Fireside solitude was deadly

1868 – This is an ode to seven-year-old Ellen. She was sitting, alone, on a stool with her back to the fireplace. The stool canted and she fell backwards into the fire. Few other details are known, except that a woman nearby went to Ellen’s grandfather’s place and a doctor was called. Why she was,Continue reading “Fireside solitude was deadly”

Brothers face grim ends on greatest cattle drive

It was a real wild west story – the Clarkson brothers planned the greatest cattle drive ever in Western Australia’s short colonial history. In early 1874 Henry, with his older brother William, two half-brothers and other proven outback men bought up cattle from around Albany and drove them via Augusta, through the Margaret River regionContinue reading “Brothers face grim ends on greatest cattle drive”

Lightning hit trio, killing one

1928 – Charles Dunbar’s life was over in a flash. The workman was camped out about 50 miles north of Yalgoo, WA, which is still a remote place to be today. He was with his boss,  Mr McPherson and the boss’s son Ross, when the three of them were hit by lightning. It was aboutContinue reading “Lightning hit trio, killing one”

Noongar woman a trailblazer

The headstone of half-Aboriginal woman Mary Cuper stands tall and proud, set apart from the simple white crosses and the myriad unmarked graves belonging to other Noongar inhabitants of the New Norcia cemetery. Intriguingly, the words “at her sorrowful husband’s expences (sic) are found at the bottom of a description of her achievements. The townContinue reading “Noongar woman a trailblazer”

Hunting trip ends in tragedy

1917 – Alfred Chesson, 19, accidentally shot himself on the way home from a hitherto-successful shooting expedition. The family lived at Day Dawn, a Western Australian gold mining settlement which today is a whisper of a ghost town, 6 kilometres from Cue. On Saturday afternoon Alf, his father, also Alfred, and a younger brother hadContinue reading “Hunting trip ends in tragedy”

Toddler “got in a scot” and drowned

1901 – Farmer Ernest Pye was walking near the Mudgee Racecourse, central New South Wales, about 7pm one evening when he heard a woman cry. Turning around, he saw a woman sitting outside her house with a child’s wet body in her arms. The woman was Helen Cook, the mother of ten children. She hadContinue reading “Toddler “got in a scot” and drowned”

Molten metal a nightmare death

1909 – Mining accidents were common in the early days of the 20th century, yet when Ambrose Fox was burnt to death by an explosion of molten metal in the Great Cobar mine, his funeral was said to be the largest the town had ever seen. The 44-year-old was killed after a repaired appliance knownContinue reading “Molten metal a nightmare death”

Misheard blast kills miner

1873 – Joseph Paxton’s mining company was said to be one of the best-managed in the Hills End district of New South Wales. However, when it came to mining in the early years of Australia, anything could happen. And unfortunately it did, to one William Oliver. Basically, Oliver heard a bang, thought the explosive chargeContinue reading “Misheard blast kills miner”

Eileen didn’t get to father for Christmas

1921 – Seventeen-year-old Eileen Flynn’s “splendid physique’ (as described by the newspapers)  wasn’t enough to save her life when she went horse riding. She and her mother had been living apart from their father/husband for two years, while he was at their home in Broken Hill. This arrangement was a result of industrial unrest atContinue reading “Eileen didn’t get to father for Christmas”

Three children die on their way to town’s day of fun

August 15, 1888 – Almost all of the children of Bourke, country New South Wales, were in the back of horse-drawn vehicles heading to the country town’s picnic ground by the Darling River. The Annual Children’s Picnic procession would have been full of laughter and expectation, as the annual event brought the town together.   ThereContinue reading “Three children die on their way to town’s day of fun”