Tag Archives: South Australia.



Barabba was a township that sat between Hamley Bridge and Mallala on the Adelaide Plains. It was settled circa 1860, with Mr Henry Hobhouse Turton considered the first settler in the area.
Originally the section of Barraba where the school and town sits was called Aliceburgh, named for Governor William Jervois\’ daughter Alice.
This section of the town was settled by the McCabes, Hallion, and Roberts Families.
The Barabba primitive church opened in 1877 with its final service held in 1967.
Barabba post office operated from 1877 until 1971 from the Barabba School.
The church has long since been demolished, and the schoolhouse was destroyed during the Pinery bushfires in 2015.
#Barabba #history #SouthAustralia

Arthur C. Gask – Crime Writer

 Arthur C. Gask – Crime Writer

Mr. Arthur C. Gask SLSA: [B 58382] 1925 

Arthur C. Gask was born in St Marylebone, England in 1869. He was educated in London and became a dentist.[1]
 Gask married Florence Mary Tippett and together had four children. Gask divorced Florence in 1909, and two months later married his children’s nursemaid, Marion Maltby.[2]

Gask, Marion, their two sons, and a daughter from his previous marriage emigrated to Australia in 1920. Gask set up his dentistry at 199 North Terrace and is credited as being the first in South Australia to use gas when carrying out teeth extractions.

 Gask became famous as crime writer while living in Adelaide. In between patients, he would write crime fiction. In 1921 he published his first book, The Secret of the Sandhills, which sold out in three weeks. He went on to write 30 novels featuring his detective Gilbert Larose, plus many other novels and short stories. Such was his reputation that H.G. Wells held him in high esteem, saying of his book The Vengeance of Larose; “best piece of story-telling…It kept me up till half-past one.”[3]

Gask retired in 1933 and moved to the country. He named a homestead he built near Kooringa, ‘Gilrose’.[4]He later, moved back to city life, settling at Walkerville.

Arthur Gask died on 25 June 1851 in a private hospital in North Adelaide. His remains were 

Books from Arthur C. Gask (from Wikipedia)

Gilbert Larose novels

· Cloud the Smiter, 1926

· The Dark Highway, 1928

· The Lonely House, 1929

· The Shadow of Larose, 1930

· The House on the Island, 1931

· Gentlemen of Crime, 1932

· The Hidden Door, 1934

· The Judgment of Larose, 1934

· The Poisoned Goblet, 1935

· The Hangman\’s Knot, 1936

· The Master Spy, 1937

· The Night of the Storm, 1937

· The Grave-Digger of Monks Arden, 1938

· The Fall of a Dictator, 1939

· The Vengeance of Larose, 1939

· The House on the Fens, 1940

· The Tragedy of the Silver Moon, 1940

· The Beachy Head Murder, 1941

· His Prey Was Man, 1942

· The Mystery of Fell Castle, 1944

· The Man of Death, 1946

· The Dark Mill Stream, 1947

· The Unfolding Years, 1947

· The House with the High Wall, 1948

· The Storm Breaks, 1949

· The Silent Dead, 1950

· The Vaults of Blackarden Castle, 1950

· Marauders by Night, 1951

· Night and Fog, 1951

· Crime Upon Crime, 1952 (Posthumous)

Other Novels

· The Secret of the Sandhills, 1921

· The Red Paste Murders (US Title: Murder in the Night), 1923

· The Secret of the Garden, 1924

· The Jest of Life, 1936

Short Stories

· The Martyr on the Land, (1935)

· The Passion Years, (1936)

· The Destroyer, 1939

· The Will, (1944)

· Buggy\’s Babies, (1944)

· Ghosts, (1944)

· Seedtime and Harvest, (1944)

· The Amazing Adventure of Marmaduke, (1944)

· The Lottery Ticket, (1944)

· The Mark of Honor, (1944)

· The Hatton Garden Crime, (1945)

· The Way of Chance, (1945)

· Black Market, (1945)

· The Bishop\’s Dilemma, (1948)

For more information about Gask’s works please visit AusLit.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2020

[1] \’Mystery Writer\’s Death\’, The Advertiser, (26 June 1951), p. 2.

[2] Michael J. Tolley, \’Gask, Arthur Cecil (1869–1951)\’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, ANU, (1996), http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gask-arthur-cecil-10283/text18191.

[3] \’Mystery Writer\’s Death\’, The Advertiser, (26 June 1951), p. 2.

[4] Arthur Cecil Gask (1869 – 1951), WikiTree, (25 July 2020), https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Gask-6

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.

Lost Churches of South Australia: New Maughan Church

 Lost Churches of South Australia:
New Maughan Church
New Maughan Church 2012

After the demolition of the former Methodist New Connexion Church in 1963, a new church was built on the same site.
  In 1965, to much fanfare, the New Maughan Church was opened. It included a neo-gothic revival style church designed by Brown and Davies, the new Radio City headquarters of 5KA, 5AU and 5RM.
[1] The Salvation Army band played at the opening with three choirs and two thousand worshippers present. A procession also features the South Australian Governor, 30 clergymen of different denominations, including Catholic and Protestant, all dressed in the finest robes. The festivities were broadcast live on 5KA.[2]

 The neo-gothic church was distinctive for its folded copper plate roof that formed a 24-sided “crown” atop a steel-framed octagonal form. It also had a redbrick tower at the corner of the site. The building had been deemed one of South Australia’s most nationally significant examples of 20th-century design by the Australian Institute of Architects, South Australian Chapter.[3]
  The City of Adelaide Heritage Survey in 2009 stated of the building, “a notable and prominent example of contemporary Gothic architecture which is rare in South Australia and unique in the city centre.”[4] 

  Despite this, in 2016, provisional heritage protection on the neo-gothic New Maughan Church was revoked by the Labor Government. This allowed the historic church and former Radio City buildings to be demolished. 

In their place a new twenty-story edifice was constructed, named ‘Uniting Communities’. The new building features apartment buildings for people with a disability, a retirement village and space for conferences and worship. It opened in 2019.

To view stunning photos of the church during its demolition, please visit Autopsy of Adelaide here: https://autopsyofadelaide.com/2016/10/12/urban-exploration-adelaides-maughan-church/

Researched and written by Allen Tiller ©2020

[1] Donovan & Associates, City of Adelaide Heritage Survey: 2008–2009 Volume One, (2009), pp.31-2.

[2] Transmission, vol 1, no 13, (July 1962), p. 1.

[3] Rick Goodman, Wreckers tear down historic Maughan Church in Adelaide CBD, The Advertiser, (14 August 2016), https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/wreckers-tear-down-historic-maughan-church-in-adelaide-cbd/news-story/76c1e1d453fdfc67cb32d4d308217322.

[4] Josh Harris, Vertical retirement village to be South Australia’s greenest building, ArchitectureAU, (15 February 2018), https://architectureau.com/articles/vertical-retirement-village-to-be-south-australias-greenest-building/.

Lost Churches of South Australia; Methodist New Connexion Church


Lost Churches of South Australia;
Methodist New Connexion Church.

Methodist New Connexion Church
1915: SLSA:[B 4340]

In June 1864, the Adelaide Express newspaper reported that Reverend Maughan’s New Connexion Church was nearing completion.[1] The Methodist New Connexion Church was officially opened on 19 December 1864.
It was situated on the corner of Franklin and Pitt Streets.

The South Australian Weekly Chronicle published a description of the newly completed Church:

The church, which was erected from the designs and under the superintendence of Mr. James Macgeorge, is a building which, in its exterior aspect may almost be said to represent a new era in ecclesiastical architecture in Adelaide.

The church, which was erected from the designs and under the superintendence of Mr. James Macgeorge, is a building which, in its exterior aspect, may almost be said to represent a new era in ecclesiastical architecture in Adelaide.

  Hitherto church buildings, if of the ordinary rubble and brick, have been stuccoed in resemblance of stone, or at all events the brick has been used in such a way as to show that no effect or prominence was intended to be given to it as brickwork.
  In the new structure in Franklin-street, however, quite a different idea has been followed. The materials – brick and stone – are not only used without any disguise, but are disposed in a manner highly ornamental, both as to form and color, the recessed and fretted doorways displaying many beautiful combinations of ornamental brick exemplifying the former, and suggesting: the almost endless variety which may be obtained in this style of structural ornamentation; and in point of color the brick finishing’s throughout, relieved against the neutral tints of the walls, give a pleasing and satisfactory chromatic effect. 

 The spire is carried up entirely in brick, the mortar used being of a blue color, and bands of firebrick are introduced, which enliven its appearance, and harmonize with the cut stone windows of the front. The principal front is towards Franklin-street, with an entrance tower and spire in the centre, 20 feet square at the ground, and rising to a height of more than 100 feet. The tower doorway is beautifully executed in brick, with columns at the sides (to be finished with carved stone capitals), and in the upper part of the tower there Is a circular window, filled with stone tracery of elegant design; and above the tower, at the base of the spire there are four pinnacles, one at each angle, and between each pair of pinnacles a traceried window for lighting the spire, and the spire itself is terminated by a copingstone, surmounted by a gilt finial and vane, forming an appropriate and beautiful termination to the whole.
 The front of each side of the tower shows a tall stone-traceried window, set in brick, arch, and jambe, and resting upon a brick string. The main building is 84 feet by 46 feet internal dimensions. The walls are of substantial thickness, varying from 3 feet, and nowhere less than 2 feet through. Each side of the building is divided into six bays or compartments by bodily projecting buttresses, the ornamental parts of which, as well as of the walls and windows between, are carried out in ornamental brick.

 The compartment next the front on each side is finished transpet like, with a tall gable and stone traceriel window, the steep pitch of which relieves the flatness of the main roof, and, together with the ornamental ridging and crosses on the gables, gives a pleasing variety to the sky outline, and the uniformity of slating is agreeably broken by the introduction of bands and patterns of ornamental slates. The same decorative construction has been applied to the rear of the building, the vestries having three two-light windows in the back elevation, and the wall is surmounted by an open brick parapet, and the roof, which is steep, finishing with a very ornamental ridging; and when seen from the rear the tout ensemble is as pleasing as that presented from any other point of observation. 

Entering the building we commence again at the tower entrance, which is 12 feet square inside and 20 feet high, having a cornice around the ceiling, and a floor of ornamental design in marble and tiles. We pass from the tower through an archway to a lobby, seven feet wide, ceiled, and divided by a screen wall from the rest of the church. At the extremes right and left there will be staircases to the gallery, which will ultimately be added. Folding doors open from the lobby to the church. The interior roof is divided into six compartments similar to the exterior by means of stained oak principals resting upon projecting hammer beams, and wall-posts resting upon enriched corbels between each pair of windows. A beautiful, enriched cornice rails the entire length of each side, corresponding in style with the projecting hammer-beams, and the ceiling is further subdivided into 38 panels by moulded purlines running transversely \’to the principals. 

The ceiling forms two inclined planes meeting in the centre ridge, from whence two gasaliers of double circles depend, and in the centre is placed a ventilating apparatus, which may be regulated at pleasure. The front and side windows are fitted with stained glass of varied and beautiful patterns, and the windows are finished with mouldings and enriched labels. The further or pulpit end of the church has a large centre arch and niche, with a circular traceried window, filled with coloured glass. On either side of the centre arch there is a smaller arch, the group of three, with their mouldings and pillared jambs, occupying the whole of this end of the church. In each side arch a door of very beautiful design communicates with the vestries. The platform and communion rail are of octagonal form, and occupy the recess of the centre arch, and project into the body of the church. They are executed in cedar, with carved newels, and traceried panels of beautiful design form the communion rail and arched and pillared front to the platform, surmounted by handsome fretwork; and an elegant lectern is in the place of a desk. 

The seats are particularly convenient and comfortable, attaining a just medium as to height, slope of back, &c., and the ends of novel design, having nothing to obstruct the view. In the side aisles the seats are inclined towards the platform, and at the end next the entrance there is a seat for the choir, and from the platform the floor rises slightly to the entrance-doors. The accommodation, exclusive of the gallery, is for 550 persons, allowing 20 inches to each. The church, when the end gallery is completed, will seat *00 persons at the same scale, without reckoning free seats. 

At the rear of the building there is a class-room 27 x 17, and minister\’s vestry, 17 x 11, both lighted with gas, and between the two is arranged belief and cold and hot water pipes, together with the requisite heating apparatus. Contrary to the usual plan, the work was not let in one contract but was subdivided into several contracts. Of the manner in which the work is carried out. there is no need to speak.

The work speaks for itself; and the result, in a pecuniary sense, must be highly satisfactory to the Trustees of the church, for the aggregate cost of the building- thus subdivided is some hundreds of pounds less than the Architect\’s estimate. Nor will the extras exceed the limit assigned by him when the work was let, namely, S per cent, upon the contract sum, £3,472. The structure reflects credit upon all concerned; upon the Trustees for their selection; upon the Architect for the elegant building- he has evolved from the materials at his disposal, and at a minimum of cost; and upon the contractors for the skill and attention they have bestowed upon the work. Ventilation is well provided for by means of openings in the windows at the eaves on both sides, and in the centre of the ceiling by four large tubes fitted with valves. Acoustically the building is perfect; it is easy to speak in, and there is not the slightest resonance or echo, and the lowest tones of the speaker are perfectly audible at the extreme end of the building. Probably the inclined form of ceiling- conduces greatly to this result, while it shows the adaptability of gothic architecture to yield this the most important qualification of an auditorium.\’

Prior to the completion of the Albert Tower spire on the Adelaide Town Hall, the spire of the Methodist Church was the highest point in the City of Adelaide between 1864 and November 1865.[2]

In 1888, the Methodist New Connexion Church merged with the Bible Christian Church. In 1900, the church became the Methodist Central Mission.[3]

In 1954, after an earthquake, it was feared the spire of the church would collapse. In high winds, bricks had begun to fall into the office area of 5KA and the Methodist Mission below. Pitt Street was cordoned off, and demolition crews were called in to remove the spire. This was the beginning of the end for the old church.[4]

The Church was demolished in 1863, with the New Maughan Church and Radio City building opening in 1865.

Written and researched by Allen Tiller © 2020

[1] \’HEADS OF INTELLIGENCE.\’, The Adelaide Express (25 June 1864), p. 2.

[2] \’COMPLETION OF THE ALBERT TOWER.\’, South Australian Register, (30 November 1865), p. 3.

[3] Maughan Church, Adelaide 1896 [PRG 631/2/474], State Library of South Australia, [Photograph], (10 May 2005), https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/PRG+631/2/474.: Maughan Church, Franklin St, Adelaide [B 4340], State Library of South Australia, [Photograph], (6 June 2005), https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+4340.

[4] \’CITY SCARE OVER SPIRE\’, News, (8 March 1954), p. 1.

A Haunting at the Supreme Court of South Australia


A Haunting at the 

Supreme Court of South Australia

Why would someone haunt the Supreme Court of South Australia? That is a question one could ask about any building, but a pertinent question after it came to light in January 2019, that the Adelaide Supreme Court was receiving changes to a proposed internal renovation due to a ghost!

The Adelaide Supreme Court was designed by Colonial Architect, R.G. Thomas. The building was constructed using Tea Tree Gully sandstone in 1869. The building was first used as the Local Court and Insolvency Court, then from 1873, it became solely the Supreme Court.[1]

 The building is part of a group of significant law buildings facing Victoria Square that also includes the Sir Samuel Way Court, the Magistrates Court, and the original Police Courts.[2]

 The Supreme Court of Adelaide has been home to some very notable South Australian’s including Sir Samuel Way, Sir Mellis Napier, Sir James Boucat, Sir Herbert Mayo, and Dame Roma Mitchell just to name a few. Another Judge, and the suspected ghost haunting the Adelaide Supreme Court, is Sir George John Robert Murray (1863-1942).
 Judge Murray was born at Magill, the son of Scottish pastoralists. He was educated at J.L. Youngs’s Adelaide Educational Institution, and attended the Royal High School, Edinburgh, Scotland.
[3] He returned to South Australia and attended St. Peter’s College, then the University of Adelaide. He obtained a scholarship for his outstanding marks, which allowed him to attend law school at Trinity College, Cambridge, UK.[4]

 Murray had a distinguished career, now only as a lawyer and Judge. He was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia in 1912. He also served as Chancellor for the University of Adelaide six times between 1916 and 1942. In 1916 he became the Chief Justice of South Australia. Murray also administered the government of South Australia, as the states Lieutenant Governor on numerous occasions in the absence of a Governor. In 1917, Murray was honoured with Knight Commander (KCMG), The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George.[5]

Murray was seen by many as an austere and serious man. He never married, and instead lived with his unmarried sister, Margaret at the family estate, Murray Park at Magill (now the administrative building of University of South Australia, Magill Campus).[6]

Sir Murray died on 18 February 1942 following an operation for appendicitis. He was buried alongside his sister at St Georges Church of England Cemetery, Woodforde (near Magill).

 It was alleged in numerous newspaper reports, that during the renovations of the Adelaide Supreme Court in 2018-19 that a psychic-medium, brought in by construction company Hansen Yuncken, identified Sir George Murray as a resident ghost in the building.
 Construction workers had reported strange goings-on in the old building. Chairs had moved through the worksite of their own volition. Fire extinguishers, placed in areas of high risk, would be found in entirely different sections of the worksite far from where workers had placed the. I personally had contact from security guards who told me they had seen the spectre of a man walk through the building, his presence was solid enough that when he walked past motion-activated doors, they would open.
 Some staff became ‘spooked’ by the ghost, so the psychic was called on to investigate. It is claimed the psychic ran her hand over the proposed plans of the building and “felt a presence”. She spoke psychically to the spirit and later identified him via a portrait of Sir Murray. She stated that Sir Murray objected to the proposed seating rearrangement of where the Judges sat in courtroom 11.

A spokesperson for Hansen Yuncken stated:

\’Apparently she spoke to what she called the \’spirit\’, which was a Supreme Court Judge, Sir George Murray, who was a little bit annoyed that the layout of his courtroom had changed so he has been causing a little bit of mayhem.\’
The spokesperson went on to say; \’There might be a little bit of a design change to keep the judge happy. There may well be some things to accommodate his, shall we say, temper.\’

 Sir George Murray was the States Supreme Justice for 16 years and served at the courtrooms from 1912 until his death in 1942. Perhaps, it is justified that his presence is felt in the courts…


Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2020

(Written for the publication; Haunted Adelaide)

[1]Adelaide Heritage, Supreme Court, National Trust of South Australia, (2019), http://www.adelaideheritage.net.au/all-site-profiles/supreme-court/.

[2] Ibid.

[3]‘Death of Sir George Murray’, The Advertiser, (19 February 1942), p. 4.

[4]Alex C. Castles, \’Murray, Sir George John Robert (1863–1942)\’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, ANU, (1986), http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/murray-sir-george-john-robert-7708/text13497.

[5]Peter Duckers, British Orders and Decorations, (Oxford 2009), pp. 26–27.

[7] Brittany Chain, $31 million Supreme Court renovations halted after medium declares the spirit of a dead judge is haunting the building – as plans are rearranged to ‘appease the ghost’, Daily Mail Australia, (20 Jan 2019), https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6611759/Supreme-Court-renovations-halted-medium-declares-spirit-dead-judge-haunting-building.html.

A Haunting at the Railway Hotel Peterborough


A Haunting at the Railway Hotel Peterborough

The Railway Hotel is located at 221 Main Street Peterborough, South Australia. It is the third hotel built in the town, opening on 24 December 1891.[1]The first publican was W. Britten.[2]


Railway Hotel 2017 – Source: Bahnfrend CC:

   Sister Beth Ashley was a much-respected nurse. She had worked at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and at St Margaret’s Rehabilitation Hospital at Semaphore. It was while at St. Margaret’s that Ashely met an orderly named William Hyson. Hyson had come to South Australia from Tamworth, New South Wales. Ashley and Hyson had started dating, but after a short while, Ashley called off their relationship.[3]

 Ashley had become a nursing sister at the Peterborough Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in South Australia’s mid-north. On March 21, 1949, Ashely received a phone call from Hyson telling her he was coming to Peterborough to see her. Ashley became upset and told him not to come or she would tell the police he was harassing her.

 The following day, March 22, at about 11:25am, Violet Revell, a housemaid at the Railway Hotel, heard two gunshots about 30 seconds apart. Revell reported to her boss, publican Sydney Coombe at about 11:50pm that a woman in an upstairs room was calling out for help. Coombe investigated room 5, and called out to the woman to open the door. She said, “I can’t open the door. I am shot.’ Coombe asked if anyone was with her, to which the woman replied, “Bill.”
Coombe called out for Bill to open the door, which the woman replied, “He can’t”.
Coombe phoned the police.

Mounted Constable E.H. Thom was first on the scene. He opened the door expecting to see evidence of a struggle, but there was none. Sister Ashley, lying on the bed, opened her eyes, and said to Thom, “I was here only two or three minutes when Bill shot me!”.

 Dr A.M. Myers was called. He found Hyson and Ashley both alive and had them rushed to the hospital. Hyson had taken a .22 pistol and shot Ashley, then turned the gun on himself. Hyson died of the self-inflicted wound at 2:15pm that day.[4]
 Ashley was still conscious when the doctor found her. She had a small wound in front of her right ear. Dr Myers decided to operate when condition improved, however, her bleeding was not under control, and she died at 5:40pm.[5]

The coroner, Mr J.S. Bennett ruled at an inquest into the deaths, that it was a murder-suicide by shooting.


   It is alleged, ever since this terrible tragedy, that the Railway Hotel is haunted. Witness’ claim that sometimes a ghostly silhouette of a person is seen in the upper windows of the hotel. Some people claim that they can feel a person sitting on them. Oddly, this happens in room 3, not room 5 where nurse Ashley was shot.[6]

Another ghost reported haunting this hotel is a child who plays in the kitchen.

It is said of the ghost in room 3, that some truckies have rented the room, and have left to sleep in the truck rather than wake up to the ghostly figure sharing the bed with them!

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2020

[1] ‘About the Railway’, Railway Hotel Motel Peterborough, (2020), https://railwayhotelpeterborough.com.au/.

[2] Hoad, J. L., Hotels and publicans in South Australia 1836-1984, (Adelaide, 1984), p. 490.

[3] \’COUPLE DIE IN HOTEL\’, The West Australian, (23 March 1949), p. 6., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47652985.

[4] Nurse Died After Call For Aid, Brisbane Telegraph, (April 9, 1949), p. 8, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article216575186.

[5] \’Murder And Suicide Finding At Peterborough Inquest\’, Chronicle, (14 April 1949), p. 8. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article93334089.

[6] Marshall, Gordon de L & Shar, Richard, Ghosts and hauntings of South Australia, (Jannali, N.S.W., 2012), p. 251.

Photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Railway_Hotel,_Peterborough,_2017_(01).jpg

The Stepney Tragedy.


The Stepney Tragedy.

Dr Ewbank SLSA: [B 11286/6/1]

 Last week I wrote about Police Inspector Charles Le Lievre who was a member of the South Australian Mounted Police Force between 1877 and 1929. I published a transcript of his encounter with some ruffian sailors at Nairne. At the end of his story, LeLeivre recounts that one of those men would later murder his wife at Stepney, South Australia. This is that story.[1]

 Louisa Jane Fisher was a newly married 22-year-old living on Henry Street, Stepney, with her new husband, Frederick Fisher. Louisa was a daughter of John Lampey, a builder in Balaklava. The couple had met when Fisher had taken a job with her father. Unbeknownst to her, Fisher had recently been released from gaol for threatening to kill a police officer in Nairne. 

 The Fishers had moved to Glenelg, and camped on the sand dunes, before finding their humble cottage in Stepney.[2]

The Express and Telegraph newspaper described the house:

The interior of the bouse wore an extremely forlorn aspect, and was suggestive of the direst poverty. In the front room, there was absolutely nothing in the shape of furniture or effects. The kitchen was almost as barren, and with the exception of a little firewood, and an axe, was also empty. There is also a middle room, which had evidently been used as the bedroom… which was likewise unfurnished. On the floor were spread a number of blankets, which had apparently been used as a bed. Several articles of clothing were lying near, a silver watch was hanging on one of the walls, and on another wall was a neat American clock. [3]

 Frederick Fisher was 28 years old, an ex-sailor, and a recent gaol inmate.

On 18 January 1900, at about 7pm, a gunshot was heard fired within the Henry street cottage. Within minutes, Fisher had run to his neighbour, Mrs Emma Richards house next door, and told her his wife had accidentally shot herself. He asked her if she would go to the police station, which she refused. Fisher then ran to the St. Peters police station and reported the event to Constable Richmond, who told Fisher to go directly to Dr Ewbank.

 Dr Ewbank, Fisher, and a police constable all arrived on the scene at the same time. Meanwhile, a phone call about the shooting had placed at the Norwood police station. Sergeant Burchell of Norwood informed the coroner, then made his way to the house.

On the arrival of the coroner, an examination of the body was made, and it was discovered that the bullet had penetrated the left breast, and was lodged in the lungs. The ambulance van was sent for, and the body removed to the morgue.[4]

 An inquest was held a week later at the Elephant and Castle Hotel. Dr Ramsey Smith, the city Coroner, presided over the inquest, with Dr A. Mackie, a member of the hospital board present.

Dr Ewbank delivered his evidence: He stated he had found the woman’s body lying on its back on the floor. Her left arm was across her chest and her right arm by her side. Her clothing had been drawn back across her chest. Ewbank watched a police constable find the revolver 10 feet away among the ragged bedding on the floor.

 Ewbank also conducted the post mortem examination, in which he deduced that the bullet entered her body near her sternum under her third rib, it had travelled through her heart, and into her spine. He found no black scorch marks on her skin or clothing.

 Ewbank stated further:

That from the direction of the wound it might have been self-inflicted, but not accidentally.  As a rule, in cases of suicide by shooting there were evidence of burning or scorching, but in this case, the traces might have been obscured by the blood on the clothing. The skin would not have been visibly blistered through the clothing. If the deceased had been standing up the shot would have been fired from above, but if lying down by someone behind her head, or someone stooping over her. Taking all the circumstances into consideration he would not feel justified in saying whether the death was accidental, suicidal, or murderous. Deceased might have emitted a spasmodic shriek as she fell.[5]

 Charles Richards was questioned as a witness, he stated that non the night in question, he had seen Frederick Fisher in the backyard. He claimed Fisher entered the house, and a few moments later the gunshot rang out. He then heard Fisher out the front shouting for someone to call the police. When he (Richards) got out the front, Fisher was running along Henry Street toward the police station.[6]

After a short retirement, the Jury delivered the following verdict: “We are of opinion that the deceased, Eliza Louisa Jane Fisher, came to her death from a bullet wound, but that there is not sufficient evidence to show by whom the shot was fired.”[7]

Many people had assumed that Frederick Fisher had shot his wife, even though he had stated in court it was an accident. Immediately after the jury delivered their verdict, Frederick Fisher was arrested. As it turned out, when police were investigating the death of Eliza, they had stumbled upon some loose floorboards in the home. On pulling them up they found a large cache of stolen goods, which they had taken and identified as stolen from the Glenelg area.

 Fisher was charged committing a burglary in Glenelg.

In court, Fisher’s only excuse for stealing from the Glenelg homes of Phillip Simmons, Robert Hood, George Blyth, and Agnes Storrie was, “I was destitute at the time.” [8]

 Fisher pleaded guilty to charges of burglary and larceny, of which he pleaded guilty to all accounts.[9]

Frederick Fisher, an old offender, was sentenced to two terms of three years, and one term of two years for breaking and entering and larceny, respectively.[10]

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.

[2]\’SHOOTING FATALITY.\’, The Express and Telegraph, (19 January 1900), p. 3. (ONE O\’CLOCK EDITION), http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article208842536.


[4] Ibid.

[5]\’FATALITY AT STEPNEY.\’, Chronicle, (27 January 1900), p. 22., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87790969.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8]\’AT THE POLICE COURT.\’, The Express and Telegraph, (22 January 1900), p. 2. (ONE O\’CLOCK EDITION), http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article208842668.


[10] \’THE CRIMINAL SITTINGS.\’, The Advertiser, (20 February 1900), p. 4., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article29530797.

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.