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Bushfire Moon also known as Miracle Down Under is a period Australian Christmas film set in outback Australia. 

Written by Jeff Peck and directed by George Miller in 1987, with a budget of A$2 million.  The film starring John Waters, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, Bill Kerr and Dee Wallace.  

Shot on location in the breathtaking wilds of southeastern Australia, Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement and Perricoota Homestead in Moama NSW.

The film captures the exciting adventures and personal conflicts of a rugged group of settlers endure in the remote bush country during the 1890s.

Visions of taming the frontier quickly fade one summer’s drought until a series of miraculous events rekindles the pioneers’ hope.

The film centres around an eight year old boy Ned O’Day (Andrew Ferguson) who mistakes an old swaggie (Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell) for Father Christmas.

Ned O’Day sets in motion a series of events that saves his family’s sheep farm from a devastating drought, brings feuding neighbours together and reforms a scoundrel.

This film was also released in America under the title “The Christmas Visitor”.

visit www.twistedhistory.net.au

 

A strange premonition happened in Swan Hill, Victoria to Mr Robert Henry Athorne, farmer aged 47, who was run over by his wagon, and died on 22nd May 1916 at the Swan Hill Hospital.

In March, Athorne dreamt that he would meet with a fatal accident, which he took such notice of the premonition, that he at once insured his life against  accident for between, £4,000 and £5000.

He left a wife and ten children, the eldest of being 21 years and the youngest nine months. ⁣

 

ON THIS DAY – July 13, 1979

At about 11.30 am on Friday, 13th July, 1979 Detective Lane accompanied David Bernard Chapman, an 18 year old car theft suspect, to a disused bus parked in a camp site at Kyalite, Southern New South Wales. Chapman had been living there for a short time, and had told the Detective he had a receipt amongst his possessions which would exonerate him of the theft.

Whilst Lane searched the bus Chapman took a .22 calibre rifle and shot the Detective in the head. The policeman fell to the floor, and Chapman then walked up and again shot him in the head. He then dragged the corpse to a nearby sullage pit, where he dumped it, before making his escape in the police car, in company with his 17 year old girlfriend Kerryn Anne Bonser.

He later dumped the car in the Edwards River, 5 kilometres away and took to the bush. Despite a massive man hunt he was not located until the 19th uly, 1980 at a property in the Kyalite District. He admitted his guilt, and appeared before Paramatta Supreme Court charged with the murder. On 1st July, 1980 he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

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 …….. 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…… 30th August 1923

 

Frederick Smith was sentenced to 15 years gaol with a private whipping of 10 lashes with the birch for the shooting of Constable Delaney. The funeral procession for Constable Delaney through the streets of Swan Hill in 1923. He was later buried in the Greta Cemetery.

Early on the afternoon of Thursday, 30th August, 1923 Constable Joseph Delaney went to Tyntynder (near Swan Hill) to interview Frederick James Smith, a 15 year old ward of the State, in relation to a burglary. On his entering Smith’s home the youth challenged Delaney and menaced him with a shot gun. Delaney advanced on the lad who shot and fatally wounded the constable. Smith fled the premises on Delaney’s horse, but surrendered himself to police later the same evening at Nyah West. Smith appeared before the Bendigo Supreme Court charged with murder. He was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. He was further ordered to receive a private whipping of 10 lashes of the birch.

 

ON THIS DAY – July 13, 1979

At about 11.30 am on Friday, 13th July, 1979 Detective Lane accompanied David Bernard Chapman, an 18 year old car theft suspect, to a disused bus parked in a camp site at Kyalite, Southern New South Wales. Chapman had been living there for a short time, and had told the Detective he had a receipt amongst his possessions which would exonerate him of the theft.

Whilst Lane searched the bus Chapman took a .22 calibre rifle and shot the Detective in the head. The policeman fell to the floor, and Chapman then walked up and again shot him in the head. He then dragged the corpse to a nearby sullage pit, where he dumped it, before making his escape in the police car, in company with his 17 year old girlfriend Kerryn Anne Bonser.

He later dumped the car in the Edwards River, 5 kilometres away and took to the bush. Despite a massive man hunt he was not located until the 19th uly, 1980 at a property in the Kyalite District. He admitted his guilt, and appeared before Paramatta Supreme Court charged with the murder. On 1st July, 1980 he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

On This Day ……. 22nd May 1916

A strange premonition happened in Swan Hill, Victoria to Mr Robert Henry Athorne, farmer aged 47, who was run over by his wagon, and died on this day at the Swan Hill Hospital. In March Athorne dreamt that he would meet with a fatal accident, which he took such notice of the premonition, that he at once insured his life against accident for between, £4,000 and £5000. He left a wife and ten children, the eldest of being 21 years and the youngest nine months.

ON THIS DAY ……… 17th March 1927

THE Swan Hill police are mystified by the strange double tragedy that occurred on the evening of the 17th at Murraydale, six miles from the town. A man named Williams pursued his sister-in-Iaw Mrs. Jack McLean, with a gun, and shot her dead in front of her own children. Williams then shot himself. Williams, who was a wood-cutter, of Stradbroke-avenue, Swan Hill, had just bought the gun that day, and he followed Mrs. McLean home in a motor truck from Swan Hill, where she had been visiting Williams, and his wife. She had Just entered the house about 6.20 when the murderer appeared with a gun, and killed her. As soon as she saw him Mrs. McLean screamed, and ran through the house. A boy named Vernon Algle was about three hundred yards away, and hearing screams he ran in terror for Mr. Murdoch McLean and Mr. 0. Cutler, who were working in a near by paddock. Williams fired two shots. She fell, and Williams stood over her, and fired two more shots. McLean and Cutler ran towards, the house, but they were too late either to save the woman, or apprehend her killer, for as they neared the scene another shot rang out. Williams had tried and condemned himself to death in the short minute which had elapsed. McLean and Cutler found Mrs. McLean on the point of death, and she was rushed in a car to Swan Hill, but died before the town was reached. The McLeans are well-known and respected in the district, and the residents are puzzled to know what reason Williams had for committing his terrible act. Mrs. McLean had wounds in her shoulders, neck and thigh. Mrs. McLean was only 27.

 

 

On this day …….. 5th of January 1951

Exciting incidents followed the escape of two circus bears crosses between grizzly and brown bears from their cage in an accident on the Murray Valley highway near Swan Hill on this day in 1951. Finally they were roped and secured by circus attendants and police, armed with rifles. At some stages the pursuers were forced to retreat as the bears charged them. A trailer containing the bears broke loose from the car hauling it about eight miles south of Lake Boga and overturned. The look on the door of the cage snapped and the bears a male and a female escaped. The trailer formed part of the ravelling equipment of Hayden’s circus from Queensland. The bears first attacked the monkey cage, but were beaten off by keepers. Two women driving past in a car stopped. Thinking the bears were tame, they got out of the car and approached them. When a warning was snouted they hastily reentered the car and drove off at a fast speed. The bears then headed for open country. They were seen to scratch out rabbit burrows and to eat at least three rabbits. Kelvin Nelsen, an expert with a rope, managed to lassoo one of the bears and it was soon securely tied and dragged back into the cage. The other bear made a dash for the bush. Two men chased it on a motor cycle, but they were forced to retrace their path when the bear turned and charged at them. Eventually the bear was forced into the corner of a paddock and roped. A net was thrown over it, but the bear, soon tore it to shreds. Later the bear was secured and driven back to its cage on a utility truck. However, it struggled violently, before it could be pushed into the cage.

 

ON THIS DAY – January 4, 1951

Mrs Grace White, 36, was shot dead in the kitchen of her husband’s cafe at Swan Hill, near the NSW border. She was peeling vegetables with her brother, Mr Jack Dunstan, about 10 am, when a man walked in with a rifle under his arm. He said to Mrs White: “You tried to poison me last night,” and fired at her at point blank range. The bullet passed through her arm into her chest and she dropped dead Mr Dunstan seized the rifle and Mr White, who had rushed from the shop, grappled with the intruder. Tonight detectives charged William Leslie Dunstan, 41, kitchen hand, with the murder of his sister, Mrs. Grace White. He will appear before Swan Hill court.

 

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.