Historical information

Published: "The Melbourne Post" page 369, 22 November 1866.

Reproduced Page 76 "Pioneers and Painters"

One wet and miserable October night in 1866 a well-spoken young Irish braggart, who was wearing a poncho or riding cloak, knocked on the door of the home of Mrs. James Russell (nee Haughton) in Russell Road, Warrandyte. Realising that he was weary and hungry, Mrs. Russell gave the young visitor food and a bed in a hut up the back yard. The next morning she found he had gone as Harry Houghton had obligingly rowed him across the river in a mining punt. The man was Robert Burke (aka Bourke but real name Clusky), a known bushranger, who was being hunted by the police. Burke went to Kangaroo Ground where he stayed at Wellers Hotel before moving onto Hurstbridge. At Hurstbridge some hours later, he was eating breakfast given him by Miss Ellen Hurst, whose suspicions were aroused when she noticed a pistol in his pocket. Hastily she informed her brother, who loaded a shot gun and confronted Burke, an argument broke out and Burke produced a pistol. Hurst fired his shotgun, but missed.
The two scuffled and during the scuffle, the pistol fired, wounding both Hurst and Burke. Burke was over-powered by some station hands and placed under arrest.
Hurst, unfortunately, died later that day. Poor young boastful Burke - he was found guilty of murder and hanged, despite a strong recommendation for mercy and a large petition signed by Melbourne citizens claiming that he reacted in self defence. Edited extract from ‘Warrandyte a Brief History’ by Bruce Bence 1991. (Posted to Warrandyte Historical Society Facebook page 27/01/2021)


This photo forms part of a collection of photographs gathered by the Shire of Eltham for their centenary project book,"Pioneers and Painters: 100 years of the Shire of Eltham" by Alan Marshall (1971). The collection of over 500 images is held in partnership between Eltham District Historical Society and Yarra Plenty Regional Library (Eltham Library) and is now formally known as 'The Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection.'
It is significant in being the first community sourced collection representing the places and people of the Shire's first one hundred years.

Physical description

Digital image
Print 16.5 x 22 cm