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Photo published in Sydney newspapers at the behest of police in 1933 to show that detectives didn’t need to look like typical burly coppers.

 

Frank Gardiner, born in 1830 Scotland and shipped out to Australia as a child with his parents, made an illustrious career out of horse thievery and highway robbery. On 15 June 1862, Gardiner along with Ben Hall, John Gilbert and associates held up a gold escort travelling from Forbes to Bathurst. They stole over £14,000 worth of gold and bank notes – Australia’s biggest gold robbery. In February 1864, New South Wales police traced Gardiner to his hideout in Queensland. He was arrested and sentenced to 32 years of hard labour in July. Ten years later, Governor Hercules Robinson granted him mercy and released him, subject to exile. Gardiner lived in Hong Kong and Francisco before dying in Colorado in 1903. “Colonial rule was constantly challenged by bushrangers – it was a major threat to the central administration,” says Dr Hamish Maxwell-Stewart from the University of Tasmania. “They were turning the tables on the convict state.”

 

On this day …….. 5th of August 1944

The Cowra breakout occurred on 5 August 1944, when at least 1,104 Japanese prisoners of war attempted to escape from a prisoner of war camp near Cowra, in New South Wales, Australia. It was the largest prison escape of World War II, as well as one of the bloodiest. During the ensuing manhunt, 4 Australian soldiers and 231 Japanese soldiers were killed. The remaining escapees were captured and imprisoned.

 

Despite dubbing himself with a title more fitting for a comic book hero than an Australian bushranger, ‘Captain Thunderbolt’ Frederick Ward recruited children for armed holdups and shootouts with police. Originally a drover from Paterson River, New South Wales, Ward was charged with horse thievery and sent to Cockatoo Island, Sydney harbour in August 1856 to serve 10 years of hard labour. After escaping on 11 September 1863, he settled into a life of armed robbery. Among Ward’s juvenile accomplices was 16-year-old John Thomson, who was shot and captured by police during an armed robbery, 16-year-old orphan Thomas Mason, who was captured by police and convicted of highway robbery, and 13-year-old runaway William Monckton. On 25 May 1870, Ward was shot-dead by Constable Alexander Walker at Kentucky Creek, Uralla.

 

Some Australian bushrangers made their name from martyrdom, others from pure madness. In the case of ‘Mad Dog’ Daniel Morgan, the source of his infamy was definitely the latter. In June of 1864, Morgan shot a bush worker near Albury, New South Wales. He asked another worker to ride for help, then, suspecting the man would ride to the police instead, shot him in the back. Months later, he shot dead a passing police officer just for saying “hello”. In April of 1865, Morgan held up the Peechelba Station near Wangaratta and demanded that the owner’s wife play piano while he ate dinner. Upon leaving the station, he was shot by a stockman and died the following day.

 

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 …….. 28th of July 1921

On the 28th of July 1921 an employee at the railway station at Bundarra, New South Wales, placed a few loose bullets in his pocket after he had used his riffle. He kept tobacco in the same pocket and later put some into his pipe, unaware that one of the bullets had got mixed up with it. He sat down in his living room and lit his pipe to have a smoke. Heat from the tobacco exploded the bullet and the pipe was blown to pieces in the mans hands. The bullet lodged in the ceiling while the smoker was left shocked by his narrow escape but suffered only minor cuts.

 

After the bushranger Ned Kelly’s sister Kate drowned at Forbes NSW in 1898, historians grabbed her most treasured possession – her bed. Kate is said to have enjoyed sleeping and now visitors to a museum at Mount Victoria in NSW can stand at the foot of the bed and dream of those wild bushranger days……..

 

On this day …….. 18th of July 1931

Within a few days of his 101st birthday, Mr. Philip Thorley has died at Stanley, near Beechworth, in North East Victoria. He was born at Richmond, New South
Wales, on July the 18th, 1830. His descendants include great and great-great grandchildren, which number more than 150.

 

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.

 

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.