FROM the VAULT – All part of the Police Service in 1910

The notice read; ‘SNAKE BITES. The Police generally are directed to report all instances of snake-bite coming within their knowledge, together with the treatment adopted and the result thereof.  The principal reason assigned for obtaining this information is to arrive at right conclusions as to the efficacy of the use of strychnine by hypodermic injection in cases of snake-bite, which, it is asserted authoritatively, has been to the present almost unfailing in apparently desperate cases, and it is considered that a full record of all instances of bites by snakes will be of great public utility. W.E. PARRY-OKEDEN, Acting Commissioner of Police, Police Department, Commissioner’s Office, Brisbane, 5th February 1892.’

Report of snake bite by Constable 1/c Miller, to Chief Inspector Urquhart, 16 November 1910.
Scanned document courtesy of the Queensland Police Museum.


Constable 1/c John Emeric Vidal Miller didn’t forget the directive, for in 1910, whilst stationed at Seymour River, he encountered a 13 year old black snake bite victim and provided the following report to his superior in Townsville:

            Sir, I beg to report that about 11:30am on the 10th November my attention was called by hearing the sound of crying towards the scrub, about the Seymour River Police Station.  I went in the direction and discovered a young lad named James Jackson, who stated he had been bitten by a black snake whilst trying to catch a horse in the scrub.  I at once tied my handkerchief round his leg, above the bite.  I afterwards mixed three drops of liquid Ammonia, in a teacupful of water, and dosed the boy with it, a teaspoonful at a time about every minute and in the meantime, a buggy was procured and I conveyed the boy to Ingham Hospital, nine miles from here to the nearest Doctor.  I continued the Ammonia treatment all the way and the boy did not become sleepy till treated at the Hospital, from whence he was discharged cured on the 12th November.

Chief Inspector Urquhart (later, Police Commissioner) from Townsville forwarded the correspondence onto the Police Commissioner, suggesting “the treatment adopted in this case might be of interest to the Health Department.”

Boating on the Seymour River, near Ingham, c1890-1900. Believed to be friends and family of Harriett and Donald Brims, enjoying a steam boat ride on the ‘Emilie’.
Image Number 132613 courtesy of the John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

The one man Seymour River Police Station opened on 14 May 1905, in the “E” District, Townsville Sub-district.  Constables Michael Guckian (1/c), Sidney Luck, John French, John Miller (1/c) and William Cook each spent approximately 2 years policing the station before its closure on 17 December 1914.


This article was compiled by Museum Assistant Georgia Grier from the best resources available within the Queensland Police Museum.  The Police Museum is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Thursday and 10am to 3pm on the last Sunday of the month (Feb-Nov) and is located on the Ground Floor of Police Headquarters at 200 Roma Street, Brisbane. Contact: E: [email protected]

“FROM the VAULT – All part of the Police Service in 1910” by the Queensland Police Service is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (BY) 2.5 Australia Licence. Permissions may be available beyond the scope of this licence.

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