Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Oz Facts


Interesting Oz Pics and Facts: 


Back when I was in school, Australian history was considered to have begun in 1770 when Cook discovered Australia and claimed it for England, followed by Captain Arthur Phillip arriving here in 1778 as a dumping ground for England’s excess crims, plus soldiers to guard them and their wives. 

These days Oz history is studied from the settlement of Australia 50,000 years ago by indigenous Australians, the doctrine of terra nullius (“nobody’s land”) having been tossed out by the High Court in Mabo, with a flow on effect to history and education. 

In 1770 these two cultural subject matters – white “discovery” v indigenous settlement – met when Cook sailed into Botany Bay. The first meeting did not go well, Cook’s party shot an indigenous male for throwing a stone at them. 


The Hyde Park Barracks Museum in Sydney is a brick building and compound designed by convict architect Francis Greenway between 1818 and 1819. It was originally built at the head of Macquarie Street in 1819 to house convict men and boys. As the principal male convict barracks in New South Wales it provided lodgings for convicts working in government employment around Sydney until its closure in mid-1848. Holes were constructed in the walls of the barracks so that guards could watch to ensure convicts weren't having sex with each other. Homosexuality remained a crime in NSW until 1984. 


In 1838 the Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) visited the Cascades Female Factory in Hobart and addressed the 300 convict women from an elevated dais. The Governor’s party included women and a reverend. Whilst being addressed, the 300 women simultaneously turned their backs, bent over, pulled up their clothes and showed their naked backsides, slapping their bums with their hands for additional auditory protest. Apparently no action was taken and it was not possible to determine who were the ringleaders. It has been reported that the women in the Governor’s party laughed. 


Gough Whitlam, Labor Prime Minister of Australia 1972-1975, pictured above in 1938, rowed whilst a student at the University of Sydney. He once told a gathering that his preferred sport was rowing: "It is, of course, an extraordinarily apt sport for men in public life because you can face one way while going the other." 



In 1854 the diggers on the gold fields at Ballarat in Victoria made a stand against oppression, violence and unfair treatment by the government and its police, who acted as thugs. They stood united at the stockade at Eureka under a flag reportedly made by local women, the flag's five stars representing the Southern Cross and the white cross joining the stars representing unity in defiance.  The blue represented the shirts worn by the miners.

One miner, an Italian named Raffaello Carboni, was at the front of the rebellion wrote of the flag under which the miners gathered: “There is no flag in Europe or in the civilised world half so beautiful... the flag is silk, blue ground, with a large silver cross; no device or arms, but all exceedingly chaste and natural.” 

He also recorded the oath of Peter Lalor, the leader of the revolt, who on bended knee with head bowed and one hand holding the edge of the flag, spoke their oath: “We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties.” 

The authorities could not allow a treasonous rebellion and attacked at dawn on Sunday, 3 December 1854. Whereas the miners had had 1,500 men present on the Saturday, only 150 were present on the Sunday in the belief that an attack would not take place on the Sabbath. 22 miners were killed in the battle, together with 5 soldiers. None of the 125 persons arrested and subsequently charged were convicted, an inquiry resulted in reforms and Lalor was subsequently elected to Parliament. He died in 1889 aged 72. 

What remains of the flag has been lent to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka by the Art Gallery of Ballarat. 


The word "Canberra" is popularly claimed to derive from the word Kambera or Canberry, which is claimed to mean "meeting place" in Ngunnawal, one of the Indigenous languages spoken in the district by Aboriginal Australians before European settlers arrived, although there is no clear evidence to support this. 

An alternative definition has been claimed by numerous local commentators over the years, including the Ngunnawal elder Don Bell, whereby Canberra or Nganbra means "woman's breasts" and is the indigenous name for the two mountains, Black Mountain and Mount Ainslie (pictured above), which lie almost opposite each other. 

In the 1860s, the name was reported by Queanbeyan newspaper owner John Gale to be an interpretation of the name nganbra or nganbira, meaning "hollow between a woman's breasts", and referring to the Sullivans Creek floodplain between Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain. 


Australia’s highest mountain at 2,228 metres (7,310 feet) is named after Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko (Andrew Thaddeus Bonaventure Kosciuszko (1746 – 1817), a Polish-Lithuanian military engineer, statesman, and military leader who became a national hero in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and the United States. Kosciciuszko fought in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth's struggles against Russia and Prussia, and on the U.S. side in the American Revolutionary War. As Supreme Commander of the Polish National Armed Forces, he led the 1794 Kościuszko Uprising. 


The word Cenotaph means empty tomb, a sepulchral monument in honour of a person whose body is elsewhere. The Sydney Cenotaph located in Martin Place, Sydney, is one of the oldest World War I monuments in central Sydney, being dedicated in 1927. Martin Place, adjacent to the General Post Office (GPO), was the location in which the majority of Sydney's soldiers enlisted into the Australian Army for World War I. The Sydney GPO was also the main conduit of news information during World War I. Today Martin Place is a pedestrian only area, having been closed to traffic in stages from 1971. 



Two glass bottles containing nitro-glycerine (then practically unknown in New South Wales) were responsible for an explosion which created havoc in Bridge Street, Sydney on March 4, 1866. The explosion took place at 6.30pm on a Sunday in the business section of the city, hence no one being killed. Damage was extensive with two buildings being destroyed and buildings nearby being damaged, with many windows shattered. It was estimated that the nitro glycerine had ten time the explosive power of gunpowder. 


Ronald Ryan (1925 – 1967) was the last person to be legally executed in Australia. Found guilty of shooting and killing warder George Hodson during an escape from Pentridge Prison, Victoria, in 1965 (many now being of the opinion that the fatal shot came from another prison officer’s firearm), Ryan's hanging was met with some of the largest public protests in the history of Australia and led to the end of capital punishment. Four of the Ryan jury members requested intervention when Ryan was sentenced to hang on the basis that when they found Ryan guilty, they were under the belief that the death penalty had been abolished in Victoria. The death penalty was abolished in all states by 1985. 

The Premier of Victoria at the time that Ryan was sentenced and hanged was Sir Henry Bolte, a chain smoking, whisky swigging right wing politician who promoted an image of a rough, earthy, simple, man at odds with trade unions, teachers, liberals, strikers and protesters. Asked by a journalist what he was doing at the moment that Ronald Ryan was hanged, Bolte replied “One of the three S’s, I suppose.” When asked what he meant, he responded: “A shit, a shave or a shower.”

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