On this day …….. 27th September 1990

The town of Gundagai is located on the Murrumbidgee River 390 km south-west of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Australian explorer Hamilton Hume, together with immigrant William Hovell, were the first Europeans to visit when they passed through the area in 1824, and their expedition subsequently opened up the area for farming land. Explorer Charles Sturt identified a spot near Gundagai as the best crossing point of the river for coaches and drovers. A settlement gradually grew up along the Murrumbidgee River at the river crossing, and by 1852, there were around 300 people living along the river flats. The flats had already shown they were prone to flooding, but people ignored the warnings and stayed in close proximity to the water. Torrential rain had been falling in the Snowy Mountains for most of the month of June 1852. Despite the rising river, many people chose to wait out the floods in the lofts of their houses rather than evacuate, as they were familiar with floods. However, in the early hours of 25 June 1852, a torrent swept down the Murrumbidgee valley. Houses collapsed and people were swept away. A punt sent out to rescue people capsized, its occupants thrown into the raging waters. Two Aborigines, Yarri and Jackey Jackey, showed great courage and heroism as they took their canoes out into the torrent to rescue people stranded in trees and the water. Although they rescued 49, another 89 were killed in the Gundagai flood. After another, higher flood in 1853, the town was relocated at its current site on the hill, Mount Parnassus, above the river. Yarri, who led the rescue, has been honoured through the years with various small monuments around the town. On 27 September 1990, NSW Premier Nick Greiner formally unveiled a headstone for Yarri’s grave, which had lain unmarked for a century.


On this day …….. 17th September 1853

In 1828-29, Captain Charles Sturt became the first explorer to follow the course of the Murray River down to its mouth at Lake Alexandrina in South Australia. In doing so, he opened up the possibilities for a new means of transporting goods and passengers through inland NSW to the southern coast. In 1851, the South Australian Government offered 2,000 pounds reward to the first two steamships to reach the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers. 31-year-old Scottish shipbuilder, Francis Cadell, had the 32m iron paddlesteamer, ‘Lady Augusta’, built in Sydney with 2x20hp steam engines. He departed Goolwa on 25 August 1853, travelling 2,200 km upstream, reaching Swan Hill on 17 September 1853. Cadell’s competitor, William Randell, built his own 17m paddlesteamer ‘Mary Ann’ at Gumeracha and Mannum, with a single 8hp engine and a square boiler. Randell reached Swan Hill several hours behind Cadell, after the two had raced neck-and-neck most of the way. Cadell went on to carry cargo mostly along the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers; the small Murray River town of Cadell in South Australia now bears his name. Randell plied his trade along the Murray-Darling system. The town of Mannum grew up around his boat-yards and docks at his Reedy Creek station.


On this day …….. 11th September 1863

Bushranger Captain Thunderbolt was born Frederick Ward at Wilberforce near Windsor, NSW, in 1836. As an excellent horseman, his specialty was horse stealing. For this, he was sentenced in 1856 to ten years on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour. On 1 July 1860, Ward was released on a ticket-of-leave to work on a farm at Mudgee. While he was on ticket-of-leave, he returned to horse-stealing, and was again sentenced to Cockatoo Island. Conditions in the gaol were harsh, and he endured solitary confinement a number of times. On the night of 11 September 1863, he and another inmate escaped from the supposedly escape-proof prison by swimming to the mainland. After his escape, Ward embarked on a life of bushranging, under the name of Captain Thunderbolt. Much of his bushranging was done around the small NSW country town of Uralla. A rock originally known as “Split Rock” became known as “Thunderbolt’s Rock”. After a six-year reign as a “gentleman bushranger”, Thunderbolt was shot dead by Constable Alexander Walker in May 1870.


On this day …….. 20th of August 1907

Arthur Edward Evans, employed at the Ramonue meatworks, in the Grafton NSW, was killed by lightning on this day in 1907. His body was found in a paddock next to the horse he had been riding, which was was badly burned and still smoking.


On this day …….. 18th of August 1903

A centenarian, Charles Phavazzon, died at Wellington NSW, aged 101. Phavazzon was born in 1802.


On this day …….. 14th of August 1920

The oldest inhabitant of the west, Mr. Thomas Slack, has died at his residence at Dalston, NSW. He had resided in that district for over 50 years, and was just 100 years old a few days before his death. Mr. Slack was an Englishman by birth, but had been in this State for 75 years.


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.


On This Day ….. 26th of June 1868

Mary Ann Hall was transferred from Yarra Bend Asylum in Melbourne on the 28th of June 1868 to the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum. On the 26th of July 1876, Hall escaped and was never found. Hall was believed to have crossed the boarder into the colony of New South Wales.


Executions in Australia were abolished by most of the states in the 1960s – 1980s, excepting Queensland who had abolished the death penalty in 1922.

Queensland’ final execution was that of Ernest Austin on 22nd September 1913. Austin was executed for the rape and murder of 12 year old Ivy Mitchell near Sanford.  He was hanged in Boggo Road Gaol in Brisbane.

NSW’s final execution was that of John Trevor Kelly  on 24th August 1939 at Long Bay Correctional Centre in Sydney.  Kelly was hanged for the murder of Marjorie Sommarlad at Hillcrest.

In Tasmania, the final execution took place in the Hobart Gaol on 14th February 1946.  It was that of Frederick Henry Thompson, a serial rapist and murderer for the murder of 8 year old Evelyn Maughan.

In the Northern Territory, the final execution was a double one at Darwin Gaol on 7th August 1952.  The men were John Novoty and Jerry Koci, aged 20 and 19 years respectively who were hanged for the murder of taxi driver, George Grantham.

Western Australia’s final execution was that of Eric Edgar Cooke on 26th October 1964 at Fremantle Prison.  He was hanged for the murder of 18 year old John Sturkey, but confessed to more murders before his execution.

In South Australia, the final execution took place on the 24th November 1964 at the Adelaide Gaol with the hanging of Glen Sabre Valance for the murder of Richard Strang.

The final execution in Australia was that of Ronald Ryan in Victoria on 3rd February 1967, who was hanged for the killing of a prison officer in an escape from Pentridge Prison.

On This Day……… 8th April 1935

On this day in 1935, Glenelg’s Luna Parks assets were put up for auction, all of which were purchased by Atkins and Phillips. The rides were dismantled and shipped to Sydney, NSW. The rides and equipment were assembled at the Lavender Bay site, with Luna Park Milsons Point opened on the 4th of October 1935. The amusement park, now known as Luna Park Sydney, still remains in this location.



On This Day……… 7th April 1865

The notorious bushranger Dan Morgan had heard that the Victorian Police had challenged him to try his luck south of the NSW boarder, which he took up the offer. On this day in 1865, Morgan visited Evan Evans to settle an old score in the King River. Hearing the police were on his trail, Morgan headed to the Warby Rangers near Wangaratta.



On this day ………… 7th March 1929

An airforce aircraft crashed and incinerated a mechanic during a refuelling stop at Wangaratta, on this day in 1929. The plane was flying from Richmond, NSW to Point Cook, Melbourne and made a routine landing. The local manager for Vacuum Oil, Mr N. McGuffie delivered 12 gallons of petrol. By 230pm, with refuelling completed, the aircraft was ready to resume it’s flight. The take off over a bumpy section of ground left the plane badly balanced, and it narrowly missed a fence, turned sharply, and at a height of about 12 feet clipped a tree. The wing snapped and the plane nosedived into the ground. The pilot, Thomas Swinburne of Richmond NSW was able to leave the cockpit. The mechanic in the other cockpit, Herbert Worland, was trapped and incinerated. A bushfire started burning 20 acres.