ON THIS DAY – January 25, 1933

The fact of an exploded rifle being found hidden behind a bathroom door first led detectives to believe Reginald Orams, aged 30, who was found dead in his sleep out at a house at Albion street, West Brunswick, was the victim of foul play. As the result of further inquiries they also investigating a theory that in the wash house he shot himself above the heart, and staggered to the sleep out. Two young men who were questioned have been allowed to go.



On this day …….. 25th of January 1912

A lunatic who escaped from the Ararat Asylum on the 25th of January 1912, and who’s presence has been causing alarm to the residents of  Lake Bolac, Woorndoo and district. He was captured by Constable Conway and some locales. He had just dined at a farmer house a was walking towards Hamilton, when the police met him. He told the police that he was only looking for work. He was housed in the Caramut lock up until he could be escorted back to Ararat.



On this day …….. 25th of January 1949

Farmers who uncovered a human skeleton at Bannockburn, near Geelong, on this day in 1949, may have solved the mystery of John Lang, farmer labourer, who disappeared in the district nearly 50 years ago. Lang, after his disappearance, became the centre of several legends in the Moorabool Valley district, round Bannockburn. After his wife died about 20 years ago, their cottage fell into ruin and some local, residents swore it was haunted by Lang’s ghost. Mrs Lang refused to believe her husband was dead and kept a light burning in the cottage window to light, his way home. At the time of his disappearance it was believed Lang had been murdered and buried, or that he had fallen into a creek and been drowned. The skeleton was found today, buried under heavy stone and rubble, while a farmer was digging out a rabbit warren. The bones were sent to the Government Pathologist for report.



On this day …….. 25th of January 1848

The Marion disembarked convicts at Port Philip on this day in 1848. It was the last ship to do so, Victoria.



On this day …….. 25th of January 1872


Joseph Michael Molong, a School Master from Stony Creek near Yackandandah was committed to Mayday Hills Asylum on the 20th of March 1872. Molong escaped on the 25th of January 1873, and captured 27th of June .



EXECUTED THIS DAY – January 24, 1916

John Jackson was hanged in the Melbourne Gaol on this day in 1916, for the murder of Constable McGrath at the Trades’ Hall. Death was instantaneous. The Rev. W. Forbes, of the Church of England. who attended the condemned man, said that Jackson was very reticent at first, but later became confidential, confessed his sins and expressed contrition. His chief anxiety was for his wife and two children, aged seven and five, and he feared they would be told by some interfering person that their father died on the gallows. He limped to the scaffold having not sufficiently recovered from the fractured ankle caused by a bullet during the fight with the police. He was not nervous and faced death calmly. When asked if he had anything to say he said. “No;’ I thank you all for your kindness.” Jackson had passed a good night and appeared quite resigned to’ his fate.



ON THIS DAY – January 24, 1950

Lillian Cowen aged 42 years, house wife, of Williamstown, and Verna Irene Peterson aged 50 years, textile worker, of Footscray, had pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Edna Jean McDonald at Williamstown on the 24th of January 1950. The original charge of murder preferred against the women was reduced to manslaughter. It was alleged that Peterson a married woman with six children took Miss McDonald to Cowen’s home and that Mrs. Cowen tried to perform an illegal operation, during which the young woman aged 30 years died. Cowen and Paterson then dumped the young woman’s body at the West Melbourne rubbish tip.



ON THIS DAY – January 24, 1930

The bodies of Theodore Dugay a retired farmer, aged 70. and his wife Emily aged 54, were found at a farm near Rutherglen on this day in 1930. Both died from pea rifle wounds in the head. Dugay had lived in the district for 60 years, and was recently released from the Beechworth mental institution. It is thought that he shot his wife, and then committed suicide.



On this day …….. 24th of January 1936

Warder McDonald who was on duty in No. 3 tower at Geelong gaol on the 24th of January 1936, prevented the escape of three prisoners from No. 5 exercise yard. The warders suspicions were aroused by the actions of the three men, and he made an immediate report to the Governor of the Gaol, Mr N E Tuohill, who sent a number of wardens to the yard. The wardens found that the mortar between a number of bricks in the wall had been gouged out and the openings filled with a mixture of moistened bread and mortar dust. One of the prisoners attacked a warder, striking him with a board, as well as biting and kicking him. The three men were sentenced to a further four months’ imprisonment, and the man who assaulted the warder to a further three months. All three prisoners were sent to Pentridge to complete their sentences.



On this day …….. 24th of January 1934

A woman returned to her home in the Brisbane suburb of Sherwood on the 24th of January 1934, and found her 16 year old son bound and gagged behind a dressing table in a bedroom. She called the police. Constable Suchting interviewed the boy, who told hi. That he had heard a sound in the bedroom. When he went to investigate, a masked man had stepped from behind the door and hit him on the jaw with a heavy object, knocking him out. When he came to he was bound and gagged. Constable Suchting was not satisfied with the boys story, given there was no marks on this body. After exhaustive questioning, the boy admitted that the whole thing had been a hoax. He had read a novel describing such an attack and decided he would create a sensation about himself. He placed a gag in his mouth and cleverly tied his legs and arms with rope.



On this day …….. 24th of January 1893

Captain Russell, while in the lions cage at Fillis’s Circus, on this night in 1893, fell, but Mr. Fillis fired a gun, and Captain Russell jumped up and left the cage, and, although there was great excitement amongst the audience, it was thought nothing serious had happened. It appears, however, that such was not the case. Captain Russell was severely bitten by the lion Pasha, which throughout the performance manifested signs of sullenness. When Captain Russell fell Pasha immediately sprang upon him, and was only frightened by the point blank discharge of Fillis’s rifle and the efforts of the attendant outside the cage. Medical examination, however, showed that the lion’s teeth inflicted injuries of a serious nature on his right arm just beneath the shoulder, where there are between 12 and 16 incised wounds, ranging in depth from little more than a scratch to 2 inches. The most serious wound was caused by the lower canine tooth, which entered the under portion of the arm to the depth of 5 inches. Captain Russell returned to the circus the following night with his arm in a sling, and the performance with the lions was gone through as usual by another man. It was noticeable that Pasha was very ill tempered.



In 1876 the Victorian State Government decided it would abolish toll gates by 1877. It promised local councils to compensate them for any lost income. Unfortunately in 1877 the State Government found itself without funds and the towns of Northcote and Preston faced an uncertain future. Fortunately as the Council began to panic the State Government was able to raise sufficient cash to bail it out of its difficulties.

One toll house managed, despite everything to survive until the 1980s. The Northcote Council fought hard to save the building but it was demolished anyway.