Soapbox Speakers

News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday 17th March

In News for Speakers' Corner on March 18, 2019 at 7:36 am

“Age does not give wisdom, it gives perspective.”
Robert Heinlen.

1. The special event was cancelled, not because Mirko’s aliens interfered, but because of the heavy rain that fell for much of the day.

Poor Tim, the organiser, put a lot of work into organising the twelve speakers, the film and sound crew, and the publicity. He deserved better. We at Speakers’ Corner send our condolences and hope he attempts many more ventures, and that all of them meet with astonishing success.

2. Have you ever wondered how Melbourne’s version of Speakers’ Corner is going? Steve Maxwell received a communication from someone called Rob Parker who lives in the southern hamlet. Rob has taken an interest in their Speakers’ Corner’ since 1960. (Your mathematical scribe suspects he is on the wrong side of 40.) Rob writes (slightly edited):

“It used to be on the Yarra River Bank. The mounds are still there, and it’s historically classified. In the early 1960s, 3,000 people would turn up, including Arthur Caldwell , MP.

However , for the past 20 years it has been in front of the library steps on Swanston Street. Over the past 12 months it has dwindled to non-existence. There has been a huge change in Melbourne because of crime and students here on study visas (100,000 a year). Maybe their past oppression makes them not want to accept freedom of speech, because they abuse the speakers with bad language.

Today, even the police struggle to accept the speaking. I had to intervene to tell them that this is history. 

Probably the greatest public speaker I’ve seen is Rhonda. In 1963 Rhonda (then Ron) spoke with fire and brimstone. So much so he was carted to the Yarra River and thrown in by hecklers. Ron had blonde hair then, and would speak at night on the corner of Bourke And Russell Street. On a soap box.

Rhonda hadn’t been speaking for a year, but now she’s back. I believe that a couple of speakers are heading up to your way , next month.

Best regards.
Rob Parker. 

There you have it!

And who will be visiting us next month? Rosalie and Rhonda, perhaps? Head for the hills!

Rhonda

 

Rosalie

3. In this week’s Unusual Critter Series we present to you one of the most unusual critters of all: Steve Maxwell. Here is the first of three articles Steve is writing for his absorbing Passing Parade series. The theme of all three articles is: THREE MEN WHO TYPIFY A GENERATION ON THE DOMAIN.

JACK BRADSHAW. (1840-1930)

Jack Bradshaw, self-styled “last of the bushrangers”, pamphleteer and regular speaker on Sundays in the Domain, was born in Dublin on May 9, 1840. He emigrated alone to Australia at the age of 14. Landing in Melbourne, Jack found jobs scarce. In desperation he left for the bush. By the time he reached the age of 20 he had travelled over most of Victoria, NSW and Queensland – working at odd jobs as best he could. During his wandering the young Bradshaw became fascinated by stories told over the campfire: stories of easy money and adventures of a life of crime. Romantic images inspired him to seek the company of bushrangers and petty criminals.

His romantic view of bushranging got the better of him. He believed that he and his new partner in crime, “Beautiful Davies”, a Sydney larrikin, could plan and carry out a bank hold up. Their first hold-up was a debacle. It turned out that the Bank manager’s wife was in labour. The irate midwife gave them such a tongue lashing that they left in a hurry! Next time, they successfully held up the bank at Quirindi in NSW on May 1880. Both men made a clean getaway, and divided the loot of  2,000 pounds. ( $100,000 ) Their plan was to split up for good and lie low. Bradshaw settled down as a respectable citizen and even married a squatter’s daughter in Armidale. However, Beautiful Davies rushed off to Sydney on a spending spree. It was not long before police arrested Davies and Bradshaw. They both received 12 years gaol sentences. Bradshaw was released in 1892. However, he was arrested for stealing registered mail and gaoled for a further 8 years.

Released in 1900, he found himself, age 50, unable to work because of his criminal past and too well known by police to lead a life of crime. He began to write down his misadventures, in a series of cheap editions. He then lectured and sold his books all over Sydney. Naturally he loved the Domain, where he would mount his ladder and lecture to the crowd. The people loved to hear his imaginative stories of bushrangers and reminiscences of a romantic past.

Bradshaw reminded the people that they had a past worth remembering. He always depicted himself as a bungler, which he wasn’t, to make his stories more acceptable to the public. The people wanted to hear and read about their past. At the time, hardly any Australian History was taught in school, and few books dealing with Australians were published. Jack Bradshaw was a reformed man and never committed another crime again.

He had found a way to make an honest living. He died, age 90, in St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, just across the road from the gaol where he had served his twenty years’ sentence.

Steve Maxwell. 2019.

 

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