Thursday, May 17, 2018

May 17 #OnThisDay in #Australian #History

1770 - Jimmy Cook spied the Glasshouse Mountains in QLD and named them in fond memory of the Yorkshire glass furnace chimneys.

1797 - Survivors of the wreck of the Sydney Cove passed through Illawarra, reaching Sydney on 17 May. They tell of finding coal in northern Illawarra and of being attacked by 'savage natives' near Red Point. In fact, it appears that some of the crew members were the savages and that they may have suffered attacks from members of their own party.

1813 - Two large Norfolk Pine Trees were presented to Mrs. Macquarie by ( a very, very reformed convict) Simeon Lord. They were removed from his garden, and planted at the Gate opposite to Macquarie Street

1824 - The Supreme Court of NSW was birthed.

1824 - A dinner was held at Government House to celebrate the great benefits that the opening of the Supreme Court would bring to the people described as "the inhabitants of Australasia."

1824 - Saxe Bannister became the first person to be admitted to practise as a barrister in New South Wales. His admission was concurrent with his being sworn into the office of attorney general of New
South Wales with a right of private practice at the first sitting of the Supreme Court.

1824 - At the NSW Courts Magistrates, Newcastle Police Court Andrew McColl, John McAuliff and Charles Fagan, runaways from Port Macquarie, were charged with attempting to break out of gaol after having ran from this settlement on the 4th of May, being retaken at Wallis Plains and sent back. The keeper of his Majestys Gaol states - I was going my rounds last night about 8 oclock and hearing an unusual noise in the room where the prisoners are confined in company with Samuel Hart (a notorious gaol breaker) now under committal for a trial for a burglary and William Halfpenny, under sentence for Corporal punishment. I suspected something wrong was going on amongst them. I procured the keys and examined the room. I discovered in one part of it a hole made large enough for a man to creep through. The hole had been made with the iron work of a tub in the room. They had destroyed the tub. The prisoners respectively deny having any knowledge of the hole or how or when it was made. Sentenced to 50 lashes each

1830 - George Thomson was hanged at Hobart for theft of silver plate and two pistols.

1832 - Those wrapping fish were in for a treat when the Sydney Herald became a bi-weekly paper. Price per copy dropped to sixpence!

1838 - Congregational Minister William Waterfield preached the first Congregational Church service in Melbourne to some fifty persons in the little wooden Church of England building in William Street.

1842 - Andrew Petrie fell over the Mary River.

1858 - The Main South Railway Line (NSW) was opened from Liverpool to Campbelltown.

1859 - The Melbourne FC rules were formulated.

1868 - Thirty years to the day that he held the first Congregational Church service in Melbourne, Rev William Waterfield turned up his toes in Tassie.

1870 - Irish-born patriot, lawyer and journalist Gerald Henry Supple got his Y fronts in a tangle over slights against the Irish by The Age editor and his former boss George Paton Smith, a barrister, later M.L.A. and attorney-general; on this date the obsessed Supple shot Paton Smith in Latrobe Street, wounding him in the elbow and killing a bystander, John Sesnan Walshe.

1882 - Port Augusta had it's standards lowered by being linked to Adelaide by a railroad.

1883 - The Gothic Revival-style Clayton Church on The Parade at Norwood was formally opened by Sir Samuel Davenport.

1890 - A grim and truculent little pressman Thadeus John O'Kane, proprietor and editor of the town's most influential newspaper, The Northern Miner died in Ipswich.

1905 - Charles Samuels (aka Sambo Combo), a celebrated Aboriginal athlete once known as ‘Champion runner of the world' and 'Champion foot runner of Australia', with his family were transferred to Barambah (later renamed Cherbourg) Aboriginal reserve.

1915 - The Industrial and Technological Museum (now known as the Science Museum) housed in the Queen's Hall of the old Public Library, was reopened to the public. The building had undergone a considerable amount of repair and reconstruction.

1920 - The Rand Railway Branch Line (NSW) was opened from Jct (Henty) to Rand.

1922 - The first meeting of the Nowra Croquet Club was held in the Bowling Club pavilion.Mrs Mark Morton was elected President and Mrs J Moloney Secretary/Treasurer and a committee of three - Mrs B Cox, Mrs J Moloney and Mrs Fred Morton.

1928 – The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia made its first official flight from Cloncurry to Julia Creek.

1932 - Australian Cabinet approves the "Emergency Scheme for the Fortification of Darwin".

1954 - he National Council of Women of the Australian Capital Territory called a meeting to launch a scheme for a housing settlement for the aged. This was titled The Goodwin Centre Development Association in honour of Lt Col John Goodwin, who was a renowned public servant and tireless advocate for the needs of the growing Canberra community.

1958 - St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital in Brisbane was officially opened after more than 10 years of fundraising, land acquisition, hard work and dedication.

1964 - Bernard "Midget" Farrelly won the first World Surfboard Championship at Manly Beach.

1965 - The Electricity Supply was turned on at Carmila, QLD.

1967 - In Go-Set this week it was reported about The Easybeats' wild return to Australia and Dick Diamonde's collapse on the tarmac at Sydney airport.

1971 - "Monday Conference", a new public affairs discussion forum hosted by ex-Four Corners reporter Robert Moore, premiered on ABC-TV. Early guests included Paul Erlich, Germaine Greer, Bob Hawke, Gustav Nossel and Gough Whitlam. Later in the year Moore changed the format to include a live audience in the discussion. Tragically, most of the tapes of the first two years of the series were later erased, according to writer Bob Ellis.

1979 - To give the public and the police an appreciation of the history of the Police Force, the Police Museum in QLD was fully open to the public.

1981 - The National Times reported that GAYTAS, the Schools’ Commission and the NSW Education Department supported the distribution of the human development kit despite opposition from the Federal Minister of Education, the Festival of Light and the Concerned Parents’ Association.

1983 - AIDS was declared a notifiable disease in Victoria, the first Australian state to take such action.

1984 - Homosexual law reform was debated and the Wran Bill passed by the Legislative Council.

1989 - The Main Western Railway Line (NSW) was closed from Nyngan Junction to Bourke.

1991 - Today the Diesel Electric Rail Motor (DERM), the longest used railmotor in Vic railways having been first introduced in 1928,  was completely withdrawn from service. Originally fitted out as Petrol Electric Rail Motors (PERM) they were switched to diesel in the 1950s.

1992 - 2,000 marched from Green Pk to Hyde Pk to attend a Candlelight Rally to remember those who had died of AIDS.

1994 - Cate Mackenzie, former barrister and Assistant Chief Parliamentary Counsel in Victoria, blind from childhood, was appointed President of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Board.

1996 – Bob Bellear was appointed to the District Court of New South Wales, becoming the first Indigenous Australian judge.

1999 - US authorities charged Jean-Philippe Wispelaere of Australia for trying to sell classified American defense documents. Wispelaere had worked in Canberra for the Australian Defense Intelligence Organization.

2006 -  Widespread evidence of child abuse in Aboriginal communities has sparked calls for the Australian government to take greater action to protect children at risk.

2006 - The second annual International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) was held.

2012 - Japan and Australia signed an agreement in Tokyo that will allow them to share intelligence as the Asia-Pacific region adapts to the rising power of China.

2013 - The Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) was formed today, as a new name for the Department of Indigenous Affairs. The DAA has an information service and other resources for Aboriginal family history in Western Australia.

2017 - Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove unveiled two statues, commissioned by the Burt family and created by local Afghan-born sculptor Mehdi Rasulle, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Burt Memorial Hall, Perth. The Donnybrook sandstone statues were later installed as part of a frieze on the southern wall of the building.


  1. (aka Sambo Combo). Tell me it wasn't so. Knowing that it was. Which is part of the reason I support political correctness. Those who still think those things are more likely to keep their mouths shut.

    1. Yeah, I cringe and curl my toes whenever I see these names. Sadly, that name is included in his official ADB entry.
      I include those revolting monikers only to highlight the blatant racism of the day , and (hopefully) to check it's spread in the current day.

  2. It's been a busy date in history. No wonder I'm feeling like joining my two furry mates and having a cat nap! :)

    Slowly attitudes are changing...some for the better...some not. I guess it will always remain this way...some good...and sadly, some bad.

    1. Some days are bursting with events...others I have scurry about, turning over every little pebble to find something to report lol.

  3. A few first there.
    Interesting what happened on this day of latter years, many of those things I remember - too old you see :)