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ON THIS DAY…… 30th November 1878

Australia’s National Anthem performed for the first time in public

Australia’s national anthem, ‘Advance Australia Fair was composed by Scottish-born composer Peter Dodds McCormick, who arrived in Sydney in 1855, taking up a position as a public school teacher in New South Wales. McCormick was heavily involved in the community as well as the Scottish Presbyterian church, and he developed a reputation for both his singing voice and his compositions. He composed around 30 patriotic songs, one of which was ‘Advance Australia Fair’. ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was first performed in public on 30 November 1878. The occasion was the St Andrew’s Day concert of the Highland Society. Initially, the song was published under the pseudonym of “Amicus”, which is Latin for ‘friend. In line with its nationalistic flavour, ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was performed by a 10,000-voice choir at the inauguration Federation ceremony for the proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia, on 1 January 1901. McCormick was subsequently paid one hundred pounds for his composition in 1907, and he registered it for copyright in 1915. Early in the twentieth century, the song was proposed as a possible national anthem for Australia, to replace the Royal anthem ‘God Save the King’ (later ‘Queen’), but no official decision was made. The first of many competitions to find a new national anthem was held in 1840, with subsequent quests and competitions in ensuing years, including the lead-up to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Another Australia-wide national anthem quest was held in 1972-3. Following this, in 1977, the government held a referendum and attached a national plebiscite to choose a new anthem. ‘Advance Australia Fair’ won with 43% against Banjo Paterson’s ‘Waltzing Matilda’ with 28% and Carl Linger’s ‘Song of Australia’ with 10%. In favour of keeping ‘God Save the Queen were 19%. In 1984, the Australian government made the final decision to change the national anthem as it sought to reinforce its independence from England. ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was adopted as the National anthem of Australia on 19 April 1984.

ON THIS DAY…… 26th November 1838

Men found guilty of Myall Creek Aborigines massacre

On 10 June 1838, a gang of stockmen, heavily armed, rounded up between 40 and 50 Aboriginal women, children and elderly men at Henry Dangar’s Myall Creek Station, not far from Inverell in New South Wales. 28 Aborigines were murdered. These were the relatives of the Aboriginal men who were working with the station manager, William Hobbs. It was believed that the massacre was payback for the killing of several colonists in the area, yet most of those massacred were women and children. At a trial held on November 15 that year, twelve Europeans were charged with murder but acquitted. Following uproar from some colonists at the aquittal of the men, another trial was held on 26 November 1838. Following the retrial, 7 men were charged with murder and sentenced to be hung in December, under the authority of Governor George Gipps.

ON THIS DAY…… 26th November 1855

The colony of Van Diemen’s Land becomes known as Tasmania

Fears that the French would colonise Van Diemen’s Land caused the British to establish a small settlement on the Derwent River in 1803. 33 of the 49 people in the group were convicts, and the settlement continued to receive convicts re-shipped from New South Wales or Norfolk Island up until 1812. Regular shipments of convicts directly from Britain began in 1818. A second penal colony was established at Macquarie Harbour on the west coast of Van Diemen’s Land in 1822, and three years later, the British Government separated Van Dieman’s Land from New South Wales. Macquarie Harbour was eventually closed down, to be replaced by Port Arthur. Transportation of convicts to Van Diemen’s Land ended in 1853. On 26 November 1855, the colony officially became known as Tasmania and elections for parliament were held the following year.

ON THIS DAY…… 24th November 1642

Dutch explorer Abel Tasman

On the 24th of November 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovered a previously unknown island on his voyage past the “Great South Land”, or “New Holland”, as the Dutch called Australia. He named it Van Diemen’s Land after the governor of Batavia. The Dutch, however, did not settle New Holland and Van Diemen’s Land. The First Fleet, which arrived in Port Jackson, New South Wales, in 1788 comprised eleven British ships carrying officers and convicts from England.

ON THIS DAY…… 21st November 1789

Convict James Ruse establish first working farm in Australia

James Ruse was born on a farm in Cornwall around 1759. At age 22, he was convicted of burglary and, due to severe over-crowding in British gaols, spent over four years on the prison hulks in Plymouth Harbour. He was one of the convicts who was transported in the First Fleet to New South Wales, sailing on the ‘Scarborough’.
Governor Phillip was aware of the need to build a working, farming colony as soon as possible. Thus, on 21 November 1789, Phillip selected Ruse to go to Rose Hill (now Parramatta), west of Sydney Town, and establish “Experiment Farm”, the colony’s first working farm. Ruse was allocated one and a half acres of already cleared ground and assisted in clearing a further five acres. He was given two sows and six hens and a deal was made for him to be fed and clothed from the public store for 15 months. Within a year, Ruse had successfully farmed the site, proving that it was possible for new settlers to become self-sufficient, and to feed a family with relatively little assistance to begin with. As a result of the success of Ruse’s venture, he was granted another 30 acres in March 1791, in the colony’s first official, permanent land grant. This was in addition to the area he was already occupying.

ON THIS DAY…… 20th November 1905

Hand on fire

Ernest Potter from Gundagai district of New South Wales was making rabbit poison on this date in 1905 when a bottle containing phosphorous spilt over his trousers and one of his hands. The mixture flared up. Potter managed to put out the flames on his trousers and put his hand in water, but when ever he took it out of the water, the phosphorous continued to blaze. He galloped 8km to Gundagai for medial treatment.

ON THIS DAY…… 18th November 1879

One of Australia’s youngest bushrangers, a fifteen-year-old member of Captain Moonlite’s gang, is shot and killed.

Augustus Wernicke was one of Australia’s youngest bushrangers, and part of Captain Moonlite’s gang. Captain Moonlite, aka Andrew George Scott, became a bushranger upon his release from gaol, eight years after robbing the bank at Mount Egerton, Victoria. He recruited several other gang members, among them 15-year-old Wernicke, and walked to New South Wales, hoping to find employment at Wantabadgery Station, well known for its hospitality. Being in the grip of a severe drought, and also having changed hands, Wantabadgery could offer them nothing. In desperation, Moonlite took 35 people hostage. In the resultant shootout with police on 18 November 1879, gang members James Nesbitt and Augustus Wernicke, together with Constable Bowen, were all shot dead. Moonlite and the surviving gang members were tried and charged with the murder of Constable Bowen. Moonlite himself was hanged on 20 January 1880 at Darlinghurst Court.

ON THIS DAY…… 15th November 1838

The perpetrators of the Myall Creek Massacre in New South Wales are acquitted

On 10 June 1838, a gang of stockmen, heavily armed, rounded up between 40 and 50 Aboriginal women, children and elderly men at Myall Creek Station, not far from Inverell in New South Wales. 28 Aborigines were murdered. It was believed that the massacre was payback for the killing of several colonists in the area, yet most of those massacred were women and children. At a trial held on 15 November 1838, twelve Europeans were charged with murder but acquitted. Another trial was held on November 26, during which the twelve men were charged with the murder of just one Aboriginal child. They were found guilty, and seven of the men were hanged in December under the authority of Governor George Gipps.

ON THIS DAY…… 1st November 1791

Escaped convicts tried to walk to China

On the 1st of November 1791, a group of 20 male convicts and one pregnant female convict escaped from the gaol at Parramatta, New South Wales in an attempt to reach China overland. They took with them rations, tools and clothes. Whilst some of the convicts were recaptured, many simply died in the unfamiliar bushland of New South Wales. Many convicts believed that China lay beyond the Blue Mountains.

 

On this day …….. 31st of October 1894

Opening on 26 September 1855, the New South Wales railway, Australia, was the first government-owned railway in the British Empire. The first line ran the 22km from Sydney to Parramatta. By 1862, the western line had reached Penrith. The railway continued to expand, reaching Albury in 1881, Glen Innes in 1884 and far west New South Wales at Bourke in 1886. On 31 October 1894, a country train bound for Goulburn, New South Wales, was hit at Redfern, Sydney, by a suburban train heading from Strathfield to the city. Two engine crew and twelve passengers from the suburban train were killed, and twenty-seven people were injured. The accident was caused by an incorrectly set signal. Among those killed were Edward Lloyd Jones, Chairman of David Jones & Co and son of the founder of the David Jones department store chain. Also killed was Father Callaghan McCarthy, Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral.

 

ON THIS DAY……31st October 1889

Fredrick “Josh” Clark and Christopher “Christie” Farrell were both ex convicts transported from England to Van Demons Land. Once both men had received their tickets of leave they sailed to Victoria, arriving at the beginning of the Victorian gold rush. Both men found there way back to the lives thy once lived in England, preying upon those returning from the gold fields. By 1889 both Clark and Farrell were in there early to late 60’s and were serving 14 year sentences in Pentridge Gaol in Melbourne. Farrell was charged with the attempted murder of a police man during his arrest at Fitzroy in 1887 and Clark for being a systematic malingering. Due to the prisoners age and behaviour both prisoners were transferring Geelong Gaol. About midnight on Monday a warder named Cain commenced his shift at the Geelong gaol. At two minutes to 2am he hard a knocking, from cell 13 occupied by a prisoner named Frederick “Josh”Clarke. Cain unlocked the trap in the door and Clarke asked for a drink of water. The warder brought the water, and was handing it through the hole when he was seised from behind by Farrell. Clarke then came from his cell and seized Cain who saw that the other man was a prisoner named Christopher “Christie”Farrell who was holding a large stone in his hand. He threatened to beat out the warder’s brains if he uttered a single word. Clark had cleverly made a skeleton key, by melting coin into the shape of the key. Clark worked as a blacksmith in the confinements of the gaol. Once the warder opened the trapdoor and walked of to get a glass of water for the prisoner. Clark then simply reached his arm though the opening in the door and let him escape. Once free he quickly unlocked Farrell’s cell before returning to his own and waiting for Cain to return. The men gagged Cain and tied his hands and feet, and took off his boots and carried him to the cook’s house, and tied him to the table, and left him there. He was found just before 6am by the chief warder, who raised the alarm. The two prisoners had meanwhile scaled the gaol wall. Immediately the alarm was given the police who scoured the country in all directions without finding any trace of the escaped prisoners. Farrell was found first on the 16th of October and Clark four days later, both men were heading north to NSW. Warder Cain was confined to his bed, owing to the injuries he received. Four His throat was greatly Swollen, and he is only able to speak with difficulty. An inquiry into the escape was held on 31st October, 1889 which saw the governor of the gaol reprimanded and the warders on duty demoted – this despite Farrell’s saying that the warder Cain had fought like a lion and should not be punished for is failure to prevent their escape. In 1923 a large brass key which proved to be a master key from the era of Clark and Farrell’s escape was found when grounds west of the Geelong Supreme Court were being cleared. Its rough-cut appearance suggested that it was an illegal copy and it was widely believed that this was the key used by Clark and Farrell in their escape. A version of events described in the gaol display has an elderly Clark claiming that he threw the key into the grounds on his way to court however, it seems highly unlikely that having been found in possession of such a key, Clark would have been allowed to keep it. A report in the paper a few days after his arrest indicated that he was found with a skeleton key on his person which had been cut from a penny. At the time the authorities were quick to point out that the make of the key was not such as could have been made in the gaol. Clark died in Geelong Gaol on 4th August, 1904, at the age of 104. Clark had arrived in Tasmania in 1847 at the age of 18, he would go on to send a total of 85 years and 7 months in gaol, over half is life behind bars. Farrell also died in the gaol at the age of 70 on 1st September, 1895. Farrell was also transported to Tasmania, arriving in 1848 and by 1851 he was in Victoria” and joined up with the “Suffolk Gang” as the convict poet. The gang would held up several mail coaches and miners alike. Farrell spent 48 years in prisoned in Australia and 46 of those years were in iron changes.

 

On this day …….. 31st of October 1878

Proclamation by Governor George Bowen declaring Ned and Dan Kelly outlaws
In response to the public outrage at the murder of police officers, the reward was raised to £500 and, on 31 October 1878, the Victorian Parliament passed the Felons’ Apprehension Act, coming into effect on 1 November 1878, which outlawed the gang and made it possible for anyone to shoot them: There was no need for the outlaws to be arrested or for there to be a trial upon apprehension (the act was based on the 1865 act passed in New South Wales which declared Ben Hall and his gang outlaws). The act also penalized anyone who harbored, gave “any aid, shelter or sustenance” to the outlaws or withheld or gave false information about them to the authorities. Punishment was “imprisonment with or without hard labour for such period not exceeding fifteen years.” With this new act in place, on 4 November 1878, warrants were issued against the four members of the Kelly gang. The deadline for their voluntary surrender was set at 12 November 1878.