On this day ………… 15th March 1902

A serious railway accident occurred on this day in 1902 at the level crossing north of the Harcourt railway station. When the midday goods train from Bendigo was approaching the Harcourt station, an old man, 60 years of age, named Adams, was driving a spring cart across the line, when the tran smashed into him. The horse was cut to pieces, and the vehicle smashed to atoms, the occupant being thrown out, clear of the line, and sustaining many cuts and bruises. The train was stopped, and the unfortunate man was conveyed in the guard’s van to Castlemaine, and taken to the hospital, where the resident surgeon found that besides being badly bruised and cut, he was suffering severe shock. The approach of Bendigo trains coming to Harcourt can be seen for over a quarter of a mile along the line, but as the unfortunate man was blind in one eye, that may account for him failing to observe the train.



On this day ………… 14th March 1905

Miss Elsie Mollenhaner, aged 16, residing at Norwood Hill, Castelmaine, Victoria met with a serious cycling accident on this day in 1905. When travelling past Fitzgerald’s Brewery, at Winter’s Flat, at a good rate of speed, a young chinaman named Louey Shang, who was riding in the opposite direction, collided with her with such force that the young lady was knocked senseless to the ground. She was taken home, and was attended by Dr. Thompson. The Chinaman escaped with bruises, but his bicycle was badly damaged. Neither carried a light.



EXECUTION THIS DAY – March 10, 1857


At 8am, the condemned criminals, William Twiggem and Chu-a-luk, a Chinese, underwent the last sentence of the law in the Melbourne gaol. Twiggem, it will be recollected, was the accomplice of the notorious Gipsy Smith, in the murder of Sergeant McNally, and was sworn to on the trial as the man who actually fired the shot. He came to this colony, in the ship Joshua, in the year 1851, and was born at Wolverhampton in the year 1824. His demeanour immediately before his execution was one of hardened defiance. Chu-a-luk was convicted at the last Castlemaine Sessions of the murder of his mate A-pud, whom he stabbed during a quarrel arising out of a dispute relative to an account. He was thirty years old. Both the convicts underwent the process of being pinioned and ascended the drop with the utmost coolness, Twiggem exhibiting a total indifference to his position, and Chu-a-luk was apparently in a state of stolid resignation. Neither of them spoke a word, and both died almost instantaneously and without a struggle.



EXECUTION THIS DAY ……… March 10, 1866


At 10am on the 10th of March 1866, at the Castlemaine Gaol, a Chinaman named Long Poy, was executed for murder. Before the execution, the Rev Mr Allnutt attended the criminal, with James Ah Coy, interpreter of Castlemaine. Long Poy was deeply affected and resigned to his fate. He still gave the same account of the murder as at his trial. When the Sheriff entered the condemned cell, the unfortunate man gave himself up quietly, and walked out after the Sheriff and Governor of the Gaol to the drop, which is immediately outside that cell on the gallery, and whilst the funeral service was being read in the usual way (Long Poy being a Christian) and whilst the hangman tied his arms to his sides, pulled the white cap over his face, and adjusted the rope, the convict spoke several times in Chinese, chiefly about his brother caring for his young wife, a Sydney native, and infant, so long as she remained unmarried; also about sending her to her parents to Sydney, and further saying that if she wished to get married she was not to be prevented doing so. Whilst so talking, blindfolded, in a strong clear unfaltering voice, and warning his brother against quarrelling, the fatal bolt was drawn and the body fell with a shock, dislocating the neck, the feet being then suspended about two feet from the flags of the corridor, There was not much convulsion of the body perceptible, but the feet and legs trembled so as to cast off the left boot. The pulse did not cease wholly to beat for eight minutes after the fall; in Young’s case, a powerful man, he died in less than one minute, but the deceased was of slight build. MThere is little about the formation of this place of execution to give the feeling of horror connected with the old gallows. It is a simple yet perfect contrivance; a broad board forms part of the crossing of the gallery floor, with a beam above it, appearing a portion of the roofing, over which hung the rope, the only emblem of the painful scene thereto be enacted.



ON THIS DAY – March 4, 1911

An elderly woman named Blanda Gunn was charged at the Castlemaine Sessions with the manslaughter of Kathleen Farrell on March 4. Accused pleaded not guilty. The case arose out of the alleged unskilful treatment of tho deceased, who was suffering from cancer. The accused, who is known as Madame Gunn, treated Farrell, who was in a highly cancerous condition, and had, it was alleged, placed an arsenic plaster on her breast, which it was claimed induced pleurisy, the direct cause of death. For the defence, it was contended that death was due to cancer. The jury failed to agree, and the accused is to appear at the next Sessions.



ON THIS DAY – February 12, 1907

The dead body of an elderly Chinese, named Ah Cheong, was found in an abandoned shaft at the Eureka mine, in the Castlemaine district, on this day in 1907. The circumstances clearly indicated that he had been murdered. After the police had raised the body to the surface they examined more closely the indications which led them to suspect that a murder had been committed. Cheong’s head had been battered out of shape by a succession of blows, apparently inflicted with a blunt and heavy, instrument. There were marks of a severe struggle about 40 yards from the mouth of the shaft, and it was apparent that the Chinese, who was 60 years old, had, in spite of his age, made a desperate fight with his assailant. Patches of blood and other marks extended from this spot to the shaft, showing that the body had been dragged along by the murderer. The shaft, which is 50ft. deep, contained 12ft. of water, and is situated in a lonely spot, there being no dwellings in the immediate neighbourhood. Heaps of loose gravel around the mouth of the shaft were marked with blood-stains, and an attempt had been made by the murderer to remove these marks with a shovel. A quantity of debris had been thrown into the shaft, evidently in order to conceal the body more effectually.





Enquiries into the murder of Wong Ah Cheong, at Eureka, show that on the 9th of February 1907 the deceased, accompanied by Ah You, who is under arrest on a charge of murder, and a third Chinese, Ah Tong, left his hut in Spring Gully for Castlemaine. According to Tong, the three proceeded together as far as Eureka. Ah You and deceased engaged in recriminations to such an extent that Tong went in front of the party. Subsequently Tong met Ah You in Castlemaine, and asked him where deceased was. Ah You replied, “I do not know; he turned back when we got as far as Eureka.”



ON THIS DAY – February 7, 1889


James Fawkes was charged with wounding with intent to murder his uncle John Rogers at Campbell’s Creek, Castlemaine, on February 7. The prisoner went to his uncle’s house on February 7 and deliberately shot him in the head, and afterwards also wounded James Hocking when he tried to detain him. The evidence of Drs. Reid and Henderson went to show that the prisoner was not of sound mind. When asked to plead he said he was guilty, but the judge refused to take the plea, suspecting insanity, and caused the assignment of counsel (Dr. Quick) to conduct his defence. The judge summed up at length, and was evidently deeply moved. In the course of his remarks he said that counsel should have been previously assigned to the prisoner, and that it was not fair to leave it to the judge to find out the state of a prisoner’s mind. The gaol officer evidently thought that he was insane, yet the authorities had made no further investigation in the matter, and had he (the judge) not noticed that there was something wrong with the man his fate would have been sealed at the present moment. The jury found a verdict of guilty, adding that the prisoner was insane at the time of the committal of the offence. His Honour ordered his imprisonment during the pleasure of the Governor.



On this day …….. 30th of January 1854

On this day in 1854, Cobb & Co’s horse drawn coaches made their first run, departing Melbourne for the Forest Creek diggings (now Castlemaine) and Bendigo. The network of routes was quickly expanded to deal with increased demand in the growing colony of Victoria. Initially a passenger service, Cobb & Co’s reputation for speed and reliable service soon saw it being used for mail delivery and gold escort as well. Headquarters were moved from Victoria to Bathurst in 1862. Workshops were built at Hay and Bourke in New South Wales and Castlemaine in Victoria, and the service was expanded to include Queensland. Horses were replaced at changing stations 25 to 40 kilometres apart, meaning that fresher horses improved travelling time. Today Cobb and co still run a net work of buses across Australia.



On This Day – January 19, 1854

On the night of the 19th January a man named Thomas Reece was murdered by one John Burns, at Tarrangower, near Castlemaine; the latter succeeded in making his escape, is still at large, and the police authorities have now offered a reward of £50 for his apprehension.

On this day …….. 17th of January 1909

In order to more effectively prevent reformatory prisoners from escaping from gaol, Mr. Connor, the Inspector General of Penal Establishments in Victoria, will make certain recommendations as the result of his inquiries into the escape of three prisoners from the Castlemaine gaol on this night in 1909. One of these men, Harrison Goodhind who escaped from Castlemaine Gaol, subsequently surrendered himself to the police. He was sent back to Castlemaine, where he was interviewed by the Inspector General. It is understood that it is improbable that any officers of the gaol will be censured ever the matter.



On this day …….. 24th of December 1904

On the 24th of December 1904 a miner witnessed a curious encounter at Lady Gully, Castlemaine, Victoria, between a 1.2m brown snake and a couple of large lizards. The snake was trying to kill a lizard when a second lizard appeared and joined in the attack on the snake. The miner went to cut a sapling to kill the snake in order to save the lizards. On his return, he saw the three combatants locked together, fall down the North Perseverance mineshaft. Two miners working at the bottom of the 30m shaft got a shock when the snake and two lizards fell between them. They promptly killed all three with their picks.