Tag Archives: Nairne

Ship Ahoy! A Murderous Scoundrel.


Ship Ahoy! A Murderous Scoundrel.


Charles La Lievre

Inspector Charles Le Lievre was a member of the South Australian Mounted Police Force between 1877 and 1929. He was stationed at various outposts, including Henley Beach, Salisbury, Nairne, and Renmark. Before coming to Australia from the Channel Islands, Le Lievre was a sailor.

 Le Lievre recounted many stories about his time in the police force to local newspapers after his retirement. This is one of them.


While at Nairne in 1897, and making my usual round in the township, I heard someone shouting,- \’Ship ahoy!\’, I went up to see what was the matter and saw a man in a drunken state near the hotel. I asked him what was the matter? He told me he was calling, for his mate. I said to him, \’You had better come, with me and have a camp,\’ and took him to the station.
  When there he asked me if I would give him a feed, as he had not had anything to eat that day. \’ I gave him a good feed and\’ two pannikins of hot tea.

He sat eating what I had given him on the sill of the cell door. After he had finished, I said to him, \’You bad better go in and have a camp.\’
He got up and said, and said, “What do you take me for, a ____ mug?” and made a violent blow at me.
A scuffle took place, and I bundled, him into the cell. Shortly afterwards several local men came to me and informed me that a man was going about the street vowing that he would “knife the ____ trooper that had caged his mate,\’ and that he would knife him if he attempted, to arrest him; and, that whatever I did to be sure and take my revolver with me, as he appeared to be mad drunk.

I thanked them for telling me, as forewarned was forearmed. I took my staff, which I placed inside my jacket; and went in search of this man.

I asked one of the men to follow me in case I needed assistance. I had not proceeded far when I heard a man using vile and blasphemous language under the verandah of one of the hotels further down the street. As I approached him he said, “You\’re the ____ that caged my mate,\’ and so on.
  He kept his hand on his side and the handle of a sheath knife; which was in his belt. \’

There are various stages of drunkenness, such as helplessness and maudlin, but this man was mad drunk and was like a perfect demon. I could see that he would not hesitate to knife me.
I had to use stratagem with him: but I was determined at all costs to arrest him.
 I said, “I don\’t know what you mean by caging your mate. He has just had a feed, and is now having a camp at the station.”
 “Well,“ he said, \’there\’s his ______ swag, you can take that too.”
  I was taking no risk in doing that, for I saw that he was waiting for an opportunity to take me off my guard, and knife me. I turned around to the landlord, who was standing by, and said to him, \’Take the swag inside, and give the owner of it a pint of beer at my expense when he calls for it.”
 He said to the landlord, with an oath, \’Leave the swag alone; I\’ll take it to him.\’ – I said, “Very well, you can do that if you like.”

He seemed to be nonplussed at the cool way I was acting towards him, for I remained calm and collected. He slung the swag over his shoulder and walked with me towards the station. I kept close to him and was determined that at the slightest attempt he made to draw his knife I would use my baton on him.
 After proceeding a little way, I said to him, “I hear that you are a sailor and that you have a knife you are going to put into me. Do you\’ call yourself an English sailor?\’\’
 He replied with an oath that he was. I said to him, “I too have been a sailor, and I never yet knew an English sailor who would use his knife against another. I want you to hand me that knife, let me have a look at it.”

 With that, he drew it out of its sheath. Simultaneously as he raised his arm, I caught hold of his wrist, giving it \’a sharp twist, and took possession of the knife. I was then master of the situation. He was taken by surprise, and said, “\’Oh, matey, you\’re not going to keep my knife, that is the only one I have to cut my tobacco with.”
 I told him I would cut what he wanted.

At the station, I arrested him and placed him in the cell with the other \’prisoner.

He stamped and swore and acted like a madman. He opened the swag and drew out from it a new tomahawk, put it on the cell floor, and walked to where his mate was lying asleep. I nodded to the man who was with me to get it. He swiftly crossed the cell floor and brought it out.
 I immediately bolted the cell door. Seeing what we had done he used blasphemous language. In the morning I opened the cell door, but was prepared for any emergency, and asked them for their names. The prisoner I had taken the knife from asked “What\’s the charge, sergeant; no knifing I hope, for I\’m a ____ when in drink?\’ I replied, \’Fortunately for you, it is not.”
 They were both sentenced to a term of imprisonment at the Nairne Police Court.

 The knife, an ugly looking one was handed over to the Commissioner of Police, and he ordered it to be placed in the police museum, which contains almost all the weapons with which the murders and attempted murders and suicides recorded in the State have been committed. Each article is numbered, and a concise record kept of the circumstances surrounding the tragedy with which that exhibit, is associated.
  One of these knives had been included in the collection not on the account, as it says, of association with a crime, but it testifies to the bravery of a mounted constable\’ (M.C; Le Lievre) when at one of our southern townships Upon being told that a sailor, had threatened to use his sheath knife if he attempted to arrest him, the officer determinedly faced the man took possession of the knife and arrested him. I heard no more of this man until the Stepney Tragedy, which occurred a year or more after this incident.[1]


Next week: The Stepney Tragedy.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller ©2020

[1] \’MEMORIES OF AN OLD POLICE OFFICER.\’, The Register, (6 October 1925), p. 12. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64246910.




Oh, have you heard the latest news

   Of how a ghost was seen,

By people whom we cannot say

   Are altogether green.


To Dawsley they had been, it seems,

   To hear a parson preach;

And service done they harried on,

   Their cosy homes to reach.


T\’was Sunday night, the moon was young,

   And cast a silver sheen

On all the gum trees in the vales,

   And o\’er the hillocks green.


ln such, a scene, oh, would that I

   Could wander on that road,

Acknowledge to some charming girl

   The debt of love I owed.


Alas! I\’m old, and now from me

   Suck, happy scenes ace fled

With mem\’ries of a lovelit past,

   Long buried with the dead.


But these good folk that trudged along

   Were lassies bright and fair,

Whose silver laughter rang upon

   The balmy evening air.


And laddies, too, with buoyant heart.

   Beside the lassies strode

With manly, light, elastic step,

   Along that Dawsley road.


Old fogies, too, serene and calm.

   Were walking with the young,

Whose blended voices harmonised.

   And through, the wattles rung.


In jocund mood, they strolled along,

   Bereft of every care;

When lo! their merry mood was changed

  To grim and horrid fear.


From out beneath a bridge was beard

   A deep sepulchral moan.

Soon followed by unearthly sounds,

   And then a horrid groan.


“Come down,” a ghostly voice called out,

   “Come down at once, I say;”

But rooted to the spot they stood,

   Upon the Queen\’s highway.


The ladies all began to scream,

   As nicely as they could,

While all the men with trembling knees.

   In silent horror stood.


Then bounded from that sullied group,

   Young brave and stalwart Joe,

Declaring by his lady love,

   Beneath the bridge he\’d go.


Like hero true he plunged below,

   That bridge so drear and dark,

Declaring he would catch the ghost.

   And prove the thing a lark.


He soon returned, and said he saw

   A figure white and tall

Quick vanish through a wooden fence

   Through panels, post and all.


He said he thought it was no ghost,

   But some \’owdacious\’ fellow

Whom he would like to pommel well,

   Until he\’d roar and bellow.


The ladies all admired Joe,

   And gave him each her blessing,

Each wishing he\’d got the chance

   To give the wretch a dressing.


So let us hope with all our heart,

   When next he sees a ghost

He\’ll grab him by the heels or neck,

   In spite of rails or post.


I send this yarn with true intent,

   In hope that you may know

In Nairne there dwells and flourishes

   That brave young miller Joe.[1]


An original poem written by Mr F. Lines in 1877, describing a ghostly incident near Nairne.[2]

Researched by Allen Tiller. 2020

[1] \’DOTTINGS FROM THE DESERT.\’, Bunyip, (24 August 1877), p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97220329.

[2] \’NAIRNE, AUGUST 27.\’, South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail, (1 September 1877), p. 21., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article90944379

A Ghost at Nairne

A Ghost at Nairne


Nairne 1910 – SLSA: [B 394]
In March 1878, the Adelaide Hills town of Nairne was beset with an unruly and persistent ghost who over several nights was terrifying local ladies. The ghost would appear in the evenings at various locations around the town surprising locals, before vanishing into the night.
One evening a group of young men set about capturing the ghost. They waited patiently for it to appear. When it did appear, the ghost seemed to be very much aware of the plans for its capture, evading the various traps put in place. The ghost was also very fast, outpacing the living. It vanished once more into the night.
 A warning was put around the town that if the ghost was captured, a harsh and severe punishment would be dealt to it. The ghost was not seen around Nairne again after the warning.
Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2019
‘COUNTRY LETTERS.’, Adelaide Observer, (16 March 1878), p. 6.
‘COUNTRY CORRESPONDENCE.’, South Australian Register, (14 March 1878), p. 6.
‘NAIRNE, MARCH 13.’, South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail, (16 March 1878), p. 4