in the one day, without a hitch, was nie«
Change of altitude as the plane carne down steeply woke me up, and I grab- bed my pack and" hammock. Moresby -change of clothing-good dinner Gurney's cheerful smile; it was a pleas- ing prospect.
Then I looked out the window and saw we were just touching down again at Lae. Kokoda Gap had proved im- passable, and we were in Lae for the night.
When I explained my late arrival to Gurney in Moresby next day he thought the incident was very funny. '
Strange sense of humour, that chap.
* * * *
WORST stage of the whole * ' journey was by flying boat, from Port Moresby to Brisbane direct. Packed with servicemen, war corres- pondents, the Salvation Army bloke, and who knows what, no seat except the bare metal floor, a metal which had the curious quality of growing harder and harder as the day stretched on; no food unless you had the fortitude to bust open a field ration tin without aid of tin-opener, axe, or bayonet; a day that began long before dawn, and finished long after dark.
"Hey," came the voice of Gurney, as we dozed through the hours. "Look at the colonel's play-lunch." >,
In our sardine-tin compartment was a very tall lieutenant-colonel, whose long legs constantly fought for survival with the long legs of the chap opposite
The colonel had just opened a large bag into which, he told us, a batman had thrust an emergency luncheon for him just before he left his quarters for the Moresby jetty.
From the bag emerged:
(1) A full-size tin loaf (no knife);
(2) A large tin of camp pie (no open-
(3) A large tin labelled "Baking Pow-
I "But what's in the baking-powder
tin?" asked Gurney, hungrily. The colonel opened the fin, thrust in a finger,
and tasted it.
You'll never guess. ... It WAS bak- ing powder!