Posts

On this day …….. 10th of June 1929

A government order came into force to restrict road transport. An extension of the Act was made to cover the Boroughs of Echuca, Horsham, Shepparton, St Arnaud and Wangaratta. The Act provided that goods should not be carted by road before 7am, or after 1pm on any afternoon which was usually a regular holiday for shops. No goods could be carted by road after 9pm on any day of the week in which shops closed late in the particular location, or after 7:30pm in the evening of any other day in the week. Road transport was beginning to seriously affect railway freight revenue.

On this day …….. 11th of April 1907

An unfortunate accident happened to Mr. Michael Bowles a farmer, of Wharparilla, near Echuca. He was engaged chaffcutting, and while on the stack dropped the knife which he was using. It fell amongst the hay, and in stooping to pick up another Bowles accidentally knelt on the knife, the blade of which entered the side of the knee joint, causing a painful wound.

On This Day – November 21, 1884

ECHUCA

On the 21st November 1884, a quarrel occurred between two men named Rogers and Michael Walsh, in front of the John Crown Hotel on Packenham street. Both were the worse of liquor and Rogers, who is a young athletic fellow, seized Walsh, an elderly man, and threw him over some railings dislocating his neck. Walsh was picked up dead shortly after, and Rogers was arrested.

On this day …….. 10th of June 1929

A government order came into force to restrict road transport. An extension of the Act was made to cover the Boroughs of Echuca, Horsham, Shepparton, St Arnaud and Wangaratta. The Act provided that goods should not be carted by road before 7am, or after 1pm on any afternoon which was usually a regular holiday for shops. No goods could be carted by road after 9pm on any day of the week in which shops closed late in the particular location, or after 7:30pm in the evening of any other day in the week. Road transport was beginning to seriously affect railway freight revenue.

ON THIS DAY – May 7, 1970

ECHUCA

On May 7, 1970 members of the Victoria Police stationed in Echuca responded to an emergency call at a home in Mitchell Street. They found a heavily-pregnant woman, Beverley Ratten, lying dead in the kitchen from a shotgun wound to the torso. Her upset husband, Leith Ratten, was removed for questioning. Beverley would later be interred in the Cheltenham Memorial Park, Melbourne.

During interview Ratten said he was cleaning an old rusty double-barrelled shotgun brought in from the garage when it fired, hitting his wife under the left armpit while she was in the kitchen at lunchtime. Ratten could not explain how the gun discharged or how it came to be loaded. Subsequent investigations revealed that Ratten was having an affair with Jennifer Kemp, the wife of a family friend, and had spoken to her on the morning of the shooting. He had also applied for a twelve-month posting to a base in Antarctica.

In January 2012, Ratten died, aged 73 years. Ratten was committed to trial for murder and the hearing took place in August, 1970 in the nearby town of Shepparton, Victoria. Despite the assertions of Ratten’s defence counsel that the shooting was accidental and evidence against him was circumstantial, the jury found Ratten guilty and he was sentenced to death. This was later commuted to 25 years’ prison. Following the case, Ratten’s lawyers undertook four separate appeals on various grounds, one of which involved the exhumation of Beverley Ratten’s body in 1973. All four appeals were dismissed. Despite the failure of his appeals there was considerable doubt about Ratten’s conviction, many believing he was found guilty for the questionable morality of his marital infidelity rather than concrete evidence.

His case was widely discussed among the legal fraternity while his cause was taken up by many notable lawyers and politicians, such as Don Chipp. In 1978, the Free Leith Ratten Committee was founded by Monash University law undergraduate, Mark Cowie. Over the next five years, and until Ratten’s release from Her Majesty’s Prison Dhurringile, Cowie was involved in efforts to bring new evidence before the courts that questioned the legitimacy of Ratten’s conviction. He authored an unpublished manuscript on the case, Justice in Shame: The Leith Ratten Case Don Chipp said that in 1971 Henry Winneke had told him the convicted murderer Leith Ratten was innocent. In 1981 when Ratten had yet to be released, Chipp said Winneke denied the conversation had taken place. Later, a member of the Supreme Court at the time of Ratten’s trial, told Tom Molomby Winneke had wanted to remove the jury from the trial. Such a move would require a belief that the evidence would not support a guilty verdict. Ratten served his sentence, was a model prisoner and was released in 1983 (whereupon he worked as a surveyor in Queensland).

In 1981, two years prior to his release, Ratten was advised he would likely be released and was given time on regular day-release opportunities to find a job, which he did. Then he heard via the radio that he would not be released. Politicians making the decision had allegedly been pressured by Victoria Police to not release Ratten. Further examination of the unfired cartridge was undertaken, with the view that it was indeed a reload cartridge, and he was released soon after.

On this day …….. 30th April 1919

New South Wales suffered half the deaths in the influenza epidemic, after worked war I. For a time, the Victorian government closed the border at Albury and other border towns. In Echuca, for example, visitors were forced to spend five day quarantine in the town. Women made gauze masks impregnated with creosote and eucalyptus and sold them for sixpence each. All churchgoers were required to wear masks. At Tambo, in western Queensland, a memorial honours Reginald Sylvester Barry, a station manager, who ‘worked unceasingly to save those people stricken with pneumonic influenza’, but died himself on 17 June, 1919, near the end of the epidemic.

 

On this day …….. 14th of April 1866

The Wahgunyah paddle steamer was built for John Foord specifically for the river trade along the Murray’s upper reaches between Echuca and Albury. The boat was 70ft long, with timber planking over an iron frame. Durable red gum was used for the bottom, and oregon for the sides. The Wahgunyah was launched on this day in 1866. The vessel was destroyed by fire in 1878

 

On this day …….. 11th of April 1907

An unfortunate accident happened to Mr. Michael Bowles a farmer, of Wharparilla, near Echuca. He was engaged chaffcutting, and while on the stack dropped the knife which he was using. It fell amongst the hay, and in stooping to pick up another Bowles accidentally knelt on the knife, the blade of which entered the side of the knee joint, causing a painful wound.

On this day ………… 4th February 1939

The indigenous people of Australia were the original inhabitants of the Australian continent. Ever since Europeans first settled the continent, Australian history has been dotted with instances of injustices against the native people. As European settlement spread, more and more Aborigines were displaced from their traditional home. They were dispossessed of their land and, due to the hostilities between whites and Aborigines, they were moved onto reserves and missions, where they were supposed to be protected. The Cummeragunja Mission in southern New South Wales was one such mission, established in 1881, primarily for the Yorta Yorta people who inhabited the land just north of the Murray River near Barmah, Victoria. Many of the Yorta Yorta had been relocated from the strictly religious Maloga Mission, and were permitted to live more self-sufficiently on Cummeragunja, establishing a farm and producing wheat, wool and dairy products. In 1915, the New South Wales Aboriginal Protection Board took over control of Cummeragunja, disbanding the farm’s committee of management, meaning that the residents no longer had control over funds they raised from their work on the farm. Conditions for the residents became far more restrictive, and a system of distributing rations was implemented. These rations were unhealthy and insufficient, other supplies were minimal, and shelter was inferior. By the 1930s, illness was rife throughout the mission. On 4 February 1939, between 150 and 200 indigenous residents staged a mass walk-off in protest against the deplorable living conditions. They crossed the border into Victoria, which was against the rules of the New South Wales Protection Board. Many of them subsequently settled in towns such as Barmah, Echuca and Shepparton. No further action was taken on behalf of the aboriginal people’s claims for compensation, and little has been taken in recent years. At most, the Yorta Yorta people have received about one tenth of 1 percent of the traditional lands they lost to European settlement.

 

 

ON THIS DAY – December 25, 1930

Joseph Alexander Isaac Smith, aged 40 years, carrier, of Inglewood, was charged at the Bendigo Court with having, at Marong on Christmas Day, murdered Edward James McLeod, aged 68 years, a prospector, of Echuca. In asking for a remand, Senior Plain clothes Constable McMillan said that on Christmas morning McLeod was knocked down by a motor-truck and killed. The driver of the truck did not stop. Smith was remanded until January 23, bail being allowed in his own surety of £500 and two other sureties of £250 each.

 

ECHUCA

On the 21st November 1884, a quarrel occurred between two men named Rogers and Michael Walsh, in front of the John Crown Hotel on Packenham street. Both were the worse of liquor and Rogers, who is a young athletic fellow, seized Walsh, an elderly man, and threw him over some railings dislocating his neck. Walsh was picked up dead shortly after, and Rogers was arrested.

On this day …….. 10th of June 1929

A government order came into force to restrict road transport. An extension of the Act was made to cover the Boroughs of Echuca, Horsham, Shepparton, St Arnaud and Wangaratta. The Act provided that goods should not be carted by road before 7am, or after 1pm on any afternoon which was usually a regular holiday for shops. No goods could be carted by road after 9pm on any day of the week in which shops closed late in the particular location, or after 7:30pm in the evening of any other day in the week. Road transport was beginning to seriously affect railway freight revenue.