Sunday, December 11, 2016

Oz Fun Facts

Continuing Oz Fun Facts & History, which can be viewed at:

Dogs photographed at Tasmanian mining town's grandest house

In 1901, Queenstown was Tasmania's third-largest town, home to 5051 people and booming thanks in large part to the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company. Originally built as the mine manager’s residence, ‘Penghana’ sits high on a knoll in the heart of town. The grand three-storey house was named after the settlement that would birth Queenstown. While that Penghana was destroyed by fire in 1896, the ‘Penghana’ residence still stands, now a bed and breakfast.


If, like me, you are having trouble finding the house in the above pic, here is a photograph of what Penghana looks like now as a B & B:


Camels spied on the hunt for missing aviator

With an eye to launch a domestic air service, aviator Charles Kingsford Smith departed for England with Charles Ulm and two crewmen on March 30, 1929. A day later they were forced to make an emergency landing on the flats of the Glenelg River estuary. While they were found in good health 13 days later, having survived on a diet of coffee, whiskey and tinned baby food, two of their would-be rescuers, Keith Anderson and Robert Hitchcock, perished after a forced landing in the Tanami Desert. Local media dubbed the incident the "Coffee Royal Affair", and after an official enquiry, Kingsford Smith and Ulm were exonerated from the charge of having staged the incident for publicity.


Despite being exonerated by the official enquiry, Kingsford Smith's reputation within Australia never fully recovered during his lifetime.

In 1935, whilst Kingsford Smith and co-pilot John Pethybridge were flying Kingsford Smith’s latest plane, Southern Cross, overnight from India, to Singapore as part of their attempt to break the England-Australia speed, they disappeared over the Andaman Sea near the Bay of Bengal. Their bodies were never found, despite an extensive search. An undercarriage leg and wheel were found by fishermen 18 months later, the leg being on display in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.


Sydney department store installs Australia's first escalator

Mark Foy's, the retailer established in 1885 by brothers Francis and Mark Foy and named for their father, was once one of the places to shop in Sydney. Its most famous store was the spectacular "Piazza" on the corner of Liverpool and Elizabeth Streets (now home to the Downing Centre courts), which opened on September 6, 1909. Modelled on Paris's Bon Marche, the world's first department store, the three-storey Piazza dominated its block — even more so when another Mark Foy's opened directly across the street. One of the Piazza's most novel innovations was its "magic" moving staircase, the first escalator in Australia. A week after the store's opening, the Sydney Morning Herald marvelled at this "escalier Hocquart" (named after one of the escalator's first patent holders), "a travelling staircase upon which one may step, and, without any further exertion, be landed on the upper floor".


As noted above, the building is now a major court complex and is known as the Downing Cntre..

The building was converted for use as Courts in 1985 and is listed on the Register of the National Estate. In 1991, it was named the "Downing Centre" after the former Attorney General and Minister for Justice Reg Downing (Attorney General 1956-1965)

Reg Downing

Japanese immigrants risk their lives diving for Queensland's pearls

In the 1890s, pearling become the largest industry in far-north Queensland. The only industry to ever be exempted from the provisions of the White Australia policy, pearling relied on cheap labour from the South Pacific and Asia. The top-end of the pearling workforce was dominated by Japanese divers — like the man in this undated photo, pictured in his diving suit (minus helmet) on Thursday Island. Over the years, dive lengths were extended to improve the workers' catches, increasing the risk of decompression sickness. In 1916, the death rate was 10 percent, nearly 10 times Queensland's overall occupational death rate of 1.1 percent. Despite that, the top diver income was less than the minimum wage for a harvester.

Marching band member steals a kiss from Sydney woman

Prince Henry, the younger brother of Edward VIII and George VI, undertook a royal tour of Australia in 1934. The purpose of the visit was to celebrate the centenary of the state of Victoria — and celebrate he did, earning a reputation for his "insobriety". He was not alone in enjoying the tour, accompanied by the Band of His Majesty's Grenadier Guards. Thousands crowded into Sydney's Martin Place at lunchtime on Thursday, November 8 to watch the band perform (with 22 collapsing and one man dying in the "oppressive" heat). After performing official ceremonial duties at the Sydney Cenotaph in Martin Place, one of the more outgoing members of the band kissed a woman, though it's unclear whether the two were previously acquainted.


Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, is driven through Warwick in Queensland.

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