DAY 331: Pressing my nose up against the Justice & Police Museum

29 Jul

Captain Moonlite

CREAKING with grizzly paraphernalia, the Justice & Police Museum celebrates 230 years of lowlife scumbaggery around Sydney Harbour, which is sparkling innocently not 100m away.

Here, you can window-shop prison masks and gags from the 1800s, marvel at handcrafted knuckledusters, shanks and maces, peer at reconstructions of murder victims’ skulls, and rifle the files of Communist sympathisers, targeted in a spate of pointless espionage by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (their website today looks like they’re trying to sell you home and contents insurance).

There’s also an intriguing little clipping on world yarn-spinning champion Tall Tale Tex Tryrrell, which led me to this.

Some ASIO records are available through the National Archives of Australia, so I take a seat at a computer and type some ‘persons of interest’ into the search function, just for shits and giggles, you understand.

You are then invited to sign the guestbook next to the computer. As IF! Not five minutes ago I listened to a recording of a former ASIO agent giving his tips on how spies can blend in (don’t wear a trench coat). I don’t think his equally blindingly obvious advice for the general public would be “leave your signature wherever possible, particularly when looking up your dubious mates in databases.”

Next I stumble across the invariably handsome bushrangers. It’s enough to make you want to take a death mask home.

My favourites:

Captain Moonlite: A university-educated lecturer in prison reform, turned bandito and confidence trickster. And an ‘incurable romantic’.

Joe Byrne: Kelly Gang member, fluent in Cantonese, a poet, opium addict, liked to dress in tweeds. You don’t find many of them to the pound on RSVP.

Joe Byrne. He's dead here, unfortunately.

Keeper? Love police museums and jails. I like going back out onto the street and seeing everyone as a crime scene photograph.

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