Crime in Australia

From ArticleWorld


Australia began its modern history as a land of criminals, with convicts giving way to bushrangers in the 1850’s leading up to the modern bank robbers, criminal families, mass murderers and drug traffickers. Crime in Australia has included some sensational and controversial cases.

In the past

In 1838, the Myall Creek massacre claimed the lives of 28 Aboriginals, victims of the European settlement of what had been their land for thousands of years. In their turn, bushrangers terrorised the new settlers in the 1850’s, with bank and stage coach robberies and horse and cattle theft their main activities. The last bushrangers – the Kelly gang – could also be said to be the most popular as they took a stand against the anti-Irish Catholic attitude of the authorities and so captured the public’s imagination.

In the goldfields, tempers were often short and the 1860’s was marked by violence against the Chinese diggers and tradesmen in what came to be called the Lambing Flat riots.

The 1900’s

In the beginning of the century, a number of sensational murders such as the Gun Alley murder, where a young girl was found raped and murdered near a pub in the 1920’s. The man who was found guilty and hanged for the crime was later thought to have been innocent; the Pyjama Girl murder in 1934 and the Shark Arm case in 1935 where a captured tiger shark regurgitated an arm which, because of the tattoos on it, was identified to belong to a missing man, both in New South Wales, kept the police and the newspapers busy.

Sensational cases involving children dominated the latter half of the 1900’s. In the 1960’s, three children – the Beaumonts - disappeared from a beach in Adelaide and were never found, in the 1970’s, the Mackay sisters were abducted on their way to school and murdered. In the 1980’s, the Dingo baby case, as the disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain came to be called, captured the attention of the world.

The 1970’s also witnessed the bombing of the Sydney Hilton Hotel and the Truro killings which were the first incidence in Australia of serial killing. The 1990’s was a busy time for crime including the Backpacker Murders, the killing of 35 people by a gunman in the Port Arthur Massacre and the setting off of a gangland war in Melbourne.

The present

The turn of the century has been represented by the Sydney gang rapes which were five separate incidences with the common feature of being race related and the Melbourne Gangland killings of 28 underworld figures.