04 December 2016

When Steele Rudd Met the Kenniff Brothers at Boggo Road

The famous Australian author Steele Rudd (real name Arthur Hoey Davis) had a very unpleasant experience at Boggo Road prison on New Year’s Eve, 1902. In his capacity as the Under Sheriff of Queensland, he was required to deliver some devastating news to two brothers who had been sentenced to death for murder but were awaiting news of an appeal against that penalty. One was to have his life spared, while the other was to be hanged...

Steele Rudd (State Library of Queensland).
Steele Rudd. (State Library of Qld).

He wrote the following account of this event in later years, as part of his reminiscences about life in the public service:
(Brisbane Courier, 18 October 1924)
"The Sheriffs Office.
The Kenniff Case.
ANOTHER criminal sittings came round. They came round as regularly as a circus. And with them came the sensational trial of the Kenniffs for the murder of Doyle and Dahlke in the solitude of the Carnarvon Ranges. Ah! that was a trial to sit and watch and listen to. The accused men were brothers and bushmen and horsemen and they were ‘marked' men. One of the murdered men (Doyle) was a constable of police; Dahlke a station manager. Accompanied by a black tracker leading a packhorse, they went into the ranges to arrest the Kenniffs on a charge of cattle stealing. On the evidence of the tracker, James Kenniff was arrested at the camp and was in handcuffs when the abo. left the scene. He left the scene because he heard some shots fired and left in such a hurry, and because be heard bullets whizzing after him that he saw little else other than his way through the brigalow timber as he flogged and spurred his mount for home - and his home was Morven, the Lord knows how far away! And all that was ever seen afterwards, or recognised, of the unfortunate victims was then burnt ashes and some clothes buttons! When found they were being hawked about the ranges in saddle-bags thrown across the back of a horse that had got out of hand. It was put forward, however that others besides the men on trial were on the scene when the abo. fled. And the great question was: Who did the shooting and the burning of the bodies? An unenviable position, truly, for a jury; a trying one for a judge and one of appalling interest to the public. 
Sitting there, a silent official from day to day following the train, and threads, and broken threads of circumstantial evidence, pregnant with materials, for another ‘Robbery Under Arms,’ the Under Sheriff was in his element. 
Genius of the Judge. 
The obvious lack of bush knowledge, the false conception and surprising idea of the habits and instincts of the bush horseman and how he would act in an emergency that were displayed by some of the legal minds was to him amazing. On the other hand, the keen and remarkable insight to a life he could have known but little about at first hand displayed by the judge in laying bare by adroit examination damning weaknesses in the defence, amounted to legal genius. To the Under Sheriff those weaknesses were as obvious as the numerous absurdities put forward by the prosecution. 
James Kenniff (Qld State Archives)
James Kenniff (Qld State Archives)
Local Lore. 
He too, had known the bush: as a youth he had associated himself with horsemen and cattlemen; had followed hard and breathlessly on the flying heels of then favourite mounts, knocking sparks from the flint-strewn ranges; knocking the bark from the forest saplings and ‘barking' themselves from then shoulders to their shins as they crashed in pursuit of affrighted mobs. Had followed 'men who knew the way’ into the Horse Gully - followed them down mountain spurs and gorges, turning and sliding and wheeling this way and that till an ancient suspicious-looking track hacked through the still, silent scrub was reached - a track that led into grazing country inaccessible by any other track - grazing country that was the planting ground for stolen station mares and stallions! Had lain ‘oft in stilly nights’ listening to old hands and middling old hands relating stones of how this mob and that mob were ‘litted’ and how the thieves got through with the haul by the skin of their teeth - listening to them recounting night rides by moonlight and by starlight - of quarrels over horses and women and plunder - of the capture of Thunderbolt and of the Wild Scotchman - of the murder of So and So, and the mysterious disappearance of someone else! 
And so, knowing the craft and resources of the bush horsemen as he knew them, it seemed strange to the new Under Sheriff that sane persons could believe that a packhorse carrying the bags containing the ashes of the murdered men ever escaped from the hands of either accused or, having escaped, that either could have failed to secure it again! Ah no! that packhorse got out of the hands of someone not very clever amongst horses!
But the writer is not dealing with the trial, nor with the finding of the jury. All he knows is that the jury was composed of twelve sober, conscientious men and that the judge was a great judge. 
The Course of Law. 
Both accused were found guilty and sentenced to death. Then followed days and nights of excitement in Brisbane. The Sheriff and the Under Sheriff were not as lighthearted as they usually were, and the public executioner changed his address several times and was difficult to find. That James Kenniff, at least, was not guilty there was in the minds of some a grave doubt. From a lorry in Albert-square the pungent, picturesque oratory of Joe Lesina, the stormy petrel of Parliament, never slackened in fiery appeals to public opinion in favour of a reprieve. 
An appeal to the High Court brought from Justice Real in a thunderous voice: ‘Were I to concur in the sentence passed on James Kenniff I would regard myself guilty of judicial murder!' [Writer is trusting to memory.] 
Later the sentence of death passed upon James Kenniff was committed to years of hard labour in St Helena; and the day and hour when Patrick Kenniff would be executed fixed. And it fell to the official lot of the Under Sheriff to convey the Executive Council’s decision to the prisoners. Curiously enough, the letter conveying the decision was signed by the tender-hearted Brunton Stephens, who professed a horror for trials, gaols and executions! 
Patrick Kenniff (Qld State Archives)
Patrick Kenniff (Qld State Archives)
Breaking the Decision. 
The Under Sheriff was closing his office for the day when the document was delivered, and, hopping into the nearest cab, was in a quarter of an hour knocking on the door of Boggo-road Gaol. And never, were he to live to be a thousand, would he forget that mission to Boggo-road! He hadn't long to wait at the door before he was accompanied by the genial, kindly Chief Warder MacDonald -himself since passed to his last resting place - to the condemned cells. Suspecting the purport of the visit, he whispered hoarsely as they entered the cold shivery, almost lightless corridor: ‘What is the decision?’ 
'And not Patrick too?' he questioned when he heard it. No other warder was present. And perhaps no one knew the facts of that dreadful tragedy better than the kindly chief warder. 
‘Prisoners Patrick and James Kenniff’, he announced in calm official formula, as he opened the cell door. ‘The Under Sheriff to see you - stand forward., Two pale, worn-looking men stood forward. Their eyes gleamed with anxiety and hope. There was a twitching in the muscles of their faces – their hands clenched and opened, clenched and opened. They stood silent and erect, side by side. Patrick was a bigger man, and his features of more distinctive Irish mould than the other. And thus they waited for the Executive’s decision. In a voice broken with the tremor of emotion the Under Sheriff read it to them. When he had finished, James turned to Patrick, who remained motionless and solemn as Eternity itself and said: ‘Paddy I will go with you!’ 
Then Patrick Kenniff’s lips parted – ‘No Jimmy,’ he said, ‘you shall not! One of us is enough!’ 
In a delirium of despair, Jimmy Kenniff dropped on the floor of the cell at his brother’s feet, and lay there until the chief warder coaxed him to rise and control himself. Then for the last lime on this side the Great Divide, the Kenniffs pressed each other’s hand; and the last the Under Sheriff remembers of Jimmy Kenniff was his voice calling in sobs as he was being escorted to another yard: ‘So-long, Paddy – so-long!’"
The following account of the same scene appeared in the Evening Telegraph on 5 January 1903:
"Breaking the News.
James Kenniff Bursts into Tears.
Brisbane, January 5. 
It is understood that when the Kenniffs wore informed of the decision of the Executive, James, who was in a separate cell from Patrick, was over-joyed to learn that his life had been spared, but when he inquired as to his brother's fate he burst into tears upon being given to understand that Patrick was condemned to die. 
The official then proceeded to Patrick's cell and informed him that his doom was sealed. He turned ashly pale, and upon hearing James weeping he remarked he was sorry Jim took the matter so badly, he being under the impression that James was also to be hanged. Patrick expressed himself pleased on learning that James' life was spared. The two brothers were allowed a few minutes conversation, in the course of which James informed Patrick he would rather die with him. James also asserted that they were about to hang an innocent man."
19 November 2016

Dumbing Down 'Death Penalty History'

The 100th anniversary of the last hanging to take place in Queensland fell on 22 September 2013.* In the scheme of things that might not be a big deal to the 21st-century populace of the Sunshine State, because capital punishment has slipped into the 'dark ages' of our memory, a time beyond living history. It barely even made the news when capital punishment was abolished here in 1922, so why should people care now? Truth is, the subject of hanging has become little more than a macabre historical curio in Queensland.

Even so, it is still something of a milestone, so what did we get in the news about the hanging of Ernest Austin, the last person to die on Queensland gallows? Was it placed in the historical context of declining support for capital punishment in the 1910s? Was there considered input from criminologists, legal experts, or experienced crime-and-punishment historians? Did we learn anything at all about the actual execution itself?

How a ghost tour business dumbed down the cenetenary of the abolition of capital punishment in Queensland with made-up ghost stories.

Unfortunately, the answer to all those questions is 'no'. What we got instead was a newspaper article with a 'ghost tours' owner talking as though Austin was a monster from 'Scooby Doo'. The first 60% of an article in Quest newspapers ran like this:
"Stories have been told over the past century of a ghost who would laugh maniacally, shriek like a banshee and look down upon prisoners from the upper floors of the Boggo Road Gaol. The ghost is said to be the spirit of convicted child murderer Ernest Austin, who has been "haunting" the jail since he was put to death in 1913 - the last man in Queensland to be hanged. 
Gaol manager Jack Sim said the story of his execution and the ghoulish stories told about the infamous prisoner after his death were now the country's oldest continuously told prison ghost story. Both prisoners and wardens would retell the story to their peers, with the first known mention back in the 1930s. 
"People have continued to talk about this ghost and its presence in the jail from not long after the execution of Ernest Austin" he said. 
"It was said that late at night you could see him standing up on one of the upper floors of the jail looking down at you. In the 1940s, it was also being said that Austin's last words included laughter, and that the ghost would have this maniacal laugh just like him."
The remaining part of the article is just a sales pitch for the tours. The Brisbane Times website, which is usually a bit more credible, had a short audio clip along the same lines, again totally devoid of any historical analysis (and barely even a mention) of the actual execution itself. A short Channel 7 news item was little better.

For now, let's ignore the fact that the Austin ghost story is nonsense (as shown here) and that the execution took place in a whole other long-demolished prison building (an inconvenient truth for the tours). Why was the significance of, or the reasoning behind, the abolition of hanging ignored? Queensland was, after all, the first part of British Empire to do away with capital punishment. Why weren't any real historians consulted for these pieces?

Fortunately, some people took the subject seriously, including the Supreme Court of Queensland museum team. Their 'Path to Abolition: A History of Execution in Queensland' exhibition presented a mature and professional look at the whole subject, devoid of cheap stunts but brimming with considered research and a strong grasp of the educational needs of visitors. Needless to say, the Brisbane media were largely uninterested.

Maybe the whole sorry episode with the dumbed-down 100th anniversary news is reflective of a broader societal disinterest in the subject of capital punishment. Maybe some junior reporters and interns facing a deadline are happy just to accept self-promotional sensationalist media releases at face value. Maybe these reporters don't want to do the harder legwork of presenting real history. Because, no matter what some people might try and tell you, ghosts are not history.

* This has been abridged from an article originally published in September 2013.

04 November 2016

The Tale of the Logan Crocodile

‘We are informed by a correspondent that on Thursday last Mr. William Hammel… of Beenleigh, observed a large alligator on the bank of the river near Loganholm ferry. Mr. Hammel procured a rifle and succeeded in wounding the saurian, which took to the water, and disappeared. From time to time of late the existence of an alligator in the Logan River has been alleged, but no credence has been given to these reports, as no authentic record exists of the occurrence of the alligator in Queensland rivers south of the Mary.’ (Brisbane Courier, 1 March 1905)

In the early 1900s a series of alleged sightings of crocodiles (or ‘alligators’, as they were often incorrectly termed at the time) in the Moreton Bay area were met with some scepticism, as this was thought to be too far south of the animal’s natural habitat. Despite this, the witnesses were usually quite adamant, like the man who was swimming near a sandy cove at Lota, on Moreton Bay, in December 1900 when he saw what he described as a ‘big log’ rise out of the water. He very quickly got back to shore but his friend supposed he must have seen a dolphin. However, one morning in 1902 he was in the same area looking across to Green Island and saw a ‘big animal of some sort’ running along a sand bank. He told a friend, who was sceptical and joked about it being his ‘sea serpent’, but a few days later she saw it herself through binoculars and claimed it to be a crocodile.

Saltwater crocodile distribution. (Australian Reptile Online Database)

There are also stories from around this time that a crocodile in the Albert River nearly overturned a ferry boat full of schoolchildren. Another story had a man swimming in the Logan and then being grabbed and pulled under before escaping. Witnesses to this event stated it was a crocodile. However, I have as yet found no corroborating evidence for these stories.

Another sighting took place on Fisherman’s Island, at the mouth of the Brisbane River, where a man claimed to have seen a crocodile with a ‘bunged-up’ eye. David Drennan, the lighthouse keeper at Fisherman Island, also reported seeing a crocodile near there in 1898. He estimated it to be about seven feet long. It was lying on the mud, and upon being disturbed it disappeared in the river. Drennan inspected its tracks and recognised them to be those of a crocodile.

A few newspaper stories in March 1892 referred to the supposed presence of a crocodile in the Brisbane River. A man fishing from a punt near New Farm claimed that an ‘alligator’ charged at his boat and he rammed one of his oars down the creature’s throat before heading for the bank. The croc gave chase but was apparently distracted by a barking dog on the shore, allowing the man to scramble ashore at Breakfast Creek.

There was some scepticism over this tale, but over the following weeks many more people claimed to have also seen it. There was talk of a hunting party being assembled to hunt the animal, but it seemed to have long gone and was never mentioned again.

Speculation reached fever pitch after Hammel shot and injured the crocodile in the Logan in February 1905. AJ Boyd recalled that back in 1870 he owned the Pimpama-Ormeau sugar plantation about 50km south of Brisbane. The plantation was next to a large swamp, and one day the manager told him that he had been sitting near the swamp when he heard a crackling noise in the nearby rushes, and a ‘long iguana-like animal came into view on the edge of the water’. It was, he said, ‘either the bunyip or an alligator’. Sometime later, during a drought, they burnt off the reeds by the water's edge and noticed strange tracks there. In later years, Boyd saw crocodile tracks near the Herbert River and realised they were the same type as the ones he had seen at Pimpama. He was then convinced that there had been a crocodile on his plantation, and he even suggested that it could be the same one that Hammel had shot at.

A plausible explanation soon emerged for the presence of the animal so far south. It was said that about nine years earlier two ‘well-known’ Brisbanites had received the crocodile as a Christmas gift from some northern friends. During the night it escaped from the case it was contained in and vanished without a trace. About a week later some fisherman reported seeing a ‘strange monster resembling an alligator’ off Fisherman Island.

A few weeks after the Hammel shooting, fishermen spotted the crocodile on mud banks at Garden (Tindappah) Island, not far from the mouth of the Logan. It was next seen in June 1905 when it was shot at by Charlie Goetsch in the river opposite his property near Waterford West. The wounded animal then floated upstream to a ferry landing near the Logan village, where it was found dead a few days later by local storekeeper Alf Hinds. A few other men arrived and they pulled it up onto the bank.

The Logan crocodile, 1905. The men are John Storey (farmer), Jack and Alf Hinds (storekeeper),
Mr Cook (school master), Mr Rump (publican) and Fred Manitzky (blacksmith). (State Library of Qld)

According to the Brisbane Courier, the crocodile measured a substantial 12 feet 7 inches long (3.83 metres), and its stomach contained corn, several ducks and small turtles. Excited locals gathered to inspect the new curiosity and pose beside it. It was originally intended to stuff the animal and keep it in Logan, but later reports suggest that its skin was displayed on a Logan Village school wall for many years afterwards. The photo below shows a child posing next to the freshly-skinned crocodile.

Brisbane Courier, 19 August 1905.

No crocodiles have since been sighted this far south, although one did turn up in the Mary River, near Maryborough, in 2012.

The following story appeared in the Brisbane Courier in 1926:

14 October 2016

The Woman in Black: Solving the Mystery of a Vanishing Ghost

Every town has a 'white lady' ghost story. I know my old hometown of Heywood, Lancashire, does, and they're pretty much par for the course as generic ghostlore goes. ‘White Lady’ stories have been around for centuries in Britain, and are generally associated with some romantic tragedy or other, usually involving women who have lost a husband or lover. A slight variation on this theme are 'Lady in Black' stories, and the South Brisbane Cemetery has one of its very own. In recent years, however, this particular Lady in Black has been suffering something of an identity crisis, but I think I can now resolve some of those issues for her.*

Tracey Olivieri, cemetery historian and author of 'The Ghosts of South Brisbane Cemetery', grew up in the local area during the 1970s and recalls children back then trying to scare each with ‘lady in black’ tales, telling each other of a dark figure moving through the cemetery. The most common theory was that it was the ghost of a heartbroken young 19th-century widow who used to visit the grave of her dead husband every day. She died unexpectedly, but had not realised this and still tended the grave, wearing her mourning clothes. According to Tracey, "If anyone approaches her she just lowers her head and simply disappears amongst the graves. She is not menacing and is not a ghost to be scared of." She was only ever seen within 'the Teardrop’ section of cemetery, on the hill near the main entrance (so named because the cemetery roadway circles around it to form the shape of a teardrop).

19th-century mourning clothes19th-century mourning clothes

By the late 1990s, however, ghost tours had started in the cemetery and the backstory changed dramatically. This online version dates from 2001:
"A woman in a black Victorian dress often walks down the road through the cemetery towards the prison... Many old-timers claim she's the tormented spirit of the only woman who was ever executed in Queensland!"
The woman that the 'old-timers' refer to here is Ellen Thomson, who was executed at Boggo Road in 1887 and is a rather stereotypical candidate for a ghost story. She was the only woman hanged, a mother of six, a convicted murderer, and an Irish Catholic who died clutching a crucifix and proclaiming her innocence. The original tour story, as it was relayed to me, went something like this: Because she was a woman, she was given special dispensation to be buried outside section 6B (where executed prisoners were normally buried), and now her ghost could be seen wandering near section 10C, wearing the black dress she was buried in and clutching a string of rosary beads to her chest...

Ellen Thomson, hanged at Boggo Road Gaol, 1887. (Qld State Archives)
Ellen Thomson. (Qld State Archives)

What I find most interesting about this tale is the fact that it was the headline story for the cemetery ghost tour for a few years before it completely vanished without trace from the itinerary. A new story with an all-new 'lady in black' suddenly appeared, this one absurdly featuring a nun with a ‘skull’ face. So what happened to Ellen? Why was her story dropped so abruptly, never to be spoken of again?

After recently speaking to people who went on those early tours, I think the mystery of the vanishing ghost has been solved. It turns out the ghost tour had been taking people to the wrong grave! The hanged Ellen Thomson actually had been buried in section 6B after all, back in 1887. The ghost tour had been stopping at the grave of a different Ellen Thompson, who died in 1903 and was buried in section 10C.

This was a glaring mistake that couldn't go undetected for long, and sure enough the truth was realised at some point prior to 2004. Unfortunately, this left the ghost of the executed Ellen Thomson haunting the wrong part of the cemetery, so it seems the story was quietly disappeared while a new one appeared in its place. The Catholic element was retained, but the action moved to the Teardrop, a different part of the cemetery.

The crucial question in this whole episode is what happened to the older ghost? Even if it had been misidentified as the wrong person, surely the same ghost would still be around there anyway? It would be no less incredible, even if it was somebody else. Apparently not. When the mistake was realised, the tour spot vanished and so did the alleged ghost.

The only logical conclusion to be drawn from this sudden disappearance is that the ghost was never there in the first place, and that the misidentified grave site (and accompanying backstory of murder and execution) was a convenient spot for a stop on the tour. It is also notable that it was conveniently replaced with a previously-unmentioned 'Lady in Black', the skull-faced nun.

Sometimes, we can learn more not from what is left in, but what was left out.

29 September 2016

Consecration of the Church of England Burial Ground (Brisbane, 1862)

The following article about the consecration of the old North Brisbane Burial Ground - at what is now Lang Park - appeared in the The Courier, Brisbane, on Saturday 24 May 1862. Such rituals were one-offs and only possible in religiously 'segregated' cemeteries, where separate portions of land were set aside for the use of different denominations.

In non-segregated 'mixed' cemeteries, such as the ones at South Brisbane and Balmoral, consecration was considered to happen at individual grave sites when religious burial services were performed beside them.

Looking across the former Paddington Cemetery, c. 1870. (Qld State Archives)

These rituals were not often covered in the newspapers of the time in this level of detail:

"THE consecration of the ground set apart and granted for burial purposes to the Church of England took place on Thursday, as announced, at eleven o'clock. This land, which is very prettily situated in a valley behind the Green Hills, has been for a long while since dedicated to purposes of burial, but had not been consecrated. The piece of ground is now almost fenced-in, and a small chapel has been erected on it.

At eleven' o'clock the Bishop commenced the service, assisted by the Chancellor of the Diocese, J. Bramston, Esq., B.C.L., of All Souls' College, Oxford, and by the Rev. T. Bliss, Rev. J. Moseley, Rev. J. Tomlinson, Rev. J. R. Moffatt, Rev. Mr. Bailey, Rev. B. E. Shaw, Rev. E.G. Moberley, and the Rev. V. F. Ransome. There were comparatively few persons present at the commencement of the ceremony, but the number subsequently increased, so that the little chapel could scarcely afford sufficient accommodation for those present.

The boundaries of the ground having been traversed by the Right Rev. Prelate, his reverend assistants, and the other persons present, joining in the appointed service, the chapel was entered, and the Chancellor, Mr. Bramston, read the document under the hand and seal of the Bishop defining the ground, and setting forth the purposes for which it had been consecrated, and to which alone, for all time to come, it was to be applied. Prayers were then offered up, and a portion of the Communion Service performed, after which the Bishop, Dr. Tufnell, delivered a brief appropriate, and earnest sermon, taking as his text John xi., 25th verse - "I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." The right rev. gentleman dwelt upon the beauty and appropriateness of the opening passages of the service for the burial of the dead, appointed by the Church of England, the verse, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, &c," which seemed, as we heard it at the church door when following the corpse, to embody the expression of hope on the part of the dead body, whilst the following verse - "We brought nothing into this world, &c," contained, as it were, a consolation for the living and an expression of implicit resignation to the Divine will.

The reverend speaker then drew attention to the fact that, whilst heathen nations had different ways of disposing of their dead, the Christian nations invariably respected the remains of their people and buried them. The first instance we found in the Bible of the care observed with regard to burying places, was that of Abraham, who purchased a burying-place from Ephron, and who would not accept one of the sepulchres of the children of Heth for his dead. The right rev. gentleman then enlarged at length upon the points that, both on account of the dead, and' also for the instruction of the living, it was the duty of Christian communities to have burial places consecrated and set apart. He pointed out as one reason why the remains of the dead should be respected, and preserved from indignity, that the members of the Church expressed in the creed their belief in "the resurrection of the body," not the resurrection of the soul, for the soul, although withdrawn, was eternal, and could not die; but the resurrection of the body as it was on earth. This resurrection was, perhaps, he said, a more wonderful instance of the Divine power than even the original creation of the body. The rev. gentleman then pointed out how the setting apart of burial places, consecrated and respected, was of instruction and benefit to the living, as it served to remind them of the transitory nature of their own existence. It was also a pleasant feeling to know that we could visit the last resting-place of those we loved, and that their remains would not be rudely disturbed or suffer indignity. The right rev. prelate concluded his Sermon by alluding to the chapel in which they were assembled, which he hoped would be of some service. Humble as the building was, if it were the means of saving but one soul, it would not have been erected in vain.

At the conclusion of the sermon, a collection was made, after which the Communion was administered to such as remained to partake."

25 September 2016

The Number's Up for Malaita Men on the Boggo Road Gallows

"And the mercy seat is waiting
And I think my head is burning
And in a way I'm yearning
To be done with all this measuring of truth."
(Mercy Seat, Nick Cave)
I once conducted a quiz on the Boggo Road Gaol Facebook page asking which demographic made up the greatest proportion of the 42 people hanged at Boggo Road, giving a choice of Irish, Aboriginal, Chinese or South Sea Islander as the answer. The answers were quite divided, and the whole exercise provided a bit of an insight into perceptions about hanging in colonial Queensland. Most people thought it would be Aboriginal people who suffered the most at the end of the noose, but the correct answer (as given by about 25% of respondents) was actually South Sea Islanders, which clearly surprised some people. The full range actually looked like this:

Origins of people executed at Boggo Road Gaol

The overall make-up of convicted prisoners has always reflected historical circumstance. This is why Irish or British men formed a clear majority in early capital punishment statistics when they comprised the vast majority of convicts. The conflict between Indigenous peoples and the new arrivals also resulted in a steady flow of Aborigines into the prisons and onto the gallows throught the 19th century. It comes as little surprise that Aborigines formed the largest number of executions (21) in the overall totals, shown below:

Overall executions in Queensland

The end of the convict era and the subsequent arrival of waves of immigrants from around the world is also reflected in the execution data. The influx of Chinese labourers to work in regional Queensland during the early 1850s saw a spike of Chinese men held in Brisbane prison during that time, accounting for as much as 40% of prison expenditure in 1851. This was largely a result of workplace relations conflict between the immigrants and their new bosses, not to mention an ever-present backdrop of racist hostility towards non-white immigrants. As the chart below shows, a total of nine Chinese men were hanged in the colony, comprising about 10% of the overall total.

Germans were another prominent immigrant group in 19th-century Queensland, and six German men were hanged here. As far as Boggo Road goes, it was the arrival of South Sea Islanders (or more specifically, Solomon Islanders) from the 1860s onwards that was most reflected in the execution numbers. A total of 13 of these men were hanged in Queensland over the next half-century, eight of them in Boggo Road. The Islanders were brought to work in the sugar plantations in often-controversial circumstances, especially in the earlier years, and there was a lot of racial tension on the central coast. Many of the murder cases involving these men had an element of racial conflict in them, and it is clear that some Islanders did react to provocation in a swift and brutal manner. Most of the executed South Sea Islanders came from Malaita Island (see below) and were no strangers to a violent culture. The novelist Jack London was familiar with the region and described Malaita as "the most savage island in the Solomons". It is notable that even if the Malaita men were counted as their own demographic group, they would still comprise the largest proportion of Boggo Road's executed prisoners. Here is the full list of the hanged prisoners:

  • Miorie, from Malaita Island, hanged May 1895 
  • Narasemai, Malaita Island, May 1895 
  • Sayer, Malaita Island, July 1895 
  • Wandee, Malaita Island, May 1901 
  • Arafau, Malaita Island, December 1901 
  • Sotulo, Malaita Island, June 1903 
  • Gosano, Malaita Island, April 1905 
  • Twadiga, Gawa Island, May 1906

Map of Malaita, Solomon Islands

There was a great deal of unfounded paranoia in white communities regarding South Sea Islander crime, and prison authorities took to bussing in labourers from various plantations in the vicinity of Mackay, Bundaberg and Rockhampton to act as reluctant witnesses at the Brisbane executions of their countrymen. The intent was to make sure that word got back to the plantations and so help reduce capital crime rates. It is interesting that during the 1850s, the authorities had all-but abandoned notions that public hangings had a deterrent effect on witnesses, and introduced private executions instead. It seems that the rule was only applicable to white people (enforced viewing also occurred at a number of hangings of Aboriginal men).

The introduction of the White Australia policy in 1901 saw most South Sea Islanders returned home during the following decade, although some remained and more hangings did take place in Brisbane, the last being in 1906. And that is how South Sea Islanders gained the unwanted distinction of making up the largest numbers of those executed in Boggo Road Gaol.

A small but touching moment provides an epilogue to this article. In 2005 I worked with the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society and Brisbane City Council to install a plaque near the graves of the hanged prisoners in South Brisbane Cemetery. It lists the names of all those who were hanged, and where they came from. Among other dignitaries, an elder from the South Sea Islander community spoke very movingly at the unveiling ceremony. Earlier this year I was taking a tour through the cemetery one night when I noticed a wreath and a bit of paper with writing on it by the plaque. It had been left there by "A.S.S.I.S.", which on further investigation turned out to be the Australia South Sea Islander Secretariat. It seems the eight men who died on the Boggo Road gallows were not to be forgotten.

Wreaths on the South Brisbane Cemetery plaque (ASSIS)
Wreaths on the South Brisbane Cemetery plaque. (ASSIS)

02 September 2016

Unnaturally Offensive: Queensland Zoophilia

Australian law has generally taken a tough stance on bestiality (or 'zoophilia'). Until the mid-19th-century it was considered illegal enough to warrant the death penalty, although nobody was ever hanged for the offence here. It remained a capital crime in Queensland until 1865, when the Offences against the Person Act changed the maximum sentence to penal servitude for life with a minimum of ten years. In the Unnatural Offences section of that Act, bestiality was dealt with in the same sentence as sodomy, both being referred to as “the abominable crime of buggery committed with mankind or with any animal", and also as "an infamous crime”.

The vast majority of "unnatural offence' court cases in the historical records relate to homosexual acts, especially against children. Even men who engaged in anal sex with their wife could face the death penalty, as Lawrence Maher of Maryborough found out in 1864. The death sentence was recorded but not carried out in his case. Trials for bestiality were few and far between in early Queensland, and these all involved male defendants because "unnatural offence" laws about bestiality and homosexuality laws did not apply to women.

One of the earliest trials involved a Chinese immigrant named Tee Ang. In 1852 he was living in a camp in South Brisbane, where he was arrested for committing the crime on a dog there. The newspaper articles did not go into many details in these matters, but in this case it was reported that the dog was so badly injured by the act that it had to be put down. At this time such "unnatural offences" were still a capital crime and Tee Ang was sentenced to death, although his sentence was later commutated to 12 months hard labour working on the Newcastle breakwater. Two more Brisbane cases during that decade involved attempted bestiality and attracted two-year sentences. The first was 60-year-old John Moore in 1857, and then Benjamin Jackson during the following year for his attack on a dog, the details of which were described in the Moreton Bay Courier as "horrible and disgusting".

Another case involved William Sunnington (or Sturmington or Simmington), an English immigrant working as a farrier (with horses hooves and shoes) in Maryborough. In 1875 a man and woman witnessed him committing bestiality, although the species of animal was not referred to in reports. Sunnington received ten years imprisonment. He was initially sent to the penal establishment at Saint Helena Island, where he worked as a farrier, before being sent to the old gaol on Petrie Terrace where he died of heart disease in 1878 at the age of 58. He was buried in Toowong Cemetery.

William Sunnington, 1875. (Qld State Archives)

It seems the minimum ten-year sentence was not always applied. In 1886 one old Brisbane man received 12 months for the crime, but in 1894 George Gayton of Bundaberg got ten years (although he was released on remittance two years later). One Blackall man also received ten years for the crime in 1900, but in 1909 another Blackall man only got three years. In 1919 the unfortunate William Webster received a two-year sentence in Cairns for attempted bestiality. Apparently he was too drunk to succeed in his attempt.

George Gayton, 1894. (Qld State Archives)

This quick run-through of some Queensland cases shows that they were relatively rare, but it has to be assumed that the prosecuted cases were only the tip of the iceberg as far as the extent of the practice goes. It is one of the more unfortunate details of Australian legal history that homosexuality (which was widespread in the colonies) was treated under the same laws as bestiality, paedophilia and incest.

  • Under current Queensland laws bestiality carries a maximum seven-year sentence although, as is the case with most things, the situation differs in other Australian states and territories.
  • New South Wales - maximum 14 years 
  • Northern Territory - maximum 3 years 
  • South Australia - maximum 10 years 
  • Tasmania - maximum 21 years 
  • Victoria - maximum 5 years 
  • Western Australia - maximum 7 years 
  • Australian Capital Territory - maximum 10 years (although between 1988 and 2011 it was not a crime here) 
  • (DID YOU KNOW? Bestiality is still technically legal in 15 states of the U.S.A., and is permitted in Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Russia.)

31 August 2016

Slim Halliday: Man or Spider-man?

Arthur Ernest 'Slim' Halliday, convicted murderer and infamous Boggo Road escapologist during the 1930s-1960s, is the subject of some incredible tales, some tall, some true. Like the time he bent a solid metal cell door back with a winch made from bits of wood and bed sheet. Or the time he burned a hole in roof of the mattress workshop in a bid to escape. Or when he made a replica gun from bits of leather. These are some of the true tales.

Arthur 'Slim' Halliday, Brisbane, 1937 (BRGHS)
Arthur 'Slim' Halliday, 1937. (BRGHS)

There is, however, one particular story that is as tall as it gets. During one of my first visits to Boggo Road I took a tour with a highly-respected former prison officer who told our group all about 'Halliday's Leap', the place where Slim Halliday jumped off the roof of E Wing cellblock in 1940 and landed on the top of the perimeter wall before making good his escape. At the time I totally believed it - such is the authoritative power of the tour guide - but after I worked at the museum and spent more time in the area, I realised that the story and the numbers just didn't add up.

The legendary leap would have involved jumping from a three-storey cellblock roof onto the top of the red-bricked outer prison wall, a near-impossible feat involving a drop of eight metres over a width of four metres. The curved top of the wall itself is no more than 30cm wide and is over seven metres high – not the safest landing spot for someone jumping from a great height. Imagine jumping off the roof of a two-storey house, aiming to land perfectly on a 30cm-wide ledge, without breaking your legs or spine or falling over when you do land, because that ledge is seven metres off the ground - and someone with a rifle on the neighbour's roof will shoot you if they see you. It is, basically, a feat requiring all the abilities of Spiderman, and Slim may have been a lot of things but he was no superhero.

Track, outer wall, and cellblock at Boggo Road (BRGHS).
Track, outer wall, and cellblock at Boggo Road. (BRGHS).

I delved into the official records at Queensland State Archives and a very different story emerged, but one that was no less impressive. To run through it briefly; Halliday had planned this escape for months, secretly making and hiding escape ropes, grappling hooks and wire cutters in the prison workshops. One day he slipped unnoticed from a line of prisoners and scaled the 10-foot high fence of the exercise yard to gain access to the Track that ran around the inside of the perimeter walls. He climbed onto the workshop roof and dropped down through a skylight that gave him access to the inside of the workshop, where he cut through wire mesh walls with the hidden wire cutters to get to his escape ropes. He climbed up onto the roof again and hooked the longest rope over the outer wall, at a place he had worked out to be a blind-spot from the towers. He dropped the shorter rope down the side of the workshop and climbed down onto the Track, then climbed up over the prison wall using the first rope before changing his clothes and making his escape.

Did Arthur 'Slim' Halliday REALLY jump from a cellblock roof to escape from Boggo Road?
A – Location of ‘Halliday’s Leap’
B – Workshops
T – Towers
No.2 Division, Boggo Road, in the 1940s. (BRGHS)

Slim Halliday's escape route from Boggo Road Gaol, 1940. (BRGHS)
Halliday's escape route 1940. (BRGHS)

There is no room in this article for the tale of the massive manhunt, shoot-outs and high-speed car chases that led to Halliday’s recapture, which is all covered in detail in the book The Houdini of Boggo Road. Of more relevance here is how the myth of 'Halliday's Leap' grew. One clue comes from discussions with local residents who were children when the escape happened. When news of the breakout got out, local parents ordered their children to stay home, but the kids had other ideas and formed themselves into 'posses', excitedly roaming the local streets in nervous pursuit of the escaped prisoner. They circulated a story that Halliday had jumped from a roof during his escape, and in the process of ‘Chinese Whispers’ this became a cellblock roof. This story took hold, and 50 years later it had become accepted even within modern prison officer circles.

Halliday escaped over the blind spot at this section of the wall again in 1946, and it gained the name of 'Halliday’s Leap’ quite early on. Following yet another escape attempt by Slim, this time in 1953, a newspaper ran an article with the headline 'HALLIDAY’S LEAP HEADACHE FOR BOGGO ROAD STAFF: WEAK SPOT IN THE PRISON WALLS'. However, the blindspot had in fact been fixed in 1947 with the erection of a new stand-alone guard tower (called E tower) in the prison grounds to the southeast of the workshops. The workshops and Halliday’s Leap were later demolished as part of the prison modernisation of the early 1970s. The myth of Halliday's Leap has only been demolished in more recent years.

The Greatest Last Meal of All Time!

I recently thumbed through an interesting book called Texas Death Row, a compilation of information about the people executed in Texas in the modern era. Each prisoner’s last meal request was listed, and what stood out for me was how the vast majority of them wanted hamburgers or fried chicken, with fries, ice cream, cola, milk shakes, etc. It was a clear reflection of the culinary tastes of the Texan criminal class.

Unfortunately there is not too much in the records to show what the residents of the Boggo Road condemned cells had to eat, but every once in a while one of the newspapers would mention it in passing.

Under the Murder Act of 1872, condemned murderers were allowed only bread and water in the usual 48-hour timespan between sentencing and execution. Catholics were also allowed wine of the Sacrament. This changed in later years, and condemned prisoners were given special privileges, including ordering whatever food they wished (within reason). For example, Chinese man Wong Tong, who was hanged at Boggo Road in 1886, was fond of plates of boiled rice and milk, tinned fish, and boiled meat. He also drank tea and the occasional glass of brandy. His compatriot Tim Tee, hanged in 1886, was quite particular about his last meal, requesting two boiled eggs on the condition that they were not boiled for more than two-and-a-half minutes.

Others were less fussy. Ernest Austin, who gained considerable weight during his time in Boggo Road by eating a 450g block cake every day, settled for a last meal of bacon, eggs, and a bowl of hominy (the rough prison porridge made from cracked wheat and water).

George Gleeson, hanged in Boggo Road Gaol in 1892 (Queensland State Archives)
George Gleeson, 1892.
(Queensland State Archives)

By far the most extravagant request was made by George Gleeson, who was hanged for murder in 1892. He had an Indian mother and a white American father, and was a cook by trade. He used the full extent of his culinary imagination to dream up this fantastical meal on the Thursday before his execution:
  • 2 lbs of rump steak, to be cooked as a bread steak, with walnuts and poached eggs. 
  • 1½lbs green peas, 1lb carrots, 1lb turnips, 1lb beans and a cauliflower. 
  • A suckling pig, stuffed with pork sausages, bread crumbs, onions, pepper, salt, thyme, sage, parsley, butter and the yolks of two eggs. The sauce for this was to be made of brains of calf or sheep, a little flour, pepper, salt, parsley and butter. 
  • Cucumber and boiled egg salad. 
  • A boiled cabinet pudding, made with 12 eggs, 1lb sultanas, 1lb raisins, 1lb currants, candied lemon peel and lemon essence. To be served with custard. 
  • Plum pudding, made with 1lb suet, 6 eggs, a bottle of rum, 2lbs flour, loaf of bread, small packet of baking powder. 
  • A selection of bananas, oranges, pineapples and American apples. 
  • 1½lb pound cake 
  • 6 bottles of lemonade 
  • 6lbs white loaf sugar 
  • 3 packets of cigarettes 
  • 2 dozen quill cigars
Such a request was of course beyond the means of the humble kitchen and staff, not to mention the prison budget. It is probably also beyond human ability to actually eat this much food anyway, and even Monty Python's Mr Creosote would struggle with it.

There again, maybe George planned to eat himself to death.

29 August 2016

A Cooktown Shark Story

A vivid description  of the capture of a huge shark at Cooktown in 1878.

The following vivid account of the capture of a huge shark at Cooktown in 1878 is taken from the Western Champion, 1922:

'In the early days of Cooktown a couple of old "whalers" had established a sort of boiling-down business, at the foot of Grassy Hill, in a bight from which road material had been excavated, and in 1878 made a good return in catching sharks and boiling the livers for oil. They also treated the dugong brought from outside the same way. These sharks went from four to seven or eight feet; the larger the beast the greater and more profitable quantity of oil, of course.

In August it was noised abroad that there was an exceedingly large shark in the harbor, playing the deuce with the fish; and the fishermen (Chinese) evidently scared out of their senses, swore in best Tartar and with many gesticulations, that the monster would rise along side their boats and open his cavernous jaws, and showing a frightful double row of teeth threaten to crunch up a boat, but the fishermen aided by fear, vigorously pulled their oars and made for the shallow water.

To secure the monster was a haul worth while, so the two "whalers" set about catching her - for the saurian turned out to be a female. The shark was seen hovering about the wharves at high tide probably looking after the dainties thrown overboard from, the steamers. Anyway a large hook, about an inch in thickness at the bend - was well baited with a high-smelling leg of beef, and a ship's hawser was attached to a heavy ring welded at the end of the hook. It was the ring off an old anchor, I think, while the hook itself  was taken from some old sailer, probably the fastening of a chain used to lift cargo. The end of the hawser was knotted round one of. the large posts to which vessels were moored and was placed a few yards on the town side from Hendiques little wharf.

The operations were completed on Saturday afternoon; I remember it well as the coastal boat had just gone out. The tide receded and came in again, no shark. How anxiously those two men watched through the night! Men (sailors mostly) would saunter down from Weir's pub., a couple of hundred yards away, up the street, and keep the two comrades company enjoying a pipe and a yarn at the same time. 

Daylight broke - a beautiful Sunday morning - and the tide was dead out. At about nine o'clock I was sitting on my verandah over looking the harbor. In front was the road leading to No. 1 wharf, and the Pilot shed and Ben Palmer's house round the point; on the pebbly foreshore to the left of the little wharf were a knot of men doubtless discussing the situation; the hawser hung loosely on the strand. But suddenly there was a cry, "We've got him!" and in an instant the excitement over the relief of Ladysmith was trivial as compared with the excitement of the moment. The hawser had become tight, and the strain was intense. The huge post was bending and the two men called out to the assembled crowd for help. I ran down to do my bit, and soon commenced one of the toughest tugs of war in history. There were about 20 men pulling and tugging at that hawser against one - but what was that one? We shall see presently.

The surface of the water was covered with streaks of blood and foam, but the unequal fight continued for - it seemed an hour, but was probably 16 minutes. I remember we did not gain much rope. Then suddenly the strain relaxed, and we all went down like ninepins. It was thought the monster, scenting the high dish prepared for her and being like Eve unable to resist temptation, came too far in on the ebb tide, swallowed the bait, and became partially stranded. But she put up a brave fight for her life until exhausted. The tide was rising quickly so we would have to hurry up if we intended loading our quarry. It was a tough job but we eventually got her ashore high and dry. The beast was far from
being dead. Her eyes, as large as saucers, looked horrible; they glared at us with a seemingly intense hatred; continually opened and shut her immense jaws - about three feet or so, while she lashed her tail, each smack on the earth sounding like a clap of thunder, while she roared like a lion. The hook was caught in the lower jaw, and as we subsequently noted was bent nearly straight; while the hawser at the ring was halt frayed through- The whalers said that had there been a drop more water the shark would have got away. 

A stick was poked between the shark's jaws and the two whalers, soon gave her her quietus. By this time the water laved the side of the saurian. She was measured and from point to point overall, went eighteen feet - a record shark for the time. It was supposed to have come from the Barrier, where it was reported there were some monster sharks. (Archie Meston, I notice, confirms this). The shark was opened, when out came a number of small sharks from a foot to eighteen inches in length. They were funny looking things like huge tadpoles, with rudimentary tails. Like lightning they wriggled into the water, and in a second were lost to view. We had scarcely a moment to look at them. It was quicker than some of the reading descriptive of a picture at a cinema show. One or two people made a dive to catch one, but instead of the substance they got the shadow. Opinions differed as to the number of youngsters - some said 18 others 19. So old Mrs. Saurian left plenty of progeny behind her; she was evidently just about to spawn. 

"Old French Charlie" paid £5 for the jaws, which afterwards formed the unique frame of a pier glass, and unless he sent it to France may probably be seen in the old hotel to this day. The liver was a monster, and yielded £50 worth of oil. All day Sunday the shark held a levee, but was of such bulk that no time had to be lost after sundown in chopping it up and removing it into deep water. 

Since then, Cooktown district boasts of having discovered the biggest snake, but that is another story.'

04 August 2016

The Fabulous Creatures of Walter Henry Bone

Walter Henry Bone is one of the forgotten illustrators of Australian children’s literature, which is rather a shame. Writing around the turn of the 20th century, he was able to apply his knowledge as an expert bushman and naturalist to creating an imaginative menagerie of animal characters. His What Became of Them? stories featured an outback world populated by creatures both strange and familiar. They were ruled over by the kindly Bunyip, referred to by the rest of the animals as ‘the King’ or ‘Your Majesty’.

Bunyip and Oopidoop. (Sydney Mail, 27 December 1911)

Bone’s animals were neither European nor Aboriginal, except for the bunyip, which in these stories was clearly a land animal, as opposed to the freshwater creature of Aboriginal legend. The bunyip also had magical powers with which he could transform animals, which happens in most stories, and these transformative incidents give the tales something of an Aboriginal quality, while also recalling Kipling's 'Just So Stories'.

Being a big-game hunter, soldier of fortune, naturalist, and children’s author was perhaps an odd mix. As was the style of the time, Bone's writing was a bit wordier and more colloquial than would be used in children’s books now, and although they had a fair measure of violence and death, they also had a quaint charm that seems surprising when considering the background of the author himself.

Walter Bone, Megalong Valley, c.1900. (Blue Mountains City Library)

Born in 1863, Bone attended Sydney Grammar School before setting off to Africa for a taste of adventure. He found it, and by the age of 20 he was an expert swordsman, revolver shot, and was the officer in command of the cavalry of the Sultan of Zanzibar. Sometime around 1890 he returned to Australia and became joint editor of the Blue Mountains Express newspaper in Katoomba. He was a frequent contributor to the Sydney Mail for 35 years. Bone wrote and illustrated popular animal and bush stories for children, including, Hoppity: being the life of an albino kangaroo (1933) and What Became of Them? Australian stories for children. These books continued to be reprinted until the 1950s.

Bone had a sound knowledge of bush lore and was a member of the Royal Society, the Linnaean Society of New South Wales, and the Zoological Society, and he contributed articles to a number of journals. He inherited his father’s printing business, renaming it ‘W. H. Bone & Co.’, and died in 1934.

Walter Bone and his wife Frances camping in the Megalong Valley, NSW, c.1900. (Blue Mountains City Library)

Being very much a creature of his time, he unfortunately portrayed Aboriginal and African people as clownish caricatures (see here for an example), and more than anything else it is these illustrations and other casually racist tones that make a revival of his work unlikely.

The Bunyip

In Bone's world, the Bunyip was the King of the animals, and the central character in the What Became of Them? stories. He had some familiar features known from alleged 'bunyip sightings', such as a bird's beak or bill, horns on his head, and large eyes, but he was clearly a land animal as opposed to the aquatic nature of reported bunyips.

(Sydney Mail, 31 January 1912)

The Oopidoop 
Not so 'fabulous', perhaps, but the Oopidoop was an important character in the stories, being the 'Great Grandfather of the Frogs' and constant assistant and friend to the Bunyip. His origins are explained in this January 1906 story.

'You can dig another hole and commence business whenever you like'. (Sydney Mail, 27 December 1911)

'Of course you know as well as I do that the Oopidoop is the grandfather of all the frogs. Well, nobody who ever saw the Bunyip - who, as everyone is aware, is the King of Australian creatures - could understand how it is that he is invariably attended by the Oopidoop. As a matter of fact it was only through being on very friendly terms with most of our wild animals that I learned the reason myself. To make sure that what they told me was correct, I interviewed an old black-snake (with a shotgun), and as he said nothing to the contrary, of course the story must be true.' (Sydney Mail, 17 January 1906)
The Wongawhillilew
The Wongawhillilew was a strange pterodactyl-like bird who was not too clever and wanted to become a man after coming across an Aboriginal man in the bush one day. He appeared in this December 1902 story.

'The mischievous young animals would swing on his legs.' (Sydney Mail, 31 December 1902)
"The Wongawhillilew was discovered, when quite a little thing, sitting on a stone in the pouring rain, squawking piteously with cold and wet, and when the Bunyip found it and took it home with him he anticipated some difficulty in rearing it, but being blessed with a healthy appetite and strong digestion, it recovered from the exposure, and under the tender care which the King of the Creatures bestowed upon all his subjects, rapidly attained its full growth. It was 6ft. high, had big goggle eyes, leathern wings furnished with strong hooks at the shoulders, and its long legs terminated in hands instead of claws. In colour it was green." (Sydney Mail, 31 December 1902)
The Goanthaspike
This was a large goanna or monitor lizard with a huge spike on the end of its snout, which he liked to use to play 'policeman' among the other animals. From April 1910.

'"Here, don't you call me names," the Monitor hissed venomously.' (Sydney Mail, 6 April 1910)
‘At first the bush creatures fled in frantic haste when they saw the Goanthaspike coming, but by degrees they became accustomed to his appearance, and their natural antipathy to each other reasserted itself. Quarrels and fights arose, and then the Monitor would lumber forward, and gently quell the disturbance with a mild application of his spike.’ (Sydney Mail, 6 April 1910)
The Boomerangatang
This was a kind of flying orang-utan that would spin around wildly in mid-air, boomerang-style, causing other fascinated animals to break their necks as they tried to watch him. Dozens of animals died in this manner in this September 1911 story.

'The King commanded the Boomerangatang to alight.' (Sydney Mail, 20 September 1911)
‘The first intimation of the presence of the Boomerangatang which the Bunyip received was when he was awakened, one very wet afternoon, by a succession of maniacal shrieks and chuckles that seemed to encircle the hollow tree in which he was sleeping.’ (Sydney Mail, 20 September 1911)
The Swalleremole
This massive snake ('swallow 'em whole') with armour plating and legs featured in this November 1911 story. It was eventually transformed into a much smaller creature.

'The Bunyip struck furiously at the creature's head.' (Sydney Mail, 22 November 1911)
‘It was the Swalleremole - the black snake with the crimson motor-scales - that brought the death-juice to Australia; there were no venomous snakes in our country before that. But he was somewhat different in appearance to what he is now, before the Bunyip took the matter in hand - you'll notice that at once if you glance at his portrait.’ (Sydney Mail, 22 November 1911)
The Hlpmtl
This was some sort of a giant ant with a penchant for killing animals unfortunate enough to fall into it's hole. It was featured in this December 1911 story.

'A pair of monstrous callipers closed with terrible force around him'. (Sydney Mail, 27 December 1911)
‘With a tremendous heave the creature emerged from the loose soil in which it had embedded itself, and crouched against the opposite side of the pit. The monarch examined it critically. 'Ha,' he muttered, 'body grey, ten feet long, flat, heart-shaped; six short legs, big head, goggle eyes, huge nippers-ah. Come here. Stop! How dare you crawl backwards. What d'you mean by it?' 'I can't crawl any other way,' the Hlpmtl whimpered apologetically.’ (Sydney Mail, 27 December 1911)
The Googleoggle
An ancestor of the frogs, the Googleoggle lost his ears but gained an unwanted tail after a fierce dispute with the koala (who, in turn, lost his own tail).

'"Now, get off the earth," said the Bunyip. (Sydney Mail, 25 January 1911)
'As for you,' he continued grimly, turning to the Googleoggle, 'your malice has caused the bear to lose his beloved tail and you your ears. As a punishment you shall wear his tail, and have no ears at all. Now, get off the earth!' And with one mighty kick he sent him flying into the water.' (Sydney Mail, 25 January 1911)
The Tuniuniantipec
When Australia was still joined to south-east Asia, this 'yellow monster' used to migrate down from China to devour children (i.e. young animals). There was nothing subtle about the racism in this February 1904 story. The problem was solved after the Bunyip had the wombats dig a trench that caused Australia to physically separate from Asia.

'"I believe you've eaten him yourself," said the Tuniunianipec.' (Sydney Mail, 3 February 1904)
'Our King sought the Tuniuniantipec at the full of the moon and prevailed upon him to return to his own country on condition that 10 animals should be given up to him whenever he asked for them, provided the moon was at the full. Years passed, and the Yellow Fiend grew older, and instead of full-grown animals he demanded that they be young and tender. This was done, and, so that the loss should fall upon each in turn, he brings each time a list of those who must give up their young to be devoured. Behold, people of the bush, the moon is at the full, and to-night he comes!' (Sydney Mail, 3 February 1904)
The Triantiwollipede
This bird-headed, tentacled creature had a habit of eating other animals before he was rather horrifically killed himself in this September 1902 story.

'"No, no,", said the Wallaroo, "It's all a mistake." (Sydney Mail, 6 September 1902)
'The triantiwollipede (Scarum kiddibus) is one of those extinct Australian creatures which for some unaccountable reason find no place in the books of natural history, but as there was only one, I am not surprised at it. The only mention I can find of the beast is- 
"He's all jet black, and his big fat back
Is round as a geebung seed:
So don't go nigh when you hear the cry -
“Trianti - wolli - pede!”'
- Alexander the Great.'
(Sydney Mail, 6 September 1902)
Drought Bird 
Mentioned in a story 
about Oopidoop, the Drought Bird was held responsible for causing droughts to occur.

'That night, the Drought Bird swooped down out of the sky.' (Sydney Mail, 17 January 1906)
''You see, my friends,' he went on after a pause, 'it is all the fault of the wicked Drought Bird. As you know, the Drought Bird is a huge winged creature that flies out of the sun, and drinks up all the clouds by day and the rivers and creeks by night - that's why nobody ever sees him.'' (Sydney Mail, 17 January 1906)
The Locashell
This giant insect with a fondness for soft wood trees was eventually shrunk down to become a cicada-type creature in this story from January 1912.

'He emitted a yell that made the trees shudder.' (Sydney Mail, 31 January 1912)
'Almost asleep as he was, the Bunyip at first watched the thing with dreamy indifference, but as its bulk rose higher and higher from the earth, by degrees he became uneasily conscious of the two great eyes staring down into his. Unable to move, though now wide awake, he saw the huge claws groping for a firm hold upon the ground; his eyes widened, and his mouth gaped with astonishment, and - it must be confessed - apprehension, until the weird object, bending towards him, thrust forward a long, slender beak and touched him on the chest. Then he emitted a yell (and, mind you, I don't blame him) that made the trees shudder, and went over backwards.' (Sydney Mail, 31 January 1912)