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The Green Fairy And The Loose Leprechaun

Another snippet of Australian absinthe history for you all, this time from the Adelaide Advertiser, published on the 11 November 1909. It also demonstrates that the phenomenon of drunken Irish backpackers exhibiting their ‘wee folk’ is a problem over 100 years old, to be sure.

The Advertiser (Adelaide) 11 November 1909

A SERIOUS OFFENCE. ABSINTHE DRINKER IN TROUBLE

A shocking case, which counsel described as the outcome of the demoralising effects of drinking absinthe, was heard at the Adelaide Police Court on Wednesday. Neal McNamara, an respectably-dressed youth, was placed in the dock to answer a charge of indecent exposure at North Adelaide. The offence was alleged to have been committed on October 22 near a public school, and at an hour when children were proceeding along the road towards that institution. Six little girls, ranging in age from 12 to 15 years, appeared in court to support the charge. Inspector Burchell, who prosecuted, said the gravity of the offense was increased by the fact that the practices complained of had been going on for some time. He could call four witnesses to substantiate the charge, while the statement of the arresting constable was equally conclusive. The accused, who pleaded guilty, was defended by Mr. F. V. Smith.

Constable Quirke, who made the arrest, stated that, when he accosted the accused and told him the charge he said, “For God’s sake, don’t arrest me. I am a respectable Irish lad. I have a couple of sovereigns in my pocket and you can have them if you let me go.” He took the accused to the police-station. On the way there McNamara made a determined attempt to escape, but his efforts were frustrated.

Mr. Smith said the accused’s lapse was due entirely to the effects of drinking absinthe, of which habit he had become an unfortunate victim. The defendant enjoyed the confidence of a reputable city firm, by whom he was employed, and they were willing to take him back if released. In view of this he asked the bench to extend to his client the benefit of the First Offenders Act.

The court declined to do this, Mr. J. Gordon, S.M. remarking that the offence was a disgusting one that had been wilfully persisted in. The accused would be sentenced to three months imprisonment. A second information against McNamara was withdrawn.

Posted by Jonathan on Nov 14th 2009 | Filed in Culture,History,Huh? | Comments (0)

Australia’s First Absinthe?

Australia’s first Absinthe?

And while we have much respect to Michael and Alla Ward & the fine people at Tamborine Mountain Distillery – it isn’t the one manufactured by them.

Although curiously it is an absinthe produced in Queensland. In 1878 to be exact.

In an article in The Brisbane Courier, Thursday 22 August 1878, a competition report of the Queensland Intercolonial Exhibition is provided. It was a busy day, with between eight and nine thousand attendees, with over 400 pounds taken at the gate. Many new an interesting wonders are being exhibited – the inner workings of torpedos, the unbeatable strength of the diamond drill that could power through the hardest stone, explosive demonstrations of ordinance mines the local park, cattle, sheep, fine arts, Hibernian bands, and that new fang-dangled invention called electricity, which to the crowds astonishment could power lighting!

Perhaps most importantly for antipodean absintheurs…


Spirits of wine and colonial rum were shown by the Milton Distillery Co. and there was a sample of rum from Hewitt & Co of Mackay; the only other exhibits in this class were absinthe from Bertheau of Bundaberg and white spirit from Quinlan, Gray and Co.

Who was Bertheau?

Here we need to refer to the 1878 Edition of Pugh’s Queensland Alamanac, Law Calender, Directory, Coast Guide and Gazetteer.

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Posted by Jonathan on Oct 19th 2008 | Filed in Culture,History,Huh?,News,People | Comments (0)

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