The first toll gate in Victoria was established on Heidelberg Road just over the Merri Creek Bridge from Clifton Hill. It was a great success, raising sufficient income to macadamise the road for over 1½ miles from the bridge, towards Alphington.

Emboldened by this success the colonial government tendered out for another toll gate in Northcote. The site chosen was just over the Merri Creek where Hoddle Street intersects with Queens Parade. The site was soon deemed unsuitable and relocated to south west corner of High and Westgarth streets.


Fishermen discovered the body of Ali Riza Sonmez, 44, in the Darling River near Wentworth, on the NSW-Victorian border, on Australia Day in 1986. Police said there was no evidence Mr Sonmez had any underworld links. The father-of-four, a disabled pensioner from Mildura, had been shot above each eye and in the back of the head, as well as to his body. Police said Mr Sonmez left his family home in Mildura about 5pm on January 23, 1986, and was seen walking along the footpath of Ninth Street, past the Mobil service station and towards Deakin Avenue. About 6.30pm that day, another witness saw Mr Sonmez arguing with a man, who was in the company of two women, outside the post office on Commercial Street in Merbein. Photo of Ali Riza Sonmez


On This Day – January 23, 1952

Thomas Wilfred Stevens, 30, farmer, of Bet Bet, was fatally shot in the stomach on a property at Bet Bet, near Dunolly on this day in 1952. Kenneth John Stevens 28-years and brother to the victim, also of Bet Bet, was charged with murder at Dunolly watch house. Police allege that the men got their guns during an argument and two shots were fired. They say the first shot struck Steven’s gun, and the second penetrated his stomach. Kenneth John Stevens, however was acquitted of the murdered his elder brother. He was also acquitted of an alternative charge of manslaughter. The Jury reached its decision after a retirement of 10 minutes. The Crown alleged that Stevens, one of three brothers all physically disabled, shot his elder brother after a series of disputes involving his younger brother. It was claimed that in the kitchen of their home he fired a shot which struck the stock of his elder brother Thomas Stevens’s gun, causing pellets to enter his chest. Soon after, another shot was fired by Kenneth Stevens, striking Thomas Stevens, in the stomach” and ” killing him instantly. Stevens, who pleaded not guilty to the murder, of his brother, said in his defence that he was afraid for his life when he fired the first shot to hit the lock of his brother’s gun and when he fired a second shot to hit the butt. Stevens was discharged.



On This Day – January 23, 1881

Robert Rohan, alias Smith, murderer of John Shea, at Yalca, near Shepparton, on the 23rd January 1881, was executed in Beechworth gaol on the 6th of June, by Upjohn, at 10am. The condemned man walked on to the scaffold in a calm, deliberate manner, chewing a piece of tobacco, and when asked by the sheriff whether he had anything to say, replied, “I have been convicted of the murder, and am prepared to hang for it.” The previous evening he said to the governor of the gaol and the Revs. Wm. Brown and Donnes, Wesleyan clergymen, “I have committed several crimes that I ought to have been hanged for, but I never committed this.” All being ready, the executioner pulled the bolt, and the convict was launched into eternity. Death was instantaneous. The prisoner, who was 24 years of age, had served several sentences both in Victoria and New South Wales, including one of 12 months in Beechworth gaol for larceny at Benalla in 1876, and another of two years and a half in Pentridge for robbery at Sandhurst in 1878, under the name of Ernest Smith, alias Rohan. The night before his execution he slept calmly, and ate a hearty breakfast and smoked a pipe next morning, and on being informed by the gaoler that his time had come, he answered, “All right, sir,” and appeared but little affected by the near approach of death.



EXECUTED THIS DAY – January 23, 1939


At the Pentridge Gaol, Coburg, on this day in 1939, Thomas William Johnson, aged 40 years, labourer, was hanged for the murder of Robert Gray, aged 73 years, and Adam Bunney, aged 61 years, at Dunolly on the 6th of October 1938. Johnson, who had refused the ministrations of any clergyman, was not attended by a chaplain as he was led to the scaffold, and when asked by the sheriff Mr. T. Kelly whether he had a statement to make before sentence of death was carried out he did not speak but indicated by gesture that he wished the execution to proceed.



ON THIS DAY – January 23, 1933

John Barber, aged 24, attacked his wife, failing in an attempt to murder her, in a house at Mount Evelyn on this day, John Barber, fatally wounded himself with a sawn-off pea-rifle. Barber’s wife was working as a domestic at Mount Evelyn, and he went to see her. A quarrel occurred, and Barber produced a pea-rifle and aimed it at his wife, who was nursing a baby. She struck the barrel upwards, with her arm, and the bullet lodged in the ceiling. Barber then struck at his wife with the stock of the rifle. She fled, and on hearing another shot she returned to the house, and found her husband lying seriously wounded on the floor.



ON THIS DAY – January 23, 1908

In regard to the Ballarat North mystery information was received by the police from Longwood, midway between Euroa and Benalla, which showed that the fossicker Charles Ronalds was entirely wrong in his surmise that the body of the woman found in the abandoned shaft at Vale Park was that of his wife, Annie Ronalds. His wife, who is 35 years of age, has been found alive and well at Longwood. There appears to be but little doubt that the body found in the shaft was that of a woman who was the victim of foul play, but it is questionable whether her identity will ever be established. No female has been reported as missing in the district, and it is, therefore, probable that the remains found in the old shaft were those of a person decoyed to the neighbourhood, assaulted, killed, and thrown down the shaft. It seems remarkable that a person so elaborately dressed as the deceased should have had neither money nor jewellery in her possession. Possibly the woman had been robbed prior to being hurled down the shaft. Frederick Clough, who is also a fossicker in the locality, made an important statement, which may possibly be turned to profitable account by the police. It was that a dog belonging to Arthur Deevor came running home with a portion of the root of a tree in its mouth, and that on Mrs. Deevor taking the piece of wood from the animal she found it had hair upon it similar in colour to that on the head of the deceased woman. Clough, who has been employed fossicking in the adjacent ranges for 15 years, states that the ranges at this particular point were known as “The Lovers’ Walk,” and that it was likely that the victim of the tragedy was a stranger in the district, and was in company with a male acquaintance when she met her fate.


In 1945, Lancelot (Lance) Leonard Hill returned home from the Second World War. He found his wife Sherry struggling to hang the washing between the overgrown trees in their back yard, so he took some old pipe, a welder and an innovative idea and created what was to become a world famous Australian Icon. The Hills Hoist was born. Word of Lance’s invention quickly spread until one day, on a tram on his way to work, Lance overheard two women talking about wanting a rotary clothes hoist they had seen in a friend’s yard. Lance got off the tram at the next stop, walked home and told Sherry that he was going into business to make the Hoist Hills Industries was born.


ON THIS DAY…… 23rd Janurary 1953

On the 23rd January 1953, a man who was unable to explain how a pair of under pants got into his pocket was, sentenced to a month imprisonment. Senior-constable Talbot told the City Court that he saw Thomas Bradley 59 of no fixed address in Moorabool st. He was also drunk and disorderly Constable Talbot said the under pants were sticking out of Bradley’s pocket’ They were not wrapped up Bradley had said he did not know where the underpants had come from or if he had stolen them. Bradley was gaoled for unlawful possession and fined £5 for being drunk and disorderly.



On the 23rd June 2015, a 6.3-metre basking shark was caught by a trawler at Portland, west of Warrnambool, Victoria. It was a big male, although they can grow to 12 metres long, (it’s the second-largest living fish). The last time there was a recorded capture of this species was in the 1930s, by a skipper at Lakes Entrance in eastern Victoria. Museum Victoria senior collections manager Dianne Bray said it was uncommon to come across this shark in Australia. There was one caught in 1883 in Portland and brought to Melbourne for a few days and placed on display at the Victorian Museum. The plankton-eating sharks were named because they often spend time near the surface basking in the sun.



On this day …….. 23rd of January 1930

Gourdet Singh an Indian Hawker from Moyhu, in North East Victoria, died on this day in the Wangaratta Hospital. His body was taken to the Wangaratta Common off Greta Rd and placed on a pyre of sandalwood, anointed with the contents of a box of butter, and publicly cremated.



Photo of the old Wangaratta Toll Gates, which were erected after the punt was sunk. A charge was made for people, animals, carts, cars and buses and trucks later on. A gatehouse keeper lived in a residence near the gates to charge users when they crossed. The gates have been refurbished by the students at the local TAFE college and are featured in the river beautification works along the Ovens River, North East Victoria.