Eccentrics


ECCENTRICS AND CHARACTERS

Mangus Jack Famous whip maker who also made bridles, halters, belts, braces, watch bands etc travelled from station to station and eventually found dead on Old man Plains between Hay and Deniliquin with one of his whips in his hand.
Paddy Lenny The Horse King of the NT. Owned over 800 horses and refused to sell any of them as he moved the mob from water hole to waterhole.
Old Bob Amateur artist who always painted fences in his pictures. From B Beatty 1954 Come A Waltzing Matilda
Old Jimmy

The name of Mr. James Tyson (or, as he is familiarly called – “Old Jimmy”), the Queensland millionaire, is so well known throughout this and the other colonies, says the Narrandera Ensign …
see article in this section, “Hungry” Tyson Yarns
Source: AUSTRALIAN PASTORALISTS’ REVIEW. JULY 16,1891

Abby Dabby Had a regular stand outside the bank of NSW in George street and sold wax matches. His name came from his almost perpendicular shaped mouth, he couldn’t get his tongue around his cry of Max Watches, Max Watches. Penny a box.
Source: M Tyrell Old Books Old Friends 1952
Sovereign Smith Born in Plymouth and came to Manly via NZ. He opened the first smoked fish factory and also erected the first public merry go round. He nickname came from the fact he wore half sovereigns as buttons on his waistcoat. They were Q Victoria Jubilee sovereigns from 1877 and a large gold nugget on his watch chain
Miss Gladys Carey Miss Gladys Carey used to live with her older sister in High Street, North Sydney. Just opposite her house was a walkway down to Milson Park. Part of this walkway included a steep staircase, beside which there was an area of ground that had been left to run wild. Over twenty years Miss Carey changed this area into gardens. At the bottom of the staircase she made a park.

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Flying Pieman “The flying Pieman wore an old frock coat of different coloured patches and his hat being covered with tickets and placards and his legs and feet in hessian bags.”
From Reminiscences of Hon. John McIntosh MLC 1839

“A man named King tried to walk from Smith’s public house Parramatta to the Commercial Wharf Sydney in less time than it took the steamer Australia to do the run. King completed the distance in two hours twenty-five minutes. The steamer arrived three minutes before.”
11th Feb 1841

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Bill Weldon a Victorian who claimed he was once a bush telegraph for the Kelly gang.

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Slogger Ball A press ganger who’s beat for snaring unwary sailors was near darling harbour. He wore a stovepipe hat and frock coat and the back rooms of his house had hidden trapdoors leading to dungeons where he kept the sailors.
From ‘the press gang’ Brodsky 1974
The Hermit of Hat Hill William Murphy lived near Hat Hill at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, from around 1913 to 1925. He built a small dwelling and soon the local animals and birds began regular evening visits, as did tourists who went to see Mr Murphy fed the wildlife.

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Henry Brown DETAILS coming
Bully Hayes Sir Henry Browne Hayes – Bully 1762-1832
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Fled England after a warrant issued for his arrest in 1801
Arrived Sydney 1802
Irish convict adventurer. Belonged to a wealthy and respectable family in Cork. Knighted in 1790 then sentences to death for kidnapping and forcibly marrying his victim. Built Vaucluse House.
Returned to Ireland in 1812

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Will Wentworth
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Jock Robertson A man of means would attend the Sydney Courts every day and pay the fines of all and sundry. He was a Scot.
Jack Robertson Jack Robertson is best remembered for his Land Reforms and the opening up of the squattocracy.

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Paddy the Ram Said to have earned his name after butting a sailor in a brawl at the quay. Went from handsome cab to handsome cab selling special candles used in their lanterns. Almost blind he used a very long cane with the candles sitting in a tin box secured around his neck. He wore his entire wardrobe – a large oilskin sou’wester, 3 pairs of trousers and sea boots.

Circa 1850s
Used to hang out near Devonshire St outside the old rail station. He sold squat cab candles to drivers. He was well known around the 1850s. In the early days Sydney’s water came from Busby’s Bore – you had to draw your own water from fountains around Sydney. From the fountain at Liverpool & Kent streets. Paddy would deliver water at one penny per bucket. He was always surrounded by a crowd of children who would listen to his singing.
THE PACIFIC Australia’s Illustrated weekly.
1923 Aug onwards.
Mitchell
August 24 issue article on Street Characters of Old Sydney

Nosey Bob Nosey Bob (Robert Howard) was the NSW hangman circa 1882

Said to be NSWs last hangman. His nose had been disfigured by a horse accident when he was a handsome cab driver. He lived in a hut near Ben Buckler. He had a dispute with the nearest hotel because the publican had a habit of smashing every glass he drank from saying that no one else would drink from a glass that Bob’s nose had ventured into. Bob refused to drink in the hotel and used to send in his horse with a billy can and the publican would fill the can for him.

Nip Chain Allan
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Old Mother Five Bob Frequented the Domain gates near St Mary’s cathedral. She was a street fruit stall owner and much taunted by urchins. She dressed completely in green on St pats day and marched at the front of the procession.
Pockets He wore a bowler hat, long tailed button up coat, tight trousers reaching only half way down with very thin legs showing with elastic side boots and no socks.
Billy Honey Huntington
aka Garden Honey
A Londoner named Frederick Quick and also known as Garden Honey (because he sold it). He also later sold fruit then papers in Sydney. He always wore a peaked sailors cap and a velveteen sac coat with white vest and trousers. He called out ‘Evening News & echo – full account of my dear little Sweetheart Minnie Palmer (an opera singer in King St)

Frederick Quick was born in Paddington, London. Usually dressed in white trousers a velveteen sac -coat and a vest with twilled shirt. He always wore a cloth cap with a flat peak surmounted a whimsical face. He was a noted wit.
THE PACIFIC Australia’s Illustrated weekly.
1923 Aug onwards.
Mitchell
August 24 issue article on Street Characters of Old Sydney

Quong Tart

Quong Tart was one of Sydney’s most celebrated characters and a very successful operator of high class tea rooms. At one stage Mr Tart had seven tea rooms in the city. He was Chinese with a Scottish accent and was a member of the Caledonian Society One must also remember that the general opinion was firmly against Chinese immigration.

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Harry The Cat Harry the Cat was a character at Paddy’s who pounced on every empty fruit case – he cornered the market. 1860s
Sweet Nellie of Manly Sweet Nellie of Manly was Mrs Nell O’Sullivan who sold sweets from a handcart at Manly to help support her sick husband. She was not above dancing on top of the cart to get tips. She died in 1933 and local residents erected a memorial stone at Manly Cemetery.
Florentino the Fern Cutter a character with long black hair who earned his living as a hedge trimmer used in local butcher shop window displays.
From 1920 smh
David Mitchell David Mitchell was known to Sydney handsome cab drivers as ‘old Four Hours’ because of his to the minute book buying habits. His usual dress was a black bowler, black cloth paget coat, matching trousers and elastic sided boots
Old Dad Circa 1890s
Old Dad was an Irishman in the 1890s and resided in the Rocks near the Argyle Cut – everyone in the neighbourhood knew when Old Dad went off to work. As he started down the stairs by the Cut, the street boys would cry out ‘Old Dad’ and the old man would shout in reply and chase them. He always carried a big stick but rarely caught a boy.
THE PACIFIC Australia’s Illustrated weekly.
1923 Aug onwards.
Mitchell
August 24 issue article on Street Characters of Old Sydney

Known mainly for his bad temper. He wore a large floppy black hat and long yellow dust coat and carried a leather satchel over one shoulder. Grey side whiskers sprouting from his ears. Urchins followed him yelling out Old dad and he would respond by throwing stones at the, He once hit sir Henry Parkes with one by mistake.

Socks Cameron “Gen-you-wine latest fashion folks 4p a pair or a bargain lot fer a deener. Step up and I’ll sock you 4p a time.”
from The Restles markets of Sydney 1970
Lord Muck McCoy Lord Muck McCoy was a character at the old Sydney Markets around the 1850s

“Ere y’r ladies and gentlemen step this way. Noo models er lydies shoes fer 3/6 a pair. Kickers fit for a countess. An fer gents good walking suits only just soiled. Look like a guv’nor for 25 bob and if yer no tramp fdon’t look like one. Step right up ‘cos they won’t last long”.
from The Restles markets of Sydney 1970

Daddy Nipper Daddy Nipper was a goat herder.

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Arthur Stace

The writer of ‘Eternity’ was a mystery until 1956 when the Rev lisle Thompson of the Burton Street Baptist Church saw Stace (who could barely write his own name) writing, in perfect copperplate script, ‘eternity’ on the pavement. “Are you Mr Eternity?” he enquired, “Guilty your Honour” Stace replied. Born in a slum at Balmain in 1884. His schooling was non-existent and at age 12 he became a ward of the State. At 14 he commenced work in a coal mine and succumbed to alcohol. At 15 he went continued a family tradition and was sent to gaol. He served in WW1 and returned to Australia and his old lifestyle. In the Depression he found God. He married and lived in Pyrmont with his wife Pearl. He would rise at 4am every day and commence his work of writing Eternity on Sydney’s streets returning home at 10am. Always primly dressed. Usually in a double-breasted suit and felt hat he became a familiar sight. He died aged 83 on 30 July, 1967. His iconic Eternity has passed into local lore and was used as a giant message on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for a 1990s New Year’s Eve.

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Champagne Charlie 90/205 Champagne Charlie arrived early on Major’s Creek from the Californian gold fields. He spent freely on champagne, and was rewarded with the sobriquet of ‘Champagne Charlie’. He was attended by Rufus Lambert, his factotum, who received four pounds a week for looking after him when on a spree. He was widely known as ‘Champagne’s Nugget’
REMINISCENSES OF GOLD FIELDS AND ELSEWHERE
Martin Brennan.

Sydney 1907
Covering 48 years as an officer of police

Dulcie Deamer 1890-1972
Most famous for her appearance at the 1923 Artist’s Ball in her shocking leopard skin costume. Officially crowned the Queen of Bohemia, she lived in Kings Cross during its heydays of the 1920s.
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William Francis King 1807-1873
Arrived from E in 1829. Twice beat the Sydney to Windsor mail coach on foot, walked from S to P and back, twice a day, for 6 consecutive days. Walked from Brickfield Hill (Near Haymarket) to Parramatta while balancing a live goat – in just under 7 hours. Picked up 100 live cats, 100 live rats and 100 live mice, placed a yard apart…what was he thinking! Would sell pies at Circular Quay to passengers getting on the steamer to P and then meet the same passengers a sthey disembarked having beaten them by foot. – 18 miles.
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William James Chidley 1860-1916
Philosopher with unconventional theories on sex, diet and clothing. Gave lectures but because he dared mention repressed sexual urges, he was persecuted and placed in lunatic asylums until public pressure to release him. Had an enthusiastic band of followers.
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L O ‘Daddy’ Bailey The founder of the ‘Katies’ chain of retail outlets was a vegetarian and came to public attention during WW2 when he ‘adopted’ over 50 orphan children and raised them on a natural diet at his Bowral Hopewood property. He went on to establish the Natural Health Society of NSW. Despite being considered a ‘crank’ Bailey’s experiment was a massive success in regard to healthy bodies with the children breaking world records in dental health etc. Hopewood was the name of his institution which still continues his work. Mss. 920.09441/2
Billy Blue 1734-1834
‘The Old Commodore’. Sydney’s first ferryman. Jamaican born arrived Sydney in 1801 as a convict sentenced 7 years transportation. Official ‘Water Bailiff’ he lived in a little stone house in grounds of Government House.
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Henry Grace 1884-1966
The Birdman.
Designed elaborate bird whistles so that he might talk with the birds. Devoted more than 50 years – whistles made from old parts – wire, rubber, wood, tin, could imitate more than 60 native birds
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Joseph Cindric 1906-1994
The Trolleyman
Hunched, helmeted, pushed cart around Sydney streets for over 20 years. Usually spent day around Hyde Park. Always on the move with all his worldly possessions. Lore has it he came from Eastern Europe and carried letters from his long lost son in the trolley.
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Beatrice Miles
‘Bee’
1902-1973
rebel. Anti-authoritarian. Disruptive. Loin cloth.
Reputedly dived off Tamarama rocks, supoposedly fought off sharks with a knife she carried in a sheath. Scourge of Sydney taxi drivers because she refused to pay – unless she wanted to. Also wore a sign around her neck advertising that she would recite Shakespeare for a shilling.
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Francis Edward de Groot 1888-1969
Unofficially opened the Harbour Bridge 19 march 1932 taking all S by surprise. He was member of right wing paramilitary group The New Guard
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The Skull 1960s
A tall, lean neo-fascist type who shaved his head at a time when it was an unusual sight. He attended most demonstrations including the Vietnam Moratoriums and was extremely vocal against all and sundry.
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Rosaleen Norton 1917-1979
controversial artist said to be involved in black magic. Known as the ‘Witch of Kings Cross’. When asked if she would ever lead a normal life she said: “Oh God no, I couldn’t stand it! I’d go mad or sane. I don’t know which.”
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Harold Kangaroo Thornton
Born 1916– died in Holland in 2004.
Extremely colourful artist.
Used any canvas, including own clothes, advertised himself as ‘greatest genius that has ever lived’ and pushed a pram around lower Oxford street.

This image is used with permission.
It is of a painting he submitted to the Archibald Prize in 1985.

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The Wizard
(formerly Ian Channel)
1932
Wizard of the fun revolution. Preached in Domain late 60s as Wizard of Oz. Moved to NZ in 1974
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Sister Ada Green Died 1984
Evangelist.
Domain preacher for 43 years beating her tambourine and singing hymns. Audience would always respond to her preaching with “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition”
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John Webster J 1913-
Domain’s most popular speaker during 1960s and 70s. Spoke about everything and anything as long as donations came in. wicked wit. Kinky, issued a regular pamphlet ‘Webster’s Aussie cult journal’ declared himself one of the landmarks of Sydney. Always stood on a ladder announcing himself as – Here is Mr Webster’. Also spoke on Sunday nights at Wayside Chapel.
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Paddo Sandy Lived on street, paid fish shop to peel his prawns, which he ate on the bus stop with a bottle of Muscat. Played mouth organ. Always paid his bills. Had over $180,000 in bank – Commonwealth Bank.
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Gentle Annie Circa 1860s
A gentleman dressed in a Chesterfield snuff-coloured coat – dark complexioned, with lanky hair. He rejoices in, or rather endures, the name of ‘Gentle Annie’. He carries a concertina, which he swings vigorously as he plays he sings –
        When the Spring time comes Gentle Annie,
        And the wild flowers are scattered over the plain,
        Shall I never more behold thee,
        Never hear thy gentle voice again.
        When the Spring time comes, Gentle Annie,
        When the wild flowers are scattered over the plain.

As an encore he will favour ‘Rosalie’, ‘The Prairie Flower’ the chorus which ran –
        Fair as a lily, joyous and free,
        Light of the prairie home was she.
        Everyone that knew here, felt the gentloe power,
        Of Rosalie, the prairie floower.
‘Gentle Annie’ flourished in the sixties

THE PACIFIC Australia’s Illustrated weekly.
1923 Aug onwards.
Mitchell
August 24 issue article on Street Characters of Old Sydney

Bowls and Rocker flourished in the sixties
Bowls and Rocker were two veterans who had both left their legs at the Crimea War. They propelled themsleves through Sydney on their stumps. Whenever the met they would argue and fight.
THE PACIFIC Australia’s Illustrated weekly.
1923 Aug onwards.
Mitchell
August 24 issue article on Street Characters of Old Sydney
William King Born in London, the son of a paymaster of petty accounts in the treasury at Whitehall.He arrived in the colony in 1828, where he played a number of parts from schoolmaster to barman.
THE PACIFIC Australia’s Illustrated weekly.
1923 Aug onwards.
Mitchell
August 24 issue article on Street Characters of Old Sydney
Garden Honey Frederick Quick was born in Paddington, London. Usually dressed in white trousers a velveteen sac -coat and a vest with twilled shirt. He always wore a cloth cap with a flat peak surmounted a whimsical face. He was a noted wit.
THE PACIFIC Australia’s Illustrated weekly.
1923 Aug onwards.
Mitchell
August 24 issue article on Street Characters of Old Sydney
Scavenger Dan A song appeared in the Sydney Punch April 1865 which must have been aimed at this particular Sydney identity. It is a confusing story but pointed. One needs to remember that Sydney was not that large and eccentrics stood out and a song like this would immediately identify the victim.

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Black Harris “Black Harris will get you”

A common Hunter Valley scare for children. Harris was a Jamaican who kept a boarding house in Bolton St.