Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Father Michael Ryan

Father Michael Ryan:

Father Ryan first arrived in South Australia with Bishop Murphy in the year 1814, and was the first Roman Catholic priest On South Australian soil; he held the high ecclesiastical positions of Vicar-General and Apostolic Administrator in his time.
He was the first Catholic priest to say Mass in Kapunda in 1845
Father Ryan was appointed with the task of building a church in Kapunda.
 Father Ryan found a suitable place to hold mass for those who couldn’t get to the St Johns church; the area is now where Kapunda Institute stands. Eventually he chose the site for St Rose of Lima church to be built. The original church has since been destroyed and a new one built in its place.
On the 3rd of April 1864 Father Ryan performs wedding ceremony for Horace McKinley and Martha Craig.

On 15 August 1864 Father Michael Ryan laid the foundation stone for the Sevenhills church at Sevenhill.
Father Ryan died of apoplexy on 24th August 1865 (Historically the word "apoplexy" was also used to describe any sudden death that began with a sudden loss of consciousness, especially one in which the victim died within a matter of seconds after losing consciousness.)

At his funeral it was stated
Father Ryan was a pious and zealous member of the Catholic Church— a man of modest and unassuming manners. In him the members of his Church have lost a truly benevolent pastor, the poor a ready counsellor, and the needy a friend.”

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

James Yates

James Yates

In 1850, Adelaide was a small colony, with very little to do once work had finished for the day. Gaol Executions, although distressing and grotesque, attracted large crowds of onlookers.
The execution day of James Yates was no different. On that day, the crowd grew to six hundred strong, despite the inclement weather.
Yates had been found guilty of murdering a Shepard at Skillagogee Creek, a fellow workman known locally as “The Sergeant” because of his past military service.
Without going into too much detail about eh case (as it is long an extensive – but if you want to read more, please visit here: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/page/3931229?zoomLevel=5&searchTerm=James%20yates&searchLimits=l-state=South+Australia|||l-decade=185 ) Yates was found guilt of a brutal murder by way of repeated blows to the head.
He denied any wrong doings in court, claiming loudly that he was innocent, and later that it was self defence as the old Sergeant had been quite drunk and came at him first..
Yates hanging was a horrible one, with the know of the noose getting caught behind his neck, and his constant struggling witnessed by the large crowd. He was eventually let down, and his body evaluated before being buried inside the stone walls of The Adelaide Gaol.

The following poem was written by condemned man, James Yates, this poetry, although badly written, was heartfelt and in appreciation of his lawyer, Mr G.M. Stephen, for his tireless, although unsuccessful, efforts to save him from the gallows.

If I had always refrained from drink 
and paid attenshion to the word of God 
I never would have had to have rued the day 
Or on the wretched scaffold to have trod

Since i have now come to this untimely end 
And in this world i found one onely friend 
Who tried his utmost for me to defend 
I hope God will reward him in the end

His honner the guge to me he has proved kind 
Nearley three weeks he has gave me to make up my mind 
For this wicked world to leave behind 
And in the next i hope soon my God to find

I was brought up by my tender parents 
Who always was to me so kind and free 
But little did they ever think 
That I should di on the gallows tree

James Yates

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Eerie Experiences

This week, two South Australian stories of "Eerie Experiences" submitted to "The Australian Woman's Weekly" in September 1964

First Published in “The Australian Women's Weekly :Wednesday 16 September 1964”

DURING the war I was a member of the A.W.A.S. stationed in a country town. One day I was involved in an accident, and during the time it took for me to be extricated from the wreckage; I yelled over and over, "Mum! Mum!"
On recovering consciousness in hospital I was handed a telegram from my mother 600 miles away. It read,"What has happened? Are you all right? Love, Mum."
I discovered that at the moment of the accident she heard me as if I were in the next room screaming for her. She sent the telegram and was in a state herself until she heard from me.
MRS. J. COLLINS, Woodville, S.A.

First Published in “The Australian Women's Weekly :Wednesday 16 September 1964”

My home is old and rather large. All the main rooms
open into a long passage. For several years I often had the feeling, as I walked down this passage, that I was being followed.
If I turned I would see, out of the corner of my eye, a sudden movement as though something about two and a half feet high had just raced out of sight.
This experience was never frightening. It was rather like having a very inquisitive pet that was also very timid.
I came to think of this movement as "he."
One day while I was in the sitting-room he must have become especially curious, for when I pulled the door open to go out, there he was in the doorway.
In the second before he moved I saw that he was very short and thick-set, his head was unusually large and oddly flattened on top, and his face was waxen in texture, although I saw no features. As he scuttled off I saw that he had very short legs.
The poor little thing must have been badly frightened, for I have not seen him since. Still, it's not every day one frightens a short-legged ghost.

"SHORT-LEGGED GHOST," North Adelaide.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Elliston: A Cursed Town?

Elliston: A Cursed Town?

The coastal township of Elliston, located some 650km's from Adelaide, on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula is a small beach-front town known for whale, sea lion and dolphin spotting on the tranquil waters of Waterloo Bay.
Elliston also features the largest mural in the southern hemisphere, covering 500 square meters. The mural was painted by local artists and community members.

The area was first described by Matthew Flinders in his ship log in 1802 - and subsequently explored further.
The area was further explored in 1840 by Edward Eyre on a journey to Western Australia. The township didn't acquire its name until 1878 when Governor Jervois noted it on a regional map.
The township in the late 1800's was a small, mainly fishing community, surrounded by farming land. Many small Aboriginal tribes also called this area home, and camped on the outskirts of the small town as they moved between ancient tribal sites, little did they know they would play such a large part in this communities dark disturbing future...
In 1836, of the settlers who came to South Australia, some made their way onto the Eyre Peninsula to the vast fertile soils. Some of the European settlers decided the land in the area we now call Elliston was sufficient for settlement, farming and fishing. So they made plans to start their small community.

A tribe of about two hundred Aboriginal people lived on the outskirts of Elliston. Two young Aboriginal hunters went about the business of bringing food back to the tribe, on their journey they came across a farm where sheep were being kept. Upon their arrival at the farm, the farmer who owned the property arrived home, and took note of the two Aboriginal hunters. On the next day, after the usual counting of heads of sheep, the farmer noted four sheep had gone missing. He linked the missing sheep to the two Aboriginal hunters he had seen the day before and reported the missing sheep and the two hunters to the local police.
A local policeman descended upon the camp of the closest Aboriginal mob and began asking who stole the sheep from the farmer the day before.. The Elders replied that no one had taken any sheep . The policeman was suspicious and asked . “Who went out hunting yesterday?”
The tribe named the two men, knowing they had done no wrong, and told the policeman they came back with wombat and kangaroo. The officer suspected the Aboriginal elders were protecting their hunters by lying about the sheep. He arrested the two hunters, who spoke no English and kept them in the gaol.
Weeks later a judge was sent from Adelaide for the trial of the two hunters, which was held in a large barn in Elliston. The Aboriginal hunters mob stood outside in the dark, watching through holes in the walls and through tiny windows, and listened as their hunters were accused. The hunters, who spoke no English, professed their innocence in their native tongue. The hunters told the judge they hunted wombat and kangaroo, but the judge couldn’t understand them and said, “Hang them! Give them an example. Show them what will happen if they steal again!”

The townsfolk took the two Aboriginal hunters and hung them that night in the center of town. The two bodies were left swaying all the next day as a warning to the Aboriginal people. The Tribe wept and mourned their lost family members and the next night cut them down and took them away to bury them in their own tribal custom. Whilst some of the tribe cut the young men down, others sneaked through the town to the building where the Judge was sleeping, they coaxed him from his slumber with a "whoobu-whoobie" ( An Aboriginal device that can sound like a horse neighing, or a dog growling) and knocked him unconscious.
They then hung the white judge from the very spot he had hung the Aboriginal hunters.

On the next morning, when the townsfolk found the judge hanging, the town banded together and formed a posse. The local policeman rounded up horsemen from farms and told the local farmers of the Judges demise. The posse rode to the Aboriginal camp and herded the tribe, men women and children, together, any that tried to escape were shot, whipped or beat with sticks. The posse herded the tribe to the local cliffs and forced them off the side to their deaths.
Only four Aboriginals from the tribe survived the brutal justice of the townsfolk. three teenagers, one girl, two boys and a baby. The baby survived by its mother taking the full impact of the fall. The teenagers that survived lay quiet and still, waiting for some time as the white men at the top of the cliff looked for survivors to kill. Eventually the posse moved on and the children made their escape down the beach towards Streaky Bay.
The news of the massacre spread swiftly amongst the Aboriginal tribes and they began to flee the area towards Talewan, and the Gawler Ranges, not wanting to suffer a similar fate at the hands of the merciless white folk of Elliston
History repeats, and within ten years, the townsfolk of Elliston, repeated their horrible massacre of more local Aboriginal tribes near the local "sweep holes", for very similar reasons to the first massacre. After the second massacre, No Aboriginal people have ever lived in Elliston.

It was well documented that when a farmer killed his sheep in the town, the Aboriginal tribes would collect the guts whatever was left and use it for their own purposes, if there was no food from their own local resources around.
The only evidence the Police had against the two hunters was tracks in the scrub.
It wasn't until many years later that the Aboriginal men were proven to be innocent, two white men admitted to stealing the sheep to start their own farm in a near-by town. The two Aboriginal men were hung for no reason, and a whole innocent tribe was put to death for the death of one man, who had not given a fair trial to a fellow human being.

Local legends persist, and amongst Mobs in the area, the place is considered cursed. It is said that amongst the cliffs where the Aboriginal Mob fell to their deaths, that at times, their voices, screams and cries can be heard. Reports of phantoms have also been made near the cliffs and near the sweep holes.

Iris Burgoyne: The Mirning - We are the whales - publshed by Magabala books
Black armband Blogspot
Elliston Community Website
Across the bar to Waterloo bay: Elliston 1878 - 1978. - Compiled by the Elliston book commitee
A special Thank you to Andrew Brown who reminded me of this story!

Original story written Dec 6. 2011
Edited 31/1/2012 © 2013 -Allen Tiller

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

War Tunnels

War Tunnels

A brand new train and train-line, with a newly completed viaduct and brand new tunnels in Belair in the newly founded colony of South Australia was quite the achievement. Although, the colony did not expect to see men standing around in the fields near Blackwood, wondering why their new shiny train could not make it up the steep incline, and so it was in 1833 when 200 of Adelaide's most proper gentleman were invited on the first trip of Adelaide’s new train line into the Adelaide Hills (As reported in the Observer March 17th 1833)

World War One broke out and the old “sleeps hill” line became a very important part of our War Communications and transport between States. Armed military guards were posted at either ends of the tunnels to stop any espionage attempts.
When the war ended in 1919, a new line was installed, and the railway lines were removed from the old tunnels (the last train ran through there on august 11th 1919). Instead the tunnels now served as a picnic and exploration area to many local people.

In 1932, an enterprising young man came up with the idea of using the tunnels to grow mushrooms. He removed the gravel floor and brought in tons of fresh dirt, and planted his first crop, looking to a bright future of all year round fresh mushrooms for South Australia.
However it wasn’t to be, as unforeseen causes saw his business take many blows. Firstly, an endless supply of unwanted brown snakes found their way into the warm dank tunnels. Then mould and fungus disease obliterated his crop...and to top it all off vandals broke in a destroyed what little he had left.
His mushroom dream finally ended after and outbreak of the fungus “Chatomium” spread throuhg his crop, a disease brought to South Australia from infected mushrooms from Herefordshire, England.
In 1938 – the old tunnels now stood empty once again.
In 1942, the Japanese bombed Darwin, and an outbreak of paranoid hysteria captured the South Australian governments minds. They decided the old Sleeps hills tunnels would be the perfect place to hide the States treasures and important documents.
Plans wee made, and the shorter of the two tunnels was soon overhauled with ventilation shafts, electric lighting, and thick brick walls at either end with heavy iron doors.
A Jarrah platform running 700ft and 18 inches high was installed running the full legth of the tunnel. Next the tunnel was divided in half down its width and dived into sections. A small hand cart was then used to place the States Treasures into their new homes.
Armed troops stood guard as endless trucks of treasures arrived to be unloaded and hidden from the Japanese Threat. War records on microfilm, Government X-rays, taxation documents and other Government papers were stored inside the tunnels alongside some of our most valuable art collections.
The Government spent a lot of money on this new storage facility, that housed not only our state treasure and documents, but also a Travelling painting of King George the VI, which happened to be in Australia at the time. Elaborate fire safe guards were installed and the facility was constantly monitored by the military for dampness, mould and pests.
The other tunnel played a lesser role and became storage for an arsenal of weapons and ammunition, it too was heavily guarded by our military.
The war ended, but this did not stop the military from using the 1st tunnel for the following few years.

There has long been rumour and innuendo that some of our treasures never made it back out of tunnel 1, but I am assured by a source I spoke to recently that everything was accounted for and returned to its proper place after the threat of war diminished.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Gawler -“Flying Saucer”

Gawler -“Flying Saucer”

In 1954 Gawler experienced its first publicly reported “Flying Saucer” report. On Wednesday the 20th of January 1954 Mrs J Tait was at her home south of the Gawler Racecourse. At about 11:20am she witnessed and Unidentified Flying Object flying at incredible height and speed over the foothills to the South East.
Mrs Tait was not alone, her daughter, Rotha and Rotha's school friends, Shirley Struck were also present. The incredible noise the object was making had made them come outside to see what all the fuss was about.
The object, which at first resembled a feather, soon too on the shape of a saucer. It sped through the air at “great height and speed” and was “pure white”. It remained in the air for a very brief amount of time before it shot off at incredible speed in a south westerly direction.
15 minutes later a jet plane flew across the sky heading in the same direction as the UFO.
The RAAF was contacted and they stated they had indeed sent a jet aircraft off at the time stated. The Jet was doing around 600MPH at 10, 000 feet.
Another witness, Mrs W.C. Harrington of Gawler South also the flying object.

When presented with the RAAF's opinion of it being a jet, Mrs Tait Stated that she is perfectly sure that the first object did not resemble and aircraft in the slightest. The first object was round and second object was easily identifiable as a jet air-plane

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Grisly Gawler - Part IV - Circus Strikers brawl

Grisly Gawler - Part IV

Circus Strikers Brawl

In 1931 after a successful string of shows in Angaston, Wirths Circus was on its way to Gawler via train to set up at the Circus at the Gawler Racecourse. Following close behind in a rented truck from Tanunda,. Were a group of men who had gone on strike during the Angaston leg of shows, wanting more money and better conditions.
The Tanunda Police had phoned ahead and warned the Gawler Police of the approaching truck and the state of anger and excitement of the men on board.
The truck rolled into Gawler and the men drove up and down the main street calling out obscenities about the circus and its owners. Constable Philips of the Gawler Police, intercepted the truck at Tramways bridge and ordered the men out. The men verbally abused the officer as they unloaded.
Police Sergeant Hansberry and Mounted Constable Hodgson were called to assist and it didnt take long until violence erupted with some of the men striking at the Police Officers. The men did not account for the Officers being more than willing reciprocate, striking back with their batons, knocking at least four men to the ground unconscious and causing extensive injuries with their batons. Blood was split and bones were cracking under the extreme willingness of the Officers to end the violence these men had started.
The Police eventually rounded up four of the most violent and abusive men and took them to the local station to charge them with Drunkenness, Indecent Language and Resisting Arrest.
Later in the day, several of the striking men from Angaston, turned up to the new Circus site at Gawler Racecourse, ready to cause a ruckus as to why their strike conditions were not being met. Mrs Wirth, refused to discuss the terms with the men and told them to leave the site.
Police continued patrols well into the night to stop any further trouble.
Unemployed men from Adelaide, who were on the Government listings, were brought down to fill the void the strikers had left, and to work for the Circus.
The men arrested were found guilty and duly fined. The other men did not return to cause any more problems that evening, due to the sudden rise in police visibility....

Perhaps a riot was stopped shot on that particular occasion!