Always Faithful to the End

Warning: this story discusses suicide. If you are struggling and need help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.

On 24 November 1929, His Excellency the Governor, Colonel Sir William Campion, officially unveiled Western Australia’s War Memorial in Kings Park. Built on a high point of the park, it overlooked the Swan River and the city of Perth. For most people, it was a place of remembrance. However, perhaps for some, it was a reminder of the pain they endured.

Eleven days later, at 8:30 am on 5 December, park ranger, Ernest Harwood, found a man’s body lying face down against the memorial. He looked to be about 28 years old and was five feet nine inches tall. He was sturdily built and neatly dressed in a navy blue serge suit. He was also wearing a white linen shirt and collar, white cotton singlet, light blue tie with purple spots, blue suspenders with white stripes, black shoes and socks, and a grey felt hat with a light-coloured band.

The man had a high forehead, full face, small nose, brown eyes, and was missing his top front teeth. He had brushed back his curly auburn hair. Police noted two identifying features: he was missing the tip of his right little finger, and there was a tattoo on the inside of his right forearm – a picture of a woman’s head and shoulders above an anchor.

The cause of death was evident. Clasped in his right hand was a six-chamber revolver with five bullets and a spent cartridge. A bullet wound on the right side of his temple indicated that he had taken his life.

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The Great Wizard

Having completed a successful tour in South Australia, on 21 April 1868, Frederick William Auger Kohler, accompanied by his agent, Louis Peter, departed Adelaide for Fremantle. The brig ‘Emily Smith’ arrived a month later, on 19 May. Disembarking at Albany, Frederick, or, as he was professionally known, Professor Kohler, placed an advertisement in a newspaper announcing his imminent arrival.

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Mount Magnet to Perth

Ironing clothes was the last straw. Employed as a housemaid at the Grand Hotel in Mount Magnet, Vera had had enough. Putting the ironing aside, she leaned over the ironing board and declared to her friend, “Hazel, I’m fed up; I want a change. I’m going to walk out.” Hazel exclaimed in response, “Me too!

They later described what they were feeling as ‘the blues.’ To combat that feeling, in addition to leaving their place of employment, they decided to walk 595 km to Perth. Shaking hands on the plan, both agreed that it would add some much-needed excitement to their lives.

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Rescue at Horrocks

Adrian photographed in the yawl at Malta.

In 1950, Adrian Hayter, a journalist and adventurer from New Zealand, travelled to England and bought a 35ft motor-powered yawl named Sheila II. He intended to sail it from Europe to New Zealand via Gibraltar, Suez Canal, India, Indonesia and Australia.

On 10 January 1954, he departed Indonesia with six weeks supply of food and water. A letter sent from the British consul at Surabaya stated that his expected arrival date in Fremantle was the end of February. Months passed, and Adrian did not arrive. No one had seen him in Darwin, nor Fremantle. In mid-April, after missing his estimated Fremantle arrival date, all masters of ships sailing in the waters between Australia, Indonesia, and Singapore were asked to keep a lookout for him.

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Bolgart Robbery

Tim Heggarty (left) and John Coutts.

At 4:15 am on 11 March 1939, Tim Heggarty heard a noise in James Laurance’s shop at Bolgart. He lived in a home adjacent to the store with Mr and Mrs Coutts. He awoke John Coutts, and they both investigated, quietly walking to the rear of the building where they saw someone had forced a window open.

John entered through the window and into the office. He heard a person walk from the office into the store, and turning back to Tim, whispered to him to ask Mrs Coutts to wake James Laurance. Tim and John guarded the rear of the premises while James (armed with a stout jamwood stick) arrived at the front. He unlocked the door, walked in, and saw a figure dart out of the store into the street.

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March of the Fox

The fox ventures everywhere; open plain, mountain fastness, or cleared land makes little difference to his movements in search of prey.

Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 – 1916); 18 January 1910; Page 26; The Warrigal

On 10 January 1910, a Balladonia member of the Pastoralists’ Association wrote a letter to the Association’s secretary. They said that dingoes and rabbits were numerous in the area and advised that they had news of a fox caught at the Nullarbor Station in South Australia. With a distance of over 120 km separating the station from Eucla in Western Australia, the writer predicted that, in a few years, foxes would be another pest to add to the list.

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Monster Christmas Cake

In 1894, Veryard and Son’s of the Roller Bakery in Perth baked a large Christmas cake weighing six hundredweight (over 300 kg). It was incredibly popular, and, whether they meant to or not, a Christmas tradition was born. They continued to bake cakes, and, each year, the weight increased. In 1895, the cake weighed ten hundredweight (over 500 kg), and in 1896 it weighed fifteen hundredweight (over 750 kg).

Regardless of the size of the cake, every piece sold. Many customers missed out, and, as 1897 progressed, they decided that the Christmas cake for that year had to surpass that of previous years.

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II – The Second Inquest

Part II – The Second Inquest follows on from Part I – The Death of Claude Cotton. Click the link below to read the first story.


The result was what most of Geraldton wanted. Knowing there would be a post mortem and a new inquest, letter writer ‘Groper’ turned their attention to Claude’s mother. She was elderly and was said to have been supported by Claude, who regularly sent her half his pay. Concerned at the inquiry being left solely in the hands of the police, they suggested the establishment of a fund to raise money to pay for a solicitor to represent her. ‘Groper’ gave ten shillings and, within three days, they received donations of about two pounds. With the money, they hired Arthur Altorfer to represent Emma Cotton.

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I – The Death of Claude Cotton

At 7:30 am, while lumpers loaded wheat onto the ss Millpool, Captain Arthur Eves gazed out across Champion Bay. As he looked down, he noticed something floating in the water. Unable to see what it was, he descended from the bridge to the forecastle. Using binoculars, he realised that what he was looking at was the body of a man. He sent a boat to retrieve it and subsequently identified it as Claude Cotton, a member of his crew.

The ss Millpool (left) at Geraldton circa 1922. Courtesy of the State Library of Western Australia (Call Number: 028995PD).
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The Padbury Street Ghost

Let us tell the story of the Haunted House.

The Daily News (Perth, WA :1882 – 1950); 9 February 1914; Page 8; A Haunted House

Located behind the Brisbane Hotel and running diagonally from Beaufort Street to Bulwer Street, Padbury Street was a quiet street unknown to many people in Perth. In February 1914, that was all to change.

Along the short street were many two-story houses, lived in by various residents. Two of the houses were empty and available for lease. Of those two, one (number 66) had only recently become vacant. The reason the family gave for leaving: they believed it was haunted.

It was averred that the occupiers had for some time past been hearing weird sounds in various parts of the building, for which they could not account.

The Daily News (Perth, WA :1882 – 1950); 9 February 1914; Page 8; A Haunted House
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