Join us this coming Tuesday (July 5) night at 6pm at the historic Blackwood Hotel for dinner, cemetery tour and and investigation of one of the most haunted hotels in Victoria!  Booking can be made by calling 1300865800

But as for the Blackwood Cemetery ….  this is a letter to the editor from 1877 highlighting some of the difficulties of grave digging at Blackwood!!


To the Editor of the Courier

Sir – Permit me, through your columns, to draw tot he attention of the trustees of the Blackwood Cemetery (if there are any) to the disgraceful scene that occurs on nearly every occasion an internment takes place.  No matter old or young, large or small, the body has to lie alongside the grave while the grave is made larger, not withstanding ample notice given to the gravedigger.  A child was buried this afternoon, six year of age, and the coffin on being lowered, stuck, and had to be hauled up again, while one of the followers of the corpse had to take off his jacket and with pick and shovel made the grave larger.  The bereaved parents and friends were compelled to stand by while this was being done.  Surely, Sir, the sad necessity that takes us to the cemetery to lay the remains of a loved one in their last resting place, is harrowing enough without being aggravated by having to stand by while the grave is made larger.  Trusting your insertion of this will prevent any future occurrence of the like blundering – I remain yours truly


Barry’s Reef, 11th June

Previously known as the “Prison of the Ill”, the Geelong Gaol has been the site of many deaths over its history.  Do some of those spirits perhaps still linger behind the walls?

Why not join us on a Ghost Tour of the Geelong Gaol with your kids this school holidays to find out!

Bring the kids, bring Mum and Dad, bring your friends and be entertained by our costumed guides while hearing of the history of the Gaol, the prisoner conditions, the executions and of course …… the ghost stories.

Tours run at 8pm every night.

For more information and to book, please call 1300865800


ON THIS DAY – June 30, 1906

On Saturday, Detective Burvett took charge of the investigations into the murder of Patrick O’Rourke who died in the Alfred Hospital on June 30 from injuries received at St Kilda on the night of June 23. Burvett made three visits to St Kilda on Saturday, and carefully went over the supposed scene of the murder. Then he inspected the dead mans clothing but failed to find anything that would serve as material for any theory as to the murder

O’Rourke when he died had a pronounced black eye. This has been regarded as showing that he was attacked and struck in the eye before receiving the injury that proved fatal. The blow in the eye has also been advanced to account for O’Rourke’s hat having been off when his skull was fractured. Burvett has, however, proved that the black eye was not the result of a separate blow. The fracture of the skull had been very slight and was somewhat below the cut on forehead. The ecchymosis of the eye was the result of this fracture, and did not develop for some days. When O’Rourke was admitted to the hospital no signs of a blow on the eye were discernible.

Detective Sexton and Plain-clothes Constable White are assisting Detective Burvett in his inquiries but very little can be done until the Government analyst has given his opinion with regard to the supposed blood-stained board and O’Rourke’s clothes all of which have been submitted to him.

On this day …….. 30th of June 1861

The present-day town of Young in the central west of New South Wales began as a gold-mining settlement known as Lambing Flat. At the height of its popularity, the rich alluvial gold deposits attracted a population of around 20 000. While most of the diggers were from other parts of Australia, many migrants came from Europe and North America. Around 1000 miners were Chinese, and they soon became the target of violence from the “white” diggers. The Chinese were not welcome on the Australian goldfields. They were thorough workers, often picking meticulously through the discarded tailings or abandoned mines of other diggers. They were viewed with suspicion as few spoke English, and they were regarded as idol-worshippers. Chinese mining methods used more water than European methods, and such practices were not appreciated in a country known for its heat and droughts. Furthermore, few of them traded their gold in the towns, preferring to store it up and return to China with their wealth. The colony of Victoria was the first to introduce Anti-Chinese immigration legislation, imposing a poll tax of £10 per head for each Chinese person arriving in Victorian ports in 1855. Within a few years all other colonial governments had enacted similar laws to restrict the number of people from China entering the colonies. This did not stop the Chinese from arriving in droves and spreading out to goldfields in New South Wales and Victoria. During the first year of the gold rush on the Lambing Flat fields, there were four major clashes between the Chinese and white diggers in the region. Following the first riot in October 1860, a Sub-Commissioner and three troopers were assigned to the goldfield, but this did not prevent a second riot occurring just two months later. After the third riot late in January of 1861, more troopers were sent, and for several months there was relative peace at Lambing Flat. However, the most vicious attack was yet to come. Tensions came to a head on 30 June 1861. It is estimated that around 3 000 European diggers banded together in a rowdy gang called a “roll up” and, armed with picks, whips, knives, sticks and anything that could be used as a weapon, converged on the Chinese camp. Chinese tents and equipment were destroyed, gold plundered, and dozens of the men themselves had their pigtails, or ‘queues’, cut off – a matter of great dishonour for them – or worse, they were scalped. An unknown number of Chinese were murdered: although the official death toll for Chinese was given as two, eyewitness accounts suggest between 30 and 40 were killed, and several hundred more injured. The flag carried by the diggers, on which was written ‘Roll-up Roll-up No Chinese’, is now on display in the Lambing Flat Folk Museum. The Lambing Flat riots continued for several more weeks, settling only after military intervention and the arrest of the main ringleaders among the white diggers. However, public outcry at these arrests caused many of the ringleaders to be released. In the end, only one person was actually convicted and gaoled. The name ‘Lambing Flat’ was changed to ‘Young’ after then-Governor of New South Wales, Sir John Young, in an attempt to wipe the atrocities of June 30 from the history of the town. The government responded, ironically, not with legislation to protect other racial groups, but with laws restricting access to goldfields for ‘aliens’ and to refuse miners’ rights to same. The Chinese Immigration Restriction Act was passed at an Intercolonial Conference in 1880 – 1881. This was, in effect, the beginning of the White Australia Policy, as it led to the adoption of uniform restrictive immigration laws.

On this day …….. 30th of June 1834

Explorer Matthew Flinders was the first European to investigate the possibilities for settlement on South Australia’s coast, doing so in 1802. The exploration of Charles Sturt to chart the Murray River was a further catalyst to the establishment of a colony on the southern coast. Consequently, the British authorities moved to establish an official colony, which would be known as South Australia. On 30 June 1834, a meeting was held at Exeter Hall at The Strand in London, England, to advise the public of the principles, objects, plan and prospects of the new colony of South Australia. The meeting, organised by the founding members of The South Australian Association, was attended by around 2500 people, including many members of Parliament. One of the speakers was Daniel Wakefield, brother of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who helped his brother draft the speech. EG Wakefield was a strong advocate for the establishment of a free colony, rather than one based on convict labour, and he lobbied heavily for Parliament to pass the bill to enable the colonisation of the province of South Australia. During his speech, Daniel Wakefield stated: “It was proposed to make the colony independent, from the first, of the mother country. This the Right Hon. Gentleman declined to do; and the consequence was, that we were obliged to modify the plan to meet his views. Therefore it is that the measure appears before you in its present shape; but it still has my cordial approbation and concurrence, because the Commissioners are to be only temporary, and after a time the government of the new nation is to be confided to the inhabitants themselves (hear, hear!).”

On This Day ……. 30th June 1910

A man named Alexander Dickson, who had made himself a general nuisance in the Camperdown district, was sentenced to a month’s imprisonment on a charge of insulting behaviour. Dickson had been drinking to excess, and was in a terribly muddled state when arrested. The sentence was imposed largely with, the object of enabling him to recover from his prolonged drinking bout. He was brought to the Geelong gaol by Senior-Constable Arthur, who is in charge of the Camperdown police station.

ON THIS DAY – June 30, 1942

Threat To Kill At Party .

An amazing story of how a threat to kill a woman was made during the progress of a euchre party was related at the inquest today into the death of Aaron Cephas Gardiner (64) and daughter-in-law, Dorothy Adelaide Gardiner who lived at Oakleigh.

The threat was alleged to have been made a week before Gardiner was found shot dead in an air raid shelter at the rear of his home at Oakleigh. Alice Mary Gardiner, widow of the dead man said Dorothy was a half caste Chinese, and both her husband and Dorothy were argumentative.

Mrs Gardiner said her husband had been drinking on the afternoon of the party, but she did not take him seriously when he threatened to ‘kill a Chinaman, and It won’t be a man; it will be a woman.’

Leslie Francis Emlle Gardiner, a son of the dead man, and the husband of Dorothy, told of returning home on June 30. and in the darkness kicking something, and on turning on the light, finding the body of his wife in a pool of blood. Gardiner’s body was found in the air raid shelter with his head between his knees and a pea rifle near his body.

The Coroner, Mr. Wade, found that Dorothy Gardiner died of effects of head injuries feloniously inflicted by Aaron Gardiner with an unknown weapon, and that Aaron Gardiner died from the effects of a gunshot wound wilfully self inflicted.

On this day …….. 30th of June 1908

Australia’s love affair with the car as a means of travelling the continent’s huge distances began with the first transcontinental motor car trip. Engineer Horace Hooper Murrag Aunger was born on 28 April 1878 at Narridy, near Clare, South Australia. He collaborated with cycle maker Vivian Lewis and Tom O’Grady to build the first petrol-driven motorcar in South Australia. Aunger teamed up with Henry Hampden Dutton to be the first to cross Australia from south to north by motorcar. Their first attempt left Adelaide in Dutton’s Talbot car on 25 November 1907, and travelled north through countryside suitable only for a modern 4WD. When the pinion in the Talbot’s differential collapsed south of Tennant Creek, the car had to be abandoned as the wet season was approaching. Travelling on horseback, the men met the railhead at Oodnadatta, from where they returned to Adelaide. Dutton then purchased a larger, more powerful vehicle, again a Talbot. Then men made their second attempt to cross the continent from south to north, leaving Adelaide on 30 June 1908. They were joined at Alice Springs by Ern Allchurch. Reaching the abandoned Talbot at Tennant Creek, the car was repaired, and they drove in convoy to Pine Creek, where the original Talbot was freighted by train to Darwin. The men continued in the second Talbot, reaching Darwin on 20 August 1908. The car in which the men completed their journey now sits preserved in the Birdwood museum, South Australia.

On this day …….. 30th of June 2010

Digital television is a new innovation of the twenty-first century which involves the sending and receiving of moving images and sound by digital signals. This is different to the previously used analogue television signals which had been in use since the invention of television. The advantage of using digital technology is that it uses less bandwidth than analogue, and unlike analogue, it is not limited to just a few channels available. Australia began offering digital television from around 2008, with a planned complete switchover of all towns and regions between 2010 and 2013. On 30 June 2010, the rural city of Mildura in Victoria’s far northwest became the first Australian city to switch over entirely from analogue to digital television transmission.

On This Day ……. 29th June 1911

On this day in 1911, Ah Loy, a Chinese, who resided in Geelong appeared on remand at the City Court on a charge of having in his position four tins opium. Ah Loy was sentenced to Geelong Gaol.

On this day …….. 29th of June 1918

A group of boys ruefully returned to their homes in Wangaratta after spending 10 days in detention in Melbourne. They were members of the local Cadet Company. Thirteen of them had been ordered to Swan Island, Queenschiff, Victoria, for ten days discipline. The boys complained that the beds were hard and the tucker was scarce. One boy had his hair cropped as an extra punishment. Their crime was failing to attend a specified number of drill parades.