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About

History tells us so much about life. By reviewing history we are better able to understand what our parents, grandparents and great grandparents endured. This understanding helps all of us to treasure the bounty that we enjoy today. This is a website devoted to the history of an area in the south east of Australia.  The people who lived in the rough bush huts did their best to survive. As with any community there was a small group of individuals who were more unusual than all the rest. Their true stories are the Odd History of South Eastern Australia.

Over many years I have collected and told stories about the interesting historical characters in the local area. My children tired of my repeating these stories around the dinner table. Exasperated, my eldest daughter, Bobbi, set up this website so that I could write these stories down and let the family eat in peace. Little did she realize, that as I researched, I found plenty more to bore them with.  

I have tried my best to authenticate all of these stories.  Wherever possible I have searched for matching vital records, reports and historic maps. You will notice links at the bottom of each article showing references for the information I have used. If I have got it wrong I apologize.  With any event, each individual sees it from a differing view.  I have tried to find the most accurate of these viewpoints.

Annie O’Riley, 2012

Recent Posts

The Youngest Anzac

For many young men, the First World War was seen as a great adventure, it was a chance to see the world, to experience a life that was so different from their Australian upbringing. One of these young men was a boy called Walter Dunn. Walter was possibly our youngest Anzac with some reports stating his age as low as 13, but his birthdate varies quite a bit along with his place of birth and his next of kin. Suffice to say that Walter may have fudged the records in his bid to be involved. The following article about Walter was[...]

Dead Man's Gully, Darnum

Most people driving on the Princes Highway east of Darnum have no knowledge of the area known as Dead Man's Gully. The highway has been widened, the roadworks have made hills where none existed before but there is one small thing that alerts you to its history. It is a single grave, tucked down an embankment 1.7 kilometers from Darnum. This grave is what gave the area the name and in recent times, thanks to RTA workers, it is marked by the posts and rails around it. Virtually unnoticed and tended for many years by an unknown person, it is thought[...]

The Sad Life (and Death) of Kitty Counsel

Miss Catherine Mary Counsel was a tiny, sweet natured and deeply religious woman who spent most of her life as a housekeeper for wealthy families in and around Melbourne. Known as Kitty by her friends, her life was inconspicuous, she is never mentioned in newspapers, difficult to find in electoral rolls and barely rates a mention in death notices. Her life may have not have been noteworthy but it was the bizarre happenings after her death that caused me to research this diminutive  lady. Little Kitty came from a well respected family.* Although of Irish stock her grandfather, Loughlin Counsel was[...]

Pit Ponies at the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine

From 1909 to 1968 The State Coal Mine at Wonthaggi employed hundreds of boys and men but they also employed workers who never received a cent, the little horses called pit ponies. These little ponies were not children's pets or riding animals. Often they would be bred specifically for the job as they had to be strong and shockproof. They were taught to react solely to voice commands and they learnt to trot with their heads down. Their size varied from 10 to 14 hands and usually they were thickset and broad across the chest. These were remarkable animals. When the[...]