Grave Tales: Sydney

OUT late April 2018: In the third book in the exciting Grave Tales series, we unearth Sydney’s interesting tales.

Have we learnt anything from the ordinary people who were caught up in extraordinary Australian events and circumstances, and now rest in Sydney cemeteries?

  • A recent report spotlighted the housing affordability crisis in Sydney where workers were being forced to live hours from their work. Was this forewarned by Juanita Nielsen and Mick Fowler 40 years ago when they campaigned to save areas for working class locals? Juanita lost her life as a result.
  • Maggie Oliver trod the boards all over Australia in the 1860s. But when the curtain fell, her home life was one of domestic violence at the hands of husband, John. His employer, Mr Gougenheim, hearing of John’s shameful treatment of Maggie, discharged him. Do we need more Mr Gougenheim’s stepping up as Male Champions of Change against domestic violence?
  • Henry O’Farrell was our first would-be assassin – he tried to kill Queen Victoria’s son but failed and was executed with indecent haste. Today we would have recognised his mental illness… wouldn’t we? Are we more tolerant?

History colliding with the now; these are just some of the stories and personalities featured in this Grave Tales series. Other fascinating lives retold include:

Edward Kelly – In 1900 Bubonic Plague that once killed a quarter of Europe’s population hit Sydney – it led to panic and demolition of hundreds of homes – but was there an upside?

Annie Egan – Controversy surrounded the selfless act of Nurse Egan who risked her life tending to those suffering a deadly disease, but on her deathbed could not receive spiritual comfort.

Eliza Emily Donnithorne – Was there a connection between the Sydney woman who became a recluse after she was jilted at the alter and a Miss Havisham in a Dickens’ novel?

Patrick Brady – Who was the owner of the human arm that a shark spat up in front of a crowd at a Coogee aquarium? The twisted tale of the Sydney’s strangest murder hunt.

Dorothea Mackellar – She wrote the ‘Great Australian Poem’ of which we all know at least one line – but her life was one of loss. Why and how was ‘My Country’ written?

The Dunbar tragedy & its victims – Was the Dunbar Australia’s Titanic? The appalling tragedy unfolded on Sydney’s doorstep, the victims beaten mercilessly by the sea.

Philip Cunningham – He was an Irish convict imported to Sydney who led the Irish rebels here and his quest to escape and return to Ireland was smashed by the British military.

Phil Garlick – The hero of the Maroubra Speedway crowd, Phil died one night when it all went wrong; his wife at home listening to the broadcast of his race on the radio.

Catharine Eather – The Eather family was no strangers to flooding, but no one was prepared for the impact of the 1867 Hawkesbury River flood, least of all Catharine’s family.

Kenneth Killeen – This is the tale of three Japanese midget submarines; an armada of Allied warships, their target; Kenneth, and the sailors who perished the night WWII came to Sydney.

Ben Lexcen – The winged keel wonder – Australia II and the rise of the mind behind it – Ben was the man who engineered the only win over the USA at their own game in 132 years.

Graeme Thorne – The Thorne family was the ecstatic winners of the lottery, until their 8-year old son, Graeme, was kidnapped for ransom and killed, and Australia lost its innocence.

Bee Miles – What’s the real story of the bohemian described as Sydney’s ‘iconic eccentric’ and known for her ability to quote any passage from Shakespeare for money?

Arthur Stace – AKA Mr Eternity – this is the story of the down-and-outer from a rough childhood who found redemption and spent his life writing the word ‘Eternity’ on Sydney streets.


Journalists, Helen Goltz and Chris Adams have between them spent many decades in the print and electronic media working for network television,  radio, and state and community newspapers. With a joint love of history, digging for a good story and storytelling, they have collaborated to create a series of books that brings our history to life again.

Connect with the authors on the Grave Tales Facebook page.

Buy the paperback book or a gift card from the Grave Tales shop or the book and ebook from Amazon.

BOOK INFORMATION – available in paperback and ebook
RRP: $25 inc postage in Australia only, if purchased directly from the Grave Tales shop. Also available from Amazon (postage cost determined by Amazon).
Trade paperback and ebook
Pages: 300pp TBC
Publication date: out late April 2018.
Category: Non-fiction, Australiana, history, modern history.
Atlas Productions