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The Murders at Mia Mia Flat

Posted 26/05/2018 in History
Mia Mia Flat, near Talbot VIC

Mia Mia Flat, a historic goldfield between Talbot and Lillicur, harbours a dark and terrible history. At least two murders occurred on these diggings in the mid 1800's as well as a horrific attempted axe murder. 

The murder of Betsy, 1860

The first murder occurred in 1860 when an aboriginal man named Betsy was murdered by another named Jemmy. Betsy's skull was fractured by a blow from a waddy. The murderer took off toward Avoca, and a description of him was released in the newspaper:

"The offender made off towards the Avoca. He belongs to the Loddon tribe, and is generally accompanied by an aboriginal called Tommy ; is 5 feet 7 inches high, of rather stout build, has small black whiskers, and carries a blue blanket and a billy with him ; he had a large fresh cut in the head at the time of his departure." (source)

The murder of Buckley, 1862

The second was the 1862 murder of an aboriginal man named Buckley by a European man named Simms. Simms beat Buckley with a piece of wood and pushed him into a waterhole near his camp. Buckley's body was pulled out the following day and the blood trail leading to Simms' tent led police straight to the murderer. Simms was promptly arrested, along with his companion, and many witnesses testified against him in the trial that followed.

The general impression of how the murder was committed is as follows:

"...on Saturday night Buckley proceeded to Simms' tent to persuade the two lubras to return to their encampment ; that his importunities to this effect excited the wrath of Simms, who struck him several times with a piece of wood taken from his stretcher, and then pushed him outside into the waterhole." (source)

Shortly after the body was pulled from the waterhole, Detective Lloyd observed the following:

"...Detective Lloyd proceeded with his investigations, and in a short time discovered marks of blood between the tent and the waterhole. These he followed into the tent, on a portion of the door of which he also found blood. In the inside Lloyd examined the stretchers, on the end of one of which he also discovered blood, Satisfied with this circumstantial evidence against them, Lloyd at once arrested Simms and Nixon, the former for the murder, and the latter as accessory to the crime. The prisoners were then brought into Talbot, and one placed in the lock up at the Camp, and the other down at the Treasury." (source)

The horrific assault of Maher (alias Bowen, Nunan), 1859

Another horrific incident at Mia Mia Flat in 1859 was a brutal assault with an axe, where the victim's head and chest were opened up and his ear chopped off. His heart could reportedly be clearly seen beating in his chest and his brain was exposed through the opening in his forehead. Incredibly, the victim actually survived the attack and lived for some time afterward. His chest was reportedly healing well a month later, and he was perfectly sensible and rational despite the fact that his brain remained exposed through the opening his forehead. 

The assault was considered without doubt to be a murder at the time, no one expecting the victim to survive beyond the morning. The following was reported shortly after the attack:

"After fighting several rounds, Dandow's opponent found himself getting the worst of it, and he rushed into the tent, and shortly reappeared bearing a heavy American axe, with which he smote his adversary on his left breast, laying open a wound through which, although almost choked with blood, the palpitation of the heart could be plainly discerned. On the unfortunate man receiving the blow he fell to the ground, when the dastardly murderer uplifted his weapon and struck his victim on the frontal bone, laying the forehead open for several inches, and cutting a portion of the ear off..."

"...The doctor, on examining the wounded man, pronounced him beyond human skill. Mr. Inspector Hare ordered him to be removed to the tent, where, up to the hour of our going to press, he was lying in the last stage of existence, without the slightest probability of his surviving until morning." (source)

Astonishingly, the victim did indeed survive, and his recovery was described in detail a month later:

"The man who has hitherto been known by the name of Bowen, and who received such terrible injuries from the man Dandow, is, strange to relate, recovering. Notwithstanding that the brain protrudes through the opening  made in the skull by the axe, he is perfectly sensible, and converses in as rational a manner as though he had not been touched. In order to convey a clear idea of this astonishing fact, it must be stated that the size of the wound is about equal to the top of an averaged-sized basin. On the bandages being removed by Dr. Candiottis the other day we could plainly see the pulsation of the blood in the vessels of the brain. The wound in the chest is healing rapidly, and all danger from that source is at an end. Mr. Inspector Hare elicited from the unfortunate man the other day that the name of Bowen was incorrect, and that his correct name was Maher." (source)

Locations of interest at Mia Mia Flat: Mia Mia Flat Gold Puddler and Moschetti Track Gold Puddler.



 

 

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