On this day: the Tasmanian bushfires

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On the 7th of February, 1967, Tasmania’s deadliest fire disaster occurred in the middle of a summer heatwave.

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Destruction near the state’s capital city, Hobart. X

In what would come to be known as the Black Tuesday fires, 62 people were killed and over 900 were injured. Thousands of homes and animals were lost, and the damage was estimated to be around $40 000 000 at the time ($100 000 000 in today’s money).

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People watch homes burn.

The causes of the disaster are listed as heatwave and strong winds, back burning (hazard reduction burns that got out of control), and arson.

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The Cascade Brewery was destroyed. X

There were 110 fires on the day, and only 22 were listed as accidents.

On this day: the Port Arthur Massacre

Today is the twentieth anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre that occurred in Tasmania, Australia.

This mass shooting (Australia’s last) at one of the nation’s most famous historic sites and tourist attractions was committed by a twenty-eight year old gunman by the name of Martin Bryant. Thirty-five people were killed and twenty-three others were wounded.

When Australia had a mass killing … it was just so shocking the entire country said Well we're going to completely change our gun laws and they did. And it hasn't happened since.

The massacre shocked Australians so much that they immediately changed the nation’s gun laws, and embarked on a gun buyback scheme that saw thousands of weapons surrendered.

1996 After Port Arthur Australia puts an end to mass shootings with a gun buyback scheme.

Crazed killer Martin Bryant. Port Arthur Massacre.

Martin Bryant

Australia has not has a mass shooting in two decades.

Australian convict, 1880s.

A studio photograph, dated 1880s, of Tasmanian convict Bill Thompson, in convict uniform and leg irons.

By the time this photograph was taken, Britain had already stopped transporting convicts (in 1868).

Visiting Port Arthur really drives home how horrific the conditions for convicts were. I still can’t understand the mentality of Georgian (and later Victorian) England where crimes that were often not very severe resulted in people not only being shipped to the other side of the world, but being treated far worse than animals.

Considering the crimes those with money managed to get away with, the hypocrisy is infuriating! I mean, kill someone in a duel and you’re a hero. Steal a loaf of bread for your family, and get shipped off to New South Wales or Van Diemen’s Land! Strange.

A studio photograph of Tasmanian convict Bill Thompson, showing the convict uniform and the use of leg irons. Dated 1880s.