On this day ………… 27th February 1868

As earthquake go, it wasn’t all that big, lasting only four or five seconds, but there was much shaking of building and rattling of crockery and a distant rumbling, on this day in 1868. The shock waves, which appeared to move in a north to south direction, were felt in most parts of the North East Victoria – Beechworth, Stanley, Chiltern and Wangaratta all reported tremor. Old hands weren’t overly disturbed by the incident, particularly those having experienced an earlier earthquake which rolled across from the Campaspe to the Murray in 1858. It caughtMr. maiden rowing across the river near present day Moama, and, according to stories at the time, the tidal wave generated by the quake almost overturned his boat.



On this day ………… 27th February 1945

On the 27th of February 1945, Edward John Boreham, of Kenwood Court, Preston escaped from the Geelong Gaol with a fellow prisoner Kenneth William Radford. Boreham was killed in the bush near the timber mill, at Valley View, between Yarram and Morwell. Unaware that two fugitive soldiers were about, timber workers felled a tree on the hillside. Radford was not hurt, and was arrested when police arrived, Boreham was killed instantly.



On this day ………… 27th February 1788

One of the first permanent structures erected in Australia was the gallows in Sydney Town. The first person to be executed was 17 year old James Barrett on this day in 1788, one month after settlement had been established. Barrett had stolen food because he was hungry, but he had been caught in the act. Justice was swift, he was charged, convicted and sentenced to hang on the same day.



On this day ………… 26th February 1606

Willem Janszoon, often known as Willem Jansz, is believed to have been born in 1570, in the Netherlands. He worked for one of the trading companies which preceded the Dutch East India Company. He sailed for the Dutch East Indies first in 1598 and again in 1601. Willem Jansz departed on his third trip to the East Indies on 18 December 1603, commanding the “Duyfken”. His task was to seek other trade possibilities. He reached the coast of western New Guinea on 18 November 1605, then crossed the Arafura Sea into the Gulf of Carpentaria. On 26 February 1606, Jansz became the first recorded European to step foot on Australia’s shores at the Pennefather River, near where the Queensland town of Weipa now stands, on the western shore of Cape York Peninsula. Encountering hostility from the indigenous people, Jansz lost ten of his crew during visits to the shore. He was uncomplimentary of the land, finding it swampy, but still charted 320 kilometres of the shore before returning to the Netherlands. However, he was of the opinion that his landing point was part of New Guinea, and Dutch maps reflected this error for many years.



Alfred Deakin the 2nd Prime Minister of Australia was a witness at the execution on Bushranger Ned Kelly at the old Melbourne Gaol on the 11th of November 1880. At the time he was a young journalist. Deakin was also asked to sit on the Royal Commmission into the Kelly Outbreak, but declined.



On this day ………… 26th February 1872

In the early 1870s, Australia was still in the grip of “gold fever”. Visitors to New Guinea had also sent back reports of gold being found on its southern coast, while geologists declared that New Guinea was prime prospecting country. With this in mind, the New Guinea Prospecting Association was formed in Sydney in 1871. Its purpose was to buy a ship to sail to New Guinea, settle along the coast and prospect their way to fortune. The brig ‘Maria’ was an ex coal-trading ship, old and possibly not suited to the purpose of such an extended journey as from Sydney to New Guinea. It departed Sydney Harbour on 25 January 1872 with many of the members of the Association on board. The ‘Maria’, which was found to leak, was unable to withstand a tropical storm which hit the brig off the coast of Queensland between February 17th and 25th. Pumps were insufficient to keep up with the water intake sustained by the vessel, and when the Barrier Reef was sighted, the captain made for it, knowing something of the bays and safe passages within. Despite his confidence, however, the ship ran aground on Bramble Reef on the morning of 26 February 1872. There were insufficient boats to carry the passengers ashore, especially after the captain deserted in one. Rafts were quickly constructed as it was evident the Maria was breaking up. Of the estimated 75 people on board, 35 people were killed, some by drowning and some by a hostile group of Aborigines. One of the survivors was Lawrence Hargrave, the Australian who would later become the inventor of the box kite.



ON THIS DAY – February 25, 1921

Conrad Vincent Ballantyne, a half caste, was charged before a bench of honorary justices at the City Court with having at Fumina on the 25th of February shot at Amy Beale with intent to commit murder and having shot at Edith Beale with intent to commit murder, also with having on the 27th of February, at Fumina, stolen a horse saddle, and bridle, valued at £20 the property of Walter Mitchell, by braking into his shop. He also stole goods and a bicycle of Frederick Mitchell.



ON THIS DAY – 25 February, 1921


James Fernie, a printer, was charged at the Fitzroy Court with having on February 25 shot at Elizabeth Murray, 14 years, with intent to murder her. The girl who has still two bullets in her, gave evidence that accused struck her while she was reading a newspaper. She fell and Fernie fired three shots at her. Fernie, who pleaded guilty was committed for trial.


ON THIS DAY – February 25, 1917


At the Brunswick Court on the 1st of March 1917, Stella Hines was presented on a charge of having murdered Eric McIntosh, at Glenlyon road, East Brunswick, on this day in February. The charge arose out of an alleged mock duel between the man and woman. Sergeant Evans explained that the Coroner had returned a verdict of manslaughter against Hines, and the murder change was withdrawn.


ON THIS DAY – February 25, 1896


Enquiries made concerning the murder and suicide at Albert Park on this day in 1896, were not altogether successful in demonstrating a motive for the crime. Some additional facts were discovered, however, which tend to show that John Priestley was probably seriously involved in domestic troubles, and might by them have been driven to murder his child and kill himself. Priestley came from Adelaide to Melbourne about six years prior accompanied by a woman who joined him about the time of the disagreement with his wife. When he arrived here he had in his possession over £600. With this sum of money he entered into occupation of a free hotel at Carlton. Within two years he ran through all his money, and quarrelled with his female companion, who passed herself off as his wife. He sought, to shake her off, and suddenly and secretly left for Adelaide by sea. She learned of his intention somehow, and, taking the child with her, journeyed to Adelaide by express train, and was the same woman he saw as the boat reached the wharf. The quarrel was patched up, and they returned to Melbourne together. They quarrelled again, and Priestley finally deserted the woman. He went to South Melbourne and took service with the Gas Company. The woman remained in Carlton, where she was arrested on some minor charge. Priestley attended the Court when her case, came up for hearing. He undertook the care of their child, but refused to have anything to say to the woman. The child was the one he killed.



On This Day – 25th February 1853

Convict James Brennan was charged with disobedience of orders. Brennan was charged by Head Turnkey Smith. He was given two days in his cell by the deputy sheriff.



Michael Spereirani was murdered at Mt Martha on this day in 1984, by Serial killer John Leslie Coombes. Speirani’s remains are never found. Murder was believed to have been driving over him in a motorboat, Stabbing with knife and Strangulation. Coombes was sentenced to life with no chance of parole on the 26th of August 2011.