Penguin Gaol – Thursday Doors

Before you start getting up in arms about penguins being locked up,  I should let you know that Penguin is a town on Tasmania’s North-West Coast. The town was named by the botanist Ronald Campbell Gunn after the little penguin rookeries, which are common along the less populated areas of the coast. Not unsurprisingly, the town is now home to the Big Penguin.

rowena-kids-with-penguin

Introducing the Big Penguin, who is looking more like a stunned mullet.

We spent a few days in Penguin in January last year. Not just because it’s a quaint coastal town which some very photogenic natural features. You see, my husband’s father was born there in 1927 and his mother away when he was only 9 years old leaving three kids aged 9, 8 and 2 or thereabouts. Geoff’s father passed away when he was 16 so visiting Penguin was almost like visiting a haunted village but in such a beautiful, incredible poignant way. We were walking in the dust of their footprints.

Penguin Gaol

Old Penguin Gaol 

 

Old Penguin Gaol’, circa 1902–1962. The old gaol was originally located behind Penguin’ s courthouse, but was restored and resited in 1992 by the Penguin Apex Club. I haven’t actually seen inside it so I’m not sure how much room is inside, but it looks like standing room only and not the sort of place you’d want to spend the night especially if you have to share.

 

DSC_6828

That’s quite a lock. 

Here’s a newspaper story about a former inmate of the gaol in 1903:

A Sham Constable

SEVERAL HOTELS SEARCHED AN ACTIVE “OFFICIAL”

An individual possessed either with the idea of perpetrating a practical joke or of levying blackmail paid several coastal publicans a visit on Sunday night, and representing himself as a constable in plain clothes put them to considerable trouble by making a methodical examination of their bars, and with searching for persons who might be unlawfully on the premises. He gave the name of Constable Robertson

and is now in the Penguin gaol, and will today be brought to Burnie and charged with impersonating the police. The Bay View Hotel, Burnie, was visited about 10 o’clock on Sunday night and the landlord, Mr F. H. Furner, was interrogated by what he describes as a stout burly man with .suspicious looking brass buttons, although dressed in plain clothes. He was told in a perfunctory way that he (the visitor) had to perform the ‘painful duty’ of having a look at his bar. Mr Furner complied, after questioning the visitor’s bonafides, and wondering inwardly at meeting a man in his hotel to whom it was a”painful’ duty to enter the bar. After a casual inspection the visitor in pompous tones ex pressed his satisfaction, and after visiting several of the rooms to satisfy himself that none other than lodgers were in. the place he left, after having, of course, tasted something in the matter of liquid refreshment. And he confided to the licensee that he had secured the names of 40 residents that day at Ulverstone for being unlawfully in hotels. He proceeded to the Burnie Hotel, and Mr W. H. Wiseman was attracted by a loud knock. ; Opening the door the question was put to him that the visitor supposed he (the publican) did not know who he (the visitor) was. Mr Wise* man did not, and told: him so.’ ‘Another leading question as to whether his coming had been announced ; also drew forth a negative. Next ‘ came an off-handed request to be admitted to the bar, which done, the visitor, laid hold of sundry bottles of liquor, and uncorking smelt the contents. After several queries he appeared . satisfied. This examination over he ‘liquored up,’ entered the parlor and questioned the right of two gentlemen there to be in the hotel on Sunday. .’. He was assured they were lodgers, and after a while waxed communicative. He volunteered the information’ that he was a .Swiss, and offered to ‘ tie -anyone up in that language,’ He also confided to. the proprietor that, he .was. stationed at Devonport, and had instructions to visit and search the coastal hotels. He did not want the police to know of his visit, as he was watching them as. well as. the publicans. He was going to be lenient for the first offence, but after that ‘.no mercy would be shown. The man visited the Central Hotel and also the Commercial Hotel. He told Mr Pearce that he had taken the names of 120 persons found in hotels on Sunday since he started out, but he had to congratulate him and his fellow publicans that the Burnie hotels were the best conducted on the coast. Mr Pearce was naturally pleased at this information. The

Visitor then confided he was about to search the house of a leading religious man in Burne. Here, he lowered his .voice as the intelligence seemed to warrant He was sorry that a scandal should be caused, but the fact was sly-grog selling was suspected. He then made an admission which lowered him considerably in the estimation of Mr Pearce. When he went back to Devonport he was going to tackle collecting dog licenses! He left Burnie late at night, driving a horse and trap, which he had stated he got from Johnston’s Bridge Hotel, Forth. At 3 a.m. yesterday he roused ‘ up Mr B. McKenna, of the Middleton Hotel, and wanted to know if he had any persons on the premises other than lodgers. Mr M’Kenna thought the man must be mad, but the brass buttons in the night light were suggestive, and a peremptory order secured an examination. .. The denouement thus came about. Yesterday Mr P. H. Furner visited Ulverstone and. naturally made inquiries as to the 41) names secured by Robertson. He was surprised to find that ‘no visitation had been made as alleged. The truth at once dawned on him, and on returning he saw Acting-Sergeant Fidler. They both set out to .overtake the imposter, and did so at Penguin, where he was putting Mr Coram of the Penguin Hotel, through his facings. He protested when taxed by the Acting-Sergeant to produce his authority tbat he was in structed by Superintendent Armstrong at Latrobe. On being told : that there was no Superintendent Armstrong at Latrobe, he said he meant Trooper Armstrong. On being further told there was no trooper of that name in the Tasmanian force, ho looked foolish. His arrest followed, as stated, the man still contending that a member of .the force was being lodged in gaol. It is believed that the man is a returned soldier, Henry Robertson by name. He is a young fellow of about 26 years of age. North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times (Tas. : 1899 – 1919), Tuesday 23 June 1903, page 3

Thursday Doors is hosted by Norm 2.0 at Thursday Doors.  Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors.

Best wishes,

Rowena

12 thoughts on “Penguin Gaol – Thursday Doors

  1. maxwellthedog

    I’d like to visit Penguin someday. It seems the very definition of remote. The gaol is great although my US spell checker refuses to accept your Oz spelling of jail.😂 I’m guessing the sanitary facilities consisted of a bucket and winter’s we’re miserable at the gaol. It’s super that you and the family were able to make the journey.

  2. Rowena Post author

    I can understand that, Jackie. However, these are vast places and you can’t fit everything in. I’ve been to Tasmania about five times and every trip has been a rush. We were there for three weeks in January 2017 and that flew by as well. While Tassie only looks small on the map, I swear it’s been compressed in some way because it seems to take much longer to get around that I’d expected.
    We went to New Zealand for two weeks on our honeymoon in 2001. It was one of the most beautiful places on earth. We went to both islands and it was such a rush. We decided that there was too much to experience there for a honeymoon when we really did just need to relax and take it easy.
    Our kids will be spending two weeks at the scout jamboree in January and I think we parents deserve to go on a holiday too and am thinking about Tasmania or New Zealand. Also, needing to consult the bank balance.
    Hope you’re having a great week.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

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