An "extraordinary outrage" was reported from the "quiet little timber town" of Yarloop on 26 November 1929.
In the early hours of the morning, two plugs of gelignite were thrown into the bedroom of twenty-eight year old Violet Shean. A married woman living apart from her husband, who was residing in and employed as a cook at the Yarloop Hotel.
One of the burning charges struck Violet's arm, awakening her and she rushed outside, screaming. An instant later two "terrific explosions" shook the building - shattering furniture, splintering the window panes and reducing Violet's bedroom to "a state of chaos".
Shortly afterwards a man in his early 30s, who gave the name of James Gent, called in at the Yarloop Hospital and said he had taken a mixture of cyanide and mercury.
Police inquiries revealed that Gent had known Violet for two years and while he was a stranger in Yarloop, he was said to be well known in the Lake Grace district, where he worked for various farming families, including the Dawsons and Bishops.
Constable O'Brien discovered that Gent had arrived at Yarloop by train and booked a room at the Yarloop Hotel. It was believed that Gent had made advances towards Violet, which she had "resented". The rejection excited the crime and attempted poisoning.
Violet was treated in hospital for minor burns and returned to work shortly after her terrifying experience. While Gent, "rendered speechless by the effect of the poison", was detained and held in custody at Perth Hospital.
Gent was charged with "wilfully and unlawfully using gelignite, causing an explosion likely to endanger the life of a woman". He was taken to Fremantle Gaol. However while awaiting trial he returned to hospital suffering from the effects of poison where he died... a week after the explosion.
Note - This commentary has been sourced from newspaper articles appearing in WA newspapers at the time thanks to the magic of Trove. It provides an insight into the event at the time but is not intended to be a definitive history.
ABC Perth ABC South West The West Australian PerthNow WAtoday.com.au Yarloop Hotel Yarloop Community Resource Centre Yarloop Country Womens Association Lake Grace, Western Australia Harvey-Waroona Reporter South Western Times
THE SENSATIONAL AFFAIR AT YARLOOP - A LUCKY ESCAPE FROM TERRIBLE TRAGEDY
Miss Agnes Hyland was an “intrepid young lady born in Queensland”, one of twelve children.
Her father, known as D’Arcy Hyland, was a stockman, rough-rider and trained wild horses. Eventually he settled down to become the proprietor of the Hyland's Circus.
Her mother was the daughter of a Chinese publican on the goldfields.
One of Agnes’s earliest recollections at aged 12, was a ride of over 800 miles with her father, to the Normanton gold rush. It was after this ride, that she began her career as a trainer of horses.
Agnes believed that horses were intelligent and needed to be treated with kindness and patience. “If man had the same temperament as a horse, there would be less divorces in the world, and far more marital amity.” she told the Daily News in 1914.
In some cases, within just 25 minutes after catching a wild horse, she claimed, she could teach it to lead, mouth and to pick up its legs. The whole secret of it Agnes said, was to “get hold of a horse’s heart”.
Such became her equestrian abilities, that Agnes travelled to London in 1911 as part of a riding and shooting show called ‘Wild Australia’. Performing at Crystal Palace for the coronation of King George V.
Agnes’s “educated ponies” became the star act in the Hyland's Circus. Her whole family were involved in circus life, as trick riders, acrobats, trapeze artists, jugglers, wire walkers, clowns and musicians.
Despite six of her brothers and sisters becoming blind, due to a genetic disease causing sight loss, they continued to perform and show went on!
Following the death of her father, the family went off in different directions and attempts to reform the circus were interrupted by World War I.
Agnes married and lived in Yarloop, then later ran a store near Cue. She became well known all over the Murchinson, and when she died in 1939, was remembered as not only a renowned horsewoman but “a sure friend of many prospector short of food or cash”.
From 10am tomorrow Saturday 7 November the Disrupted Festival of Ideas takes over the Perth Cultural Centre. And while there are no performing horses, this FREE EVENT promises to be a great show! It is also been live streamed for our country friends. Find out more here https://disrupted.slwa.wa.gov.au/
ABC Perth Yarloop Hotel Yarloop Country Womens Association Yarloop Community Resource Centre The West Australian
ON WITH THE SHOW
I went mad with my camera in the old Mill/Museum. The machine shop & old machinery has been a fascination of mine since childhood.
My Grandfather worked for Lewis & Reids Timber mill north of Collie, from its origins to closure in about 1925.
His hobby was photography, & left his family a legacy of B&W negatives of the Mill, Collie surrounds, Wellington Dam construction, & various images from around WA, during his movements.
One such Image is if the Yarloop Hotel in it'ss heyday.
It was a Handsome Two story building, which sadly suffered a fire which reduced it to singe story status, which was how i saw it in 2013.
My purpose in the visit was to donate a photo of the Two story building, which i did. I dare say that has perished in the recent raising of the town.
The story of the period this photo was taken was of a shooting incident, in August 1924.
I can't add any further info about the hotel, the earlier fire, or the shooting.
If there is anyone interested in my photos of the Old Hotel or my visit to the museum, I'm happy to furnish copies.
My email address: [email protected]
I live in Perth.
I visited Yarloop in 2013, on my way to Collie. It was a facinating place.