Islamophobia, 1832 style

When we think of the early Swan River Colony we usually picture white British settlers and Aborigines. And no one else. So it might come as a surprise to find there was a thriving Muslim community (perhaps from Indonesia) right from the start. Unfortunately, we only know this because racist bigots decided to beat them up.


On Christmas Eve 1832, Samud Alli was on his way to George Leake’s store when John Velvick grabbed him outside the Perth Hotel and said “You black man, give me glass of grog.”

Samud protested that, as a Muslim, he didn’t drink. So Velvick punched him two or three times, using language the newspaper said was “too disgusting for publication”.

Then Velvick held him while his white mate started laying into Samud with a stick. He was only rescued when other Muslims arrived and calmed the situation.

The Muslims went back home, while the white men went to another pub, Mayo’s Bar. Here, they got very pissed. Twenty of them (including teenagers) grabbed heavy sticks, determined to start a fight with their Muslim neighbours and tear down their huts.

Leading the baying mob, Velvick demanded Samud fight him, to which he calmly replied “I no fight.”

“You bloody bastard, you must fight,” screamed Velvick, calling on his twenty mates to lay into the eight Muslims.

The defenceless party had no chance. Most were still sitting down, and some were attempting to shake hands with their attackers.

The beating was so bad, every Muslim was covered with blood.

For this vile act, Velvick got three months. But a worse fate was waiting for him.

Shortly after he was released from prison, he and his brother were killed by Aboriginal resistance leader, Yagan. Neville Green has suggested the Velvicks were singled out because they were known to be violent racists.

Unfortunately, events spiralled out of control, leading ultimately to Yagan’s death at the hand of a colonist.

Welcome to the founding of our colony.

Now that’s entertainment

Bluebeard's Bloody Chamber, 1901

Bluebeard’s Bloody Chamber, 1901

We at Dodgy Perth know how to have a good night out. And we know that a good night out requires a man in drag and dismembered heads.

Sceptical? Read on.

The last time we met George Leake—lawyer and State Premier—some rotters were (and still are) hoping to knock down his widow’s house on Bellevue Terrace. Anyway, it turns out George had another talent. He made a very good drag queen.

In 1888 there was a special charity event at St George’s Hall on Hay Street. A building, we sadly note, now reduced to a parody of heritage conservation. Thank you District Court of WA.

After a few songs, the main act were waxworks borrowed from Jarley’s for the evening. The future Premier dressed up as ‘Mrs Jarley’, and he was surprisingly good at it.

The various waxworks were wheeled out while George—sorry, Mrs Jarley—cracked jokes and kept the crowd amused. There was Chang the giant, the Giant Killer, Jack Sprat and his wife, and Queen Elizabeth.

For those who believe product placement is a recent invention, the next tableaux was Mrs. Pears’ Soap and the Dirty Boy. Quickly followed by waxworks representing Winslow’s Soothing Syrup and Mrs Allen’s Hair Restorer. (Just don’t ask.)

The evening closed with Bluebeard’s chamber. Bluebeard himself was represented in the act of threatening his last wife’s existence with an uplifted scimitar. The heads of his previous victims were hung by their hair, all bleeding copiously, around the walls.

So: drag, rampant commercialism, and over-the-top gore. Sounds like Dodgy Perth’s ideal Saturday evening.

Perth has no time for a Leake


Sometimes the bad behaviour we catalogue here at Dodgy Perth does not belong in the past but in the present.

In our office we are not much given to campaigning for or against anything, usually preferring to sit back with a glass of red and just watch other people march up and down with placards and chants.

So the following is provided for information only, to be used by those who can find a use for such information.

If you take a walk around East Perth Cemetery (and you should), you will find memorials for several members of the Leake family, including George and his son, George Arthur.

George Leake was a turn-of-the-century lawyer and Premier of Western Australia. Famous for being one of the few people to stand up to John Forrest, Leake should also be remembered for developing the political party system we have today.

If he hadn’t died tragically young in 1902, aged just 45, he may well have gone on to become the first Prime Minister from this State. A memorial fountain for him was erected in Kings Park.

The year after his death, Leake’s widow, Louisa Emily, built a grand house at the edge of Kings Park, at 10 Bellvue Terrace, for herself and young family. Among her sons were Francis Walpole and George Arthur, both of whom followed in daddy’s footsteps and became lawyers.

During WWI, George Arthur signed up to the 10th Australian Light Horse Regiment. As a Second Lieutenant, he fell on 29 August 1915 at Gallipoli, where his body remains to this day.

The stunning Tudor-style home Louisa Leake built—a residence associated with the family of an early Premier and an Anzac hero—is still standing. But only just.

If you want to see it, we recommend walking past in the next few days because the bulldozers are moving in soon to replace it with a nondescript block of flats.


Sometimes the bad behaviour we catalogue here at Dodgy Perth does not belong in the past but in the present.