ON THIS DAY ……. 29th March 1930

On this day in 1930, the people of North East Victoria, voted on a referendum to bring in Prohibition. The campaign up to the Poll was fought over a two month period, with a coalition of churches and temperance groups under the banner of The Victorian Prohibition League campaigning for prohibition. Opposing the campaign was an unlikely hotch potch of brewing and industry pressure groups, civil libertarians, freethinkers, and moderate drinkers, even some non drinkers, who saw in the American gangster experience something not to be repeated in Australia. The Temperance group conducted a strong campaign on the theme of how much happier home life could be without booze, while the opposition plugged away at the alternative – bootlegging, Chicago style gang wars, and the sobering suggestion that every country which had tried prohibition had been forced to scrap it. The votes were cast, and counted. Prohibition was defeated.



On This Day – 29th March 1912

Mr. Read Murphy. P.M., made his usual visit to the Geelong gaol on this day in 1912, and found no cause for complaint. Five prisoners of the invalid class were received from Pentridge while he was there.


ON THIS DAY ……. 29th March 1967

The 17th Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Harold Holt, arrived in Singapore on this day in 1967 with his left foot bandaged following a minor swimming accident. Mr Holt told guests at a Government dinner in his honour that he cut himself on rocks at Portsea, Victoria, during the weekend. His left foot and ankle were heavily bandaged and he had also cut his back, but it was not serious. The incident occurred in rough weather and shallow water when he had moved across near some rocks to warn some Sydney friends of the danger. “I managed to warn them off but instead I hit the the rocks and cut my leg and back”, Mr Holt said. On the 19th of December 1967, after swimming at the same beach Holt would disappear and was officially pronounced dead after drowning at sea.



ON THIS DAY ……. 29th March 1875

A painful accident happened to his Honour Sir Redmond Barry (judge who sentenced Ned Kelly to death) on this day in 1875. Barry was returning in his buggy to his farm at Nunawading, when his horse bolted in going down a hill, and upset the vehicle. Sir Redmond was thrown out with considerable violence, falling upon his left arm, which was broken by the concussion. He was shortly afterwards picked up by a gentleman who was driving past, and conveyed to town. Dr Barker was immediately called in, due to swollen state of the limb it was thought better to postpone setting the broken bone until the next day.



ON THIS DAY ……. 29th March 1934

F. W. Jackson, described as a soldier, who had recently returned from South Africa, was drinking in the Great Britain Hotel, Flinders street, when he created astonishment by asking those present, “‘Have you ever seen a man die?” At the same time he was mixing some white powder into a glass of soda water and asked a sailor who was present to call a policeman and an ambulance. He then drank the mixture, and in a few minutes he was dead.



ON THIS DAY ……. 29th March 1876

John O’Reilly wanted to annoy the English and so he hatched a plan to rescue Irish Convicts from Western Australia. For his plan, he organised for an American boat, the Catalpa, to sail to Western Australia to rescue Convicts. On March 29, 1876 the Catalpa arrived off Western Australia. Six Irish Convicts made a dash for freedom by running into the bush where they were picked up in wagons, rode to the whaleboats and then on to the ship. A number of people witnessed the escape and reported it to the authorities. However such is the nature of grapevine communication, by the time word reached Perth, the story was not Convicts escaping, but the Irish invading. Western Australia went into war mood. Troopers were dispatched to dig trenches and the gunboat Georgette steamed out to sea to courageously confront the invading Irish fleet. But the only ship found was the Catalpa. Numerous shots were fired across its bow which brought every Irishman onto the deck. There, armed with everything from a whaling lance to meat knife, they started chanting “death, but no surrender.” The Geogettes’s captain demanded to know if any Convicts were on board. The Catalpa’s captain said no and that as an American ship outside territorial waters, he would not submit to a search. The Geogette then turned back to port while the Catalpa continued on its way to America. When it eventually arrived, O’Rielly took to the public speaking circuit where he gave a popular lecture on how he had made the English look like buffoons.


ON THIS DAY ……. 28th March 1907

Edward Edis, aged 41, an employe at the sewerage pumping works, Spotswood, Melbourne suddenly collapsed whilst at work on this day in 1907. He was admitted to the Melbourne Hospital in an unconscious condition, and died shortly after being taken to the ward. It is supposed that death was the result of sanguinary apoplexy.



On This Day – 28th March 1863

Convict William Gilmore was charged at the Geelong Gaol with disobedience of orders by Turnkey Andrews and was sentenced to 24 hours solitary confinement by Governor Charles Brodie.

On This Day – 28th March 1867

John Smith was charged at the Geelong Gaol with disobedience of orders by Turkey Toner and was sentenced to 48 hours solitary confinement with meat and bread only by the Governor.


EXECUTION THIS DAY …….. 28th March 1854

James Button was executed in the old Melbourne Gaol for robbery under arms and shooting Robert McLean. Button was not afraid of the physical pain of death, but expressed contrition for his numerous crimes, and looked forward to a future state with fear. Button was executed at 8am.


On This Day – 28th March 1863

Convict Michael McSweeney was charged at the Geelong Gaol with striking a fellow prisoner, Ah Fleeny, by Turnkey Tower and was sentenced to 48 hours solitary confinement by Governor Charles Brodie.


ON THIS DAY ……. 28th March 1945

A cow joined a family party in a rowing boat on the Bellinger River near Kempsey, New South Wales on this day in 1945. Two cows were shoving each other and one fell over the riverbank into the boat in which Mr Martin of Fernmount and two of his children were sitting. The boat did not capsize but Martin and one of the children fell out. The cow stayed in the boat with the other child, but was unsettled and soon fell overboard. When Martin had saved his child in the water, he went back to save his other in the half swamped boat. One of the cows horns cut martins upper lip and he required medical attention.