The Case of Frank Griffith

Frank Griffith arrived at Peak Hill in July 1900 after a spell of bad luck prospecting. He obtained employment at the company Peak Hill Goldfields Ltd and started working on the surface before going underground. He planned to recoup his funds before heading out prospecting again.

Peak Hill Gold Mine circa 1900. Courtesy of the State Library of Western Australia (090565PD).

Before starting work underground, he chatted to another miner and showed him some gold he had found at Quinns. The man, seeing a similarity to the specimens at Peak Hill, told him to get rid of it. Frank knew of its origins and was unconcerned. He kept it with him and buried it six inches in the ground at his camp, an act that was common among prospectors.

Almost every prospector had specimens he liked to carry with him, regardless of the risk he ran in keeping them when working for a company.

Mount Magnet Miner and Lennonville Leader (WA : 1896 – 1926); 22 December 1900; Page 2; The Griffith Case
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Mount Farmer Mystery

27 September 1854
“…we buried [Charles Farmer] at sunset, sewn up in his blanket, with his saddle for a pillow, on to which we lowered him gently in a horse-rug. I read the beautiful service of our Church for the burial of the dead over him, after which we fired our guns, and retired in silence.”

T.D. was working for a contractor at Twin Peaks Station in the Murchison at the start of July 1907. He was repairing a fence with the help of an older bushman, who liked to yarn as he worked. As they went about their work, it was inevitable that talk would turn to gold. The bushman casually mentioned that there was “a rich thing that he knew of at a place called Mount Farmer.

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Geraldton’s Air Raid

On 19 February 1942, Japanese forces bombed Darwin. With the risk of danger increasing, men and women on the home front got to work. They constructed air raid shelters, prepared their homes, and carried out additional training. The Daily News reported, “Everywhere on the Home Front there is an atmosphere of industry and enthusiasm. Realisation of their danger has come at last to West Australians, and they are preparing in haste against it.

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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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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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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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A Grand Old Duel at York

The story of this duel is one that is veiled in mystery. The account survived, but the names of those involved did not. A writer used aliases in one newspaper article with the briefest of clues telling us who they were. A commission agent, a barrister, a publican, and a surveyor were sitting down for dinner at York in January 1887. What ensued was an argument.

…be seated Reader and now allow me to relate this stirring little drama with the characters to whom I have already introduced you.

The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1955); 29 January 1887; Page 2; Desperate Duel at York
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