Aussie BustM'''

Cartoon history of Boom Bust

The Land Boomers

The Hungry 1890s


Strikes, unemployment, suicide and disease added to the suffering caused by the breaking of the land boom. Melbourne lost 50,000 of its population within three years. [p. 39]








The Hungry 1890s 
An early effect of the depression was an all-round reduction in working-class wages. One journal gave this 'practical illustration of how to keep a family on thirty shillings a week' [p. 42]





The Hungry 1890s





Thousands of employees were dismissed. With no dole, and little hope of finding other employment, families soon fell behind in their rent
and were usually evicted. Here one family tries to cheer up its friends in similar plights [p. 44]

The Hungry 1890s

'Put me down on the land, or I'll bring the both of us down together with a crash,'
the unemployed warned the Premier, J. B. Patterson. [p. 47]

Victorian Politics 1875-1895






Politicians of the boom
period won the
reputation of exploiting
public office for private gain
[p. 53]




Victorian Politics 1875-1895







Duncan Gillies (standing), Premier for most of the
boom period, and his Chief Secretary, Alfred Deakin,
auction the Victorian 'Electoral Paddock' to their
land-booming friends [p. 56]

Victorian Huge Land Boom Debts



Huge land boom debts were settled for as little as a farthing in the £1, and the settlements legalised by the Insolvency Court
[p. 60]




Wild Days on the Stock Exchange








Stockbrokers were able to
conjure bubble company
flotations out of the flimsiest materials [p. 79]




Railways Building Programmes

Enormous railway building programmes were undertaken in the 1880s.
To this Punch artist it seemed that the lines might reach the moon [p. 85]

The City of Dreadful Stinks

With its many financial scandals, Melbourne was ripe for muckraking journalism.
Only Maurice Brodzky's Table Talk probed deeply into the affairs of banks and building societies [p. 89]

The Land Boomers
Most insolvent financiers
and boom companies quickly
destroyed their records. In
this Bulletin cartoon, when
the parson announces a text
from the Book of Revelations,
an alarmed city man springs up
and exclaims: 'Great Heavens!
Have you got hold of my ledger?'
[p. 94]








The Premier Balloon Bursts




                                                The Premier balloon bursts. Directors
                                                throw their assets overboard to try to
                                                keep the balloon flying. J. L. Dow
                                                parachutes to safety with the help of
                                                the Age [p. 122]


Henry Heylyn Hayter






Henry Heylyn Hayter,
Government Statist and
Director of the ill-fated
Metropolitan Bank


Two Boom MansionsTwo boom mansions built in IrvingRoad, Toorak, by City Bank connections: Jenkins Collier, a director, built 'Werndrew' (BELOW), and Simon Fraser built 'Norla'. Both mansions have since been demolished [p.166]









Two Boom Mansions

Bung BanksAssets of ordinary depositors in 'bung banks' either disappeared or were frozen. In the banks which managed to re-open, reconstruction schemes usually protected interests of shareholders first. In this cartoon, a sinking depositor cries 'Save me, I've been depending on that life buoy', but the shareholder retorts 'Get away and drown, you rude fellow! Isn't my salvation more important that yours?' [p. 174]

The Land Boomers

Already unscrupulous persons are taking advantage of the helplessness of the
victims in the late banking disasters by buying up banking deposits
at a tithe of their real value. - Vide Daily Paper

Shrewd investors made easy fortunes by purchasing frozen assets in
crashed banks from needy depositors for a fraction of their real value when unfrozen [p. 177]

James Munro
James Munro,
Temperance leader
And financier who
Became Premier,
Mixes finance and
Water [p. 181]








The Land Boomers









J. S. Mercer. Related by marriage, sold land on behalf of Sir Matthew Davies, claiming that buyers were 'running to a fortune' [p.241]

After The Crash

                                                    AFTER THE CRASH
                                                    Mercantile Bank manager (after climbing
                                                    out from under the ruins) - I proclaim a
                                                    dividend of fifteen per cent and move
                                                    that £50,000 be carried to the reserve fund!
                                                    [p. 249]






Scandals in Thomas Bent's Political CareerScandals in Thomas Bent's Political Career



Scandals in Thomas Bent's political career: the 'Kensington Hill Job', in which two business friends were paid £20,000 for a hill of useless gravel;
and his attempt to get a slice of the Railway Committee's salary 'pudding' [pp. 264-265]

His Turn

Busted Boomer Bent: "I'm starving and homeless and out of collar. What shall I do?"
Unemployed Person: "Back to the land, old man, and grow cabbages.
You never should have left it." [p. 275]

Dr John Singleton



                                              Dr John Singleton assisted thousands of
                                              unemployed with free medical treatment,
                                              food and shelter. BELOW This rare
                                              photograph shows him standing outside
                                              his first dispensary in Collingwood [p. 283]


Dr John Singleton






By 1894,
Unemployment was so widespread that churches were
forced to hand out rations to starving families. A scene at South Melbourne relief depot
[p. 286]




Basic Causes of the Smash
Only a few limited inquiries were made into basic causes of the smash. A royal Commission in 1896 found that the Chaffey brothers and J. F. Levien, M.L.C., were deeply involved in what one journal called 'an abominable stagnant pool, with stenches so strong and dreadful in its muddy and mysterious depths, that one almost recoils from disturbing it further' [p. 297]




Paradise Lost                                                      The 'Boom Paradise' was lost, and
                                                        Adam and Eve had to forsake the
                                                        apple of over-speculation.

                                                        Adam (as they wander away) - Well,
                                                        'twas grand while it lasted, but now
                                                         I suppose we must hunt up a spade
                                                         and go to work. Eve - Yes; and
                                                         whatever we do, for goodness sake
                                                         let;s swear off 'apples'! [p. 303]







Cannon, M. (1976), The Land Boomers, The Land Boomers
Cannon, M. (1966), The Land Boomers: The Complete Illustrated History, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Victoria