Accidental shot kills policeman

1890 – Police sergeant Richard Troy, 33,  may have shot himself during a raid on an Aboriginal camp in remote north-western Australia. It was June 16, 100 miles east of the Kimberley town of Wyndham, when Troy and fellow policemen charged the camp. They were trying to catch men thought to have been cutting telegraphContinue reading “Accidental shot kills policeman”

Cyclone kills grandma, while child survives

“I am afraid I am going. Good-bye.” Marion Currie, 84 years old, and her young grandson, age unknown, were pinned under a piece of timber in the midst of the worst cyclone Townsville had known. It was March 9, 1903 and as Cyclone Leonta intensified, Marion had made two attempts to reach her daughter’s homeContinue reading “Cyclone kills grandma, while child survives”

Time travel through TI cemetery

To wander through the Thursday Island cemetery is to take a 135-year time travel journey through the complex and fascinating history of the region. With a population which from 1890 comprised Europeans, Chinese, Torres Strait Islanders and Aborigines, South Sea Islanders, Malays, Filipinos, Japanese, Singhalese, Indians and a few Thais, Arabs and Africans, visits toContinue reading “Time travel through TI cemetery”

Flu threat reappeared on TI

The 1919 Spanish flu epidemic which had hit Queensland hard was all but over, when an outbreak raced through the Thursday Island population early in 2020.   Although some Islanders had been vaccinated the previous year, the original inhabitants still bore the brunt of the disease. Despite this, death tolls announcements focused on the numberContinue reading “Flu threat reappeared on TI”

From piracy to professor

Archibald Watson’s life could have been so different. The eminent Professor of Anatomy is well known for his contribution to the development of anatomy and surgery in Australia. But the man described as an ‘’erratic, histrionic genius’’  was embroiled in controversy  early on in his adult life when he took a trip on a blackbirdingContinue reading “From piracy to professor”

Premier’s grave overlooks Queensland

The grave of the seventh premier of the state of Queensland lies at the highest aspect of the Thursday Island cemetery. It looks back across the waters to the rest of the state John Douglas oversaw from 1877-1879. Aged 76 when he died in 1904, the former statesman had been Government Resident and magistrate atContinue reading “Premier’s grave overlooks Queensland”

Mercy for murder on Mulgrave

1878 – James Price was reported as “barbarously murdered’’ by natives when he was killed by a group of  blackbirded pearl divers in the Torres Strait. Price, 37, along with  “two Malays and one Chinaman”, also crew of the  pearl-shelling boat Flying Scud,  lost their lives at Mulgrave Island, also known as Badu. The remainderContinue reading “Mercy for murder on Mulgrave”

Tetanus took young missionary

Teacher-missionary Mary Earl must have been a remarkable young woman. She spent three years, from 1924-1927, in the remote Mitchell River mission in the Cape York peninsula, days travel away from the comfort she had probably grown up with. She taught 70 children from various Aboriginal groups during her three years at the mission station,Continue reading “Tetanus took young missionary”

Gold mining ghost town cemetery tells of hard lives

It’s desolate and dry at Arltunga. It’s hard to see how people managed to live there, and very easy to see why they died. At 100km east of Alice Springs, even today it’s a long way from anywhere. Yet it was the first substantial European settlement in Central Australia thanks to the lure of gold.Continue reading “Gold mining ghost town cemetery tells of hard lives”

Pugilist dies after a fight

1880 – William Brown, a 29-year-old Englishman,  was a well-known pugilist around Charters Towers. In the days before the Marquess of Queensberry rules were enforced by the legalization of boxing in the various colonies,  watching and betting on illegal bare-knuckle fighting was a popular pastime. Brown and another fighter were arrested about four miles fromContinue reading “Pugilist dies after a fight”