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On this day …….. 3rd of July 1922

From the time the First Fleet arrived in Australia in 1788, capital punishment was a common form of punishment for both major and minor crimes. The first convict to be hanged in the new colony of New South Wales was seventeen year old Thomas Barrett. Less than a month after the colony was established, Barrett was found stealing “butter, pease and pork” and hanged in a ceremony which all convicts were forced to witness on 27 February. Capital punishment continued to be used as a deterrent to criminals, right up until the last man – Ronald Ryan – was executed in Melbourne in 1967. Two decades after Federation, Queensland became the first state to abolish capital punishment, doing so on the 3rd of July 1922. It was not until 1968 that the next state, Tasmania, abolished capital punishment.

 

How well do you really know our Prime Ministers…….. At Twisted History we thought we would share the strange, weird and bizarre facts on our 29 PM’s!

1) Sir Edmond Barton was a cricket umpire when the first ever international cricket riot happened in 1878, against Australia and England at the SCG.

2) Alfred Deakin was almost killed in lift accident in 1887. Melbourne became the fourth city in the world to build power hydraulic lifts. When directors of the Australian Provincial Assurance Association (including future Australian Prime Minister Alfred Deakin), inspected the hydraulic lift in the new APA building on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Flinders Lane, Melbourne, for the first time. The mechanism failed and the lift shot upwards 12 floors, stopped only by some stout springs at the top. Deakin exited the building by the stairs.

3) Chris Watson was born in Chile and never became a British subject, so he was technically not eligible to sit in the Australian parliament let alone become Prime Minister.

4) Sir George Reid was the first PM to be involved in a car accident, breaking his arm and bruising his pride.

5) Andrew Fisher, left school at the age of 10, to work in the coal mines, before immigrating to Australia at the age of 13.

6) Joseph Cook was largely a self-educated man after leaving school at the age of 9 as a miner. Australian artist Tom Roberts, who recorded Cook on canvas many times, noted that Cook was 5 ft 9 ins (175 cm) in height, weighed 12 stone (76 kg) and his hat size was 7.

7) Billy Hughes 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.

8) Viscount of Melbourne, Stanley Bruce fought at both Gallipoli and the Western Front. Bruce was the first PM to govern from the newly built Canberra. Bruce died in London and was cremated and his ashes were spread around Canberra. Bruce is the only PM whose remains are in the nation’s capital.

9) James Scullin was the first Prime Minister to choose the Governor-General, not the royal family. Scullin choose Sir Isaac Isaacs, the first born Australian to hold the post.

10) Joseph Lyon’s father lost the family savings at the 1887 Melbourne Cup. Lyon at the age of 9 was forced to leave school and find work.

11) Earle Christmas Page was one of the first Australians to own a car. Serving as Prime minister for only 20 days, he refused to retire at 81, and dying from lung cancer, still contested the 1961 election.

12) Sir Robert Menzies is the longest serving Prime Minister (18 years). Menzies retired on Australia Day in 1966. Menzies was a lifelong supporter of Carlton VFL Football Club. In the 1970s, following a stroke the Carlton Football club made a ramp up onto the committee box at Princes Park Oval so that Menzies’s chauffeur, Peter Pearson could drive his Bentley into the stand to watch games.

13) Arthur Fadden liked socialising, sport, and theatre. He was once a member of an acting group in Mackay called the Nigger Minstrel Troupe. Yes that’s right …..It’s pretty much white people painting on a black face and doing that racist thing.

14) John Curtin’s first job at the age of 14, was as a messenger boy for a magazine edited by artist Norman Lindsay. Curtin was also gaoled for three days in Pentridge Prison Melbourne in 1916 for defying government’s call-up order for military. Although holding such strong beliefs Curtin passed conscription for WWII.

15) Francis Forde holds the records for the shortest term as Prime Minister for a mere 8 days.

16) Ben Chifley graduated as one of the youngest first-class locomotive engine driver at 28. Chifley died of a massive heart attack on the 13th of June 1951 in Canberra, whilst parliamentarians attended State Ball at Parliament House. Once hearing the news Prime Minister Menzies told everyone to go home. Ben Chifley ghost is said to haunt Canberra.

17) Harold Holt’s father married one of his former girlfriends…… So she became his step mother. After going missing while swimming and his body never found, in good Australian humour a local Melbourne swimming pool was named in his honour.

18) Sir John McEwen at the age of 16, worked at a Crown Solicitor’s office under Frederick Whitlam, father of future PM Gough Whitlam. At the age of 67 years McEwen was the oldest ever incoming Prime Minister. Due to only being Prime Minister for two months McEwen, after his death did not want a fancy PM headstone.

19) Sir William McMahon employed young sailors in tight-fitting bell-bottom trousers to caddy for him at golf.

20) Sir John Gorton survived three flying accidents and ship being torpedoed during the Second World War. Gorton was also the only PM to voted himself out of office.

21) Gough Whitlam is only one of two Prime Ministers whose lifetime spanned the lives of all 25 Prime Ministers in Australia’s first century (John Gorton was the other) Whitlam was Australia’s longest-lived Prime Minister, dying at the age of 98 years, sadly 2 years short of receiving a 100th birthday card from Queen Elizabeth II, the woman who sacked him and his government in 1975.

22) Malcolm Fraser’s notorious incident in Memphis, Tennessee, in October 1986 is a night that would never be forgotten. After give a speech to the Memphis Economic Club Fraser decided to go for a drink at the Peabody Hotel. But for Fraser this was only the beginning of the night. He wandered into the foyer of a Memphis hotel frequented by prostitutes and drug dealers at 7am wearing nothing but a towel. He claimed to have no memory of the nights activities or were his pants where.

23) Bob Hawke was immortalised by the Guinness Book of Records in 1954 for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. This record was at the same English Hotel where President Bill Clinton smoked a joint.

24) Paul Keating left school at the age of 14, and managed a rock band called The Ramrods. Keating is the only Australian PM to be on the cover of the Rolling Stones Magazine. As Prime Minister Keating asked journalists to stop photographing his bald patch.

25) John Howard is the only Liberal Party Prime Minister to have been educated in a state school. Howard also lived at his parents’ home until he was 32 years old.

26) Kevin Rudd is a descendent of transported convict Mary Wade, who had over three hundred relatives when she died and is considered as one of Australia’s ‘matriarchs’. At the age of 15, Rudd wrote to Prime Minister Gough Whitlam asking for advice on how to become involved in a diplomatic career. Whitlam suggested Rudd learn a foreign language, which he did Chinese (Mandarin).

27) Julia Gillard immigrated with her family to Adelaide in 1966 as ’£10 poms’. Gillard is the first female Prime Minister to be sworn in by the first female Governor-General Quentin Bryce. Gillard was also the first unmarried Prime Minister.

28) Tony Abbott during his student days, once saved a child who was swept out to sea. Another time, he helped save children from a burning house next to a pub where he was drinking. At the aged 26, he studied to become a Catholic priest.

29) Malcolm Turnbull is 2nd cousin of British actress Angela Lansbury, from Murder She Wrote.

 

On this day …….. 1st of July 1851

When James Cook became the first European to sight and map the eastern coastline of Australia, he claimed the eastern half of the continent for England under the name of New South Wales. After the arrival of the First Fleet, England sought to secure its claim on New South Wales be establishing further settlements south, and eventually north and west. In 1803, the British Government instructed Lieutenant-Governor David Collins to establish a settlement on the southern coast. This settlement was not a success and the site was abandoned, but expeditions continued to be mounted to explore the land between Sydney and Port Phillip. Thanks to the initiative of John Batman, Melbourne was settled in 1835, and despite being regarded as an “illegal” settlement, the foundling colony thrived. Governor Bourke formally named Melbourne in 1837. The Port Phillip Colony encompassed Melbourne and “Australia Felix”, which was the fertile western district discovered by Major Thomas Mitchell. The first petition for formal separation of the colony from New South Wales was presented to Governor Gipps in 1840, but rejected. It was another ten years before the British Act of Parliament separating Victoria from New South Wales was signed by Queen Victoria. The New South Wales Legislative Council subsequently passed legislation formalising Victoria’s separation on the 1st of July 1851.

 

On this day …….. 1st of July 1978

The Northern Territory is a federal territory of Australia, bordered by the states of Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia. From 1825 to 1863, the Northern Territory was part of New South Wales. In 1863, as a result of the successful 1862 expedition of John McDouall Stuart to find an overland route through the desert from Adelaide to the north, control of the Northern Territory was handed to South Australia. On the 1st of January 1911, the Northern Territory was separated from South Australia and transferred to Commonwealth control. This meant that the laws governing people of the Northern Territory were dictated by the authorities in Canberra, in a society vastly different from their own. Over the ensuing decades, the Northern Territory took small steps towards attaining self-government. The Territory was allowed to make its own legislature in 1947. In 1974, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam announced that self-government would soon be granted, and a Legislative Assembly made up of 19 members was formed. However, a major catalyst to the granting of self-governance was the tragedy of Cyclone Tracy, which devastated most of the city of Darwin at Christmas in 1974. The cyclone and subsequent response highlighted problems with the arrangement of having a federal minister responsible for the Territory from Canberra, thousands of kilometres away. The Northern Territory was granted self-government on the 1st of July 1978. Around 6000 people gathered at the Cenotaph in Darwin. The inaugural ministry was sworn in, followed by a guard of honour and the first official raising of the new Territorian flag by Flight Sergeant Gordon Mcloughlin. The Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Fraser, stated, “Today’s historic occasion symbolises the strength and the spirit of men and women of the Territory, a spirit that has endured suffering, withstood hardships and overcome many times of adversity.” Most state responsibilities came under the purview of the Northern Territory government. Exceptions included matters relating to Aboriginal land, uranium mining, national parks and some industrial relations. Of major significance was the fact that citizens were now permitted to own freehold land. This was a tremendous boost to the economy, as it allowed for major construction works of new tourism and entertainment facilities such as accommodation and casinos, and educational institutions such as universities, to go ahead without waiting for approval from Canberra bureaucrats. Territory Day continues to be celebrated on the 1st of July every year. It is the only day when fireworks are permitted to be lit by the public.

On this day …….. 1st of July 1959

“Mr Squiggle and Friends” was a long-running children’s television series on Australia’s ABC. It featured a marionette with a large pencil for its nose. Mr Squiggle regularly flew to Earth from his residence at 93 Crater Crescent, The Moon on his spaceship named Rocket. In each episode, Mr Squiggle would create imaginative and creative drawings from squiggles sent in to the programme by children from across Australia, accompanied by their letters. The concept of Mr Squiggle was created by puppeteer, cartoonist and illustrator Norman Hetherington. Mr Squiggle first appeared on the Children’s TV Club on ABC TV, but developed into a regular series of short, five minute slots, with occasional longer special programmes. Hetherington manipulated the marionette from overhead: drawings were usually completed upside-down, so would remain largely unrecognisable until Mr Squiggle called out “Upside down! Upside down!” and the sketch was turned around. Scripts were largely written by Hetherington’s wife Margaret. A female helper assisted Mr Squiggle each time, variously Miss Gina, Miss Pat, Miss Jane, Roxanne and Rebecca. Other characters included the grouchy Blackboard; Bill the Steam Shovel; and Gus the Snail, who sported a TV for a shell, then a flower pot. The first Mr Squiggle episode appeared on the 1st of July 1959, and the show continued to run for forty years. The final episode, which was produced in 1996, was aired on the 9th of July 1999.

 

On this day …….. 30th of June 1861

The present-day town of Young in the central west of New South Wales began as a gold-mining settlement known as Lambing Flat. At the height of its popularity, the rich alluvial gold deposits attracted a population of around 20 000. While most of the diggers were from other parts of Australia, many migrants came from Europe and North America. Around 1000 miners were Chinese, and they soon became the target of violence from the “white” diggers. The Chinese were not welcome on the Australian goldfields. They were thorough workers, often picking meticulously through the discarded tailings or abandoned mines of other diggers. They were viewed with suspicion as few spoke English, and they were regarded as idol-worshippers. Chinese mining methods used more water than European methods, and such practices were not appreciated in a country known for its heat and droughts. Furthermore, few of them traded their gold in the towns, preferring to store it up and return to China with their wealth. The colony of Victoria was the first to introduce Anti-Chinese immigration legislation, imposing a poll tax of £10 per head for each Chinese person arriving in Victorian ports in 1855. Within a few years all other colonial governments had enacted similar laws to restrict the number of people from China entering the colonies. This did not stop the Chinese from arriving in droves and spreading out to goldfields in New South Wales and Victoria. During the first year of the gold rush on the Lambing Flat fields, there were four major clashes between the Chinese and white diggers in the region. Following the first riot in October 1860, a Sub-Commissioner and three troopers were assigned to the goldfield, but this did not prevent a second riot occurring just two months later. After the third riot late in January of 1861, more troopers were sent, and for several months there was relative peace at Lambing Flat. However, the most vicious attack was yet to come. Tensions came to a head on 30 June 1861. It is estimated that around 3 000 European diggers banded together in a rowdy gang called a “roll up” and, armed with picks, whips, knives, sticks and anything that could be used as a weapon, converged on the Chinese camp. Chinese tents and equipment were destroyed, gold plundered, and dozens of the men themselves had their pigtails, or ‘queues’, cut off – a matter of great dishonour for them – or worse, they were scalped. An unknown number of Chinese were murdered: although the official death toll for Chinese was given as two, eyewitness accounts suggest between 30 and 40 were killed, and several hundred more injured. The flag carried by the diggers, on which was written ‘Roll-up Roll-up No Chinese’, is now on display in the Lambing Flat Folk Museum. The Lambing Flat riots continued for several more weeks, settling only after military intervention and the arrest of the main ringleaders among the white diggers. However, public outcry at these arrests caused many of the ringleaders to be released. In the end, only one person was actually convicted and gaoled. The name ‘Lambing Flat’ was changed to ‘Young’ after then-Governor of New South Wales, Sir John Young, in an attempt to wipe the atrocities of June 30 from the history of the town. The government responded, ironically, not with legislation to protect other racial groups, but with laws restricting access to goldfields for ‘aliens’ and to refuse miners’ rights to same. The Chinese Immigration Restriction Act was passed at an Intercolonial Conference in 1880 – 1881. This was, in effect, the beginning of the White Australia Policy, as it led to the adoption of uniform restrictive immigration laws.

On this day …….. 28th of June 1880

Alexander Graham Bell’s demonstration of the first practical telephone in 1876 had ramifications worldwide within a very short period of time. For a continent separated by thousands of kilometres from Bell’s achievements, Australia was very quick to embrace telephony. The concept of one’s voice being carried over long distances, and the fact that a telegraph operator trained in Morse Code was no longer required to decode telegraph signals in order for messages to be relayed promised major benefits to the colonies which had grown up with a sense of isolation from the rest of the world. Experimentation with the telephone commenced in Australia between 1786 and 1788. Early tests were conducted by Charles Todd, South Australian Government Astronomer and Postmaster General, and a leading figure in the development of telegraphy and telephony in Australia. Transmissions enabling the human voice to carry over distances of up to 400 kilometres were successfully trialled. In 1877, Bell published the details of his telephone in the “Scientific American”. Following this publication, people from around the world – including the Australian colonies – were quick to develop their own telephones. Melbourne was the first Australian city to install a commercial telephone. This was undertaken by engineering firm Robison Bros between their office in Melbourne city and their South Melbourne foundry. The first telephone exchange was also opened in Melbourne on 28 June 1880. When the Melbourne Telephone Exchange Company was formed by W.H Masters and T.T. Draper, with 100 lines, line no. 1 was assigned to Robison Bros. Brisbane was the next city to open a telephone exchange, and by 1887 each of the capital cities had its own exchange.

On this day …….. 28th of June 1836

Regular snow in Australia is restricted to the Snowy Mountains and high country of the southern states. Snowfalls have occurred during unusual weather patterns in southwest Western Australia and southern Queensland, but given the size of the continent, snow is very limited. Of all Australia’s capital cities, the one most likely to receive snowfalls is Canberra. While snow is not uncommon in the Blue Mountains and west to Orange, it rarely hits the New South Wales capital. Sydney recorded its first and only significant snow event on the morning of 28 June 1836. On this day, snow began around 6:00 am and continued through to mid-morning, coating the hills in white. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that “the terrified state of the natives indicated the rare nature of such a visitation”. Snow fell again to a lesser degree on 2 July and 5 July, as it was a particularly cold winter.

On this day …….. 26th of June 1880

Ned Kelly, Australia’s most famous bushranger, was born in December 1854 in Beveridge, Victoria. As a teenager, he became involved in petty crimes, regularly targetting the wealthy landowners. He gradually progressed to crimes of increasing seriousness and violence, including bank robbery and murder, soon becoming a hunted man. Ned Kelly’s gang consisted of himself, his brother Dan, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart. One of Kelly’s more daring bank robberies was carried out in December 1878 when Kelly and his gang rode into the Victorian town of Euroa, where they robbed the National Bank of about 2,000 pounds. As a result of this robbery, the reward for their capture was increased to 1,000 pounds each. Aaron Sherritt was an associate of the Kellys, having grown up in the same area, and he was quite close to the Byrne family. He was engaged to Byrne’s sister for awhile. After the gang was outlawed following the murder of three policemen at Stringybark Creek in October 1878, Sherritt turned police informant for money. Sherritt advised the police to camp out in a cave near Byrne’s family home in the hopes of capturing Byrne as he visited his mother. Sherritt’s presence was noted, and Byrne’s sister broke off her engagement to him. Many months later, on the night of 26 June 1880, Sherritt was at home with his new wife, mother-in-law and four policemen. When Sherritt answered a knock at the door, he was shot dead by Byrne. The police officers hid, as they were unsure whether they were Byrne’s real target, and did not report the killing until late the following morning. Within a couple of days, Byrne was himself killed in a shootout at Glenrowan between the gang and the police. Ned Kelly was the only one to survive to stand trial, after which he was hanged.

On this day …….. 23rd of June 2006

“Harriet” was a Giant Galapagos tortoise, at least 176 years old, which resided at Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo near Beerwah, Queensland, Australia. Believed for one hundred years to have been a male, she was the world’s oldest living chelonian in captivity. A chelonian is a reptile with a shell or bony plates. The giant tortoise was taken from the Galapagos Islands by naturalist Charles Darwin in 1835 as a personal pet during his five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle. On that voyage was a young naval officer, John Clements Wickham. After studying Harriet whilst formulating his theory of evolution, Darwin handed the tortoise on to Wickham when the latter sailed for Brisbane to take up a post as police magistrate. Over the years, the tortoise was carefully tended, and in 1958, was moved to naturalist David Fleay’s wildlife park on the Gold Coast. She was moved to Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast in 1987 where she enjoyed celebrity status until her death on 23 June 2006.

ON THIS DAY – June 15, 2000

Mark Anthony Moran (4 July 1964 – 15 June 2000) was an organized crime figure of the infamous Moran family from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, notable for its involvement in the illegal drug trade and the Melbourne gangland killings. Moran was murdered outside his Aberfeldie home, allegedly by Carl Williams, just after 8 pm on 15 June 2000, aged 35. Mark Moran was the son of Judy Moran and Leslie John “Johnny” Cole, who was shot dead in Sydney on 10 November 1982 during drug-related gangland wars while working for crime boss Frederick “Paddles” Anderson. His stepfather was criminal Lewis Moran and his half-brother was drug trafficker Jason Moran, both also murdered.

 

On this day …….. 7th of June 1825

Tasmania was first discovered by Abel Tasman on 24 November 1642. Tasman discovered the previously unknown island on his voyage past the “Great South Land”, or “New Holland”, as the Dutch called Australia. He named it “Antony Van Diemen’s Land” in honour of the High Magistrate, or Governor-General of Batavia.
When the First Fleet arrived in 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip claimed the entire eastern coast for the British Empire, including Tasmania, though it was not yet proven to be separate from the mainland. In January 1799 Bass and Flinders completed their circumnavigation of Tasmania, proving it to be an island. Tasmania was settled as a separate colony in 1803, but continued to be administered by the Governor of New South Wales. On 7 June 1825, Van Diemen’s Land was separated administratively from New South Wales, and Hobart Town was declared the capital of the colony. As the actual founding documents have not been located, there remains some conflict regarding the date, as some sources state this as occurring on 14 June 1825.