WA History

The Māori Whaler

It was the people who knew him best who, after he had passed, recounted the early years of William Parr, also known as Butty. While it was likely that they knew these details because he had told them the tales of his life, it was also possible that there were some inaccuracies due to the second-hand nature of the telling of the story.

Butty was born circa 1813 and was said to be from Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) in Aotearoa (New Zealand). He was the son of a Māori chief and was given the names Pah or Putty, which later became Butty. In the 1820s, during the musket wars, he was captured by another Māori tribe from the Bay of Islands. He lived with them for many years until, at age 16, he joined a church mission and sailed on their schooner Columbine.

…his face and chest were scarred with tatoo markings.

The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954); 22 July 1933; Page 4; Old Colonial Days
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History, WA History

Poisoned at Day Dawn

Dressed in her best clothes and halfway through drinking her tea, Georgina Hussey doubled over in pain. Unable to bear it, she went to lie down. In bed, she proceeded to have a fit. Horton Sibley, the man she lived with, hovered nearby. He decided to find a doctor. Before doing so, he asked their neighbour, Ellen Clarke, to sit with her. Ellen tried giving Georgina water, but it did not help. After reviving a little, she had another fit. Frightened, Ellen told her younger sister, Janet, to fetch their older sister, Sarah Ann.

Sibley returned without a doctor but received some advice from the chemist, Andrew Taite. It was of no use. Georgina knew her condition was fatal. As Sibley sat beside her, she turned to him and said, “Kiss me Jack, and say goodbye.” On 16 September 1906, at about 7 pm, less than half an hour since the pain started, Georgina Hussey died.

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Historical Snippets, WA History

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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Australian History, WA History

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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Historical Snippets, WA History

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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Historical Snippets, WA History

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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Mysteries, WA History

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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WA History

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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Historical Snippets, WA History

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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WA History

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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