On this day …….. 21st of April 1934

Chance has played many curious tricks, but never before one such as was played at about 10 o’clock last night, with Madame Prince and her monkey Tarzan the principals in an amazing episode at Wirth’s Circus. Towards the end of their act Tarzan, the monkey shoots, from a distance of 15 feet at a balloon attached to a steel target. Last night the animal’s mistress arranged the pea-rifle, which was loaded with a .22 short cartridge, and the patrons waited expectantly for the report. It came, but according to the police, the bullet completely missed the target and bored its way through a one-Inch plank, then through the canvas tent, to lodge in the back of Charles Alfred Broomhall, 23, of Albion-street, Sydney, an employee of Wirth’s Circus. Luckily, the velocity of the flying pellet had considerably decreased when it struck Broomhall, and the only in jury sustained was a flesh wound. Broomhall was treated at St. Vincent’s Hospital and allowed to leave. He was X-rayed, for the purpose of locating the pellet.


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 …….. 13th of December 1858

The first balloon flight in Sydney, Australia, takes place on this day in 1858. The hot air balloon was developed in the 1700s by Frenchman Jacques Étienne Montgolfier, together with his brother Joseph-Michel. Montgolfier progressed to untethered flights until 1783 when he tested the first balloon to carry passengers, using a duck, a sheep and a rooster as his subjects. The demonstration occurred in Paris and was witnessed by King Louis XVI. The first manned, untethered balloon flight occurred on the 21st of November of that year, and carried two men. The first balloon flight in Melbourne occurred on the 1st of February 1858. Constructed in the UK, the balloon was imported into Australia by the manager of Melbourne’s Theatre Royal, George Coppin. The launch took place at Cremorne Gardens near Richmond. William Dean lifted off at 5:52pm and landed near Heidelberg at around 6:30pm. Two weeks later, Dean again lifted off, this time reaching an estimated altitude of 10,000 feet before decending onto the road between Collingwood and Brunswick Stockade. William Dean was also the first to fly in a balloon from Sydney. Together with his companion, Brown, they launched at 5:00pm on the 13th December 1858, witnessed by 7,000 people. The balloon drifted north across Sydney Harbour and landed in Neutral Bay. However, it was not until the 1870s that balloon flights became more commonplace in Australia.

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…… 8th November 1929

Record broken

The man they called “the human machine”, Hubert Opperman, was in North East Victoria on this day in 1929. Opperman was seeking to set a new record time for a trip from Sydney to Melbourne. The previous best time of 47 hours and 46 mins had been set the previous year by another cyclist, George McLeod. Opperman arrived in Albury at 8:15pm and left 10mins later for Wangaratta, where a large crowd turned out to greet him on his arrival at 11.40pm. He left again and reached Seymour at 7:15am, after taking a heavy fall near Euroa. When he arrived in Melbourne at 11:40am, ten thousand people greeted him in Elizabeth st. He broke the record by eight hours.

ON THIS DAY – November 7, 1904

Detective-sergeant O’Donnell and Detective Carey arrested in Canada place— a small street running between Cardigan and Madeline streets, Carlton, Melbourne — a young woman named Maude or Margaret Anne Woods, and charged her with vagrancy. That charge, however, was laid only to secure her identification with a girl named Maude Woods, who was wanted in Sydney on a charge of murder.

She was alleged to have murdered her 10 days old son on November 7, 1903. Senior constable F Allen arrived from Sydney, and identified the accused, and the charge of murder was then preferred against her. The woman has made a confession, giving the whole history of the crime. The story is one of dreadful callousness from beginning to end. Her statement is that on November 7 she threw the child over the fence into Ah Sang’s backyard, but then went again in search of it. She then put her hand over its mouth, and held it by the throat until it was dead. She put the body in a box, and left it in the yard all night, spending that night with her paramour. Next day she removed the body from the box and pushed it under the house (which is built on low piles) as far as she could, and the body lay there for nearly three months. In the end of January An Sang and a fellow countryman named Ah Hung were clearing away weeds from under the house, and came upon the body of the child. They drew it out, put it into a bag, and threw the bag into Botany River. Soon afterwards they came to Melbourne.

The photograph which she sent to Sydney was taken in Melbourne, and the child in her arms was one which she borrowed for the occasion from a friend, who was living with a Chinese in Commercial-lane, of Bourke street. The accused does not look more than 19 years. She is a girl below medium height, with brown hair and blue eyes. She was brought before the City Court, Melbourne, and was then taken back to Sydney

On this day ………… 5th November 1898

Mr. Edmond Barton the first Prime Minister of Australia, fell over a heap of road metal on Circular Quay, Sydney and fractured his left elbow and severely wrenched his left arm. The doctors set the limb. He was unable to leave his house for several days.

ON THIS DAY…… 4th November 1932

Australia’s first Milk Bar is opened

Australia’s first milk bar was opened in Martin Place, Sydney, on this day in 1932. Called the Black and White 4d Milk Bar, it was established by Greek migrant Joachim Tavlaridis who later adopted the name “Mick Adams”. The milk bar was famous for its milkshakes and for its mechanical cow. Unlike contemporary businesses with table service, it featured a bar counter with limited seats on one side and milkshake makers and soda pumps on the other, harking back to an American influence. The success of the business had a strong influence in making the term “milk bar” known throughout Australia, and even the United Kingdom.

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 …….. 17th of October 1950

A man’s false teeth saved him from being killed by a bullet near Woollahra golf links, Sydney, on this day in 1950. Police found Beverley Graham Solomon’s shattered teeth on the grass near where they discovered him crawling along a footpath with blood pouring from his mouth. Police found the shooter’s riffle near a tree on the golf course. Doctors later removed a .22 bullet, which had lodged in Solomon’s nasal cavity.


On this day …….. 17th of October 1903

Racegoers at the Moorefield meeting in Sydney on this day in 1903, were witness to a freak occurrence when the main race of the day ended in a triple dead heat between three horse High Flyer, Loch Lochie and Barinidi. The race was re run and amazingly the three same horse crossed the line as a dead heat again. The owners of the three horse agreed to split the prize money.


On this day …….. 13th of October 1933

On Friday the 13th of October 1933, Australia’s first traffic lights were turned on in Sydney. It was another 32 years before the nation’s capital, Canberra, received its first two sets of traffic lights, on 23 October 1965.