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This is on abc and can be streamed on iview. I just watched a part (not sure if first or second) of this miniseries and it is one of the best investigation series I've seen. I had to come here and recommend it. It is riveting and compelling viewing, about a very infamous and tragic event in Sydney, and the original police investigation to the cause.
 

If like me, you didn't know much about it, it will be eye-opening. I was a kid at the time but remember hearing about it for years afterwards. Even if you think you know about the event, prepare to be stunned at what Caro and her team discover. I was so enthralled, I was waiting until the credits had rolled, hoping to see that there was a final part. There had to be, but I wasn't sure and when they showed the preview it looks incredible. Even bigger bombshells to come next Tuesday!

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I was disappointed that the programmers saw fit to bury the first episode late in the evening, even if it was a repeat episode. I found the history as it was revealed to be both enormously emotional a

If this thread keeps going, and if I can add to the topics broached, there probably would be a books worth of material.😄 I don't really have much else to do for entertainment since the cancer hit

It was part two you watched tonight.   I had watched the trailers for it over the last few weeks, as I knew quite a bit about what went down, and the players involve in the arson [It was ars

It was part two you watched tonight.

 

I had watched the trailers for it over the last few weeks, as I knew quite a bit about what went down, and the players involve in the arson [It was arson]  but yet to be revealed on the program....watch next week.

I'm interested to see how far the got/get to the truth.😳 it's a still ongoing investigation......they have links to give information to the at the ABC news website.....I'll wait to see what's revealed next week to decide if I can help

 

I used to work down at Circular Quay in Sydney at the time of the fire [June 1979] which is on the direct opposite side of the harbor, to Luna Park

We had just finished work walked outside facing the Opera House and saw the very thick black smoke coming from beneath the harbor bridge.

What made the smoke so shocking, was that it was really clear early winter night, the type that you get in Sydney, you could clearly see the stars, and the smoke was a very harsh contrast to everything else.

It really looked like a Tyre dump had caught alight, the smoke was that thick and black.

 

At first we thought it might have been a ferry or some other large boat that had caught alight, so we rushed to where the smoke seemed to be coming from.

It was then we looked under the bridge and saw the fire at Luna Park, which from the EXPOSED program, must have been about a hour after it started.

Nobody on the south side of the bridge knew what was going on, there was no internet or even mobile phones back then to find out.

We decided to go to somebodies car and listen to the radio, in which we sat there for about 45 min before anything came over the news.

I remember we all went home feeling sad, which is strange, because none of us had heard that people had been killed in the fire at the time, that hadn't been revealed on the Radio news we heard.

 

Before I worked at the place at Circular Quay, I used to work at a place that used to have all the socialites, gangsters, crooks, politicians, bookies, trainers, jockeys and police visit, frequently.

I worked there for around 5 years, so I got to know a LOT of people [Which came in handy at times 😉 ]....Like being give the name of every winner at a major Sydney horse meet a day before.

 

Anyway, come a few days after the Luna Park fire, I got talking over a few beers with some of the underlings of one of the gangsters that I knew from my old job.

They knew exactly what had happened, as according to them, the same group had been hired to torch several other places over the previous three months [Will be interesting to see if the investigators make the connection ]

The only way these guys would know this, is if they worked for the person that instigated the fires.

 

Anyway, I'm guessing they have found that out, I'd be surprised if they haven't.

 

Once they reveal that, I'm guessing they will go into WHY ?

 

Simple, GREED.

 

The people running Luna Park had wanted to close it and redevelop the site for years, after much protesting their plans were vetoed.

After being vetoed It's obvious that they thought if there were to be a major fire, damaging the park drastically, there would be no choice but to close the park down.

They asked a ''MATE" to organize it for a cut in the sites redevelopment.

 

Basically that's the whole story WHY.

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Interesting story but the last part doesn't pass the sniff test sorry. Firstly, the underlings you knew could have been making the story up. I'm sure there was a lot of that going on after the fire. What you said they said, anyone could make up. There's no way to verify. Also, I don't see how a fire would mean the park had to be shut down and what does that have to do with being allowed to redevelop the land anyway? I suppose they could have thought that they would be more likely to be given permission to develop if there was a major incident, but why were the cops implicit in the cover up? Perhaps they got paid? I don't know, but my initial guess on what happened, was perhaps these bikies that allegedly started it, were part of a gang the cops were on the payroll of, or scared of. Admittedly being scared isn't likely.

 

Whatever the truth, I'm looking forward to seeing the conclusion of the investigation. It's fascinating hearing from the witnesses and police and coroner's court people who were actually involved.

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I watched it last night and was fascinated as well. Surely there would have been a lot of people who new about the cover up.

I am surprised it took this long to be exposed.

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I was disappointed that the programmers saw fit to bury the first episode late in the evening, even if it was a repeat episode. I found the history as it was revealed to be both enormously emotional and chilling. I felt so much for the families, and the witnesses who appear to have been terrorised into silence.

Investigative programs such as this are why the ABC should have its funding restored to a realistic level.

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3 hours ago, Esoterica said:

Interesting story but the last part doesn't pass the sniff test sorry. Firstly, the underlings you knew could have been making the story up. I'm sure there was a lot of that going on after the fire. What you said they said, anyone could make up. There's no way to verify. Also, I don't see how a fire would mean the park had to be shut down and what does that have to do with being allowed to redevelop the land anyway? I suppose they could have thought that they would be more likely to be given permission to develop if there was a major incident, but why were the cops implicit in the cover up? Perhaps they got paid? I don't know, but my initial guess on what happened, was perhaps these bikies that allegedly started it, were part of a gang the cops were on the payroll of, or scared of. Admittedly being scared isn't likely.

 

Whatever the truth, I'm looking forward to seeing the conclusion of the investigation. It's fascinating hearing from the witnesses and police and coroner's court people who were actually involved.

 

Yeah the underlings could have been making it up as you say, but why would they?

It's not as if they were bragging and saying we did it, just to prove how tough they were.

 

As for the bikies, they were hands for hire, the bikies back then weren't like the bikies now days, they weren't making huge amounts of money making and distributing drugs like today, they weren't that organized for a start and there weren't as many of them as today either.

Bikies were used as hired muscle or for more nefarious deeds like arson.

They didn't have it over the police, they were used by the police.......make of that what you will.

 

I'm not sure on who actually owns the land that Luna Park sits on

But the owners of Luna Parks rides and infrastructure were saying at the time it was unprofitable, and they didn't have the money to upgrade facilities and safety measures, this went on for years, and was the reason Martin Sharp started the "Save Luna Park" campaign when they wanted to shut it down.

 

There were still a lot of crooked cops in NSW around that time and well into the 90's, the best known one was Rodger Rogerson who incidentally was one of the police that used to pickup the takings at my place of work back then.

If you had the right contacts you could pretty much bribe your way out of any sticky situation, or have something covered up, as in this case.

This is all a hangover from when NSW had a Robert Askins as NSW premier.

 

If you read the piece in the link below, you will see some names that will turn up in part three if the investigators have got it correct.

The Sleaze Lord mentioned in the article is who I suspect they will say was behind hiring the bikies to start the fire.

https://www.afr.com/life-and-luxury/arts-and-culture/sydney-1960s-corruption-the-problem-lay-with-everyone-20170430-gvvk3p

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3 hours ago, ZEN MISTER said:

 

Investigative programs such as this are why the ABC should have its funding restored to a realistic level.

+ 1 Lets hope the government makes  zuckerberg and google pay through the nose for filching ABC news and journalism :)

On topic ; I seem to remember the tenants of the high rises around luna park for years trying to get it canned as the big dipper was a noise menace and it was effecting property values .. 

 

Luna Park residents launch new legal action (smh.com.au)

 

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15 hours ago, cwt said:

+ 1 Lets hope the government makes  zuckerberg and google pay through the nose for filching ABC news and journalism :)

On topic ; I seem to remember the tenants of the high rises around luna park for years trying to get it canned as the big dipper was a noise menace and it was effecting property values .. 

 

Luna Park residents launch new legal action (smh.com.au)

 

 

Yeah, typical, I remember it well.

They build a block of flats behind a Big Dipper that has been there for 70 years before the flats were built, and then the occupants complain about the noise.

I mean it's not like somebody snuck in overnight and put the Big Dipper there after the flats were built.

Stuff your property value, they knew what they were buying when they bought the flats, unless the property developer lied and told them that removal of Luna Park was imminent, then it's a problem between them and the developer.

Besides, they already have all the noise from the traffic and trains crossing the Harbour Bridge to contend with, were they expecting to close that as well ?

 

Thankfully the NSW government has changed the laws regarding this sort of thing.

If you buy property that is near a established business that creates noise, you can't later go and make complaints about the noise and expect it to change, a sort of "They were there first - and it's not as if you didn't know what you were buying" sort of law if you like.

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On 24/03/2021 at 5:32 PM, Tweaky said:

Yeah the underlings could have been making it up as you say, but why would they?


Make themselves feel cool and important? Get attention?

 

On 24/03/2021 at 5:32 PM, Tweaky said:

Bikies were used as hired muscle or for more nefarious deeds like arson.

They didn't have it over the police, they were used by the police.......make of that what you will.


Ok, that's interesting. See that is (assuming it's true, which I have no reason to doubt) the sort of info that can help form an opinion.

 

On 24/03/2021 at 5:32 PM, Tweaky said:

There were still a lot of crooked cops in NSW around that time and well into the 90's, the best known one was Rodger Rogerson who incidentally was one of the police that used to pickup the takings at my place of work back then.


I'm familiar with Rogerson et al. With your info re: the bikies, the cops would've only had one motive to organize it, which is money, like you implied. After thinking about it more, it's not that hard to imagine, although someone signing off on something that was likely to kill innocent children, makes it tough to believe.

 

I've watched the first episode since my last posting, which added a lot of context, but is very sad.

 

Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

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Deleted...

 

Off topic.

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On 25/03/2021 at 7:47 PM, Esoterica said:


Make themselves feel cool and important? Get attention?

 


Ok, that's interesting. See that is (assuming it's true, which I have no reason to doubt) the sort of info that can help form an opinion.

 


I'm familiar with Rogerson et al. With your info re: the bikies, the cops would've only had one motive to organize it, which is money, like you implied. After thinking about it more, it's not that hard to imagine, although someone signing off on something that was likely to kill innocent children, makes it tough to believe.

 

I've watched the first episode since my last posting, which added a lot of context, but is very sad.

 

Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

 

Well look at the likely scenario back then, and the way I think it went down.

 

Sleazy boss has coppers in his bag, asks sleazy copper to organize fire, copper hires young bikers who have done this sort of thing before, bikers do job but fire starts too early [remember this was the last ride open before Luna Park shut for the night ], fire at Ghost train perfectly situated, if not put out, to burn down the old wooden framed Big Dipper [The heart and soul of the park]

Bent copper is more worried about his own arse than people killed, as obviously all his previous other dodgy deeds will be investigated , hears that refuge kids have given statements about bikers, has other bent minion police at station "Sort the problem out"

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I just saw the trailer for episode 3

From the snippets of video shown, it would seem this coverup goes to the top of NSW politics at the time, with photos of the then premier Neville Wran being handed around.

 

Something I overheard two barristers talking about in the early 80's, both agreeing that they would love to see the piece of paper signed, was that Neville Wran had a agreement with the owners of the Sydney newspapers not to print anything detrimental about him, in return for him allowing them to run Bingo cards in their papers.

The Bingo cards in the newspapers were very popular at the time, as the prizes you could win were quite big, and I'm certain they were boosting newspaper circulation.

 

It will be interesting to see what is exposed in episode 3.

As if what I heard above is true, it could be that some journalists back then might have stumbled onto what was going on, but either their stories were quashed and never printed, or their editors had told them to work on another story.

 

I wonder if this series of programs stirs any actions from old journalists that might be able to meat out the story with some previously unknown facts.

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6 hours ago, thethrowback said:

I have found it an interesting show but unless episode 3 has a major revelation, I'm guessing that the conclusion is going to be the same as Kate McClymont's investigation from 2007: https://www.smh.com.au/national/niece-links-abe-saffron-to-luna-park-deaths-20070526-gdq8gi.html

 

Your link doesn't seem to work.

I managed to open it by copying the link in another browser.

 

Interesting that Saffrons niece Annie Buckingham made those statements.

I used to work with her back around 2003 to 2005, and quite frankly she is as dense as a plank of wood and looks like Chad Morgans love child with frizzy long blond hair and a enormous set of Bucky teeth.

I also used to work with Saffrons nephew Harold Goldstien more than 20 years years earlier [ I didn't know he was Saffrons nephew at the time, but word got around the workplace that he had a powerful relative who got him the job, as he never went for a interview for the position], he was a very strange bloke, he seemed very insecure and he ultimately got fired from the job because he couldn't follow instructions, the GM at the time said it was like trying to explain things to a child.

 

Taken from the ABC news website is a breakdown of what episode 3 reveals.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-30/police-claims-abe-saffron-behind-luna-park-fire/12321044

 

What happened is pretty much exactly how I explained what I thought went down in my post on Friday.

 

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4 hours ago, Tweaky said:

Your link doesn't seem to work.

 

That's weird because it is working perfectly for me.

 

More often than not people who are "dense as a plank of wood" speak the truth because they don't have the intelligence to lie with any skill. It is well documented that Saffron's business practices weren't squeaky clean and that he had "friends" in many places. 

 

I iterate that although this show is interesting, so far it hasn't revealed much more than Kate McClymont's investigation in 2007. This show might prompt further investigation, but it is doubtful that justice will ever be served as many of the key figures have died.

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1 hour ago, thethrowback said:

 

That's weird because it is working perfectly for me.

 

More often than not people who are "dense as a plank of wood" speak the truth because they don't have the intelligence to lie with any skill. It is well documented that Saffron's business practices weren't squeaky clean and that he had "friends" in many places. 

 

I iterate that although this show is interesting, so far it hasn't revealed much more than Kate McClymont's investigation in 2007. This show might prompt further investigation, but it is doubtful that justice will ever be served as many of the key figures have died.

 

I agree with you, I suspect neither niece or nephew had that great a childhood, I suspect they would have been somewhat shunned by other kids growing up [at the order of the other kids parents] because of their association with their uncle.

Both seemed to live in their own little worlds from what I remember of them, and seemed awkward and insular, to the extent of you ended up wondering how their thought processes worked.

Actually it must of been after Abe Saffrons death [2006] that I worked with Annie, and probably just after the interview she gave, as I remember she came into work upset one day and nobody knew why.

A few days later a close friend of hers said she might have stuffed up a legal challenge to Abes will, on which she was relying on a favorable outcome, as she was pretty much always low on funds.

 

As for the show itself, it brings to light aspects of the Luna Park fire that a lot of people would have either known something about or suspected, but never fully made the connections.

More of interest in a historical context for those that did know what happened, those now in their late 50's early 60's at least.

 

One thing I haven't mentioned is the bikers involved in starting the fire.

Bikers by nature are creatures of habit, they hang with the same people all the time, and wear their own distinct uniform/colors if in a gang [or have their own LOOK as you might say], keep the same hair style for years etc.

The description of the bikers boots given by the kids from the shelter is what intrigues me, as very few bikers would have worn boots like that, they sound like the type sold by William Cooks boot maker in Oxford St Bondi Junction at the time, which were more calf length dress boots with a long zipper down one side.

 

There was only one biker that used to frequent Kings Cross that fits that description, it was a distinct look for a biker [and wore those type of boots religiously ], I can picture him walking down the other side of the street as I type this......The boots were a dark Claret red/ burgundy color.

Which makes me think things might progress with this story yet, as the biker in question, if still alive, would be in his mid to late 60's by now.

All they need to do is identify him and find him........I wish them luck doing that.

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On 24/03/2021 at 12:41 AM, Tweaky said:

The people running Luna Park had wanted to close it and redevelop the site for years, after much protesting their plans were vetoed.

After being vetoed It's obvious that they thought if there were to be a major fire, damaging the park drastically, there would be no choice but to close the park down.

They asked a ''MATE" to organize it for a cut in the sites redevelopment.

 

Basically that's the whole story WHY.


Looks like you were on the money Tweaky, except for the quoted portion. It looks like the developers you mention won the bid, because of the fire and then tried to re-develop the site. 
 

According to this investigation, the other suspicious fires you mentioned were common knowledge.

 

Anyway, the most curious thing now, is who is Tweaky? And did he know Abe? Haha.

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I knew a lot of these people at the time..............and the time was a dangerous one.

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So heartbreaking that all those people, who were mostly children, died because of the greed of corrupt and criminal scum.

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39 minutes ago, LogicprObe said:

 

I knew a lot of these people at the time..............and the time was a dangerous one.


Would love to know how and what you know. PM if you're not comfortable posting publically.

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56 minutes ago, LogicprObe said:

 

I knew a lot of these people at the time..............and the time was a dangerous one.

 

So did I, both on the Bad and Good side of this story, and I'm glad most of them are now dead TBH.

 

And to answer Esotericas question- I met Abe Saffron, but I was wise enough to stay clear of him, and the rest of his ''associates '' whenever possible.

 

I was surprised when I saw Rosemary Opitz on the program, a long time friend of Saffron, she is quite a nice person most of the time, but can turn extremely nasty in a threatening way if she heard you say anything she didn't like, a very formidable woman you had to be careful of when around.

 

I'm sure William Clarke - Corporate affairs commission report 1987, was squirming inside when Caro turned up to ask him questions.

 

It was nice to see the old NSW attorney general John Dowd, I wasn't sure if he was still alive, he's a very nice bloke.

 

Here's something to think about.

The company that took over Luna Park under Saffron was called Harbourside Amusements..... In the early 80's it was decided that the old rail mustering yards at Cockle Bay should be redeveloped, which it was, and opened by the Queen in 1988 ........... They called the redevelopment Harbourside- Darling Harbor.

IMG_0404.thumb.JPG.8bf66ec02f533888882397da47191f30.JPG

 

Now this naming might have just been a coincidence 😉, who knows [I'm guessing Laurie Brereton might, considering he was under Neville Wran -read his history in NSW politics before going into Federal politics]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurie_Brereton

 

On the 6th of July 1992, four years after Harbourside was opened, a huge fire broke out behind Harborside at the old Australian Mercantile Land & Finance Co woolstore totally destroying it.

Just another coincidence I suspect 😉

 

For the last few years, the NSW state government has been trying to take sole control of development proposals, where currently any large developments in the inner city area needs the approval of the City of Sydney council as well.

The long time Lord Mayor of Sydney - Clover Moore, has managed to keep them at bay, but there is a election coming up for the mayor position on the 4th Sept, and TBH I don't trust her main opponent, and previous running mate, Kerryn Phelps to do the same thing.....we shall see what happens.

 

The Greed continues, just the names of the players have changed.

 

 

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Hey @Tweaky I didn't see your post before about knowing Annie Buckingham!  Watching a show about a crazy event is one thing, but to hear from people that actually knew some of the players is amazing.

 

I told my father to watch it and he was shocked by it, and also told me about Saffron being in the papers all the time back then. I'm keen to see him in person over easter to discuss it more in depth, and ask if he had ever gone on the ghost train ride etc. He grew up around Manly in the 50s-60s.

 

The story has always fascinated me. The thing I found incredible about the show was how they kept exposing all these people involved and had talked them into being interviewed on camera! Some only agreed to interview via phone, or not at all, but I think the vast majority they wanted (that were alive) they got, including the policemen that destoryed the phone taps etc. Former police prosecutor etc. 

 

The level of corruption is also shocking. I'd love to see more of those avenues explored, because this is just one situation of corruption to secure a property. God knows what else they organized. I know Saffron is infamous for being involved in unsavory things, but it's the stuff that isn't well known, or known at all that is interesting to me. What about the copper who said he saw the top brass meeting at a pub in Adaminaby! Bloody hell.

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I wouldn't really call Annie Buckingham one of the people involved, other than being Saffrons niece and talking to a journalist about what she knew after Saffrons death.

She didn't really have any choice in the matter being a close relative.

 

I've always worked in either the Sydney CBD or Sydney's Eastern suburbs for 45+ years, if ever there was any truth to the ''Six degrees of Separation'' theory, it applies to me.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I used to work [actually it was my first ever job] at a place that a lot of these people used to frequent regularly, that's how I got to know, or at least know about, a lot of them......As in being warned to stay way clear of Neddy Smith.....which turned out to be pretty hard when you find out he lives just around the corner from you 😳 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neddy_Smith

It's not that I ever set out to know the players involved, both on the Bad side and on the Good side, it's just the situation I've occasionally found myself in over the years, sometimes a bit too often for comfort in retrospect.

 

The thing is, among certain circles, some people felt so untouchable that certain deeds became common knowledge, either very soon after they happened, or very rarely, before they happened.

When you look at the sheer number of corrupt people involved that have been exposed by the program, then say multiply that by at least 10, you'd get a rough idea of the amount of people that knew about what was going on, as those at the top had to have people to carry out their plans.

 

It wasn't all doom and gloom though, I've also seen and heard some very funny things.

 

I remember a lunch with Frank Markovic [who was reputed to be one of Abe Saffrons bag men, I'd never met him before] and promoter Harry M Miller.[Who had served time in jail for fraud over the Computicket collapse, and had got the protection of Graham ' Abo' Henry whilst in jail, Neddy smith's offsider and enforcer]....that's another funny story in itself on how those two met in jail, see link below.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5932383/The-day-notorious-gangster-saved-Harry-M-Miller-three-drag-queens-jail.html

 

I think Frank was trying to get Harry to promote some dodgy looking mineral water that he was looking at importing, even if you just saw the bottle it came in you wouldn't have been surprised if it glowed in the dark once poured out, thankfully for the general public it didn't happen.......Anyway.

Frank was asking Harry who the woman in his life was, and Harry says nobody ATM, then Harry says to Frank, you know who I'd really like to $%#, that's that Deborah Hutton, do you know her?

Frank says yes, Harry asks can you introduce me ? Franks says sure, nothing can be simpler.

Harry and Deborah ended up being together for 11 years, and he made her a lot of money.

 

See what I mean about Six Degrees of Separation ?

In that one story you have connections between Abe Saffron, a somewhat disgraced promoter, a well know underworld figure, and a well known Sydney model/ socialite.

 

I've heard some really funny stories from those high up in Sydney's legal profession and Police force, but I better not repeat those, which is a pity, as I think you would wet yourself laughing at just how dumb some of these people have been.

 

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3 minutes ago, Tweaky said:

some people felt so untouchable that certain deeds became common knowledge

 

That's the part I find unbelievable. For example, the Dodger and Neddy didn't bother to hide the fact they had a very close working relationship, frequently dining out together in public. Maybe Sydney-siders were like Rosemary Opitz and considered it normal to see law makers socialising with law breakers.

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1 minute ago, thethrowback said:

 

That's the part I find unbelievable. For example, the Dodger and Neddy didn't bother to hide the fact they had a very close working relationship, frequently dining out together in public. Maybe Sydney-siders were like Rosemary Opitz and considered it normal to see law makers socialising with law breakers.

 

You pretty much hit the nail on the head there, at least for the time frame involved.

The NSW Police force has really been cleaned up since those bad old days [ A close relative used to work in what was called Internal Affairs, now known as the Professional Standards Command]....there, I just gave away where I got a lot of my info from.

 

Actually there is a " By Invite only by another member" social club, that will remain nameless, that has 80% NSW Police force [A lot now retired], certain well known specialized crime reporting Journalists and well trusted friends as members.

Always good to catch up a compare notes with.

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1 hour ago, thethrowback said:

 

That's the part I find unbelievable. For example, the Dodger and Neddy didn't bother to hide the fact they had a very close working relationship, frequently dining out together in public. Maybe Sydney-siders were like Rosemary Opitz and considered it normal to see law makers socialising with law breakers.

 

I grew up in Sydney and it was well known that these sort of gatherings were commonplace. Most people just accepted it in silence with a nod and a wink, but those who made it their mission to expose this, often came to an untimely end.

Bang, Bang! then into the harbour.

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2 hours ago, Tweaky said:

 

 

I've always worked in either the Sydney CBD or Sydney's Eastern suburbs for 45+ years, if ever there was any truth to the ''Six degrees of Separation'' theory, it applies to me.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I used to work [actually it was my first ever job] at a place that a lot of these people used to frequent regularly, that's how I got to know, or at least know about, a lot of them......As in being warned to stay way clear of Neddy Smith.....which turned out to be pretty hard when you find out he lives just around the corner from you 😳 

 

 

The Rushcutters Bay Hotel?

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2 hours ago, rantan said:

often came to an untimely end

 

I agree that is certainly a good reason to keep your mouth shut and/or turn a blind eye.

 

Unfortunately, when corruption is rife it does become the norm. As someone who grew up in Qld during the 1970s, you had to either laugh at the blatant corruption or go insane.

 

I have been racking my brain as to when I first knew about Saffron's involvement in the Ghost Train fire and I keep recalling an article titled 'Who is Abe Saffron?' by Marian Wilkinson which appeared in the National Times in May 1982. I could be wrong and if anyone remembers differently then I stand corrected.

 

@Esoterica you might be interested in some further reading:

 

Neddy: The Life and Crimes of Arthur Stanley Smith by Arthur Stanley Smith and Tom Noble

Mr Sin: The Abe Saffron Dossier by Tony Reeves

Edited by thethrowback
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I live on the other side of the world but the story is the same. 

 

I lived in Brighton, Sussex and in the 60s' there were 2 major acts of arson. The first was a lovely old hotel - The Bedford with a wonderful large atrium topped with a beautiful stained glass canopy. The owners were refused permission to knock it down. Lo and behold just 3 weeks later in  the winter with few guests, they got out before it burned down, replaced with a 1960s ugly tower block.

The second arson was Hove town hall, Hove is side by side with Brighton, like a continuation. The Tories (aka the Nasty party) wanted to knock down the lovely Victorian town hall - permission was refused so these scumbags waited until the Brighton Art college held their annual Ball there, this was 1963 and I was a first year student. Kenny Balls Jazz band was playing and we had a great night. After we had all left it was torched and a typical crap 1960s' concrete s~#hole was built in it's place.

For her sins (pun intended) my future wife who lived in  Somerset was sent to a convent in the next county of Devon. Decades later she went down memory lane and found that the French  order of nuns no longer existed and it had been sold to the County Council who had used it as a childrens' home. It was sold on and the new buyers wanted to demolish it but again were refused permission - that's right it burned down and in it's place houses for the wealthy were built.

 

DYK that insurance companies often employ ex/reformed arsonists to assess if a fire is accidental or deliberately set. I don't know about Oz but for a fact fires are often set in forests by scum sometimes for 'fun' but mostly for gain/greed in France and a huge fire was set in extensive woodland to the west of Athens - so more houses could be built. I think that the only way to deal with arsonists is to set them on fire publicly, conditional therapy - do that and this is what happens.  I'm sure that most will remember when a few years ago a lot of southern Asia was covered in smoke from the Indonesians setting fire to huge swathes of rain forest so they could plant even more palm oil plantations - palm oil is bad for the health.

 

Interestingly the name Luna Park brought back a memory of an expression my father used to use if I left lights on - " it's Luna Park in here". He was a Glaswegian and there was a permanent fairground on the outskirts of Glasgow with that very name as the Scottish one would have predated the one in Oz  maybe aGlaswegian had something to do with the naming.

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2 hours ago, Southerly said:

Luna Park

 

It was a name used by many amusement parks. The first Luna Park opened in 1903 and was located on Coney Island in the USA.

 

There were various Luna Parks in Australia. The one in Melbourne opened in 1912 and is the oldest Luna Park still in operation. The one in Sydney opened in 1935 and despite its checkered past is still operational.

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6 hours ago, LogicprObe said:

 

The Rushcutters Bay Hotel?

 

No.

I used to stay at a girlfriends place that was in a block of flats across the park from it, but I've never even been in that place, it was still Rushcutters Bay 10 pin Bowling alley back then.

 

Last time I was at Rushcutters bay was at a work mates Xmas party about 6 or 7 years ago, he had the penthouse flat in one of those tall flats on Yarranabbe Rd, fantastic unrestricted views of the harbor, but I wouldn't of wanted to live there, when the wind picked up it blew so hard it was coming through gaps in the balcony windows, must of been freezing in winter,

 

I've also avoided Kings Cross for years, I don't think I've been there since the mid 90's TBH, when it really started to became a real S hole, the drugs had destroyed it along with a lot of people I knew, which was a very sad decline from when I first started going up there around 76.

It was a far more bohemian place back then, the doormen at Tex's Tavern and the Bourbon and Beefsteak used to wear dinner suits back then, even on the breakfast shift when I used to go in and have one of their huge Ranch style breakfast plates to help soak up the alcohol I'd drunk in the hours before watching bands at the Manzil room. :hiccup

 

I did end up working in Kings Cross on two separate occasions, once in the very early early 80's for only a few months, and again for a short time in the very early 90's, but I used to spend a lot of my time seeing live bands up there for those 10 years between, when they still had them.

Over the years I had gotten to know quite a lot of people that used to live and work in Kings Cross [It's partially why I know what I do about the Luna Park fire], and the funny thing is during all that time I never saw a fight or any other real unpleasant situations unfold.....although I did hear of a bloke getting bashed to death by one of the doormen of the Bourbon out in the rear lane behind it [Who I knew, and steered clear of after I heard about it], but it seems that was conveniently covered up, so few people would have known about that incident unless they worked there......a mate of mine who I knew from my teens used to run Joe's Bar at the rear of the Bourbon, which is how I learned about it.

 

IMHO the whole of Sydney changed for the worse when the live music venues started closing around Sydney at the urging of the police......what happened after that? They just became venues with DJ's playing crap repetitive music that I really didn't like, plus the owners of the venues had changed and so had the crowd, again for the worse.

That's when the Islanders starting making a big appearance on the doors of venues, it's also when the violence started big time up the cross.

 

A lot of that was due to the Mr Asia drug syndicate based in New Zealand, of whom a lot had taken up residence in and around the cross to distribute the Heroin,Budda sticks and Hash which they were sourcing from Singapore and Malaysia.

I had a mate who was about 10 years older than me from NZ with whom I shared a birthday, we used to watch the bands up at the Kings Cross venues, somehow he got partially involved with this group, which I found out with a big shock when we were having a shared birthday party put on by his wife, and this bloke turns up with a duffle bag with around 30kg of Hash in it for him to mind for them, it was one of those "Mate", are you crazy? WTF are you doing hanging around with that lot for sort of conversation I had with him, and thankfully he slowly stopped contact with them, but then managed to get into trouble all by himself, no helping some people who are naturally self destructive, our friendship had disintegrated by then anyway, plus it cost him his marriage.

 

That wasn't the only incident of people that I thought I knew reasonably well getting involved with drugs, and it's the main reason I stopped going to kings cross.

I just don't want anything to do with drugs, or the people involved with them, I've seen the damage they do, not only to individuals, but to whole suburbs, where their use is rife.

[Although it would be hypocritical of me not to admit that I have been recently smoking to odd joint now and then to help with my stage 4 cancer - they are running a trial with it for cancer relief at the Kinghorn Cancer clinic ]

 

In around 89-90 I ran into Malaysian guy I used to work with years earlier up in the cross one night , and he invited me to come and have a steak with him at a restaurant around the corner , I innocently thought sure, why not, we can catch up, only for me to find out that the sole reason for the dinner invite was to ask me if I wanted to sell heroin for the syndicate, needless to say that dinner ended abruptly when I said no.

{When I used to work with him he won $365k on lotto and lost the whole lot playing Chinese Dominoes over three or four nights at a certain well known Sydney bookmakers illegal casino up in the cross ]

 

I found out later that he was deported, but get this, I was told  that he had the audacity to ask if he paid the difference, could he fly first class ?

 

Somehow he managed to get back into Australia, as about 5 years ago, totally out of the Blue, I saw him run into a pub in Park St in the city to put a bet on the TAB, I was taken aback when I realized it was actually him, as I wasn't 100% sure at first......He saw me as he dashed out and just said hello, with a huge smug grin on his face and disappeared, and I've never seen him since...WTF went on there I have no idea.

I strongly suspect some big time corruption in Australia allowed his reentry considering his involvement with Heroin importation, that or he somehow slipped into the country on a false passport.

 

it seems a age old problem, corruption, and it will never go away unfortunately. 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Tweaky said:

a duffle bag with around 30kg of Hash

 

You would have a hard time convincing a jury that quantity was for personal consumption only.

 

That was an interesting read. Sorry to hear about your illness.

Edited by thethrowback
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1 hour ago, Tweaky said:

 

No.

I used to stay at a girlfriends place that was in a block of flats across the park from it, but I've never even been in that place, it was still Rushcutters Bay 10 pin Bowling alley back then.

 

 

 

 

You're thinking of The Travelodge............the bowling alley was always there in my mind.

They knocked it all over after I stopped working in the area.

I'm talking about the little pub on Bayswater Rd opposite McLachan Ave.

I don't know who owned the place in those days but it was pretty much Phil Saffron's office where he organised a lot of the day to day runnings.

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4 hours ago, Tweaky said:

 

~

IMHO the whole of Sydney changed for the worse when the live music venues started closing around Sydney at the urging of the police...

~

 

Every now and then I have a memory of a gig from 20 - 35 years ago, google something, and almost always come across this article (or at least have done, since it was published 11 years ago).

 

The day the music died (smh.com.au)

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19 hours ago, Tweaky said:

I wouldn't really call Annie Buckingham one of the people involved


I didn't mean to say she was. But you said you've met Abe and just being an acquaintance to any of them is interesting.

 

Pretty sure I know a bloke, who's old man was involved with Neddy.

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11 hours ago, Mining Man said:

 

Every now and then I have a memory of a gig from 20 - 35 years ago, google something, and almost always come across this article (or at least have done, since it was published 11 years ago).

 

The day the music died (smh.com.au)

 

Most venues were closed long before then because they changed the fire laws and hardly anyone could afford to comply.

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Sorry to hear about your illness Tweaky. When I was living in the Netherlands  and just before I decided to head back home I ran into a bunch of ASAS Nam vets one night and the stories they told me about the war and their opinion of American soldiers and how letting the South Vietnamese police 'refugees' into Oz led to the smack problem that you have today. The CIA were refused extra funds by the US congress and set up the Golden Triangle heroin route. 

 

I was living in Rotterdam the autumn/winter of 79 when the Grey Wolves/Turkish mafia realised they could make far more money importing Turkish/Afghan Red than Turkish hash and in one weekend between Rotterdam and A'dam over 20 junkies O/D because they didn't believe the Turks when they said it was 90% pure. There were young people from all over Europe and many Americans and Aussies who 'tried' smack and got junked. When the uitzendbureau work collapsed they went home with their addictions and Europe/USA and Oz  have never been the same since.

 

The thing about smack is that it takes about 3 months  for 'normal' people to become really junked and that's the danger, whereas with nicotine it only takes a week. How many went to uni as non smokers but started using ganja and or hash in joints. Most on leaving uni stopped using marijuana but had become nicotine junkies.

 

If governments really worked in the interests of the majority, nicotine in all it's forms would have been made a class A drug a long time ago but there's too much money involved and more so with smack. My old home town of Brighton is the smack capital of England and it all  started in the Netherlands in 79. I lost too many friends, none of which were no hopers, indeed all were professional types who didn't listen when I warned them. I came home for Christmas in 79 and visited a friend who was a computer consultant "it's cool man we only use it at the weekend" my reply was "pretty soon Mick your weekend will begin bright and early and I do mean bright and early on Monday morning. He went on to become a smack dealer, spent time in prison and destroyed the lives of so many. It's like cancer which spreads fast. the only way to get rid of cancer is to kill every last cell. Put a smack dealer in prison and dozens of junkies will walk out at the end of their sentence - so it goes.

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6 hours ago, Esoterica said:


I didn't mean to say she was. But you said you've met Abe and just being an acquaintance to any of them is interesting.

 

Pretty sure I know a bloke, who's old man was involved with Neddy.

 

Anybody mad enough to get involved with Neddy Smith or his right hand man, Graham "Abo" Henry would themselves be somebody to steer clear of IMHO.

Their local pub was the Iron Duke hotel on the corner of Botany Rd and Mac Evoy st Waterloo, which I used to live across the road from and never entered.

 

Actually I never drank at any of the pubs in the Waterloo area or any of the pubs around Redfern station, as I probably would have been hounded by the Consorting Squad who I used to see go in and out of venues around the cross. [Collecting their pay off's ]

 

The now disbanded consorting squad was probably the most corrupt squad in the NSW police force at the time.

 

It used to be headed by a bloke whose surname was Rosco.[ I can't remember what his rank was ]

 

I had a very two very close calls with Rosco.

The first one was at the Manzil room in Kings Cross, and I didn't know exactly who he was at the time, but I used to play Backgammon at the tables near the entrance and see him regularly enter the place and have a quick look around, then he would quickly dash into the office on his way out and exit the office putting something in the inside pocket of his jacket.

 

One night I was pretty drunk and he walked in and was standing around the bar area, he was wearing this absolutely hideous tie that was very wide at the bottom, if that wasn't bad enough it was one of those painted ties with ducks flying across a swamp.

When I saw this tie I just couldn't help myself and cracked up laughing, and pointed it out to another bloke who was also at the bar buying a drink, and said something to him like "did your wife pick that out for you" ?, which I don't think he heard, but we both got a death stare from Rosco as he could see that we were laughing at him.

It was then the barman whispered to me to shut the F up and told me who he was.....I was like, Oh No, what have I done, I've just marked myself out.

 

The second time I ran into him was one afternoon at the Bourbon and Beefsteak, which when I think back, probably turned the tables on the previous incident, and he became more wary of me.

 

I had been called up for jury duty, and had been selected to sit on the jury.

The trial had lasted two and a half weeks, and was a conspiracy case involving the Mafia transporting 2 tons of marijuana from WA to Sydney.

They bought in a Tea chest sized cardboard box full of dope into the jury room to show us the evidence, which was probably the most exciting thing that had ever happened for some of the jury panel, judging by their reaction, there were some really boring people on the jury.

 

[I discovered that it was Mafia involvement one day mid way through the trial after we were dismissed for the day, on leaving the court and walking towards Martin Place, I saw a few of the accused sitting down talking with some known Mafia people, who seemed to be giving them instructions on what to do and say in court ]

 

It was obvious during the trial [At least to me] that some sort of deal had been done with the police to lower the charges to a single charge of conspiracy, rather than a huge list of other charges that they could of got done for.....Rosco didn't appear at the trail by the way.

 

The police pretty much all "Verbal'd" their evidence, obviously to cast doubt in the juries minds, but it was so obvious what had happened [Boy, were these guys DUMB ] that they were guilty....actually we felt sorry for one poor bloke that he was used as a "Patsy" in this whole thing, that we gave a not guilty verdict for him.

 

Much relieved that the trial was finally over, a few of the less boring of us decided to go for a drink, I suggested the Bourbon, so we head to there.

 

We had been there for about half and hour, and to my surprise, two of the police officers that gave evidence in the trial walked in a stood at the bar near the entrance and ordered a beer.

The other jury memebers didn't notice that, and the officers hadn't noticed us either at that stage.

Another 15 minutes went by, and who should walk in and go directly to the to the two police...Rosco.

It's then I had a Oh No, not him thought run through my mind, and then mentioned it to the other jury members who he was, and they all suddenly went quite, which drew attention to us, as we were making a bit of noise previously.

This sudden change form a group making some noise to going deathly quiet as soon as Rosco walked in, obviously caught Rosco's attention.

I watched him go to turn around to see who we were, and I pretended to drop something under the table to avoid him seeing me.

He obviously said something two the other two officers, and they all turned around this time and to see who we were, and they looked surprised seeing who we were and must of told Rosco.

Well that made him do a double take, and he look towards our table again, this time he recognized me, and I saw his eyes suddenly widen and he must of suddenly said to the others lets get out of here, and they all left, leaving their half drunk beers on the bar.

 

Boy was I relieved, but the whole incident killed the mood and we all left shortly after.

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If you can supply several more chapters @Tweaky there should be enough for a good book. I do enjoy reading your recollections.

 

54 minutes ago, Southerly said:

ASAS Nam vets one night and the stories they told me about the war and their opinion of American soldiers and how letting the South Vietnamese police 'refugees' into Oz led to the smack problem that you have today.

 

That's ironic because the heroin trade in Australia blossomed as result of our government agreeing to a request in July 1967 to allow American servicemen serving in Vietnam to spend their R & R in Sydney.

 

Kings Cross was a popular destination for these servicemen and a lot of money was made supplying them with drugs, sex and entertainment. The drugs came from South East Asia through crime syndicates in collaboration with members of the Nugan Hand Bank and the C.I.A. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nugan_Hand_Bank

 

From what I know, criminal gangs in the Vietnamese community started to get involved with the heroin trade in the late 1980s.

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