The mystery may be solved. Or, it may be a myth.
We’re talking about how Murdering Gully got its name. We’ve been delving into this subject with help from readers.
Merewether’s David Barrow sent us this: “Have read your article in the Herald about Murdering Gully. There have been several versions over the years about the origins of the name”.
David added that an article written in 1948 “possibly comes closer to what happened” than other versions of the story.
Here’s an edited version of the article: Over the hill behind Adamstown Rifle Range is a small, densely thicketed gulch running down to the sea. For years, it was known as Murmuring Gully because of the low eerie moan of the wind in its trees. Then its name changed to Murdering Gully.
Screams had been heard from the gully at night. Boys climbing down through its torturous jungle growth had scrambled back with the news that they had discovered the skeleton of a man.
In a house in a terrace in Parry Street in Cooks Hill lives a man who knows Murdering Gully “inside-out”.
He is Mr B Johns. He was born 65 years ago in Perkins Street. This is his story: “In the early 1890s, Newcastle was a hive of overseas ships taking coal. There was a large floating population made up of the crews. The majority of the sailors were roughs from different parts of the world.
“Darby Street was then known as a tougher part of Australia than the notorious rocks around Woolloomooloo. There were 10 hotels between Hunter and Bull streets. Sailors made it their rendezvous and many a time Shanghai gangs picked up their quotas in that area.
“I was about eight or nine, then. My parents kept one of the hotels, The Miners Arms, near where the Hotel Delany is now. It was built by my grandfather with bricks made by him in a kiln.
“On a Sunday morning about an hour after midnight, we heard a lot of firing going on in Darby Street. My mother and I were standing on the hotel veranda, watching the hotel opposite, The Old Oak, from which the firing came.
“It had none too sweet a name, The Old Oak. We watched a cart come out of the lane beside it. It moved in a southerly direction, with three or four men on it.
“There was nothing found out then but many years after, when the Alien Immigration Act [he was possibly referring to the Immigration Restriction Act 1901] was very strictly in force, a foreigner gave himself up. He said he had been implicated in a murder in Newcastle and couldn’t rest until he had shown them where the body was.
“He took them out over the hills between Glebe [we think this means Glebe Road] and Glenrock Lagoon, but the search for the body was in vain. They decided the foreigner was trying to put one over and he was deported.
“A few years later some youths were exploring Murmuring Gully between Bailey’s Orchard and Glenrock and they came across a skeleton which, if my memory serves me right, had a watch and chain lying beside it. It was evidently the skeleton of the man who had been thrown there after the murder in the Royal Oak.
“I saw evidence of that murder with my own eyes in the second room on the top floor of that hotel, which was kept by one of my own relatives years after. On turning back the linoleum, there was a blood stain which showed the upper torso, legs and arms of a man’s body, but the head must have been resting on the skirting board.
“I showed it to two or three people, but since those days the place has been reconstructed into flats. I think the flooring has been taken away. It’s impossible now to show anyone.”
It’s A Sign
Father Rod Bower, of Gosford Anglican Church, made a sign about guns in the US.
“When will they love their kids more than their guns,” the sign said, referring to the latest massacre.
Actress Elizabeth Banks, who starred in The Hunger Games, posted the image on Instagram yesterday to her 2.1 million followers.
“Thank you Gosford Anglican Church for posing this question. #When #enough,” she wrote.