On this day …….. 27th of January 1868

How easy history can be changed. On this day in 1868 a young Ned Kelly, his brothers and sisters, their mother and her sister were rescued from almost certain death in a house fire, which had been deliberately lit. The culprit was Ellen’s brother in law, James Kelly. Kelly was sentenced to death by Sir Redmond Barry. The sentence was commuted to ten years. James Kelly however would die in the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum.


After the official closure of the penal settlement on Sarah Island, twelve Convicts, under the supervision of several soldiers and Master Shipwright David Hoy, remained behind to complete the fitting out of the brig, Frederick. Although the specific orders concerning the fit-out had been mysteriously mislaid, the men dutifully carried out their tasks with ‘great propriety, executing Mr. Hoys’ orders with promptitude and alacrity’. The Frederick was launched in January 1834 and ten of the Convicts celebrated the occasion by seizing control. They sailed it to New Zealand and then onto South America. It was abandoned off coast of Chile and the Convicts rowed the ship’s whaleboat the remaining 80 km to shore. Passing themselves off as shipwrecked sailors, they assumed positions as shipwrights and became respected members of the community. Several married local women, while six of the men made a further escape to America and Jamaica. The four who remained in Chile were eventually caught and brought back to Hobart for trial as pirates. As the boat was seized from the harbour rather than the high seas, they escaped the charge but had to live out their days on Norfolk Island.


ON THIS DAY – January 27, 1925

At the Richmond Court, Hannah Elizabeth Mitchell was charged with having murdered Eva Malcina Pitt on the 27th of January. Nurse Mitchell had previously been arrested on a charge of having performed an illegal operation. She was remanded for a week on bail of £1000.


ON THIS DAY – January 27, 1909

A murder was committed at the Ballarat Lunatic Asylum this afternoon. A party of inmates were working in the garden under the charge of two warders, and one of the lunatics, Charles Russell, struck another, William Bates, on the head with a pick. Bates was taken to one of the wards, but he died an hour afterwards.


ON THIS DAY – January 27, 1934

Following the finding of the body of a newly born child under a house in Paisley street, Malvern on January 28, a 22-year-old girl was charged in the City Court today with having murdered an infant on January 27. Mr Hauser. P.M. remanded the girl until February 13, and allowed bail in her own recognisance of £200.

The tradition of having Australia Day as a national holiday on the 26th of January is a recent one. Not until 1935 did all the Australian states and territories use that name to mark that date. Not until 1994 did they begin to celebrate Australia Day consistently as a public holiday on that date.

On this day …….. 26th of January 1971

On 26 January 1971 a severe storm caused flash-flooding on the Woden Valley freeway when culverts became blocked with debris at either end. Several cars were swept from the road into the rushing water. Seven people were killed, 15 were injured, and 500 people were affected by the 1971 Canberra flood. Insurance damage was estimated at $9 million (1971 dollars). Significant rectification works was undertaken at Yarra Glen.



On this day …….. 26th of January 1954

On this day in 1954, wandering elephant, crashed its way through a Sydney church hall and broke up a meeting of Scottish pipers. According to the Rev. R. A. Hickey, of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Redfern. The pipers literally picked up their skirts and ran for their lives. The nine-year-old elephant an escapee from a nearby circus, lumbered along Cleveland Street pursued by two keepers. She saw the open doorway of St. Paul’s Hall, and made straight for it. The doorway and part of the wall were shattered as the elephant pushed her way through. But the pipers were making such a racket they did not hear the visitor until she was in their midst. To get out of the hall, ‘Topsy’ retraced her steps and took some more of the wall with her. Last week ‘Topsy’ escaped, and ambled for a mile before being caught.


On this day …….. 26th of January 1896

Tropical Cyclone Sigma caused destruction from Townsville to Brisbane on the 26th of January 1896. 18 people were killed, most of whom lost their lives when a storm surge caused a breach of the Ross River on 26 January, travelling 3 miles (4.8 km) upstream, and flooding parts of Townsville to a depth of 2 metres (6 ft 7 in).



ON THIS DAY…… 26th January 1914

The Chinaman, Ah Lipp, alias Poen Hoon, who was arrested at the Warrnambool railway station on the 26th of January 1914 and brought before Mr. Williams, P.M., at the Police Court, charged with having opium in his possession in a form suitable for smoking and received 12 month. Ah Lipp arrived in Australia in 1894 aboard the ship Moon Myone.



The tradition of noticing the 26th of January, began early in the nineteenth century with Sydney almanacs referring to First Landing Day or Foundation Day. That was the day in 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the First Fleet of eleven convict ships from Great Britain and the first governor of New South Wales, arrived at Sydney Cove. The raising of the Union Jack there symbolised British occupation over the Aboriginal inhabitants of the eastern half of the continent claimed by Captain James Cook on the 22nd of August in 1770.



ON THIS DAY – January 26, 1937


Evidence that she had repulsed the accused when he had tried to kiss her in a cowshed was given by Ida Reynolds, married, of Nilma North, when Jack Evison, aged 44 years, woodcutter, of Nilma North, appeared on a charge of having shot at Mrs. Reynolds on January 26 with intent to murder her. Mrs. Reynolds said that she had known Evison for two and a half years. He had worked for her husband at different times. “About a week before the shooting occurred,” she said, “I was working in the cowshed milking with my husband and Evison. My husband left the shed, and Evison tried to kiss me. He leaned on my shoulder. I objected, and he then put his arm about me, and I smacked him. He said, ‘Don’t split, or I’ll blow your brains out.’ “I told my husband, who discharged him. I saw Evison on January 23 and paid him a cheque at the gate. He asked me whether I was frightened of him, and I replied, ‘You must think I am a calf.’ On January 26 I saw Evison at 8 am. He called out ‘Ida,’ and pointed at something on the road. I went down to investigate. He was at the gate, and I was within eight yards of him. He said, ‘Come here,’ but I took several paces backward, as I became suspicious when I saw nothing on the road. “Evison was bending down and flashed a gun to his shoulder, saying, ‘I am going to shoot you dead.’ I ran to the cow-shed, but had gone only a few yards when I felt a sting in the right forearm and side, and heard the report of a gun. My husband appeared with a pitchfork and ran after Evison. I said, ‘Be careful; he has reloaded.” First-constable Derham said in evidence that he had asked Evison why he had shot Mrs. Reynolds, and Evison had replied, “It had to come to a finish ” Evison pleaded not guilty and reserved his defence. He was committed for trial at the Supreme Court, Melbourne, on February 15. Bail was refused.