On this day …….. 31st of July 1902

On this day in 1902 an explosion occurred at Mount Kemble mine in New South Wales killing 96 miners. Unable to find there way out in the aftermath, three miners had the idea to unhitching a pit pony (blind horse used underground) from a skip and grabbing hold of the harness in the hope that it would pull them along in the darkened tunnel to daylight. The pony lead the men to freedom. Another miner abandoned his pony and made his way to the surface. It took him two days to reach safety, while his horse walked out itself a few hours after he had left it.


ON THIS DAY – July 30, 1947

When acquaintances of Allan William Paul Rose, poultry farmer, of Seamore Road, Box Hill, entered his house on July 30, last, they found him dead with his skull battered as a result of 17 injuries. Today, Alexander Arthur Fleming (28), of Cairo Road, Box Hill, builder’s laborer, was charged with having murdered Rose. The case came before Mr. Justice McFarlan and jury in the Criminal Court. Among exhibits was a piece of iron about 18 inches in length. The Crown alleged that this was the weapon which was used to batter Rose’s skull. Mr. Sproule, K.C., for the Crown, said Rose lived by himself in a little cottage in a rather isolated portion of the street. On Tuesday, July 29, he was seen going to the pictures in Box Hill, as was his custom of a Tuesday night. This was the last time he was seen alive by anyone except his assailant. About 10 o’clock next morning a man called at Rose’s house and saw a hat under the hedge. He received no answer to his call. Later in the day he called again, and found the works of a wristlet watch on the concrete drive. The watch had stopped at 11.20 o’clock. With another man, he entered the house. He found Rose dead on the floor, which was covered with blood. Mr. Sproule said that when Fleming was first questioned by the police, he admitted borrowing £2 from Rose. Later, to Detective Mooney, Fleming said: “Yes, I did it and I admit it.” Mr. Sproule said Fleming made a statement to the police in which he allegedly said he approached Rose on the night of July 29 with a request for a loan, which was refused. The alleged statement described a fight between Rose and Fleming. In the statement, Fleming said he struck Rose a couple of times with an iron bar. When Rose refused to lend him money he “did his block.” The case was adjourned until tomorrow.

On This Day ……. 30th of July 1929

An Aboriginal, aged 74 years, was on this day in 1929 completed two months imprisonment in Geelong Gaol, declined to leave when he was discharged. It was only after several hours of trouble that he was pressured to sign his property out and go. It was the first time he had been in gaol. He looked the picture of health, and, apparently enjoyed life in the gaol.


On this day …….. 30th of July 1768

In 1768, Lieutenant James Cook was commissioned with the task of observing the transit of Venus across the sun from the vantage point of Tahiti. This expedition was originally commissioned by the Royal Society of London as a scientific mission. However, when the British Admiralty became aware of Cook’s expedition to the Southern Hemisphere, Cook was given an extra task – one which, it was hoped, would see the advancement of the British Empire and acquisition of more territory.
On the 30th of July 1768, shortly before HM Bark Endeavour departed England, Cook was handed his orders. They were in two parts: the second section was sealed, and could be opened only by Cook once he completed his observations of Venus. Entitled “Secret Instructions for Lieutenant James Cook Appointed to Command His Majesty’s Bark the Endeavour 30 July 1768”, the instructions commanded Cook to find the Great South Land, a ‘Land of great extent’ that was believed to exist in the Southern hemisphere. Although the continent of Australia had been discovered by the Dutch in the early 1600s, it was not thought to be “Terra Australis Incognita”, or the mysterious “Unknown Southern Land”. Cook was instructed ‘… to proceed to the Southward in order to make discovery of the Continent above-mentioned until you arrive in the latitude of 40º, unless you sooner fall in with it’. He was then ordered ‘with the Consent of the Natives to take possession of Convenient Situations in the Country in the Name of the King of Great Britain’. In essence, Cook was awarded the power to consign any indigenous inhabitants of the Great South Land under the King of England’s authority.


ON THIS DAY – July 30, 1993

A body found in Melbourne’s outer south-east on Friday night was that of the missing Frankston school girl Natalie Jayne Russell, 17, police confirmed yesterday.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Halloran, of the Homicide Squad, said there were similarities between the killing and the stabbing murders of two women in the Frankston area in the last seven weeks. “Examinations show that she died as a result of stab wounds or knife wounds to the upper body,” Inspector Halloran said. “At this early stage we are open-minded about it but there are similarities between this and the two recent murders,” he said. Debbie Fream, a 22-year-old mother, was found slain in the area three weeks ago, and the body of an 18-year-old student, Elizabeth Anne-Marie Stevens, was discovered in June. Both died as a result of stab wounds.Inspector Halloran said there were no signs of sexual assault in any of the three killings. Natalie Russell’s body was found by two State Emergency Service workers at about 11pm on Friday night in a heavily wooded area. She was lying face down, in thick scrub about 3m from a bike track. About 150 detectives door-knocked almost 5000 houses in the Frankston area yesterday, as part of Operation Pulsar, in relation to the murder of Debbie Fream and the other crimes.

On this day …….. 30th of July 1768

Arthur Stace was born in Balmain, Sydney, in 1884. Growing up in a family of alcoholics, he fended for himself most of the time and also turned to drink. He returned from WWI shell-shocked, turning to a life of petty crime and a drinking habit that included cheap methylated spirits. One night, lured by the offer of a free cup of tea and something to eat up at a nearby Church Hall, he found himself at a meeting being conducted by Archdeacon R.B.S. Hammond of St Barnabas’ Church on Broadway. Stace was immediately captivated by the message of Christianity, and the model offered by the man proclaiming the message. He was converted that very night. Shortly after his conversion, Stace was listening to the evangelist John Ridley at the Burton Street Baptist Church. Ridley told of a man who was converted in Scotland through ‘Eternity’ being written on a footpath. Ridley called for someone to write Eternity on the footpaths of Sydney, and Stace knew that this was something he could do for God, to alert people to the condition of their own souls. For 37 years, he chalked ‘Eternity’ on footpaths throughout Sydney in a uniquely copperplate style, vastly different from his own usual scrawled style of writing.
Arthur Stace died of a stroke at age 87 on the 30th of July 1967. Ten years after he died, Ridley Smith, architect of Sydney Square, set the message ETERNITY in letters almost 21cm high in wrought aluminium, near the Sydney Square waterfall. On the 1st of January 2000, the worldwide telecast of millennium celebrations showed the Sydney Harbour Bridge alight with the word ‘Eternity’ in flowing copperplate, still proclaiming Stace’s message to the world.


ON THIS DAY – July 29, 1949

Following the finding of Mrs. Mary Rebecca Woodbury (47) lying on the floor of the bathroom of her home in Egmont street, Benalla, with fatal throat wounds, caused by a blade razor, detectives early to-day arrested Denis Woodbury (47), and charged him with the murder of his wife. On arrival at the house yesterday, the police said there were signs of a struggle in several rooms, and that a handle had been broken off one of the doors. It was stated that the couple had been married for three years.

ON THIS DAY – July 29, 1976

Three men who battered an older man to death in the course of “teaching him a lesson” were each found guilty of murder by a Criminal Court jury. Mr Justice Jenkinson sentenced each of the three to be imprisoned for the term of his natural life. They were Mr Allan Raymond Robinson, 33, invalid pensioner, of Fitzroy, Mr Kenneth Graeme Wright, 19, labourer, of Richmond, and Mr Paul Maurice Stanton, 28, assistant manager, of Abbotsford. All had pleaded not guilty to a charge of having murdered Mr Sydney Thomas Crowe, also known as Mr Peter Johnson, 54, labourer, of Collingwood, on July 29 last year.


photo of Kenneth Graeme Wright

On this day …….. 29th of July 1899

A terrible fatality occurred at Sheep Hills on Saturday, when Edward Niewand, a lad 10 years of age, accidentally shot his sister, 12 years old, in the abdomen. The parents left home for Warracknabeal about noon, leaving the children at home. The boy Edward took the gun from behind a sofa where it was lying, and, not knowing it was loaded, cocked the triggers of both barrels. His sister, Annie, who was “playing robbers” with her brother, at this moment came running round the corner of the house. By some unaccountable means the gun went off, shooting the girl. Frederick Duschke, who was working in a paddock near the house, brought the wounded girl into Warracknabeal to Dr. Little, who ordered her to Nurse Gaff’s private hospital, where he examined her and at once pronounced the injuries fatal. Though conscious to the last, she only survived half an hour after admission. Much sympathy is felt for the parents and also for the brother who caused the accident. He feels very keenly the part he has involuntarily played in the sad affair. At a magisterial enquiry held by Mr. Andrew Taylor, J.P., it was found that deceased died from a gunshot wound in the abdomen, accidentally caused, and loss of blood.


On Friday the 29th of July 1859, the Kilmore gaol was opened for the reception of prisoners, after having taken a year and nine months to build. The buildings are surrounded by stone walls 16 feet high with half-round coping, and guard house overlooking the yards, which were also surrounded by stone walls of the same class, but even then prisoners made their escape. The dimensions of the building were 54 feet by 26 feet. The whole building was divided into eight compartments—four large and four small. There was four small cells for the prisoners, two on each side of the gaoler’s room which is in the centre.” At that time and for some

years afterwards some of the worst criminals in Victoria were sent to Kilmore for safe keeping, but from the time of the destruction of the Kelly gang of bushrangers in June, 1880, the building had been little used until the Kilmore dairy company took it over for a more peaceful purpose than keeping prisoners. The company paid pretty heavy rent for years, until they purchased the property from the Government for the small sum of £300, and paid cash down, so they secured the place for a mere song. It was intended to gradually make alterations and improvements until the place is an up-to-date butter factory, and about the first alteration will be the pulling down of the stone walls, the Kilmore shire council having agreed to purchase the stone broken into 2½ inch metal for road purposes in quantities required, at 5s per yard stacked at the factory.

ON THIS DAY – July 29, 1992

A gunman convicted of the cold-blooded, execution style murders of three young people in their suburban Melbourne home last year was  jailed for life for his “unfathomable” crimes. In the Supreme Court, Justice Bernard Teague sentenced Ashley Mervyn Coulston, 36, to life on each of the three counts of murder. He fixed a minimum term of 30 years with no remission. Justice Teague told Coulston, “The crimes for which I sentence you are unfathomable. “They are also chilling, because they were so calculating, so suggestive of cold-blooded planning, so indiscriminate.” Coulston, who was arrested after an armed hold-up a month after the murders, has stated through his counsel that he will appeal. The bodies of Kerryn Henstridge, 22, of Hamilton; Anne Smerdon, 22 of Kyabram; and Peter Demspey, 27, were discovered bound and gagged and shot through the head at their rented home in Summit Road, Burwood, on July 30 last year.

On This Day ……. 29th of July 1913

A very bright service was conducted at the Geelong gaol on this day in 1913, by
Rev. Robert Kelly, who was accompanied by a small party of ladies to assist the music. Thirty-three of the prismiers took part, and entered into the singing most heartily. Mr. Kelly addressed them briefly, and the rest of the service consisted of solos and duets by Mrs. Clias. Fagg, Miss Elsie Fagg, Miss Rita Robertson, Miss Georgo (Miss McDonald assisting with the accompaniments) and hymns.