From the 1870’s – 1890’s the practice of selling liquor without a licence seems to have been widespread. In my article called The Sly Grog Riot (Pakenham) I explain the practice in more detail. Pakenham was not the only town in our locality to have these sly grog shanties: there are a number that come up in Berwick, ‘Narre Worren’, Dandenong, Emerald and Gembrook. Below are a couple of examples.
Published in The Argus, 27 April 1881.
“At the Berwick Court on Saturday, a man named William Vesper was charged with having a large quantity of liquor on his premises contrary to law. He was found guilty and all the liquor was ordered to be forfeited. The prosecution was conducted by M. Waters, of the Excise Department.”
This article which appeared in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal on the 23rd of February, 1881, talks about the auctioning off of a sly grog seller’s goods in Dandenong. “The most spirited sale by auction we have been present at for some time was that held on Saturday last in the stables adjoining the police quarters at Dandenong. No one would have imagined that there was so much latent ability as an auctioneer concealed in Senior Constable McKee’s composition. The goods disposed of:-some of which judges actually averred were no good goods,- were the liquors of sly grog seller Lanmer, confiscated by the Bench, and consisted of several dozen ale and porter, and a few bottles of rum, whisky, and brandy. Owing either to the manner in which the auctioneer set about his work, or the novelty of the position in which the audience found themselves, the bidding was fast and furious, and indeed to such an extent that more money was got for portion of it than Lanmer could have got. “