Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Australia's weird history

Australia has a little bit of a weird history, especially if you start looking into it. A while back, I started researching all this stuff and thought it'd be fun to share my findings with you all. So without further ado, here are three really weird stories from Australia's history. 


A maliciously damaged ribbon

Francis Edward de Groot (1888-1969) fought in the First World War and was rewarded a ceremonial sword for his service. He moved to Sydney and settled into his new career as an antique dealer and furniture manufacturer, and he also became a member of the New Guard (a right-wing paramilitary organization). 

When the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened on March 19th, 1932, he was part of the honour guard. However, right before the ribbon was cut, de Groot rode his horse forwards, sliced the ribbon with his ceremonial sword and proclaimed, "In the name of the loyal and decent citizens of New South Wales, I declare this bridge open." Despite the interruption, the ribbon was simply tied back together and the ceremony was continued. (Gotta admire their dedication there.)

De Groot was arrested and his ceremonial sword confiscated. He was sent to the Lunatic Reception House, where he was declared insane (but two different doctors later examined him and both found him to be sane). In the end, de Groot was fined five pounds in total, with four pounds for "maliciously damaging a ribbon." (Seriously though, just imagine trying to read that last bit in court with a straight face.) (Sources, sources, and more sources.)

Convict cops

In 1789, crime was on the rise in the new Australian colony. In response, Governor Arthur Phillip created the Night Watch. However, with Australia being Australia at the time and thus filled with convicts, he had very little manpower and thus chose the twelve best-behaved convicts for his new guard. 

It wasn't his first choice, of course. As Phillip said, "A watch established for the preservation of public and private property should have been formed of free people," but he did what he had to do. Thirty years after the Night Watch had been formed, Sydney had about 60 constables, and most of them had been convicts. (Sources, sources, and even more sources.)


The Somerton Man

December 1st, 1945. Two men found a body leaning against a wall on Somerton Beach, Adelaide. He had an expensive suit and tie on, but all the labels had been removed from his clothes and he had no ID on him. There was no sign of violence or of a struggle, and no trace of poison in his system. 

The police found a piece of paper in his pocket, with the printed words "Tamám Shud" (Persian for "it is finished"). The paper had been torn from a book that had been placed in a stranger's car a few streets away. (It gets weirder, though.) Inside the book, there was some text that looked like a coded message but to this day remains uncracked. As this was the beginning of the Cold War, theories have been thrown around, such as that the man was a Soviet spy. Was there an undetectable poison involved? Suicide? Or just an ordinary, accidental death? (Sources, sources, and yet more sources.)

What's a weird story you've come across in your travels through history books? Which Australian story was your favourite? 

5 comments:

  1. These are great! I mean, I mean, uh, great for weird stories. That last one though is a little ominous. O.O The first one is my favorite. That's too great! Why didn't they just let the poor man cut the ribbon? But governor, he really wanted to cut it, and you were going to cut it anyhow. And with his CEREMONIAL sword! I mean, that's an honor, right? XD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, thanks! I had a lot of fun researching them. I know, right? It's pretty much Australia's biggest cold case ever and it's just so darn cool. JUST LET THE MAN CUT THE RIBBON!

      Delete
  2. Oh my gosh, just imagining saying that line about maliciously damaging a ribbon makes me snort laugh. That would be so fun to try to say with a straight face in court. XD

    And wow, that least piece is super interesting! I mean, they all are, but the idea of a random dead person with no known cause of death is something that's right up my alley. I don't even know why. Probably because I'm super morbid. But yes. Excellent job putting these facts together. Now I need to know way more about Australia. :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really wish I could have been there to see them say that out loud. Like they recognized that it was ridiculous, right?

      Liz, you ARE super morbid. Just embrace it :) And I really want them to solve that code, although knowing life it would probably end up being his grandmother's cookie recipe or something lame instead of missile codes or something.

      Delete
  3. The first story was my favourite and the last one was kinda scary. Especially 'It is finished'. That sounds so familiar....

    ReplyDelete

Feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions! I'd love to hear from you. Please note that I reserve the right to delete comments that I think are hurtful.