The First Traffic Lights in Australia...

When were the first traffic lights installed in Australia? It’s an interesting question, and one that once asked, makes you intrigued to find out … well it did me anyway. So that’s what today’s history lesson is all about. When were the first traffic lights installed in each of the Australian states? Of course I headed to the one and only magnificent Trove to find out, and you might just be as surprised as I was! SYDNEY – 13 October 1933 Friday, 13 October 1933 was when Sydney’s (and Australia’s) first traffic lights began operating. The lights were installed at the intersection of Market and Kent Streets in city of Sydney, and were switched on at 11am, by the then Minister for Transport, Colonel Michael Bruxner. You can see a fabulous photo of the traffic lights here.   BRISBANE – 21 January 1936 At 3pm on Tuesday, 21 January 1936 a large crowd gathered in the CBD to watch the switching on of the first traffic lights in Brisbane.  These were installed at the intersection of Ann, Upper Albert and Roma Streets.   HOBART – 27 January 1937 This one surprised me as I never realised that Hobart had traffic lights so early. But the newspapers reported the grand occasion which you can read on the link below. Just before 11am on Wednesday the 27th of January 1937 the lights were turned on at the intersection of Elizabeth and Liverpool streets.   ADELAIDE – 13 April 1937 Tuesday, 13 April 1937 was Adelaide’s big day, as that’s when Adelaide’s first traffic lights were turned on. These were installed at various intersections along King William Street in the city.   MELBOURNE – late December 1937 The Melbourne public had to adapt...

A Thankyou to the Captain...

As an avid Trovite, I love reading the old newspapers (as so many of us do). And yet, I am still amazed at the very cool stuff you can find in the old newspapers. Take for instance one of my recent finds. A friend asked me to see what I could find on the “Lord Raglan” 1854 voyage to South Australia. So after some general Googling to find out the basic details (the ship left Plymouth, Devon 16 July 1854, and arrived in Port Adelaide, South Australia on 23 October 1854), I found a copy of the original passenger list on the State Library of South Australia website. I also found references to it on the Passengers in History site, and The Ships List. Anyway so then I headed off to Trove , and I came up with a thankyou message that the passengers had written to the Captain of the Lord Raglan ship, and they put it publicly in the the newspaper. How cool is that? It’s great to know that Captain Flanagan and his crew looked after their passengers on the long voyage to a new life. Another newspaper entry I found relating to the Lord Raglan, quotes the following … The fine new ship Lord Raglan, 923 tons register, Captain Flanagan, for Adelaide, and the Appoline, of 500 tons, for Melbourne, having embarked their respective complements of emigrants from the Government dept, at Plymouth, sailed on Sunday. The Lord Raglan belongs to Messrs. W. Nicholson and Sons, of Sunderland, and has been fitted up on a most excellent plan, the result of the experience of Captain Lean, R.N., the Government emigration officer in London. Among other advantages, one-third of each bed can be turned up from the sides of the ship, so as to admit of a free passage two feet...

The “Fitzjames”, South Australia’s Floating Prison...

A largely unknown piece of South Australia’s history is the fact that there was a prison ship (or hulk) anchored just off of Port Adelaide at Largs Bay. While we’ve heard of them in the UK, who knew that Australia had them too? In 1876, the ‘Fitzjames’ a ship of 1,200 tons,  was purchased by the South Australian Government from Mr Donaldson in Melbourne, and cost them £2,800. It was bought with the intention to use it as a quarantine ship. There’s more about this in the Evening Journal, 15 April 1876 … “She will be moored near the North Arm, and will be used for patients while the cottage on Torrens Island will be fitted up and set apart for the convalescents. In view of the large influx of population to the colony it is important to have ample quarantine accommodation and the arrangements are now in progress will secure this without the delay which would be caused by waiting for the erection of suitable buildings.” However by 1880 and through until 1891, the ‘Fitzjames’ served as a “Reformatory” for over 100 young boys aged from 8 through to 16. From the Evening Journal dated 11 June 1879  … “… if the hulk Fitzjames were not required for quarantine purposes after the buildings on Torrens Island were completed the Government would consider the advisability of converting her into a training-ship for Reformatory boys” The first boys to call the Fitzjames home, were ones transferred from the Boys’ Reformatory at Magill in March 1880. Some had committed serious crimes, while others were guilty of petty theft, or simply deemed uncontrollable. The inspection reports which you’ll find in the newspapers, generally give a fairly favourable report, as well as giving an idea of what...

Australia’s Motorcycle Chariot Race...

Chariots are something from the Roman era, and not something to you associate (or see) these days, or even in the relatively recent past. But back in 1920s-1930s chariot motorcycle racing was a thing. Yes, for real! And Australia even got in on the act. I recently saw the photo above, on the History in Pictures Facebook page, and couldn’t believe what I saw. Two men in Roman style outfits, in chariots, with two motorbikes pulling them along. The caption read “Motorcycle Chariot Race in New South Wales, Australia, 1936”.  I was intrigued, I wanted to know if this was for real, so I headed to Trove. Sure enough, the motorcycle chariot race did happen. It was one of many events that were held at Sydney Showgrounds for the New South Wales Police Carnival on Saturday, 29 February 1936. With an estimated crowd of 50,000 this was AN EVENT!! Here’s just some of the articles I found on Trove about it … And to top it off there’s even a short video up on YouTube of the race. The National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) have a great write up about the NSW Police Carnival day, together with a longer video showing more of the events, which is totally worth watching. Check that out here. And for the record, there was going to be two heats (two laps each), but a third was needed to determine the winner: Heat 1: Constable J. T. Riley 1, Constable Langham 2. Time, 59 3-5. Heat 2: Constable Langham 1, Constable Riley 2. Time, 60 2-5. Heat 3: Constable Riley 1, Constable Langham 2. Time, 1.1¾. So from seeing a very cool random vintage photo online, to a history lesson … what’s not to love...

21 Facts About the First Fleet...

Did you know that approximately 20% of Australians descend from convicts … yes, true! Having a convict in the family has become a badge of honour for many, and having a First Fleeter even more so. And while the term ‘convict’ tends to mean ‘criminal’, so many of the 162,000 who were transported to Australia weren’t actually ‘bad’. In fact, many were just trying to survive. So just how much do you know of your Australian convict history? In particular the First Fleet? Here’s some intriguing facts that you probably didn’t know. Why send convicts to Australia? Britain had shipped about 52,000 convicts to America between 1717 and 1775 before they started sending them to Australia. And it was because of the American Revolution in 1776 that Britain started sending their criminals to Australia. When and where did it leave from and arrive? The fleet left Portsmouth, in Hampshire, England on 13 May 1787, and arrived at Botany Bay, New South Wales, Australia between 18-20 January 1788 How many ships in the first fleet? The whole fleet consisted of 11 ships. 6 convict ships, 2 naval ships and 3 ships with supplies What are the names of the ships in the first fleet? H.M.S. Sirius, Charlotte, Alexander, Scarborough, Lady Penrhyn, Friendship, H.M.S. Supply, Prince of Wales, Golden Grove, Fishburn and Borrowdale Who was the captain of the first fleet? Captain Arthur Phillip What about Port Jackson? The fleet arrived at Botany Bay but as that place was deemed unsuitable as a settlement due to the lack of fresh water, the fleet sailed on to Port Jackson (Sydney Cove), New South Wales arriving on 26 January 1788 What’s so special about the date 26 January? 26 January marks the anniversary of the 1788...

6 January 1912 – Australia’s First Plane Crash...

6 January 1912, is the date Australia’s first official plane crash happened. But before going into that, just a little background information. Australia’s earliest recorded attempts at powered flying took place in 1909, and within a year, numerous aircrafts were being imported, with others being locally made. As you can imagine, some of these new flying machines proved less successful than others, with mild accidents on take-off occurring in several cases. However it was inevitable that a ‘proper’ aeroplane crash would take place sooner or later. William Ewart Hart is the man who’s name is now in Australia’s history as being the pilot of Australia’s first plane crash. Billy Hart (as he was known) was born in Parramatta, New South Wales in 1885, when at age 16 he was apprenticed to a local dentist. By 1906 was a registered dentist himself, and after registration he practiced as a dentist in Wyalong, where he rode the first motorcycle and drove the first car in town. Quite the man, no doubt! He went on to practice in Newcastle, New South Wales. In 1911, at age 26 Billy Hart learnt to fly and became the first man to hold an Australia aviator’s licence. His No. 1 Certificate of the newly-created Aerial League of Australia was granted on 5 December 1911. Hart imported a British aircraft for £1300 (approx $140,000 today), and maintained it in a tent at Penrith, New South Wales. However, shortly after its purchase, strong winds overturned the tent and the plane, reducing the aircraft to a wreck. Not to be defeated, Billy salvaged what he could, and built a biplane from the parts. On 6 January 1912 he was demonstrating his aircraft, and had military officer Major Rosenthal as a passenger,...

Trove – Eight Years of Incredible Discoveries...

Eight years ago, the way of historical and genealogical research in Australia changed forever. Trove went live. Created by the National Library of Australia, the Trove website is a portal to their absolutely incredible collection of records. By “absolutely incredible”, I’m talking millions of records. But not “just” millions. How about 554,000,000 of them? That’s right, over HALF A BILLION of them in fact! All online and all free to search. So how lucky are we? There’s no doubt that Trove is Australia’s number 1 website for research. If it’s not yours, it should be! So go and bookmark it www.trove.nla.gov.au now. If you’re not familiar with Trove, take a quick look at the videos below that give you a quick overview, of what it is, and the different facets to it. So you’ll find photos, journals and articles, archived websites, government gazettes, music, sound and video recordings, diaries and letters, maps and books, even vintage issues of the Women’s Weekly magazine. They all make up the phenomenal collection of Australian history that the National Library of Australian (NLA) looks after. For more a detailed analysis on using Trove and all it’s facets, check out Shauna Hicks’ “Trove: Discover Genealogy Treasure in the National Library of Australia“. However what most researchers (myself included) head to Trove for, is their historical newspaper collection. And why wouldn’t we, they are so fun. And with over 200 million pages of old newspaper online already – there are so many stories just waiting to be found. The blog theme “Trove Tuesday” was started back in 2012 by Amy Houston of the Branches Leaves and Pollen blog, [note, I know the link has changed, but I still wanted to give her the credit], and through its creation, has...

History and Wine Part 2: 19 Crimes...

Following on from my earlier post about convict wine, now we’re on to Part 2. And we have more history, more wine, and more convicts with “19 Crimes“. This wine is what got me started me on the whole “convict wine” thing. And you know what … it was actually a Canadian friend who introduced me to it. Thankyou Ellen. I’ll admit I’m not a wine fanatic, but I am a history and family history buff … so anything with a convict on it is going to get my attention. So I’ve researching this wine to suss out the stories behind it all. So it’s made in my home state of South Australia as a brand for Treasury Wine Estates, and 19 Crimes is sold locally in Australia, and overseas as well. And it was first made in 2012, so how did I not know about this until now? So what’s so cool about 19 Crimes wine?  The Corks = The Crimes Did you know that there were 19 reasons for transportation? No, nor did I. And each of these reasons is written on a cork. So if you’re a collector like me you wan to get the whole set. But it can be a challenge as they are added randomly you never know what you’ll get. So if you buy 2 bottles of the same wine you may get different corks, or you may get the same … you’ll never know until you open it. As a collector I’ve found it fun collecting the whole set, although I did have to bend the rules a little, since the Australian version of the wine doesn’t come with corks, but rather screwtops … so I headed to ebay, and little-by-little...

History and Wine Part 1: 717 Convicts...

This is the first of two posts that I’m writing about wine, history and convicts! And I must say, that this topic is my newest fascination addiction. So let me introduce you to the “717 Convicts”wine. Made by Darren and Suz Westlake of Westlake Vineyards. They run a small, family operated business in the heart of the Barossa Valley, South Australia’s wine country. And their range “717 Convicts” is one of their brands, and is a tribute to the First Fleet, and tribute to Darren’s ancestors. The story starts back in the county of Devon in England where Edward Westlake was tried for stealing 40 pounds of mutton to the value of 10/-., back in 1786. He was found guilty, and was sentenced to 7 years transportation, along with his father in law, John Mortimer and brother-in-law Noah Mortimer. All three got their “free ticket” to Australia aboard the “Charlotte”, which one of the 11 ships in the First Fleet., which left England in May 1787. You can read more about the ships (and the convicts ) here. Edward, John and Noah were just three of the 100 males, 32 females and 30 crew aboard the “Charlotte” for a total of 252 days – that’s an incredible 8 months, 1 week, and 1 day. I’ve been on cruise ships and by day 12 I tend to get stir crazy – and that’s pure luxury compared to the conditions that these ships would have been, so there is no comparison. After all they were prisoners, and were treated like it too. Anyway all three survived the voyage to New South Wales (not everyone did), and by March 1788 all three were then transferred on to Norfolk Island, as part of...

Everything is Instant

We live in an instant world. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that statement. Our food is instant, our communication is instant, our coffee is instant, and entertainment is too. But from time to time I am reminded about how much we rely on power and automation to make our life what it is. And I’m thinking that maybe I don’t think quite like everyone else, as I like to think about what it was like ‘back in the day’. Back in the era of my grandparents, or even great grandparents. So even just getting up and ready for school or work would have been an entirely different routine to those in today’s era. Just think about it these days: – you can flick a switch, at the lights go on, or when the power is out we have torches (none of this lighting candles just to move from room to room) – and we can turn the knob on the stove, and it heats up – push some buttons on the microwave, and tea is ready in a few minutes – open the fridge or freezer door and you have nicely cold food and drinks – if you’re cold, just pop the heater on – or if you’re hot put the airconditoner or fan on – the washing machine just needs a few buttons pushed, and wallah, it’s all washed for you – and the same goes the dryer – want hot water? No problem. Just turn the tap. None of this having to heat up water in the kettle or copper – want toast for breakfast … just pop a slice in. You don’t have to have a fire to get doing, to then toast the bread – and...