On this day …….. 23rd September 1923

Quite a stir was created at the Kew Asylum when it became known that Charles Joseph Potter, alias “William M. Maxted, a criminal lunatic, had escaped from the institution. Potter, who has been convicted in New Zealand and New South Wales, was serving a sentence of two years’ imprisonment for an offence at the Garden, Vale railway station, and had been placed in the refractory ward. He lifted himself to the unbarred window, and eluding, the warder patrols, soon made his escape. The police were informed at a later hour, and a search was made without result, Potter, who is 28 years of age and of medium build, is believed to be wearing; a light grey cap and a dark overcoat. ‘He has a scar on the left ear.


On this day …….. 16th September 1770

Captain Cook, the first European to chart Australia’s eastern coast, was hired in 1766 by the Royal Society to travel to the Pacific Ocean to observe and record the transit of Venus across the Sun in mid-1769. Following this, Cook’s next orders were to search the south Pacific for Terra Australis Incognita, the great southern continent. Cook came across New Zealand, which Abel Tasman had discovered in 1642, and spent some months there, charting the coastline. Nearly a year later, Cook set sail west for New Holland, which was later to become Australia. Some time after beginning his journey up the eastern coast of the continent, Cook became the first European to note the appearance of the Aurora Australis. On 16 September 1770, Cook described a phenomenon which was similar in some ways to the Aurora Borealis, but different in other ways: they had “a dull reddish light” with other “rays of a brighter coloured light” passing between them, and “entirely without the trembling or vibratory motion” he had seen in the Aurora Borealis. By this time, Cook was as far north as Timor, and the Aurora Australis is not usually seen at that latitude. However, considerable solar activity in September 1770 is believed to have contributed to the appearance of the phenomenon.


On this day …….. 3rd September 1901

Following the proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901, the Commonwealth government held a design competition for a new national flag. There were 32,000 entries in the competition, and most featured the Union Jack, the Southern Cross, or native animals. Five almost identical entries were selected to share the 200 pound prize. The entries belonged to Ivor Evans, a fourteen-year-old schoolboy from Melbourne; Leslie John Hawkins, a teenager apprenticed to an optician from Sydney; Egbert John Nuttall, an architect from Melbourne; Annie Dorrington, an artist from Perth; and William Stevens, a ship’s officer from Auckland, New Zealand. On 3 September 1901, the new Australian flag flew for the first time from the top of the Exhibition Building in Melbourne. The flag was simplified, and approved by King Edward VII in 1902.


On this day …….. 22nd of August 1770

James Cook takes possession of the eastern coast of “New Holland”.

Captain James Cook was not the first to discover Australia, as he was preceded by numerous Portuguese and Dutch explorers. However, he was the first to sight and map the eastern coastline. Cook’s ship, the ‘Endeavour’, departed Plymouth, England, in August 1768. After completing the objective of his mission, which was to observe the transit of Venus from the vantage point of Tahiti, Cook continued on his mission to find out more about Terra Australis Incognita, the great unknown south land. He first came across New Zealand, which had already been discovered by Abel Tasman in 1642. He spent some months there, charting the coastline. Nearly a year later, he set sail east. In mid-April 1770, officer of the watch, Lieutenant Zachary Hicks, sighted land and alerted Captain Cook. Cook made out low sandhills which he named Point Hicks, although he did not yet know whether they formed part of an island or a continent. Point Hicks lies on the far southeastern corner of the Australian continent, and Cook chose to fly before unfavourable winds up the eastern coast. Cook went on to chart the east coast of what was then known as New Holland, mapping numerous inlets and bays as he headed north. On 22 August 1770, at Possession Island in Torres Strait, Cook claimed the eastern coast of the continent for Great Britain under the name of New South Wales. The territory he claimed included “the whole eastern coast, from latitude 38 degrees S to this place, latitude 10.5 degrees S, in right of His Majesty King George the Third”. This essentially meant just the eastern parts of what are now New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Cook recorded the following: “Notwithstand[ing] I had in the Name of His Majesty taken possession of several places upon this coast, I now once more hoisted English Coulers and in the Name of His Majesty King George the Third took possession of the whole Eastern Coast by the name New South Wales, together with all the Bays, Harbours Rivers and Islands situate upon the said coast, after which we fired three Volleys of small Arms which were Answered by the like number from the Ship.”


On this day …….. 15th of August 1945

Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley announces the end of the war against Japan, on what is now known as VP Day (Victory in the Pacific) in Australia.

On 14 August 1945, Japan accepted the Allied demand for unconditional surrender following the devastating atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On this day, Emperor Hirohito accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, also known as the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender. On 15 August 1945, Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley officially announced the end of the war against Japan. August 15 has subsequently been commemorated as “Victory in the Pacific” or “VP Day” since then. Japan’s formal surrender took place two and a half weeks later, on 2 September, when Japanese envoys boarded the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay and officially signed the surrender document. Under the Potsdam Declaration, to this day Japan’s sovereignty remains confined to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, along with some minor islands determined by the allies. VP Day is also known as VJ (Victory over Japan) Day in other countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand. The day is still observed with respect by veterans and members of the Defence forces.


An Australian emu escaped from a farm in the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand’s South Island in November 2010. The local cop was called and when he arrived on the scene he saw the emu chasing a group of kids down the street in Ocean Bay. With the help of a few locals the emu was herded into a paddock until he was taken back to the farm.


Plucka Duck is a character on the popular Australian television program Hey Hey It’s Saturday. The character “presented” a segment on the show, along with Daryl Somers, which was a self-titled segment of Plucka Duck. Plucka was on the show until the show ended in 1999. In 2009, Plucka returned to the show when it returned to the screens as “Reunion Specials”. In 2010, the show returned as a series, with Plucka appearing in every episode. According to an interview given by John Blackman in 2009, Plucka was originally played by Mark McGahan, but was replaced by “Sim” for the reunion specials. “Sim” appears to refer to Simon Lefebvre. Also, Plucka Duck had its own show, Plucka’s Place. This show aired in 1997, with Livinia Nixon and Daniel Kowalski as co-hosts. The show lasted one season. In 2005, Plucka appeared with Daryl Somers at Carols by Candlelight. In 2008, Plucka made a long awaited return to television. Plucka (along with Dickie Knee and Daryl Somers) did a skit at the Logies. In early 2016, Plucka Duck appeared in an ad campaign for KFC riding a skateboard down a mountainous road in New Zealand.


Two origins have been suggested for the name of New Zealand’s rugby team, the All Blacks. One theory is based on the fact that Maoris have been included in the team since the first overseas tour in the late 1880s. The other suggestion origin goes back to 1905 when an English journalist cabled that the team played like “All Backs” and a transmission error resulted in the letter L being inserted.


Maori chief Hone Heke made a small fortune in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands before William Hobson’s appointment as Lieutenant Governor in 1840. For every whaling ship or trading ship entering a particular bay, Hone Heke levied a tax £10. He also lease wives for sailors during their stay.


When a flock of 565 pure white sheep, loaded on to a train at Taihape, New Zealand were brought out at their destination they had all turned black. When the train entered a tunnel thick fumes had brought about the amazing transformation.


A drunken gang of seamen were locked in the tiny colonial gaol at Lyttleton, New Zealand, but a few hours latter the gaoler, visiting the town centre, saw the prison walking down the street. The crew had punched holes in the floor for their legs, picked up the whole building and were making for their ship.


ON THIS DAY – June 19, 1894

The trial of Cecilia Anderson for the murder of John Fraser at the Southern Cross Hotel, Bourke-street, on 19th June, was held on Thursday at the Criminal Court, Melbourne, before the Chief Justice. Mr. Walsh, QC., stated the case for the Crown. He said that on Mrs. Anderson’s last trip from Sydney, she met Mrs. Healey, of New Zealand, and told her she meant to shoot Fraser in Melbourne. She procured a revolver, and made a pocket to carry it about in. On one occasion, Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Healey met Fraser, and Mrs. Anderson took him away. Accused afterwards told Mrs. Healey it was a pity that she had not had the revolver with her when she was with Fraser, as she could have of done the trick nicely. The counsel described the scene at the Southern Cross Hotel, and said that accused had apparently been driven almost mad with jealousy, because a man who had promised to marry her three years before had married another woman. The taking of evidence having been concluded, the counsel addressed the jury, and his Honor summed up. The jury, after a short retirement, found the prisoner guilty of the murder of Fraser. The chief Justice in passing sentence of death, said there was no doubt that Mrs. Anderson had suffered severe wrongs at Fraser’s hands through his not paying her what he owed, and perhaps in other ways, but wrongs like these were no reasons for taking human life. The ultimate penalty for the crime did not rest with the Court. She might escape the sentence of death, but he did not wish to hold out any expectations in that direction. In the meantime he begged of her to make preparations for another world. Anderson revived 2 month gaol time.