On this day …….. 10th September 1906

The first petrol-driven car to be manufactured in Australia is believed to have been produced by Harry A Tarrant in 1897. After modifications and improvements, Tarrant produced a second vehicle in 1901, which he named the Tarrant. This was followed by a number of improved designs, including the first fully enclosed body made in Australia, and later models included locally designed and manufactured engines, gearboxes and rear axles. Other vehicles began to be imported from 1900, when a Benz No 1 Ideal arrived in Sydney. Australians gradually embraced the concept of the motor car and the horseless carriage gained in popularity. The first motor car and driving licence were issued in Adelaide on 10 September 1906. The recipient was Dr William Arthur Hargreaves, a chemist and government analyst, born on 29 October 1866 at Ipswich, Queensland. Hargreaves had moved to South Australia in 1899. Always interested in fuel sources, Hargreaves studied the problem of alternative fuels during both world wars and drove his car on a mixture of molasses and petrol at the end of World War I. Licence plates and drivers licences were introduced in Victoria and New South Wales in 1910.


On this day …….. 19th May 1915

John Simpson Kirkpatrick, born on the 6th of July 1892 in South Shields, County Durham, England, was a stretcher bearer with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs) at Gallipoli during World War I. Originally finding employment stevedoring and stoking on merchant ships, at the outbreak of World War I he immediately joined the Australian Army Medical Corps as a stretcher bearer under the name of “Jack Simpson”. Simpson landed at Anzac Cove on the 25th of April 1915 and, on the second day, took a donkey that had been landed as a water-carrier for one of the field artillery units. Several dozen donkeys had been bought at a Greek island on the way to Gallipoli but, with no way to land them, had been pushed overboard to swim to shore. Only four donkeys did not drown. Simpson’s gentle touch convinced the terrified donkey to walk through the artillery noise and chaos, and the two of them began carrying wounded soldiers from the battle line to the beach for evacuation. Leading the donkey or donkeys, which he variously named Duffy or Murphy, Simpson began his journeys from the beach, up Shrapnel Gully and then Monash Valley. He carried water on his way up and wounded on his way back, whistling confidently the whole time. Simpson continued this for three and a half weeks, disregarding the danger until, on the morning of the 19th of May 1915, following a night of vicious fighting after the arrival of turkish reinforcements, he was killed by Turkish machine gun fire near Steele’s Post as he was returning down Monash Valley with two wounded men. One man was shot with Simpson, but the man on the donkey’s back remained. The donkey continued on the well-worn track, obediently carrying the wounded man to where he would be tended. Today, the story of Simpson and his donkey is an Anzac legend. John Simpson Kirkpatrick, heroically rescued 300 wounded soldiers with a donkey at Gallipoli was recommended twice for the Victoria Cross, and the Distinguished Conduct Medal, however he was never decorated for his actions. The donkey or donkeys were taken over by New Zealand primary school teacher Richard Henderson, who continued the work of Simpson, maintaining the legend throughout the ANZAC campaign. When the ANZACs were evacuated under cover of darkness, eight months later, the donkey was also evacuated.

On This Day……… 9th April 1867

John Christian Watson, 3rd Prime Minister of Australia was born on this day. He was the first prime minister from the Australian Labour Party, and the first prime minister from the labour movement in the world. He was of Chilean birth, with German and New Zealand ancestry.

Previously serving in state parliament for seven years, Watson was elected to federal parliament at the inaugural 1901 election, where the state Labour parties received a combined 15.8 percent of the first past the post primary vote against two more dominant parties. The Caucus chose Watson as the inaugural parliamentary leader of the Labour Party on the 8th of May 1901, just in time for the first meeting of parliament. Labour led by Watson increased their vote to 31 percent at the 1903 election and 36.6 percent at the 1906 election. From the first election, Labour held the balance of power, giving support to Protectionist Party legislation in exchange for concessions to enact the Labour Party policy platform. Watson’s term as Prime Minister was brief only four months, between the 27th of April and the 18th of August 1904. He resigned as Labour leader in 1907 and retired from Parliament in 1910. Labour, led by Andrew Fisher would go on to win the 1910 election with 50 percent of the primary vote, ushering in Australia’s first elected majority government, and also the first elected Senate majority. Watson with others were later expelled from the party he helped found over the issue of conscription for World War I.

According to Percival Serle, Watson “left a much greater impression on his time than this would suggest. He came at the right moment for his party, and nothing could have done it more good than the sincerity, courtesy and moderation which he always showed as a leader”. Alfred Deakin wrote of Watson: “The Labour section has much cause for gratitude to Mr Watson, the leader whose tact and judgement have enabled it to achieve many of its Parliamentary successes”.



On this day ………… 22nd February 1928

In 1919, when the Australian Federal Government announced a race in which it was offering £10,000 prize for the first Australians to fly from England to Australia within 30 days, this signalled a new era of ‘firsts’ in Australian aviation. The race was won by brothers Ross and Keith Smith, while would-be competitors W Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness were motivated to start the air service that became Qantas when funding for their place in the race fell through. There were yet two more major players in Australian aviation history in the 1920s: Charles Kingsford-Smith and Bert Hinkler. Herbert John Louis (Bert) Hinkler was born in Bundaberg, Queensland on 8 December 1892. His father was a sugar mill worker, but Bert’s interests lay elsewhere. By the time he was 20 years old, he had already successfully built and tested his own gliders capable of carrying a man, flying them along the beach at Mon Repos, near Bundaberg. Hinkler left for England to work for the Sopwith Company the year before World War I broke out. He then served in the air force during the war, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. After the war he joined AV Roe & Co in Southampton and was Chief Test Pilot from 1921 -1926. It was from England that Hinkler launched his attempts to be the first to fly solo from the UK to Australia. War in Egypt and Syria forced Hinkler to abandon his first serious bid to fly to Australia. On his second, successful attempt, he departed England in his Avro Avian (G-EBOV) on 7 February 1929. After a trip lasting 16 days, he touched down in Darwin, Northern Territory on 22 February 1929, beating the previous record of 28 days which had been set by Ross and Keith Smith. Hinkler was killed in Italy in January 1933 while attempting another solo flight from England to Australia. His life and achievements are commemorated in the Hinkler House Memorial Museum in his home town of Bundaberg.



On this day …….. 11th of January 1928

On 11th of January 1928, Mr R. long of Hester, Western Australia, was grooming a horse when it kicked him in the face, knocking him out. Long had been blind in his left eye owing to the depression of a piece of bone below his eye, caused by an injury received in World War I. After the accident, Long found that the blow had freed the bone that was causing his blindness and he could see again in his left eye.