Tag Archives: drowning

The Crystal Brook Bunyip

 

The Crystal Brook Bunyip

The Warra Warra Waterhole southeast of Crystal Brook.

  In 1876, the mid-north town of Crystal Brook was inundated with curious tourists trying to site the Bunyip at the Warra Warra Waterhole (sometimes spelled Wurra Wurra or Wirra Wirra[1]) on the Broughton River.
 The waterhole is located in a bend of the Rocky River, about a two and a half kilometres from the junction with the Broughton River, south-east of Crystal Brook.

In August of 1876, The South Australian Government issued a reward for 50 pounds to anyone who could capture the creature, dead or alive.[2]

 A reporter from the South Australian Advertiser stated that: “the hole probably covers about two acres, and the water is brackish. I have never heard of the water rising and falling with the tide, and I take the Bunyip to be no other than a dog belonging to a worthy farmer, who resides on the bank of the river near the waterhole.”[3]

  The waterhole had a reputation for drownings. In January 1878, a group of five friends left Thompsons Hotel with the intent to go swimming in the Warra Warra Waterhole. A young man named Beasley was swimming when he suddenly began to struggle, then sink into the waterhole. His friend, E.E. Boys attempted to save him, but Beasley was pulled under and drowned. Thomas Wilson eventually dived down, and after three attempts, pulled Beasley’s lifeless body out of the waterhole.[4]

  In 1889 the Bunyip was allegedly sighted by W.A. Allen and J. Parmenter, who rode into Crystal Brook and announced their discovery. The men’s statement was treated as a joke until they started paying for provisions to hunt it. The men described the beast as being four feet long and fifteen inches across its back, they could not report whether it had a head or a tail.[5]
A trap was set for the Bunyip.
 During this period, there were multiple sightings of the creature, but as a reporter for the Evening Journal pointed out, of the six different people who had seen the Bunyip, not one could give a good description of it.[6]
 

 The mythology of the Warra Warra Waterhole Bunyip can allegedly be traced to a sly grog shanty that once stood near the river. It is alleged that in the 1870s the grog shop proprietor told stories of the Bunyip as a real and very dangerous creature. He claimed that the waterhole had a large tunnel underneath it that went out to sea, and that the Bunyip used it to take its prey to away. Early settlers were so convinced of the Bunyips existence that they often formed shooting parties and staked out the watering hole to try and kill the beast.[7]

 

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2020

[1] \’CRYSTAL BROOK, MAY 3.\’, South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail, (8 May 1880), p. 29., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article94752008.

[2] \’Latest News.\’, Evening Journal, (5 August 1876), p. 2., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article197692722.

[3] \’CRYSTAL BROOK, AUGUST 16.\’, The South Australian Advertiser, (21 August 1876), p. 7., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73066402.

[4] \’LOCAL TELEGRAMS.\’, South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail, (12 January 1878), p. 8., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article90867715.

[5] \’The Bunyip Again.\’, Evening Journal, (31 January 1889), p. 2., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article199857712.

[6] Ibid.

[7] \’TOWNS, PEOPLE, AND THINGS WE OUGHT TO KNOW\’, Chronicle, (10 November 1932), p. 42., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article90634245.

Gawler’s Hidden Secrets: Goose Island

Gawler’s Hidden Secrets: Goose Island



  Once known as Duck Flat, Gawler’s Goose Island is little known outside of the town.
At the end of 8th street, which was known as Water Street, sits the parkland which was once home to Chinese’s market gardeners.
Parts of the land were originally owned by local Gawler identity, Mr James Martin, who is often referred to as “The Father of Gawler”, as his foundry helped employ many locals and brought industry and commercial growth to the town.

 Goose Island, which sits about four meters below the level of the rest of the town, and lower than the eastern river bank, is prone to flooding. Before a swing bridge was built in 1889, residents had to navigate the river bed, and then climb the riverbank to get to Whitelaw Terrace and the rest of the town.

In 1865, Goose Island was used for sporting events. One such event was between Gawler’s H. Ortel and Kapunda’s Abel Marryat, who were sprinting against each over for the princely winnings of $40 pounds. Marryat won the races easily.
 As Gawler grew, people began to build on Goose Island, and soon many residents had little cottages surrounded by pig sties and chicken coops. In 1885, a Typhoid outbreak hit Goose Island, thought to be due to the unsanitary conditions being caused by stagnant water in the river. A few residents died, but the outbreak was contained quickly.

An attempt to damn the river to allow people to swim or boat on the south para lasted only a short while around the early 1900’s, with a downpour of rain soon cutting a new channel around the dam. The dam was eventually blown up with dynamite in the late 1930’s.
In 1899 the first swing bridge spanning from Goose Island to Walker Place was built. Unfortunately, as the South Para river was prone to extensive flooding every winter, the bridge was washed away only a year later.

 The bridge had to be built many times over the years, as flooding almost every winter, saw it destroyed.
It wasn’t until the late 1920’s that council found a solution for the bridge being washed away, and instead of just building a rope style swing bridge, or a reinforced wire swing bridge, it was decided to sink railway line in concrete in the base of the river to offer more stability, then add steel cable anchored on the riverbanks. This bridge lasted until 1937, when it was washed away again!
 
Not far from the swing bridge of Goose Island, a little area was set aside as a reserve for children to play. Water was diverted around the play area, which was adjacent to Walker Place creating a small island, the island itself covered with sand.
 Children often played here unsupervised, which led to the tragic death of 12-year-old Flora Kamprod on the 16th of July 1927. Flora had been playing in the sand with several friends, who had dug a tunnel, and a large chamber. The chamber and tunnel collapsed burying four children, with Flora being completely buried inside. A mad rush to get helped followed, but it was too late for young Flora who suffocated under the sand.
Flora wasn’t the only tragedy near Goose Island, in 1892, Willie Sampson, aged nine years, drowned in the river. Willie was playing with friends and dove into the water, and possibly hit his head on a submerged branch, and then got stuck.
 The two other boys called out for help, and it took two passers-by over an hour before they could pull Willie from the river…

In 1951, Goose Island was again covered in water, this time flooding the gardens of local business owner Mr Noack. Noack lost 3000 poppies, 4000 gladioli and other bulbs, but considered the damage only slight to his business

In 1985, Goose Island flooded again, but the bridge, built in the 1960’s withheld the raging torrent. Again, the river flooded in 2005, this time flooding well up into 8th street, but still the bridge survived!


Today, Goose Island is a reserve right in the heart of Gawler that may soon become another car park to meet the growing needs of the town. It will be interesting to see what artefacts are found if the proposed carpark for goose Island goes ahead.


You can also find more of Allen’s work on his Blog and facebook on the links below:

For More history on the Town of Gawler, please visit the Gawler History Team page “Gawler: now and Then” at: http://www.gawler.nowandthen.net.au/Main_Page

Gawler’s Hidden Secrets: Goose Island

Gawler’s Hidden Secrets: Goose Island



  Once known as Duck Flat, Gawler’s Goose Island is little known outside of the town.
At the end of 8th street, which was known as Water Street, sits the parkland which was once home to Chinese’s market gardeners.
Parts of the land were originally owned by local Gawler identity, Mr James Martin, who is often referred to as “The Father of Gawler”, as his foundry helped employ many locals and brought industry and commercial growth to the town.

 Goose Island, which sits about four meters below the level of the rest of the town, and lower than the eastern river bank, is prone to flooding. Before a swing bridge was built in 1889, residents had to navigate the river bed, and then climb the riverbank to get to Whitelaw Terrace and the rest of the town.

In 1865, Goose Island was used for sporting events. One such event was between Gawler’s H. Ortel and Kapunda’s Abel Marryat, who were sprinting against each over for the princely winnings of $40 pounds. Marryat won the races easily.
 As Gawler grew, people began to build on Goose Island, and soon many residents had little cottages surrounded by pig sties and chicken coops. In 1885, a Typhoid outbreak hit Goose Island, thought to be due to the unsanitary conditions being caused by stagnant water in the river. A few residents died, but the outbreak was contained quickly.

An attempt to damn the river to allow people to swim or boat on the south para lasted only a short while around the early 1900’s, with a downpour of rain soon cutting a new channel around the dam. The dam was eventually blown up with dynamite in the late 1930’s.
In 1899 the first swing bridge spanning from Goose Island to Walker Place was built. Unfortunately, as the South Para river was prone to extensive flooding every winter, the bridge was washed away only a year later.

 The bridge had to be built many times over the years, as flooding almost every winter, saw it destroyed.
It wasn’t until the late 1920’s that council found a solution for the bridge being washed away, and instead of just building a rope style swing bridge, or a reinforced wire swing bridge, it was decided to sink railway line in concrete in the base of the river to offer more stability, then add steel cable anchored on the riverbanks. This bridge lasted until 1937, when it was washed away again!
 
Not far from the swing bridge of Goose Island, a little area was set aside as a reserve for children to play. Water was diverted around the play area, which was adjacent to Walker Place creating a small island, the island itself covered with sand.
 Children often played here unsupervised, which led to the tragic death of 12-year-old Flora Kamprod on the 16th of July 1927. Flora had been playing in the sand with several friends, who had dug a tunnel, and a large chamber. The chamber and tunnel collapsed burying four children, with Flora being completely buried inside. A mad rush to get helped followed, but it was too late for young Flora who suffocated under the sand.
Flora wasn’t the only tragedy near Goose Island, in 1892, Willie Sampson, aged nine years, drowned in the river. Willie was playing with friends and dove into the water, and possibly hit his head on a submerged branch, and then got stuck.
 The two other boys called out for help, and it took two passers-by over an hour before they could pull Willie from the river…

In 1951, Goose Island was again covered in water, this time flooding the gardens of local business owner Mr Noack. Noack lost 3000 poppies, 4000 gladioli and other bulbs, but considered the damage only slight to his business

In 1985, Goose Island flooded again, but the bridge, built in the 1960’s withheld the raging torrent. Again, the river flooded in 2005, this time flooding well up into 8th street, but still the bridge survived!


Today, Goose Island is a reserve right in the heart of Gawler that may soon become another car park to meet the growing needs of the town. It will be interesting to see what artefacts are found if the proposed carpark for goose Island goes ahead.


You can also find more of Allen’s work on his Blog and facebook on the links below:

For More history on the Town of Gawler, please visit the Gawler History Team page “Gawler: now and Then” at: http://www.gawler.nowandthen.net.au/Main_Page

A Mysterious Letter – The Torrens Drowning Case

A Mysterious Letter

Mysterious letters began to turn up at the local Adelaide police station in December 1931 and the home of the Lawson family in Hilton, after the body of 17-year-old James Charles Lawson was found at the bottom of the Torrens Weir in Adelaide.
The letters, sent anonymously, appeared to be made by someone lacking in literacy or trying to disguise themselves as appearing so.
The letter received by James’ Mother, was signed “I am one who knows” and contained a number of insinuations toward the Mother that she may have had a hand in the boy’s death. The letter also alluded to the boy running away from home regularly, and that the reason for this was known by the letter writer, insinuating it was caused by harsh treatment of James by his Mother.

One line in the letter stated “If an inquest is going to be held, I am going to make myself known”, a thinly veiled threat that this anonymous writer knew something more about the boys death and would come forward as a witness to provide possible evidence that could lead to a murder trial – the letter was signed by “A Mother”.


The police issued a statement urging this Mother to come forward and state the facts she knew. They assigned an officer, one they thought would be approachable, for the anonymous writer to come forward too. Constable E. J. Davis, a plainclothes officer.  ‘Mother’ never came forward.

As is law, an inquest was held into the death of young James, and hoping that the anonymous writer would be brave enough to come forth, a young court orderly was sent into the hallway and doorways of the building and told to announce in his loudest voice “That if anyone wished to give further evidence, he, or she, should come forward now and be heard!”
No-one stepped forward.

It was found by the inquest that James died from drowning, Dr. A F Lynch, who conducted the post mortem examination added to the testimony stating that James had eaten a very heavy meal shortly before he entered the water and that, due to this, it was probable that a sudden chill on top of a full stomach had resulted in his losing consciousness and drowning.

Do you believe the verdict of the inquest, or do you think something more sinister happened to young James?


© 2013 Allen Tiller