Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Devils Garden – Balaklava

The Devils Garden – Balaklava

Commemorative plaque placed on the Devil's Garden memorial cairn, located halfway between Balaklava and Halbury, in the lower Mid North of South Australia along the Balaklava to Auburn Road.
-Photo Source:  27 September 2009 Marionlad

 Balaklava is a small country town in the Mid North, 93km’s north of Adelaide, South Australia. It is situated on the borders of Kaurna and Peramangk peoples land and was first sighted by Europeans in 1840.
 The first European settlers were James and Mary Dunn in 1850, who opened a hotel to service the bullock drays carrying ore from Burra to Port Wakefield. The town proper wasn’t laid out until 1869 when Charles Fisher surveyed the land. The following year the first hotel opened, and from there the town continued to grow.
 7 km’s east of the township, a small reserve, named The Devils’ Garden Reserve, sits almost out of sight of passers-by on the highway. The reserve is a picnic spot, noted for its fine examples of river box gum trees.

 Back in the days of the bullock drays carting copper ore, the area was a treacherous bog in winter and a mountain of hard to navigate sandhills in summer. To address the problem of navigating the area, bullock drays would camp overnight and wait for other teams to arrive. Together they would try to get through the area, helping pull one another from the wintry bogs, or summer sands. This is thought to be how the Devil's Garden became a “place”.

 It was during these camp nights that the ghost was first witnessed. Described as an “unknown male spectre”. It would stand at the top of the sandy hill and scare any bullocks that tried to go over the hilltop. It would also scare men on horses, with some claiming that the ghost would grab the horse’s reins, stopping the horse and rider in its tracks before horse and rider could topple down an unseen cliffside, or become bogged down in impassable mud or sand.

To this day it is not known who the spectral protector was, or why he chose that particular spot to haunt, but he is the reason that the bullock teams named the area "The Devils Garden".

Researched and written by Allen Tiller ©2018


Australia For Everyone, 2017, Balaklava, S.A., Pocket Oz Travel and Information Guide Mid North South Australia, viewed 30 Jan 2018, http://www.australiaforeveryone.com.au/sa-midnorth/balaklava.html

Sydney Morning Herald, 2004, Balaklava, The Sydney Morning Herald, Fairax Media, viewed 20 Jan 2018, http://www.smh.com.au/news/south-australia/balaklava/2005/02/17/1108500204142.html

1984 'THE PLAYERS Producer Est. 19[?] BALAKLAVA, B.A.', Victor Harbour Times (SA : 1932 - 1986), 4 April, p. 50. , viewed 30 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article185633892

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Haunted Henschke Cellars

Haunted Henschke Cellars

Henschke Cellars at Keyneton is a family owned winemaking business that has seen six generations of the same family establish, and grow, one of Australia’s great, award-winning wineries.

 The Winery and Cellars were established in the 1860s at Keyneton by Johann Christian Henschke.
Johann, born in 1803, had travelled to Australia onboard the vessel Skjold in 1841. His wife Appolonia and son Johann, both died onboard the ship and were buried at sea.
 He arrived in Adelaide with his two surviving sons and settled in Lobethal. In 1843, Johann remarried and would have another eight children with his wife Dorothea.
He later moved to Krondorf, near Bethany in the Barossa Valley. In 1863 he was able to purchase land in what later become the Eden Valley wine region of Keyneton. Henschke built a self-sufficient farm, and also planted a small winery.  He built, as part of that winery a small cellar into the side of the hill, which still stands today.

 I have been contacted by numerous people about a possible haunting at the old cellars, including contact by staff members, that have had, what they believe to be a paranormal experience.
 It would seem some staff and visitors have experienced a ghostly female presence. The spirit of the woman has been seen not only in the cellars but also in the purpose-built office block nearby.
 The spirit has been known to open and close doors, move objects, and cause paranoia.

Who she is, no-one can be certain.

If you have visited Henschke Cellars (or any of South Australia’s fabulous wineries) and experienced any paranormal activity, please contact me directly at eidolon@live.com.au or via the Haunts of Adelaide facebook page so these stories can be collected and investigated!

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The Point Pass Pillager - The Adventures of a Boy Bushranger

The Point Pass Pillager - The Adventures of a Boy Bushranger

Eudunda, 1884, Matthias Weis, an almost 11-year-old boy, who had been adopted from the Adelaide boys reformatory school by Mr and Mrs Madel of Point Pass, became renown in the Eudunda region of South Australia as possibly the youngest bushranger in South Australia’s history!

 Weis had not been a good boy before being adopted by the Madel family. He had spent many of his formative years in the reformatory for petty crimes, thievery and for threatening to kill his mother with a knife. Weis was well known to police and the local courts for his long list of crimes.
 Before his notorious crime rampage, it was thought that one day, if he didn’t change his ways, he would wind up inside the Adelaide Gaol, or even hang from its gallows, such was his reputation!

In late July 1884, Weis had become bored with the home life of the Madel's and decided he needed some adventure in his life. He made his way to Point Pass, and once there stole one of Mr Woite’s best horses, saddled and bridled it, and then made off with the horse and a sheepdog.

Weis' crime had been seen, and the local police were called. Constable Muegge and several townsfolk set out on horses to try and chase the pre-teen down in the bush.
Weis soon realised he was being chased and rode the horse as hard as he could. He passed through the towns of Bundey and Scholmburg, only to be chased down by a local who had sensed something was wrong, but Weis had chosen an excellent horse, and soon outran his pursuer.
That night, with no food or water, Weis set a small campfire and slept under the stars.

 The next morning, he awoke and started heading towards Bower, but Mr Woite, having heard Weis was in the area, had set chase, getting within two hundred yards of Weis. Wies’ horse was beginning to tire after being ridden so hard for two days, so to escape, Weis jumped off the horse suddenly and fled into the bush.
 Woite tried to track him down, but the boy was too fast and soon lost his pursuer. Woite took his horse back to Point Pass and reported the incident to the local police. The horse that Weis had stolen was not in good condition, having been ridden flat out for two days, and with no food and water, the animal could barely walk back to its home.

Now on the run for a full two days and with no horse, Weis was forced to walk, something he hadn’t planned on, as he had no boots to cover his feet. He found his way to Robertstown, breaking into any houses he came across on the way and relieving them of food and water.
 In Robertstown, Weis, in broad daylight, walked up to the local hotel and stole Mr Gosden’s horse and cart which was stationed outside. As he sped out of town, he threw the contents of the cart, mainly groceries into the street.

Weis rode the horse and cart hard and fast into the bush but became unstuck when he crashed into a log, upending the cart, and smashing his head on the ground. He eventually got up and freed the horse from the remains of the smashed cart.
Weis then rode the horse bareback, but at some point, and for reasons unknown, left the horse to wander the bush, where it was eventually found by a small posse of locals that had formed to hunt down the boy bushranger.
By this time, now a full four days into his crime spree, the weather had become miserably cold, and Weis was dressed without shoes or boots, and in a very thin shirt, so the cold must’ve been playing a part in dampening his dreams of becoming a notorious bushranger.
 Hunger and thirst were also starting to play their role. Weis had stolen food from a few homes, but it wasn’t enough. He started making his way towards Robertstown again, where he broke into a house and stole all the food he could carry.

By the end of his first week of being a bushranger, Weis had become notorious in the area, and knowing that locals were on the lookout for him, he found it very hard to find food to steal, so he made his way back towards Point Pass.
 There he snuck into the home of the Mabel’s, the family that had adopted him. He snuck into the kitchen and helped himself to some food, only to be caught by Mrs Mabel, who swiftly overpowered the boy and tied him in ropes – something none of the good town’s men of Point Pass or Robertstown had been able to achieve!
Matthias Weis, the almost 11-year-old bushranger, faced court in Eudunda in front of Judges Roberts and Applet. He was sentenced to 14 days gaol and then sent to the reformatory, where he was to stay until he was 16.

..and thus ended the criminal career of possibly South Australia’s youngest bushranger... or did it?
The South Australian Police Gazette of January 18th, 1888 reports the following:

From H.M.C.S. “Protector” at Glenelg, January 2nd, 1888, Mathew Weis, age 14, 4ft 10inches, fair complexion, light brown hair, hazel eyes, a scar from a burn on the leg (C.109)

Could “Matthew Weis” and Matthias Weis be one and the same?

Researched and written by Allen Tiller ©2018

1884 'THE ADVENTURES OF A BOY BUSHRANGER.', Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 - 1951), 8 August, p. 3. , viewed 28 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106578975

South Australia Police Gazette Indexes, 1862-1947. Ridgehaven, South Australia: Gould Genealogy and History, 2009.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

COCKBURN: A Murder of Crowe

COCKBURN: A Murder of Crowe

Cockburn is a small town in South Australia’s outback, on the border of New South Wales. Cockburn is 50km’s west of Broken Hill and 462 Km’s north-east of Adelaide.
The little community began in 1886 after the South Australian Government struck a deal with the New South Wales government to exploit ore deposits in nearby Silverton, Thackaringa and Umberumberka.

The NSW Government turned the deal down, and local business identities instead, built their own line from Silverton to the SA border.

By 1892, 2000 people were calling Cockburn home, and the town boasted two hotels, a butcher, two general stores, schools and churches.

In 1929, Daniel Crowe, his wife Clara and six children moved to the small community. Daniel worked a shunter for the South Australian Railways Department and lived in provided railway cottages in the town.

 Earlier in the year, Daniel and Clara lost their eldest son, Daniel Jnr. in an accident at Peterborough.
Things had not been good between the couple since the death of their eldest son, and over time Daniel became suspicious that his wife was cheating on him with a man named Kennedy.

One-day Daniel wasn’t feeling good and decided to go to the doctor at Broken Hill. He asked Clara to go with him and she replied; “Not on your life. I have to see a friend tonight.”
 Daniel replied; “I am nothing?”
To which Clara replied; “Yes. You are alright, but I think that I have met better!”

Daniel left to see his doctor in Broken Hill. On his way back into Cockburn he noticed Kennedy acting suspiciously, ducking and weaving through train carriages as if trying to avoid him.
Daniel burst into his home and asked Clara; “What is the strong of this?”
 Clara screamed back; “Go to Blazes! Why did you not stay in Broken Hill, you’re not wanted here!” and stormed off into the bedroom.

 The following morning, Clara, the 15-year-old daughter of Daniel and Clara Snr. awoke at 7am, she lit the fire in the kitchen readying it to make breakfast. Younger sister Kathleen, went into her mother’s room to rouse her. Suddenly a scream ripped through the house, and Kathleen came back in the room, and fighting through tears, said to her brothers and sisters “Mummy is dead!”
The night before, Daniel had stormed out from the house and made his way to the rail siding, where he knew a bottle of Lysol was stored. He then made his way back to the family home, loaded his rifle, and snuck into the bedroom.
 He squatted at the foot of the bed, and shot his wife one time in the face, somehow not waking the entire household.

At 3:30 in the morning, he was seen by eldest daughter Clara, who had been disturbed by the sounds of something falling over, entering the kitchen and getting a bottle of beer, then muttering to himself “Now that’s done”, before exiting the back door of the house.

 Eldest Daughter Clara ushered her siblings off to a neighbour’s house and alerted police. They arrived and found Clara Snr. dead in her bed, 50 yards out from the rear of the house, they found the unconscious body of Daniel laying on the ground.
Daniel was taken away and placed in Parkside Mental Hospital in Adelaide, under suspicion of murder and of attempted suicide by poison.

He was questioned by police but denied remembering anything to do with the incident.
Daniel Crowe faced magistrates at Gladstone Gaol, with his attorney’s issuing a statement of insanity as his defence.

The Jury hearing the case could not decide one way or the other over the charge of murder, so Daniel Crowe was left indefinitely in the Parkside Asylum. He died in 1962.

Cockburn is now a town of about 25 people, with one pub….

© 2018 Allen Tiller


1929 'COCKBURN TRAGEDY', News (Adelaide, SA: 1923 - 1954), 27 September, p. 11. (HOME EDITION), viewed 06 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129072651

1929 'COCKBURN TRAGEDY', Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW: 1888 - 1954), 12 September, p. 2. , viewed 07 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46579207

1930 'COCKBURN TRAGEDY', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA: 1889 - 1931), 13 February, p. 11. , viewed 07 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73795383

Cockburn Progress Association, 2018, Cockburn SA – Town History, Cockburn Progress Association, viewed 7 Jan 2018, http://www.cockburn.org.au/town-history.html

1930 'TRIAL OF D. B. CROWE', Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW: 1888 - 1954), 21 March, p. 2. , viewed 07 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46571779