On this day …….. 30th of December 1864

About six weeks ago a notorious bushranger was arrested near Seymour, charged with horse-stealing. On being brought before the Kilmore bench he gave the name of Lowry, but had been known to the police under the aliases of Cook and Davis, and was suspected of several robberies in the neighbourhood of Heathcote and at other places. When he was arrested, by Constable Deasy, Lowry, it appears, fired at the constable as he approached the hut, the constable returning the fire, his shot carrying away a portion of the bushranger’s lip. In consequence of having given refuge to the bushranger the hutkeeper was also arrested. The prisoner, who was remanded by the Kilmore bench, effected his escape from the Kilmore gaol on this day in 1864.


ON THIS DAY – December 30, 1921

Alma Tirtschke, aged 12, was raped and murdered on this day in 1921. Tirtschke was last seen alive close to a drinking establishment, the Australian Wine Saloon near Gun Alley in Melbourne. Earlier that day she lifted from her grandmother’s house in Jolimont, on her way to her Uncles butchers shop in Swanston Street, to collect a parcel of meat, drop it at an aunt’s Collins Street home and return to Jolimont. It was uncharacteristic for Alma to take so long on her errands. A witness said he saw a man following Alma. Reliable witnesses who had nothing to lose or gain by telling police what they knew said Alma was dawdling, apprehensive and obviously afraid. Just a few metres away from the Australian Wine Saloon in the Eastern Arcade, between Bourke and Little Collins Streets, where Alfred Place runs off Little Collins Street, Alma was last seen about 3 pm on 30 December 1921. Her naked body was found early the next morning in a lane running east off Gun Alley, not far from Alfred Place. Following the discovery of the body, the owner of the Australian Wine Saloon, Colin Campbell Ross, was charged with her rape and murder. The case against him was based on the evidence of two witnesses, plus some strands of red hair, apparently from Tirtschke’s head, which provided a vital connection between Ross and the murder. Ross protested his innocence but was hanged. The two witnesses were later considered by many to be unreliable, both having had a motive to lie. The only credible piece of evidence was the red hair that connected Ross to the case. Ross could account for his movements at the time Alma disappeared, and later that night, when her body was dumped in Gun Alley. With nothing to hide, Ross had told detectives who interviewed him that a little girl matching Alma’s description had passed his saloon, but that this was his only connection with the victim. More reliable forensic examinations in the 1990s disproved the red hair connection and showed that Ross was probably innocent. Colin Campbell Ross was granted a pardon on 22 May 2008, the date on which the Victorian governor, as the Queen’s representative, signed it. The pardon was announced publicly on 27 May 2008. It is the first – and to date only – pardon for a judicially executed person in Australia. In the book which led to Ross’s pardon, author Kevin Morgan revealed for the first time the evidence missed by the police in their original investigation and identified by name Tirtschke’s probable killer.


ON THIS DAY – December 30, 1910

The inquest into the circumstances attending the tragedy which took place at Cosgrove on 30th December, when Mrs. Clugston killed two of her children and wounded two others, and then attempted suicide. John Thomas Clugston said he was on good terms with his wife, and was kind, to the children. She seemed all right when he saw her last at 4am on 30th December. Dr. Florance of Mooroopna, said that Mrs. Clugston suffered from puerperal fever and melancholia. Homicidal tendencies were common in such circumstances. The coroner recorded a verdict that the death of the children was due to gunshot wounds inflicted by Eleanor Clugston, whom he committed for trial at Shepparton on 28th April on a charge of murder.


ON THIS DAY – December 30, 1908

A small wooden box containing the body of a newly born male infant was found on a vacant allotment in William-street, Melbourne on this day in 1908 by a boy. A postmortem examinations of the body showed that a piece of the towelling, which was tied tightly round the neck, had been thrust partly down the throat of the child, and that the cause of death was suffocation. The examination also showed that there were three clean large cutes on the child’s face.


ON THIS DAY – December 29, 1937


A graphic story of events leading up to and following the killing of Mrs. Edith Rachel Praetz or Walker at her secondhand shop in North Melbourne on December 29, was told by Jean Richards, a young woman who said she was living with an Italian labourer, Antonio Barbara, 35, at the time. Barbara was committed for trial on a charge of murder. Richards told the coroner that after she and Barbara had run away from Mrs. Praetz’ shop, he attacked her with a knife, but it slipped. She grabbed it, threw it away and then escaped herself.

The City Coroner (Mr. Tingate. P.M.) found that at North Melbourne on December 29 Mrs. Edith Rachel Praetz (or Walker) died from the effects of knife wounds in the neck. feloniously and maliciously inflicted by Barbara.

Application for bail was refused. Evidence was given that detectives investigating” the case had been handed the following letter, signed by Barbara: “Sir – Regards Italian you are seeking for in connection with the Victoria street murdered. I am personally writing to you. So you can rely I will call at headquarters. Russell street. not later than noon. Monday, January 4, 1937. “Being a sport follower. I would like to know how the third Test. England v. Australia, starts, as I hope Australia wins the toss, also the match. Wishing you a happy new years. with best respects. Barbara, Antonio.”

Jean Richards. single. said she had known Mrs. Walker for four years, and had stopped at her place several times.. On December 29 she was living with Barbara in North Melbourne. He returned home about 3.30 p.m.. and after an argument about money had become enraged and struck her as she lay on a bed. He had been drinking. She left the house, taking her baby with her and as she was walking along the street Mrs. Walker asked her to go inside. While she was in the kitchen Mrs. Walker came in from the front and told her that someone had gone to tell Tony she was there. “I said I had better go.” continued witness. “but as I was leaving Tony came in. Mrs. Walker asked him ‘What are you doing in my shop? Haven’t the police told you not to come in?’ “Tony replied. ‘You are going to be a copper again.’ Then he knocked her down. “‘I then ran out of the shop.” witness went on. “When I returned Tony had one hand on Mrs. Walker’s shoulder. He picked up a knife from the dresser. and I called out. ‘Tony, don’t. Stop.’ He turned towards me and I ran out on to the footpath. Then Tony came out. took my arm, and told me to come home. He said. ‘Look what she made me do.’ “I turned, and could see Mrs. Walker’s legs protruding from the door. They were bloodstained.

Struggle in Kitchen

On the way home Richards said that Barbara told her he was going to do for her. too. When they reached his house there were about 10 men in the dining room. Barbara ran into the kitchen and returned with a knife. He pushed witness and her baby to the floor. He held her by the throat with one hand and the knife in the other, but the knife slipped, and, grabbing it, she threw it among the men standing in the room. Two of them tried to drag Barbara away, and while they held him she left the house. Next day she went to the police.

In a statement read by Detective Adam and alleged to have been made by Barbara, the Italian stated that Mrs. Walker had sent for him, and when he went round, she had run at him with the knife. He stepped aside. and she again rushed at him. He grabbed her. and they struggled near the stove. Then he saw blood on her neck, and he and Jean Richards ran away. He met another Italian. who drove him to Werribee. and when he returned to Melbourne he heard that Mrs. Walker had died. He then went to Oakleigh by taxi and wandered round in the bush.

Albert Rainsford, 43, butcher, of North Melbourne, said that the dead woman, who was 51, was his sister. Before her marriage her name was Walker, while she had also been known as Sutcliffe. She conducted a secondhand shop in North Melbourne. Walter Boyce, who said he had been living at Mrs. Walker’s place, stated that after taking a mesage to Barbara that Mrs. Walker wanted to see him, he went for a walk. When he returned he saw Barbara and a woman named Jean Richards running out of the front door. Mrs. Walker was following them and she called out to witness to get the police, as Tony had stabbed her She then fell on the footpath

Newman Spielvogel. pawnbroker, told of his discovery of Mrs. Walker lying on the footpath. He had heard rows and fights at Mrs. Walker’s premises. Death was due to a wound in the neck, which could have been caused by a knife, was the evidence of Dr. Mollison. Government Pathologist. According to First Constable Myers a trail of blood led from the spot where the woman’s body was found to the kitchen of her house, where there was a large pool. In the kitchen he found a large bloodstained knife. on the blade of which there was human hair.

On This Day – December 29, 1874

Cape Otway

Dexter, ship, from Gefle, for Melbourne, wished to be reported.

On this day …….. 29th of December 1945

Reg Wells was fishing in the surf at Maroochydore, Queensland, late on the 29th of December 1945, when his wristwatch fell into the water. He returned to the spot early the next morning to search for it and a wave washed it up at his feet. The watch was still ticking.


On This Day – December 23, 1862

From Adelaide we have our files to the 23rd inst. by the Havilah, which reached Sandridge Railway Pier about five o’clock on Sunday morning. By the Havilah, Mr. Howitt and his party arrived, bringing the remains of Burke and Wills. The steamer was telegraphed off Cape Otway at half-past twelve o’clock on Saturday. The agents expected her to arrive about midnight, and consequently at twelve o’clock Dr. Macadam, Dr. Eades, Mr. J. Watson, and Dr. Wilkie members of the Exploration Committee, accompanied by Mr. J. V. A. Bruce, proceeded to Sandridge, with a hearse and two mourning carriages. The vessel did not arrive for several hours afterwards. Upon proceeding on board, the committee were met by Mr. Howitt and Dr. Murray. The remains of the explorers were delivered over to them, and were quietly conveyed to the hall of the Royal Society, where they now lie.

On this day …….. 29th of December 1948

A man attending the Warren show at Manjimup, Western Australia, on the 29th of December 1948, was reunited by blind luck with his watch nearly a year after it was stolen. Out of the 4000 strong crowd at the show, he asked a casual bystander the time and recognised his own watch when the man raised his sleeve. He challenged the man, took the watch from him and sought assistance from a nearby policeman. The unlucky thief was arrested and later found guilty of theft. It had been stolen from his clothes while he was swimming in Busselton. The man was fined £2 and left to mull how fate had reunited the watch with it’s rightful owner.


On this day …….. 29th of December 1911

John Harding escaped from Wangaratta gaol on this day in 1911. He was committed for trial at the local court on a charge of stealing £9 from Geo. Cover, and was locked up in gaol pending removal to Beechworth. In the afternoon he was missing. It was found that Harding had pulled some boards down, and securing a spike then picked out the mortar between the bricks, eventually pulling out enough to enable him. The police made a search immediately the escape was discovered. Harding travelled along the King River towards Oxley. He left the river this morning and passed through farms in the Laceby and Greta districts in the direction of Benalla, but the police were close on his tracks throughout, and Constable Ryan came upon him at midday lying asleep in a scrubby paddock near the Greta township. This paddock curiously enough is owned by the Police Department. Constable Ryan traced the man for several miles by his footprints, one of his boots having a rubber heel.


On This Day – December 29, 1887
Messrs. Howard Smith. & Sons’ steamer Cheviot, bound for Adelaide, broke her propeller shaft yesterday morning when off Cape Otway. She came down to Cape Schanck under canvas, and is new six miles from the Cape. The steamer Falcon had been dispatchad to go to the assistance of the Cheviot and tow her back to Port Phillip. A telegmam was received tonight from Cape Schanek to the effect that the disabled steamer Cheviot was being towed back to Melbourne by steamer Falcon.


A horrible tragedy occurred at the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum on this day in 1888, which resulted in the death of a warder named Archibald Hunter, who was in charge of one of the cottages for idiots. Hunter it appears called into his bedroom one of the patients named Howard, a man about 40 years of age, who was in the habit of assisting to make the beds, and the door was locked after them. Howard left the room subsequently and locked the door after him, and as nothing was seen of Hunter it was ascertained through the window that he was lying in a pool of blood on the floor. The door was forced open, and the fact disclosed that there was a fearful gash on his head and six stabs about the body, of which two were fatal, one being caused by the passage of a knife through the lungs and another through the liver. All the wounds were of a desperate character, and would hardly have been caused by any one other than a madman. Hunter lived for about an hour and a half, but did not regain consciousness. An examination of the room showed that a potato masher, with which the wound on the head had been inflicted, and a large carving knife, covered with blood, had been thrown under the bed. Suspicion immediately fell on Howard, who is said to have had previous disagreements with Hunter, and an examination of his clothes disclosed the fact that they were covered with spots of blood. Howard is a quiet sleek man, and was classed as an idiot, but had a previous history, as he was a convict, having perpetrated a robbery, and was brought to the asylum for attempting to commit suicide. He is about medium size and not a powerful man, and the deed must have been done when Hunter was not looking. The deceased was a married man without a family, and had been in the asylum five years. He was an old soldier, and received a pension of a shilling a day. The authorities at the asylum are very reticent as to the facts pending the inquest.