On this day …….. 27th September 1956

Sandra Simpkins is a ventriloquist doll which was used by Merle Blaskett in the test transmission of GTV9 (channel 9) from Mount Dandenong, Melbourne on this day 1956, becoming the first puppet on Australian TV. Today “Sandra Simpkins” is believed to be a very rare Len Insull doll, circa 1948, as female dolls were believed to be undesirable. Merle and her husband Ron Blaskett decided to sell Sandra and subsequently remodelled her into a Male character. As a historical TV artefact the Blaskett’s tried refined the doll to no avail until it was rediscovered in 2013 and restored to the original female character by Gordon Ross in South Australia. Ron Blaskett refers to this doll as the most historical “transgender” ventriloquist doll in Australia.


ON THIS DAY…… 27th September 1986

At approximately 2.15 am on Saturday, 27th September, 1986 Senior Constable Maurice Moore, was alone in a police vehicle in Brougham Street, Maryborough, when he intercepted a vehicle being pushed along the street, by two men. One man decamped prior to Senior Constable Moore’s arrival. Moore detained the other man, and commenced to make inquiries over the police radio as to the ownership of the intercepted vehicle. Prior to a reply being received, the detained man overpowered Moore, and took possession of his .38 police issue revolver. He then shot Moore in the face and four times in the back. The man who killed Senior Constable Moore was later convicted at the Ballarat Supreme Court of his murder, and sentenced to a lengthy prison term.


On this day …….. 27th September 1956

GTV (channel 9) was amongst the first television stations to begin regular transmission in Australia. Test transmissions began on 27 September 1956, introduced by former 3DB radio announcer Geoff Corke, based at the Mt Dandenong transmitter, as the studios in Richmond were not yet ready. The station was officially opened on 19 January 1957. by Victorian Governor Sir Dallas Brooks from the studios in Bendigo Street, Richmond. A clip from the ceremony has featured in a number of GTV retrospectives, in which the Governor advises viewers that if they did not like the programs, they could just turn off.


On This Day – September 27, 1941

Alfred Bye, 24, soldier, was to-day found guilty of murdering Thomas Edward Walker, a soldier, in the Treasury
Gardens, on September 27, and sentenced to death.
Bye. in his defence said that he had hit Walker in self-defence, and Walker had been fatally stabbed when he rolled on a 9 inch sheath knife.
There were 16 stab wounds in Walker’s body.

On This Day – September 27, 1925

Today, Leslie Evans. aged 24 years, as tevedore, was remanded at the City Court today until October 9 on a charge of having murdered Bennedetto Gracios, an Indian bedroom steward on the Mooltan. who was assaulted and robbed on September 27 and died. yesterday as a result of injuries received. Bail was refused.

ON THIS DAY…… 27th September 1852

An interesting attempt of an escape was made by three prisoners on the 24th of September 1852. Three prisoners had by some means obtained possession of a
small saw and a jemmy bar, which they used to cut away part of the roof, half an inch steel plate. The prisoners had also stolen fat from the kitchen which they carefully filled up the hole, remarkably matching the colour of the fat to the ceiling. Before the prisoners could escape Warden Brodie noticed the fat on the ceiling and on examining realised there was a large hole. Warden Brodie succeeded in getting the jemmy bar, but could not find the saw. Immediately on finding this out, the warden applied to the Visiting Justice of the Peace for an order to put the men in irons, which was granted.


On this day …….. 27th September 1956

Gerry Gee, was a ventriloquist Doll who was brought to life in 1956 by Ron Blaskett, for GTV9’s (channel 9) first live test broadcast from Mt Dandenong, Melbourne Victoria, on the 27th September 1956. Gerry Gee was made by Frank Marshall a wood carver in the basement of his house at 5518 S. Loomis, Chicago, USA. Ron Blaskett become aware of Marshall work though fallow ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s and his doll Charlie McCarthy. Blaskett corresponded with Marshall and he agreed to carve a special figure for £200. Gerry was imported from the US at a cost £200 and was named after the station. Ron, wife Merle Blaskett also a ventriloquist and Gerry are the only survivors of the test broadcast (2016). The comedy duo became household names as Aussie entertainer, on radio and TV, on The Tarax Show, IMT (In Melbourne Tonight) and Young Talent Time. And the act travelled the world, playing to millions at the 1975 Toronto Expo, cyclone victims in Darwin and Diggers in Vietnam. Gerry Gee and Ron Blaskett retired together after career of 56 years, Aussie TV’s first and foremost ventriloquist duo.


On this day …….. 27th September 1851

Sir Thomas Mitchell was Surveyor-General of New South Wales and the explorer who discovered “Australia Felix”, or “Happy Australia”, which was the rich land of western Victoria. As well as being well-known for his immense contribution to exploration, Mitchell is less-known for fighting the last known duel in Australia. It was fought between Mitchell and one of New England’s well-known early settlers, Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson. The duel occurred on 27 September 1851 in Centennial Park, Sydney, and it is believed to have been over land – Tenterfield Station – which was a crown grant to Donaldson. As Surveyor-General, Mitchell had gazetted a town to be built on part of Donaldson’s Tenterfield Station. The enraged Donaldson challenged Mitchell to a duel. Three shots were fired, and the last one of Mitchell’s found its mark, blowing Donaldson’s hat off. Donaldson was not injured, and later went on to become the first Premier of New South Wales.


On this day …….. 27th September 1990

The town of Gundagai is located on the Murrumbidgee River 390 km south-west of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Australian explorer Hamilton Hume, together with immigrant William Hovell, were the first Europeans to visit when they passed through the area in 1824, and their expedition subsequently opened up the area for farming land. Explorer Charles Sturt identified a spot near Gundagai as the best crossing point of the river for coaches and drovers. A settlement gradually grew up along the Murrumbidgee River at the river crossing, and by 1852, there were around 300 people living along the river flats. The flats had already shown they were prone to flooding, but people ignored the warnings and stayed in close proximity to the water. Torrential rain had been falling in the Snowy Mountains for most of the month of June 1852. Despite the rising river, many people chose to wait out the floods in the lofts of their houses rather than evacuate, as they were familiar with floods. However, in the early hours of 25 June 1852, a torrent swept down the Murrumbidgee valley. Houses collapsed and people were swept away. A punt sent out to rescue people capsized, its occupants thrown into the raging waters. Two Aborigines, Yarri and Jackey Jackey, showed great courage and heroism as they took their canoes out into the torrent to rescue people stranded in trees and the water. Although they rescued 49, another 89 were killed in the Gundagai flood. After another, higher flood in 1853, the town was relocated at its current site on the hill, Mount Parnassus, above the river. Yarri, who led the rescue, has been honoured through the years with various small monuments around the town. On 27 September 1990, NSW Premier Nick Greiner formally unveiled a headstone for Yarri’s grave, which had lain unmarked for a century.


On this day …….. 27th September 1919

The police of Bourke street West Watchhouse, Melbourne, vouch for this story about a cockatoo. Some months ago Mr Pearson, licensee of a South Melbourne hotel, reported the loss of the bird, which he valued at £50. On Friday a plain-clothes constable traced the bird to a house in Park street, Melbourne, and arrested a woman on a charge of having stolen it. Then Mr Pearson was invited to the watchhouse to identify the bird. What happened in actual fact was that cockatoo identified Mr Pearson. As Mr Pearson entered the room the bird immediately recognised his former owner, shrieking excitedly. The cockatoo cried out, Hullo, Pearson! Bring a whisky and soda for cocky,’ beating the sides of the cage in such a frenzy that the amazed police were prepared to believe that the bird had had one already that day.


ON THIS DAY…… 26th September 1934

After a retirement of about three hours the jury found John Hope Boles guilty of the murder of Kathleen Dorman aged 28 years on this day in 1934. They added a strong recommendation to mercy. Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy, before whom the case was tried in the Criminal Court, sentenced Boles to death, adding that the recommendation would he forwarded to the proper quarter. Boles was charged with the murder of Miss Dorman in July, 1933. He was arrested a year after the murder at Ensay, near Omeo, where he had been working as a rabbit trapper. Mr. Mulvaney, who appeared for Boles, indicated that the defence would be a plea of temporary Insanity. He called evidence to show that Boles had talked of suicide before the murder, and he also called psychiatrist, Dr. Godfrey, to prove that Boles was of neurotic temperament. Boles, in a statement from the dock, said that his relationship with Miss Dorman were of the most innocent kind. Both of them were passionately In love, but when he lost his employment he could think of nothing but suicide. When he called on Miss Dorman for the last time he intended to leave her, and then take his own life. He had no recollection of events immediately before or after the murder, and it was not until some time after he left Miss Dorman’s house that he realised that he had done something terrible.  Boles, who was greatly affected while making his statement, concluded saying: “Whatever happens to me now whatever the verdict may be, no one can feel the terrible horror that I feel when I realised what I had done to her the only one In this world that I loved and adored.”


ON THIS DAY…… 26th September 1889

John Macnamara, labourer, aged forty, was tried on this day in 1889, before Justice Hodges for the murder of Robert George Frey in a hut at Pakenham. After hearing the medical evidence as to the prisoner’s state of mind. His Honour expressed the opinion that it was not necessary to go further with the case, as the Jury would certainly find a verdict of not guilty on the ground of insanity. The Jury, by direction, returned that verdict, and His Honour ordered the prisoner to be detained in strict custody in Melbourne Gaol pending His Excellency’s pleasure.