The Whiskey Au Go Go File

Online newspaper databases have been around for quite a while now providing users with an historic treasure trove of press articles from a wide variety of titles and from different periods in time.

The State Library of Queensland enables access to these subscription only newspaper databases via its website for e-service card holders. They include the Times Digital Archive 1785-1985 searchable by key word and including all articles, advertisements and illustrations and photos, Newsbank providing access to full text articles from more than 230 Queensland, Australian, and international titles from 1998 onwards, Library Press Display which provides a full-colour, full page collection of today's newspapers from over 70 countries around the world in 37 languages, and National Library's wonderful Historic Australian Papers, 1803 to 1954 which includes The Courier Mail and The Queenslander.

Before the advent of online databases librarians in the John Oxley Library clipped articles of interest on a daily basis from Queensland newspapers placing these in folders with various subject headings. We still add to these files although the need to exhaustively cut from hardcopy papers is not as pressing as it was prior to the existence of the above mentioned digital resources.

On December 18, 2010 in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Weekend Magazine, journalist Frank Robson contributed an intriguing feature article "Family Secrets" on the subject of the 1973 firebombing of Brisbane's Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub in Fortitude Valley. This firebombing resulted in the deaths of 15 patrons and staff making it one of the worst mass murders in modern Australia until the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.

James Finch and John Stewart

“Whiskey Au Go Go Warning”. State Library of Queensland newspaper clippings file

“Stuart feared he would be set up”. State Library of Queensland newspaper clippings file

“Finch: confession a lie”. State Library of Queensland newspaper clippings file

“Pistol threat, then death in nightclub”. State Library of Queensland newspaper clippings file

Oxley Reference Librarian, Trudy Bennett, looks through the Whiskey Au Go Go File.

John Stewart and James Finch were tried and convicted for the Whiskey Au Go Go murders and sent down to Brisbane's Boggo Road Gaol were they continued to proclaim their innocence. Stuart died in prison in 1979.

In the article Robson interviews Danny Stewart, nephew of John Stewart, who claims that his uncle was innocent of the crime.

I've added this to the substantial clippings file we have on the "Whiskey Au Go Go Fire, 1973" as the latest instalment on this horrific event and its aftermath. The pictures in the article do not appear in Newsbank, although the text does. If you see the pictures they certainly contibute to the story and this is one of the reasons I've added this article to our clippings file. It also complements the other articles in the file from titles like The Sun, The Bulletin, The Toowoomba Chronicle, The Courier Mail, and many others. Most of these articles are from the 70s and 80s and are not available online.

Newspaper clippings are of great value to researchers as they bring together articles on the same subject from different periods in time resulting in a greater variety of perspectives. The John Oxley Library collection also includes newspaper cuttings books and all Queensland newspapers. You can find out more about the State Library's newspaper collections here.

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Thank you for adding my story, written by Frank Robson to the library Whiskey Au Go Go File, there is a lot more material to come out in the near future.CheersDanny

Ralph and Johnny were my grandfathers brothers. I am very intrested in what you have written?

Hello Ryan. Hope you are able to make the Whiskey Plaque unveiling on 8.3.2015 at the Fortitude valley site. All the best. Donna.

Hi DannyLook forward to seeing that material and preserving it in our collections as this story continues to unfold and your account sheds new light on the events of 8 March 1973 and what followed.Simon FarleyManager - Client ServicesHeritage CollectionsState Library of Queensland

My mother was one of the 15 that died that nite. im so very interested to talk and find out what really happend. i was also keen to see any old photos . i hope to hear from u soon. cheers......tiodd

Hello Todd. I worked with your mum. Attempted to email you. Bounced back. How can I contact you?Thanks.

Hi Todd. I am very sorry that you lost your Mother on that night and I couldn't imagine the grief you must have suffered from loosing her.I have dedicated my book to the 15 victims and their families, devoting more than 30 years of my life on getting the truth to you. As soon as the book is complete I will organise a way of getting in touch and hopefully we can have a talk then. Cheers, Danny Stuart

danny , I bet i could add one or two pages to your book..( which i've never read , I Know what happened ) In 1975 , i shared a cell with them in the southport watch-house , for nearly 28 days , And at the age of 17 , on my first offence ? lol , we spent every waking moment together , and spoke openly , and freely , of our crimes . and how we could escape justice... And mate !! After i had heard with my own ears. what they had done..not only at the whiskey au go go , but well before that ... my blood run cold as ice. , Then ? we all got chained up , nice and tight ,( stewart with a smashed ankle ) and shipped off H.M.P Bogga Road Prison ..And lucky me !! I had one handcuffed either side of me..Then i got to spend , 11 months on remand ( till turned 18 ) then , 2 1/2 years with them at the road... maybe I should write a book....

That would be great Danny. You may email me any time

The same good doctor made some other dubios decisions Leonard Kieth Lawson being one of them. cheers Frank Cutler

I would be interested in talking to some one regarding these events I have a very close association. Thanks

Feel free to contact me. I was there except that night & there was a lot more involved than it appears.John W Ryan

hey mate my name is archie if u r still interested in talking send me an email

Hi Michael, I also would be very interested in talking to you about the Whiskey, I believe you do have a close association with this subject, can you leave your contact details with the Oxley Library so that I can email or phone you, looking forward to making contact. Cheers, Danny Stuart.

Hello again Michael, If you are worried about any heat coming your way because of any discussion we may have, don't be. I will not disclose any information that you give me without your consent, no matter how vital to me this evidence may be. It isn't easy to make changes to my book at this stage, but if you feel you could add a little light to the subject that would be great. Are you related to John or Ralph Bell? All the best. Danny

How long before the books comes out Danny

Hi Todd, That's a hard question to answer at this stage, when we think we are ready to wrap it up new evidence comes flying our way from many directions, none of which can be ignored. I will let you know as soon as it goes to print, and thanks for your email. Cheers, Danny.

Danny, I have been eagerly awaiting your book since I read the feature "family secrets". Will there be anything in it about the McCulkin murders? There is a lot of evidence that they were related to the Whiskey au Go Go.

There is NO Doubt they were connected to Whisky. Barbara spoke personally to me the day before they were kidnapped & her & I compared notes .She had more than Whisky to expose . I touch on it in my Book 'I Survived'

Len, I will leave a comment on this blog and let you know when this book is available to the public. Did you know Barbara McCulkin? Danny

I will be releasing a Book on Kindle on my life as a Private Detective in Brisbane 1971 - 1978 & will be featuring the Whisky & the behind the scenes players as well as the barbara McCulkin Kidnap arranged by Police.I know ,Barbarea rang me & my Partner gave us the story & when we went to pick her up to get her & the kids to a safe house the Kidnapping had unfortunately already taken place.Their disappearance was very definately related to Whisky.

Hi John, Thank you for your comment, Your name is familiar to me, and I do know there is a connection with the Whiskey and the the McCulkin kidnapping. Is there any way of contacting you direct as this isn't a subject that I would like to discuss on a blog. All the best with your book.Can you leave you contact details with the Library.

Hello. I am interested in doing some research into the McCulkin disappearance. John and Danny would you be interested in speaking with me via email in relation to the information you have? Thank you. Peta

I have left my number & Danny & Billy Stokes have called me . It is 0417 900 677

Hi JohnI really believe even that small amount of information you gave is of vital importance to the case. Please contact me so that we can speak further regarding it. It is vital to attempt to solve this before every person that may have been involved dies of old age. The right people need to be bought to justice - this whole thing reeks of corruption.Thank you John.Peta

Currently in Brisbane0417 900 677 if you are serious

Still waiting for you to contact me Peta

[Comments removed in accordance with SLQ Blog Policy]

Len, would you be kind enough to contact me when you get a chance? I'm on 0404 868154. Best wishes and hope to hear from you, Matt

Hi Danny Could you email me your phone number so I can pass it to my cousin Billy Stokes who is very much still alive!Cheers Mark

Mark 0417 900 677 is my number ask Billy to call me if he wishesJohn W Ryan

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Anyone wishing to know about the Whiskey firebombing and the McCulken Family murders should ask Dan Stuart for a copy of the statements that I sent to him. Billy Stokes

I Survived my book on my time in Brisbane as a Private Detective in the 70s is now on Amazon Kindle and in Print through Bookpal of Brisbane by mid August.I worked Whisky , Barbara & I had a conversation about everything the day before the Kidnapping. It is in my Book. Not rumours and innuendo. John W Ryan

John Stewart ran into his prison acquaintance Jim Finch in the Valley, he subsequently helped him siphon petrol from a parked car. Finch in company with missing boxer Ian Thomas Hamilton, threw the petrol into the foyer of the Whisky au Go Go, and set it alight.Billy McCulken was to give evidence he bombed Torinos nite club, on the orders of Police Inspector Murphy, His wife and two daughters were abducted, we say from the Wharfies Club, officially from their home at Highgate Hill, and were never seen again.The Coroner recommended murder charges be laid against Vince O'Dempsy, who is reputedly the proprietor of a private cemetery, and another man,Sam Doumany Qld Attorney General refuted his findings, because some of the evidence was hearsay and they were released from custody.Billy McCulken never went to court, and Murphy was promoted to inspector!

I think you will find it was Angelo Vasta was the AG that refused to proceed with charges against Dubois & O'Dempsey over the McCulkins kidnap / murder & Johnny paid for Finch to return from UK he stated in Whisky one night when he was with with Billy Phillips & Kelly Finta that he was bringing his Pommie mate over. He used the name 'Trauts' to pay for the ticket 'Stuart' spelled backwards.John Bell & I were there when he said it. I also have Bell on Tape repeating that and other matters about the Trial. I mention some of it in my book. Because Johnny had said 'Pommie' the Police originally started looking for O'Driscoll (Toe Cutter Gang) from Melbourne as his nickname was the Pommie.John W Ryan

I still get info about Barbara and her daughters over the years most are rumour & ,urban myth but something I just received via the Courier Mail sent to me in August in Brisbane which has been passed on to me is very different. If you are on this blog just to let you know I am following that up.

Thank you for the phone call.No one will ever know you spoke to me Now, if the person who sent me the package can now contact me we could solve a very old case I am looking into it just need a contact from you.John

Another book is due out soon with FACTS from files that are privy to very few by an established known Author.It will verify a lot.Only the person that spoke to me recently will know whom I have referred to .Guess that is hard to fathom from New farm.

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Im sick of every web site i look at to find information on the whiskey au go go all you ever read about is BLOODY Finch & Stewart. Try and find the names of the 15 poor souls lost that night

Hi Todd - here is a list of the victims of the Whiskey Au Go Go incident. The article is from The Age newspaper -…

40th Anniversary & all & sundry handing out theories instead of Fact.15 Innocent Victims were murdered when it was totally avoidable

R I P for the Victims 40 yearsFEMALES:Deasma Carroll *Carol GreenWendy DrewFay WillJennifer Davis*Desma worked there

The Male Victims:Peter Marcus *Darcy Day*Leslie PalethorpeColin FolsterErnest Peters Des PetersPaul ZollerBrian WatsonBill NolanDavid Green + Peter worked there & Darcy was in the Band Trintythe three victims with * I knewR I P I have Never forgotten

Hi I am the younger sister of Darcy Day. Darcy played in the band Trinity that night...40 years has passed since that tragic night and I can honestly say there isn't a day that goes by I don't think of him...I miss him very much...The 8th of March is a bittersweet day for me because I have 2 children born on the that date. My eldest son and my youngest daughter...So every year we celebrate their birthdays but always do I think of my brother I lost that day....RIP My beautiful brother...I miss and love you and will never ever forget you...Also my heart felt wishes goes to all the family members that lost loved ones there that night...Bless you all...xx Dianna

I believe Colin Folster was also a member of the band...He played Drums , I remember he was a lovely natured young man. Danny I have a letter written by John Stuart to my parents while John was in jail stamped Her Majesty's Prison Brisbane...letter number 2295 Prisoner - Stuart J A...stating he is innocent and asking my father to keep digging in his investations...Regards Dianna

DiannaTom & I kept in touch for quite a few years. I even still have some of his notes & highlights he made in the infamous Port News where Stokes made outlandish claims Tom , Dulcie & my family go back to the very early sixties when I was just aTeen. The crims & criminal Cops always used to place 'fairy stories' in the media & magazines until it was repeated enough it would become a Fact.That is still happening with several people. Blame is always trying to be linked to others who were responsible for other incidents that had absolutely No Bearing on the Whisky tragedy.The driver of the car that night & for Torinos fire was murdered to stop him talking about it just as was the McCulkins.Two high ranking Cops have gone to their graves without letting the truth out. Others who are still alive & know the truth & were involved will probably do the same. I just keep trying to bring it out & with the larger edition of my book that includes far greater detail & covers to 1962 - 1988 in Brisbane & both Coasts it will bring more discomfort to a few. I only talk about what I saw , lived & experienced because even 'official' diaries & records have false Fairy stories entered in them becoming fact to suit people. I am still very active in my profession but I will slow down in a couple of years & finish the TRUE story of it all from the 'Bodgie' Squad , Whisky ,McCulkins , Simone Vogel & a lot more.John

The other 3 Victims of the Whisky Tragedy 10 months laterBarbara , Vicki & Barbara Leanne McCulkinR I P Also never forgotten

HI John, I was a neighbour of the McCulkins and Leanne was my childhood friend. I was away with my father at the time of their dissappearance. It still haunts me that the girls have never been found. I have a few old photos of Leanne and I can scan and send them to you if you think they would be useful. One day I would like to see this mystery solved, regard, Anna