Magnetic Island North Queensland
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August 7th 2010
Julian Assange’s mother recalls Magnetic

Following a fascinating article in the New Yorker magazine, no less, that a former resident of Magnetic Island has grown up to become the now very-much-talked about founder of Wiki-leaks, Mr Julian Assange, Island gossip has run hot with little success with all and sundry trying to recall anything they could about the elusive ‘nonconformist’ Assanges. But today a living and loving trace of the Assange’s Magnetic history has emerged following a chance browse through the Magnetic Island History and Craft Centre’s “Can you help us” visitor’s book by our peerless local historian, and the Centre’s President Ms Zanita Davies.

What caught Zanita’s eye was a charming entry by non other than Julian’s mother, who has moved to and from Magnetic Island several times since first coming to our shores in 1971.

The account adds only a glimpse into the childhood of Mr Assange, who some have described as the most dangerous man in America and others have lauded for his organisations’ use of the Internet to show the world secrets: including the grim, but highly revealing footage in which the US military shot and killed 18 people on the street in Iraq -some of whom turned out to be Reuters’ journalists - and Wiki-leaks’, hotly controversial, 90,000 page leak of military details of the day to day conflict in Afghanistan.

The Magnetic connection is however a blissful world away from the horrors or Iraq and Afghanistan and the brief account by Assange’s mother tells of the simple, “going native” lifestyle that still draws people to Magnetic and reveals her continuing love for the Island with a question mark hanging over a further visit.

We note however that Ms Assange’s snake identification skills may, however, lead locals into further debate as Magnetic is considered by most to be free of taipans. In an effort to protect the family's privacy we will, take the lead of the New Yorker and refer to Julian's mother as "Claire".

From September 28, 2009, Ms Assange writes:

My name is Assange. I have lived on the Island three times. 1971 as a single mum with a young baby. I rented an island cottage for $12 per week in Picnic Bay. It is still here. It had a green concrete floor and floor to ceiling wooden louvres and a central “cyclone” pole bolted into the floor. It survived Althea. I lived in a bikini, “going native” with my baby and other mums on the island. I used to catch a white cowie shell I found (sic) . Old Pat, an elderly gentleman who leased the Nobbys Headland for $500 for 10 years and lived in a broken down stone house would have us up for tea once a week. He was a chef before retiring and always wore a safari jacket. Great for filling up on the mainland of all manner of delicious goodies for us. Back again in 1976 with new husband. Lived in Horseshoe Bay on an old abandoned pineapple farm. Slashed way to front door with machete. Shot a taipan in the water tank and on son’s bed. Had to suspend fruit from ceiling to protect from possums.

Back again in 1982 with another little child. Lived in a flat on esplanade in Picnic Bay. Back again as a grandmother with long term boyfriend - still in love with island - only staying 2 weeks.

Back again?

The article in the New Yorker, titled, No Secrets, by Raffi Khatchadourian, includes the following paragraph with Julian Assange referring to his times on Magnetic

Assange was born in 1971, in the city of Townsville, on Australia’s northeastern coast, but it is probably more accurate to say that he was born into a blur of domestic locomotion. Shortly after his first birthday, his mother—I will call her Claire—married a theatre director, and the two collaborated on small productions. They moved often, living near Byron Bay, a beachfront community in New South Wales, and on Magnetic Island, a tiny pile of rock that Captain Cook believed had magnetic properties that distorted his compass readings. They were tough-minded nonconformists. (At seventeen, Claire had burned her schoolbooks and left home on a motorcycle.) Their house on Magnetic Island burned to the ground, and rifle cartridges that Claire had kept for shooting snakes exploded like fireworks. “Most of this period of my childhood was pretty Tom Sawyer,” Assange told me. “I had my own horse. I built my own raft. I went fishing. I was going down mine shafts and tunnels.”
Read more (here)

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Julian Assange’s mother recalls Magnetic
lindsay Simpson
August 6th 2010
Hi Zanita and George,
Fascinating insight into someone catapulted into the international headlines as well as some great anecdotes about the island.
Neville P
August 8th 2010
I know the consensus is no Taipans on M.I. but as a liftime Reptile Keeper I can assure you I saw one in Arcadia in 2000. I had a fellow reptile collector with me. We told National Parks Ranger (vaguely recall it was a "Cameron") but he did not believe us. It was on the right hand side hill as you left the barge entry before the pub. Maybe it escaped a delivery? Careful. They used to think Swans only came in White.
August 15th 2010
Neville P. may well be right but, as in the Assange pursuit, lack of any physical or photographic evidence presents a difficult challenge. Local enthusiasts have had a similar problem with the Northern Quoll until Gavin Ryan found one at his house in Horseshoe Bay a few years ago and was able to catch it and show it to Parks personnel before it was photographed and released. A few years ago a different "lifetime reptile keeper" swore he had seen and positively identified a "King Brown" (as distinct from an ordinary "Brown" and especially the Taipan) in the pineapple fields in Horseshoe Bay. Numerous people claim to see big brown snakes - not knowing that the harmless and pretty cute Freshwater Snake or Keelback is plain brown, up to a metre long and, in its own inconspicuous way, common around gardens on the Island.
All of it far more interesting than the trying-to-remain-anonymous Assanges and our dubious pursuit of their exposure. Thankfully, paparazzi have always left their cameras behind when they came to Magnetic Island, even in the 70s.
Asif Ahmed
December 16th 2010
Julian is the man.... I really like the courage he has ...

monika stojkova
December 17th 2010
I realy like his courage ....
Arpol West
December 17th 2010
I lived in Townsville from 1973 to 1978 working as a goldsmith. Some of my fellow workers were commuting daily to the Continent as they used to say they were living "overseas". The owner of Loloma's jewellers was living there as well. Magnetic had a charm for people living on the edge ..non conformists...alledgely with some hidden plantations. Beautiful place to visit!
Fond memories of living opposite Louise Mount, made good friends there till we moved to Perth! I saw myself a long and thick brown snake maybe 3 m. long, near my house on a dry creek bed. Karen Malcomson, we were on a swap she teaching English to us and we Spanish to her and on a particular day she was afraid to return home as she was living in the very bush past a bridge and saw heaps of snakes! Sometimes in our yard small snakes, at night fox bats mangoes eaters!And the beautiful geckos staring down at us clinging from the ceiling! Our First Australian house on stilts! arpolwest. (abridged for defamatory references Ed.)
March 13th 2011
Interrogator, Irmeli Krans, in the Julian Assange case is a close friend with Anna Ardin who´s accusing Wikileaks founder of rape. Police officer Irmeli Krans was also present at the same party as Julian Assange and Anna Ardin.
June 8th 2011
Joharn Cuthbert
November 7th 2011
may the whole of australia get behind this man,he is amazing,and he needs our help,sending love light and positive thoughts to julian and his family,were thinking of u from wa x jo cuthbert
nhat duy quang
November 21st 2011
what and how about (Ca2+) chemicaly ???????
December 30th 2011
a real man
June 24th 2012
I love Magnetic Island - had so much fun in Radical Bay, and Horseshoe. I've served in the AOR. I've never even seen the Wikileaks site and don't know if what he did was right or wrong. All the same, it looks like Julian is the subject of a witch hunt. If people in high places want to set you up and ruin you, they will.
abraham rajendran
August 16th 2012
Long live assange.

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