ON THIS DAY…… 21st November 1982

The biggest earth tremor ever recorded in Victoria

The biggest earth tremor ever recorded in Victoria shook the state on this day in 1982. Registering 5.5 on the Richter Scale, and centred on Mt Hotham in Victoria, the tremor struck at 10.36pm, and was felt as far away as Wagga, NSW in the North and Melbourne in the south. The tremor was felt most severely along the Ovens Valley, Wangaratta and Shepparton. It was enough for one Wangaratta residence watching TV at the time to report being noticeably moved – the couch had shifted on its castors.

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 …….. 21st of October 1941

On this day in 1941, a quick thinking fisherman saved a man Oliver Davis from drowning in Lake Macquarie, NSW. Fishing at Speers Point when he noticed a 35 year old man in trouble. With his first cast, the angler hooked the man and carefully reeled him to shore.


On this day …….. 19th of October 1872

The gold mining town of Hill End in New South Wales today is almost a ghost town. Alluvial gold was discovered at Hill End in 1851 and within a month, there were were 150 miners working the area. The Hill End goldfield was one of the richest gold mining areas in NSW, and the first reef mining area in Australia. The Beyers and Holtermann nugget, the largest single piece of reef gold ever discovered in the world, was found by workers at the Star of Hope Gold Mining Co on Hawkins Hill, on 19 October 1872. It weighed about 286kg, measured 150cm by 66cm, and was worth at least £12,000 at the time.


ON THIS DAY…… 3rd October 1962

Two prisoners Robert Leslie Dennis aged 26, and Donald John McCumber aged 29, escaped from the Geelong Gaol on the 3rd of October 1962. After steeling a car in Swanston st, Geelong they headed north to the boarder. An intensive hunt was made for them throughout South-West N.S.W. after sightings of the men crossing the board near Swan Hill were reported. The two men had stolen cars in Moulamein, Goolgowi and Griffith in their attempt to escape the police and road blocks. The escapees gave them selves up on the 4th of October after a 160 Km an hour car chase in which Constables West and Hunt fired shots into the fugitive car. Two shots hit the back of the car and another smashed the rear window. The two men were unarmed when arrested. Denis and McCumber were tired in the Griffith court and found guilty of being four days on the run. Both men where returned to Geelong Gaol.


On this day …….. 30th September 1813

The coins “holey dollar” and “dump” were created by punching the centre out of Spanish dollars. The external circle was the “holey dollar” and the punched-out inner circle was the “dump”. They were only ever used in New South Wales, Australia, and on Prince Edward Island, Canada. In 1813, Governor Lachlan Macquarie faced the problem of currency shortages in the young colony of New South Wales. When the British Government sent £10,000 worth of Spanish dollars (40,000 Spanish dollars) to New South Wales, Maquarie took the initiative to create “holey dollars” and “dumps”. The dumps were assigned a value of 15 pence and were restruck with a crown on the obverse side and the denomination on the reverse. The dollars were worth 5 shillings, and were stamped with “New South Wales 1813” around the hole. The coins were released on 30 September 1813. The holey dollar became the first official currency produced specifically for circulation in Australia. The coins were replaced by sterling coinage from 1822.

On This Day – September 30, 1931

The Burwood police are investigating a story told them by an undertaker concerning elaborate arrangements made with him for a funeral on Tuesday.

A woman who is believed to have no family, died in a private hospital at Burwood, and a man, whom the undertaker understood to be her husband, ordered an expensive funeral. An elaborate polished oak coffin, costing £40, was ordered, also several mourning coaches, and wreath costing £2 2s.

Yesterday the undertaker, the mourners, and the clergyman waited for the “husband” of the dead woman, but he did not arrive. The undertaker, refusing to allow the funeral to be carried out, cancelled the arrangements until sufficient money to pay expenses was forthcoming. The mourners commandeered the coaches , and searched Canterbury in vain for the missing man.

The police have learned that the man’s employer was with him at 2 p.m. In a hotel which they left in the employer’s car to go to the funeral chambers. On the way the “widower” asked his employer to stop and allow him to enter a house to get money. There the employer waited for some time; and then made a search of the house, but found no trace of the man.

So far the undertaker, the private hospital, and the Macquarie Street specialist who attended the woman are still unpaid and the “widowed husband” is missing.

The woman will probably be given a paupers funeral.

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.