Harry Waters and the Lightning Gang

Harry Waters

Harry Waters was broke. As he sat drinking in the billiard saloon of the Geraldton R.S.L., a criminal acquaintance appeared. James Henry Hawkins was in the same financial position. The two men sat together, nursed their drinks, and spoke of their lack of money and how they could rectify the situation. Waters had an idea. One he had been considering for some time. He suggested they join forces, travel to country towns, and rob the co-operative stores.

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Florrie Waters Saves the Day

As lighthouse keeper George Waters looked out across a calm ocean from Bathurst Point Lighthouse on 12 December 1912, he decided it would be the perfect day for fishing. Accompanied by his 18-year-old daughter, Florrie, they hopped into a small dinghy and began rowing out to sea.

Bathurst Point Lighthouse circa 1912
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Arthur Smith Goes Bush

A blue Chevrolet, found seemingly abandoned in the bush off the main road four miles north-east of Merredin, was a problem for the police to solve on 2 December 1953. Their first step was to investigate the number plate ‘71-724’. The car was registered to 44-year-old Arthur Smith, whose registered address was Hay Street in Perth.

Arthur was known to be a keen kangaroo hunter, so it was assumed he was in the bush shooting. Evidence of his work was apparent. There was ammunition in the vehicle, and on the back seat were dried rabbit and fox skins. Pegged outside on the ground was a kangaroo skin drying in the sun. Also in the car were loose items of clothing as well as several suitcases containing his papers and belongings. Ordinarily, police might have assumed that the owner had not gone far. The issue in this instance was that the car appeared to have been sitting in the same spot for months.

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Vivien Grant Carter

Vivien was born on 20 June 1891 in Blackburn, Lancashire in England. She was the fourth child of her parents, Richard and Lucy Carter. Richard was a draper by trade and emigrated to New Zealand in the 1880s, where he met and married his wife. They later returned to England in the early 1890s. Despite having emigrated once, he decided to do it again. In late July 1900, the Carter family boarded the ss Medic, and on 30 August, they arrived in Western Australia.

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Lost at Yelbeni

For six months, William McCracken worked hard as a labourer on Richard Jones’s farm near Yelbeni. He had left his wife, Elizabeth, and their three children, William (3), Robert (20 months), and Elizabeth (four weeks), behind in Perth. In early November, he returned to reunite the family, and on 10 November 1911, they left by train for the farm.

The journey to Yelbeni was long and slow. They arrived at the railway siding at 10 pm and then travelled by cart for nine miles. After a two-hour stopover at a neighbour’s place, they finally arrived at 2 am. In the morning, William went to the siding to pick up some goods. Robert was likewise up early and was outside playing at about 8 am.

Not quite two years old, Robert was chubby, had grey-blue eyes, light blonde hair and a birthmark on the left side of his mouth. He was wearing a brown velvet coat and boots and socks. He was not wearing pants, nor was he wearing a hat. Elizabeth called out to him. Concerned that he was not dressed appropriately for the hot sun, she ducked inside to fetch his hat. When she returned, he was gone.

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Mundaring Weir “Spy”

At infrequent intervals reports are made that Japanese – presumably spies – have been caught taking observations and making themselves unduly familiar with our fortifications.

The Morning Herald; 10 October 1907; Page 5.

Writing to the honorary minister, James Price, on 7 October 1907, Thomas McNulty advised that a Perth resident had heard from a clergyman that he had seen two Japanese men “taking observations with a theodolite at Mundaring Weir.” Initially, McNulty ignored the account. Hundreds of people visited the Weir and often brought cameras to take photos. It was possible the clergyman was mistaken after seeing the camera at a distance.

He later learned that a Japanese man lived in the area and worked as a cook at the Goldfields Hotel. The man was often seen taking photos around the Weir, and was occasionally accompanied by another Japanese man who lived in Perth. One of the Water Supply Department officers spoke to a resident who told them that the man “was no cook” and in his opinion, he was there to “get information about the Weir.

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T’othersiders vs Gropers

According to ‘Veteran’, who wrote about the genesis of Australian football in Geraldton for the Geraldton Guardian, local youths had a football that they kicked around on the Recreation Ground. They occasionally fielded sides and held competitions, but it was not until the influx of the t’othersiders (people from the eastern states) in the 1890s that they established teams.

Perhaps meaning well, ‘Veteran’s’ words indicate they may have been a t’othersider themselves. Their story of the teams leaves out other clubs formed in the 1880s. Nevertheless, they were correct with regards to the t’othersiders. As people poured into Western Australia hoping to strike it rich on the goldfields, they soon played the game they loved and looked to establish a team.

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The Countess of Bumbinoo

In 1894, a traveller to the Murchison goldfields would board a train at Geraldton headed for Mullewa. They were likely one of many passengers, from the well-dressed new chum to the experienced prospector, all with the same purpose in mind: gold. 

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Egidio Dellavalle

Egidio Dellavalle was born on 29 June 1890 in Sondrio in northern Italy. When he was 23, he emigrated to Western Australia aboard the ss Orama. For eleven years, he worked as a labourer at Kalgoorlie before moving to Burracoppin. He was there for two years when, in 1926, he applied for naturalisation.

Aside from a return visit to Italy in 1929, he remained in Western Australia, working in country areas as a labourer and sleeper cutter. While we may never know most of the stories of his life, it seems he worked without a major incident for a decade. In April 1938, however, he became lost in the bush.

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Valentine’s Dowerin Scam

Arriving in Dowerin on the morning of the show on 14 September 1927, Mr Valentine quickly endeared himself to locals. He attached himself to the party of James Macfarlane M.L.C. (claiming he was well-known to the man), which added to his legitimacy. Over the course of the day, he spun words together and wove stories. 

Dowerin circa 1928
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