Tag Archives: bushrangers

Wandering into Darlinghurst Gaol, Sydney…

Continuing further along my meanderings through inner Sydney, I stumbled across Darlinghurst Gaol, which is now posing as the National Art School. Is it a coincidence that these art students are creating within the walls of a former prison? I’m not sure but society has often locked up it’s most innovative thinkers. Indeed, Australian poet Henry Lawson himself was locked up within these walls back in the day.

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Anyway, you’ll be pleased to know that I wandered into Darlinghurst Gaol and wandered straight out again.

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This photo was taken in the tunnel leader into the chapel.

Perhaps, you might think they’ve made a huge mistake. That they should’ve locked me up and thrown away the key. Some days, I truly wouldn’t mind. After all, if that’s what it takes to get a bit of peace and quiet, I’ll lock myself up any day. I’m sure you know what I mean. We’ve all been there!

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Old and New Stand Side by Side.

As I said, I was  wandering through Eastern Sydney starting out at Kings Cross Station and walking along Darlinghurst Road to the Sydney Jewish Museum. Then, I turned the corner and saw a high and continuous sandstone wall. Although I don’t get down to this part of Sydney very often, I knew it must’ve been Darlinghurst Gaol. While it closed as a gaol back in and is now the National Art  School, it had some high profile inmates back in the day. Poet Henry Lawson spent a bit of time there, calling it Starvinghurst Gaol. A few notable bushrangers were  inmates of Darlinghurst Gaol:

  • Thomas and John Clarke – bushrangers from the upper Shoalhaven in south-east New South Wales, hanged on 25 June 1867.
  • John Dunn – Australian bushranger, member of Ben Hall‘s gang, hanged in the gaol on 19 March 1866.
  • John Vane[3] – bushranger from Carcoar in Central Western New South Wales. Johnny Vane was member of Ben Hall‘s gang.
  • Frank Gardiner – Australian bushranger and mastermind of the Forbes gold escort robbery at Eugowra on 15 June 1862 (sentenced to 32 years, but pardoned early).
  • Andrew George Scott – known as Captain Moonlite, Irish-Australian bushranger.
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Watercolour of the Gaol by inmate Henry Louis Bertrand, 1891

Construction on Darlinghurst Gaol wall began in 1822 and finished in 1824 using convict labour. However, due to a lack of funds, the site sat empty for 12 years. Construction of the rest of the complex did not begin until 1836, with completion of some of the cell blocks in 1840. The gaol was ready for occupation a year later, with the first prisoners occupying the gaol on 7 June 1841.

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The gaol was finally completed in 1885. The main material used for construction of the gaol is Sydney sandstone, cut into large blocks by convicts. Convict markings on the blocks are visible along the upper half of the wall on Darlinghurst Road. A tall circular chapel stands in the middle of the site, around which are sited the six rectangular cell blocks in a radial fashion.

The Mortuary.

The site was transferred in 1921 to the New South Wales Department of Education, who adapted the building for use as the East Sydney Technical College. The National Art School was established in 1995 and is now the sole occupant of the site. The Darlinghurst Road side of the Gaol, (commonly known as “the wall”) was for many years a popular place for male prostitutes to offer their services.

I have to ask if it’s a coincidence that the National Art School is housed in a former gaol? After all, doesn’t society like to lock up those who think outside the square and who better than artists and creatives!

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The guard at the gate told me that there was a tunnel from the courthouse to the gaol and so I wandered round there and took some photos. The architecture is just begging to be photographed and is, as I’ve heard said: “very instragramable”. That is if you’re on Instagram.

Stumbling across the gaol was a reminder of the chance finds you come across when you explore a place on foot. I had a great uncle who was particularly well-travelled for his day. He used to say that if you wanted to know a city, you needed to walk around it on foot. He was so right and he was in great company with these minds:

“What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters.”
― Charles Baudelaire

“There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Even a bicycle goes too fast.”

-Paul Scott Mowrer

However, as much as I love walking around the inner city exploring every nook and cranny, time was not my friend. Mum was minding my kids and I really had to get home. So, after already deviating via the Anne Frank Exhibition and Darlinghurst Gaol, I was now Cinderella at 5 minutes to midnight.  I  needed to hot foot it to Central Station via Surry Hills to catch the train home.

Well, maybe just one last detour. After walking out of gaol, I wandered into a chocolate shop. Just goes to show that it doesn’t take much to lead me astray!

Now, it’s time to get on with the weekend!

xx Rowena

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Weekend Coffee Share 15th October, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Let’s just forget it’s after dark and switch on the sun. Why let reality get in the way of painting a picture? While we’re at it, we can throw a rug on the grass and smell the roses. Our rose bush has burst into Spring quite literally and is covered all over with luscious red roses and a multitude of buds. Just going to show that a savage prune can be good for the soul. Mind you, personally I say go prune the rose bush and leave me alone.

How was your week? What did you get up to?

This week, I had a truly special moment when I received a Facebook message asking if I still had any of the sunflower seeds I’d received from the MH17 crash site in the Ukraine. This woman was related to the pilot and she was desperately searching for some seeds to plant in their new home. MH17 was the passenger plane shot down over the Ukraine2 years ago and these seeds were salvaged by the Sydney Morning Herald’s journalist Paul McGeogh and photographer. They brought the seeds back to Australia via quarantine where they were planted and this is generation 1.

If you would like to read about the sunflower seeds, click here

I was too anxious to plant the seeds last year. Actually, this wasn’t anxiety but more of a reality check because I am a serial plant killer and our front yard is currently littered with dead bodies following my most recent splurge. I always vow to change but my track record speaks for itself.

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Sunflower seeds from the Ukraine

So, I packaged up 5 of the seeds and today we planted twelve in a seed planter at home and I’m hoping to plant the rest in the greenhouse at my son’s school. If you’ve ever read The Little Prince and you remember how the rose was kept safe under the glass dome, you’ll know exactly what I’m looking for. Obviously, I can’t bubble wrap the sunflowers but a greenhouse is pretty much the same thing. Hopefully, we’ll get plenty of seeds and future crops will be assured.

While I haven’t thinking about seeds, I’ve been doing more family history research. By the way, anybody who thinks this is dull and boring, hasn’t met my family. This bunch are on my Mum’s Mother’s side. There are a couple of different branches but they basically arrived from Germany during the 1860s. My research started out with my Great Great Great Aunty Rose who had a sophistocated hair and beauty salon in Brisbane which served the elite…including General MacArthur’s wife while he was stationed in Brisbane.

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Well, Aunty Rose was theatrical to say the least and she had a pet kookaburra “Johnny Boy” which she could get to laugh on command (not easy for a kookaburra apparently. I’ve never tried.) She also had a pet budgerigar called Romeo whose vocabulary was a very impressive 800-1000 words. While other women were knitting socks for the war effort, Aunty Rose organised fundraising concerts for the Red Cross featuring local entertainers and her birds. Aunty Rose, not unsurprisingly, was very in elocution and gave very dramatic renditions of poems. We actually have a recording of her performing on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. She used to perform when my Mum’s family went round for a visit and apparently they found it very difficult to contain their laughter. Of course, these were the days when children were seen and not heard and they had to behave!!

Anyway, while researching Aunty Rose I stumbled across a startling little snippet. It turns out that her Uncle played the violin for Ashton’s Circus around 1870. This made quite a lot of sense. From there I strayed across another snippet about how members of the Wirth’s Circus band were bailed up by the notorious bushranger Captain Thunderbolt.

By this time, my creative juices are gushing like a fountain. Seriously, you couldn’t make up these characters.

So, as you can see, I’ve been well and truly spirited away from the real world this week and I’ve wandered off on yet another goat’s trail chasing the story. However, my stories are all very cold off the press. You could indeed say frozen but they’re so good that I have to perform CPR. Bring them back to life.

Anyway, that’s enough from me. I need to get to bed before the sun rises for real.

Hope you have a great week!

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share and please click on the linky to enjoy beverages from right around the globe. .

xx Rowena