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The documentation of our history has to me always been a very important aspect. Although victories or celebrations are seldom part of this history, it’s important that it is put on record.

The cases recorded verbatim here, cover a very wide spectrum of emotions ranging from sadness, humour, violence, to compassion and even love.

For gay historians, this material gives an interesting insight into the lives of what we might call our ‘tribal ancestors’, for not only is the legal process on full view, but the evidence presented in each case gives us a window into these people’s lives, and how they managed their desires in a hostile society: where they might meet, how they might interact, and how they saw themselves and their ‘condition’.

Foreword by
Gary Wotherspoon

Peter de Waal

In the Central Police Court, George Harrison, alias “Carrie Swain,” an effeminate youth, was charged with vagrancy.

From the evidence of Senior-constable Sawtell and Constable Brown, it appeared that the prisoner was in the habit of frequenting Hyde Park and College-street, painted, powered, and bedecked so as to represent a female.

In this state he perambulated the streets and parks after dark. When arrested, it was found that he was wearing stays. The prisoner was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

Gaol Photo - "Said to be a Pouftah"

1889, George Harrison

1889, George Harrison


The position of Darlinghurst Gaol is well known, and the prison forms a conspicuous object to persons travelling along the eastern tramline near where Botany-street branches off from Oxford-street. It covers an area of about 4¾ acres, and is situated on about the highest point of a ridge having between it and Oxford-street the Darlinghurst Courthouse, with the large plot of tree-planted land in front.

Darlinghurst gaol and courthouse, in foreground, complex, c. 1930.

"I looked over the rocks. I saw the two prisoners now before the court committing an unnatural crime. The prisoner Weston was in a stooping position with his head down and trousers down, and the prisoner Blackwell was behind him with his trousers down; and both in the act of copulation."

Blackwell and Weston were both sentenced in 1845 to twelve months hard labour in Darlinghurst Gaol.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Mon 8 Mar 1886

Mr George Newbolt, Assistant Superintendent on Cockatoo Island.

Darlinghurst gaol and courthouse, in foreground, complex, c. 1930.

He took me into his wife’s bedroom.
He brought into the room a bottle of Vaseline.

He said “I can easily do it with a little Vaseline.”

I said I didn’t believe him that kind of thing.
I said “What good will it do me?”

Vaseline Advert

1899, Simeon Alexander Moss

1899, Simeon Moss

Charge of Indecent Assault.

Simeon Alexander Moss was charged with having committed an indecent assault on Stanley Lake at Bowral on 20th July, 1899.

‘We are glad to be able this week to present to our readers an illustration of the new court house at Yass, now in course of erection, the ceremony of laying the foundation-stone of which, on this 20th of July last, by the Honourable the Colonial Secretary, in the presence of the Premier, Minister of Works, Attorney-General, &c, was duly recorded in our columns. The design has been prepared by the Colonial Architect, and is on a scale commensurate with the requirements of the district. The style chosen is classic of the Roman Doric order. Advantage has been taken of the site to give effect to the design by its approach, which is by a very broad and imposing flight of steps.’

The April sitting of the Yass Circuit Court opened before his Honor Mr Justice Faucett on Wednesday last. Mr Plunkett acted as Judge’s Associate and Clerk of Arraigns, Mr Mann, prosecuted on behalf of the Crown, while Mr Ould represented the Crown Solicitor. The other legal gentlemen present were Mr Colonna Close, barrister-at-law, and Mr EA Iceton, solicitor. Mr T Colls JP represented the Sheriff.

1885, Henry Smith was found guilty of having committed bestiality and sentenced to three years’ hard labour in Yass gaol.

Australian Town and Country Journal, Sat 31 Aug 1878

The Yass Courier, Fri 17 Apr 1885

IN writing this pamphlet my sole desire is to bring before the public the present injudicious system of treating juvenile delinquents, and those unfortunate children whose only crime is their poverty.

That a lad should be imprisoned simply because he is poor, is both brutal and unwise; but that he should he indiscriminately herded with young criminals is the height of folly and injustice.

That it is so, is undeniable.

On 25 January, 1867 the Colonial Secretary purchased the wooden sailing ship the “Vernon” and at a cost of more than eight and a half thousand pounds it was fitted up as an Industrial School. The ship, moored in Sydney Harbour between the Government Domain and Garden Island was declared a Public Industrial School on 6 May, 1867.

Industrial Schoolship - Vernon