On This Day…… 5th July 1883

William Blurke, a criminal lunatic, escaped from the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum, on the 5th July 1883. Blurke had scaled the stone walls to freedom.

On This Day ……. 5th of July 1910

A prisoner named Frank Tilker, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for larceny at Willaura, was brought from the Ballarat Gaol on this day in 1910 by Constable Hooley to serve his sentence in the Geelong Gaol.


On This Day…… 5th July 1874

John Butler was transferred from the Collingwood Asylum to the Ararat Lunatic Asylum on 16th of November 1868; he had been committed by his wife Mary from kangaroo Flat, Sandhurst. Butler was known by police as a violent man, prone to public outbursts. On the 5th of July 1874 he escaped but was recaptured on the 9th of July. On the afternoon of the 15th of July 1874, Butler again managed to slipped away while playing football with other patients at the Asylum, but was recapture shortly after. Butler escaped again on the 22nd of December 1874 and wasn’t found until the 12th of August 1882. Butler was transfer to the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum on the 18th January 1883.

ON THIS DAY – July 5, 1894 

A short account was given last week of the supposed murder of a young woman named Minnie Hicks, aged 23, by Frederick Jordan, negro wharf labourer. She kept house for Jordan and Albert Johnson, at Sydney-place, and was last seen alive at the house occupied by a glassblower named Charles Turnbull and his mistress. This was at midnight on July 5. Next morning Jordan reported to the police that he had found her dead at 7 a.m. in the room he himself slept in, and he had no knowledge how she arrived there. Turnbull, however, put a different complexion on the case, stating that Jordan came to his place after the woman, found her tipsy, began beating her, and when remonstrated with dragged her off home. An examination of the body showed that she had died from the effects of severe beating about the head and body. It has since transpired that Minnie Hicks was married in 1888, at the age of 17, to a man now living at St. Kilda. They parted about 1890, through the wife taking to drink, and she left their one child with the father. About two years ago she took up with Jordan, who was often cruel to her. On the night preceding the fatality Jordan was hunting round the hotels for her, in the company of Charles Champ, wharf labourer, until nearly midnight. They then separated at Champ’s house, and Jordon went off to Turnbulls where he found the woman. The police in examining the premises discovered in the same room as the body a pair of trousers which were blood stained and torn. At the inquest on Tuesday Johnson gave evidence. All he knew was that on Thursday, July 5, Jordan told him not to give the woman money, as she would be sure to spend it on drink. In the afternoon she got 6s. from him to buy provisions for tea and came back with them, after which she left. Other witnesses showed that Jordan went to several public houses looking for the girl, who had got her friends to promise not to tell-of her whereabouts. Jordan ultimately found her at midnight and dragged her home. The man she married six years ago, Henry Crabtree, labourer, St. Kilda, said that she left him in November, 1891, having become a confirmed drunkard. He was a teetotaller. It appears that after being some time with Jordan, Minnie Hicks had shown a liking for another negro named Adam, and stayed with him. The society of the locality was proved to be anything but nice, and one or two of the women called owned to having been drinking with Minnie. The jury found that Jordan had committed wilful murder.

On this day …….. 5th of July 1945

The burden of being prime minister during the darkest days of the Second World War took its toll on the health of John Curtin. On 5 July 1945, just six weeks before the Japanese surrender, Curtin died at The Lodge. After a short period of lying in state, his memorial service was held in King’s Hall, Parliament House. His body was taken by gun carriage to RAAF Station Canberra and flown to his hometown of Perth on a RAAF Dakota A65-71. This aircraft is now held by the Australian War Memorial. General Douglas MacArthur said of Curtin: “The preservation of Australia from invasion will be his immemorial monument.” After Curtin’s death, Frank Forde became prime minister for eight days until Ben Chifley won a party leadership ballot. Chifley was in office when victory finally came in the Pacific.


On This Day…..4th July 1966

Two youths escaped from Langi Kal Kal training Prison, near Ballarat in the prison-owned station sedan this on this day in 1966. Neither the youths nor the Government vehicle had been found. Prisoners where believe to have headed to Melbourne.

On this day …….. 4th of July 1954

Women ran screaming from a Durban circus on this night in 1954, as six lions fatally mauled their tamer. The lions injured two men who went to the tamer’s aid. The tamer, Willian Coetzee, died in hospital three hours after the attack. The six lions mauled him after he had bitten him behind he ear. As he lay helpless his best friend, a juggler named Drodsky, who is frightened of animals, leapt into the cage armed only with a chair and tried to fight off the lions. The lions began to chase Drodsky around the cage and he was joined by ring master Denis Wood. Both the men grabbed clubs and helped drive back the snarling beasts. Then Wood scared a chair and held the lions at bay while Drodsky dragged Coetzee out of the cage. Both Drodsky and Wood wore wounded. As Coetzee was being rushed to hospital, Drodsky, his wounds un bandaged, went on with his juggling act. In the horror stricken audience was Drodsky’s wife. Coetzee was believed to have been apprehensive about only one lion, Caesar, which had once clawed him. The lion that started the attack was the smallest one, which was looked on as the tamest beast in the act. Circus men said Coatzee earlier that day had trained lionesses. They believed that when the lions smelt the scent of lionesses on the trainer they went mad.


ON THIS DAY – July 4, 1984


In Pentridge Prison, Alex Tsakmakis shared a cell with double murderer Barry Robert Quinn. They had a tense relationship and Quinn would often bait his hot-headed inmate to cause trouble. One day he pushed Tsakmakis too far. Quinn brought up the memory of the rape of Tsakmakis’s girlfriend, taunting him about it. Tsakmakis retaliated the next day. It was about 9am on July 4, 1984 and Quinn was in Day Room 2 watching TV soap “The Restless Years”. Tsakmakis doused him with model glue and then flicked matches at Quinn as he tried to hide behind a table. A newspaper at the time reported that it was the fourth match Tsakmakis flicked that set Quinn alight. Tsakmakis stood in the cell doorway and watched him burn, refusing to allow prison officers to get in and help. The room filled with thick black smoke and Quinn ran around the room in agony. Photos presented to the court later showed black marks on the wall from where, in complete terror and desperation, he had collided into them. When prison officers finally reached Quinn they tried to put the fire out with an extinguisher, before using a blanket to smother the flames. Quinn refused to tell police who was responsible for the assault, in fear that his family would be targeted. He died at the Alfred hospital with burns to 85 per cent of his body. Tsakmakis’s actions that day gave him the nickname “the barbecue king”. Also in 1978, Tsakmakis murdered professional runner Bruce Lindsay Walker, allegedly over a dispute involving a vintage 1935 Plymouth car. The two had gone out on a fishing boat, but only Tsakmakis returned. Walker’s body washed up at Point Lonsdale soon after with his hands and feet bound with chicken wire.

Tskamakis was murdered in Pentridge on July 22, 1988 by Russell St bomber Craig Minogue, 26. He was hit up to seven times with a pillow case full of 5kg gym weights and suffered a fractured skull and brain damage. Photo of Barry Quinn.


On this day …….. 4th of July 1889

Eugene Kneebone from Bowmans Forest in North East Victoria, was the big winner at the weight putting contest at East Melbourne Cricket Ground on this day in 1889. He won the three pound event, the fourteen pound, sixteen pound, and in the twenty eight pound event, he broke the world record by six inches.


On This Day …….. 4th July 1905


A dangerous lunatic named Smith escaped from the main building of the Ararat lunatic Asylum about 7pm on the 4th of July 1905. It is not known how Smith managed to open the front door of the Asylum but its possible he fund some wire and picked the lock. Smith has been an inmate of the Asylum for
over 20 years, and the authorities are treating his escape with much concern. Smith was never found.

On This Day ……. 4th of July 1924

The new Governor of the Geelong Gaol, Sir. T. Crotty, arrived on this day in 1924, to comment his duties. Mr. Crotty takes the place of Mr George Taylor who recently retired from the service, and who has been over 35 years in the Penal Department. Crotty had previously been at Pentridge, where he was head warden.


Billy Hughes the 7th Prime Minister of Australia established the Commonwealth Police Force, after being struck by an egg in the head at a protest. Hughes also holds two distinguished records – As Prime Minister, he had the most secretaries of all PM numbering over 100. Hughes also holds the record as longest serving parliamentarian lasting 58 years, when he died at age 90, while still serving in Parliament.