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Today 'The Sunday Times* nears the 1000th episode in rhe adventures of Bluey and Curley - Australia's most popular war-time comic strip.
Alex Gurney, creator of the strip, is well-known in the army camps of Victoria f<nd New South U';tles -
Kot long ago he visited Kew Guinea where the Blueys and Curleys and their cobbers of the Australian Military Force made him welcome, offered him a few ideas (most of them a bit too blue for Bluey), and persuaded him to do some Bluey and Curley draw- ings. They clustered around him while he dashed off souvenir sketches on odd bit^ of paper at Port Moresby, at Lae. at Finsch hafen, up the Huon Peninsular even in a transport plane Hj.OOOft
over the Coral Sea.
Gurney's companion-in-travel tells here some of the lighter ex- periences of the journey.
That night when Alex Gurney, creator of Bluey and Curley, crashed into the storm-water trench in Rama Valley, we de- cided that for once the joke was on him. But Alex, for the moment didn't see it that way. In fact, for a while, oozing rain, he looked much more bluey than curly.
We had borrowed , our jungle
hammocks from American friends in Port Moresby. And we had thanked them for their courtesy and kindness. Such simple trust is a warming ouman virtue.
]Çe were shown how- to roll the hammocks, told how to sling them, and freely assured of their comfort and convenience.
First night on which the god of * discomfort ruled that we should crawl into the evil contraptions was at Dumpu! reached finally by jeep through miles of mud and kunai grass along the Ramu Val- ley.
We went to the pictures that night-open air, among the coco- nut palms and betel trees, with a star-blazing sky, and the fireflies
making their curiously disem- bodied flights to places only they knew- where. It was a cheery company, and even the revelation thai the feature film was "Sara- toga," in which Jean Harlow en- joyed her last temperamental frenzy so long ago, didn't flatten our good spirits.
After the show^ a cup of tea
at the mess. But it was bucket- ing rain, Ramu Valley style, when we slipped and slid through the mud to the tent beside our
hammockt, each of which had been expertly slung between two dripping trees by Come-too, the native boy-about-the-place.
Drenched in the few yards' rush from the tent, I opened the zip fasteners which sealed the mos- quito-net sides of the' hammock, and leaped in out of the wet. The hammock, observing the elemen- tary principles of the law of gravity, turned a somersault; one of my plunging heels went through the netting; rain swept in as I struggled out, and my bare feet squelched into the soupy
Treating the stupid laughter from neighboring hammocks with
the contempt it merited, and dis- regarding the moronic advice shrieked from nearby tents and huts, i returned to the encounter. More cautiously 1 crept in again, and eventually the hammock achieved something approximat- ing to an even keel.
But from then on, as the rain made an infiltration movement down my spine, and the mos- quitoes, with unerring naviga- tional instinct, effected a frontal
assauit through the netting ' breach, 1 lay rigid, helpless, afraid to seek the relief of any movement which might send my devil-ridden, rainswept hammock swinging again.
lt was a night of Boris-Kar loffesque terror, with the mud cascading all around, the black mud waiting hungrily below, the "mosquito squadrons droning in to the kill, and the air-raid siren screaming unhappily through the
Yes, it must be revealed, the full-throated laugh of Alex Gur- ney <my pal) had been identified by my sensitive ear in that caco- phonous chorus which signalled
my discomfiture. But, wait a **
minute, even in the remote j
morasses ot Ramu Valley there I bides a practising member of the Nemesis family, and it was about 3 a.m. that he moved into action.
It was a plaintive voice .at broke into my sleepless, motion- less meditation. "Hey," said the voice of Gurney, "I'm baling out."
A hammock rope had broken and Gurney had fallen. ""'Well,*' he ruminated, as he tried to sort himself out, "here I am-and here 1 stay."
But still entangled in his ham- mock, he had been precipitated ? into the storm-water trench, and, within a few seconds the waters of Dumpu, muddy and menacing, surged through his blankets.
Gurney made a strategic with- drawal to a nearby but, bombed on the way by unidentified mis- siles from water-logged trees, supported by a strong air-cover of mosquitoes. ,
Good old Nemesis (my pal).
A couple of hundred men were al that same picture show a few nights later. On the screen a destroyei was about to be attack- ed by a formation of Jap planes. As the Japs peeled off to dive, the destroyer ranged the guns on
the lines of attack. 1
J'ÍÍ-É then the camp air-raid alarm sounded, and soon Japa- nese planes were heard overhead. The film was stopped, there was silence for a few moments, and then came the voice from the darkness: "Turn the ruddy film on; the navy'll get the ruddy
TT was on the jungle trails *? up near Shaggy Ridge
that we saw the best butterflies; great bursts of colori flitting among th© undergrowth and along the creeks so fast that army hats hurled after them weren't in the race.
The Postal Bloke at Dumpu was a keen collector. His great
aim was to catch a Blue Empress, queen of them alL He' talked about it, thought about it, dreamt about it-and bored everybody about it.
Then the day came when he saw a brilliant streak of blue high up on a vine-clustered tree. The whole camp was stirred; from all directions members ' of his mess hurried along to watch the hunt.
The Postal Bloke made no mis- take about this one. Snarling at his audience to shut up and keep
still, he began to stalk his prey. Tip-toe he made a masterly en- circling movement, his hat in hand, ready for the capture. Whisper of encouragement sooled
The hat swished through the air, but the Blue Empress did not move, lt was, in fact, a thing of paper, carefully colored in life-
Butternies aren't a popular topic with the Postal Bloke any