Murrumbeena

Unlike America, Australia never experimented with large scale bans on drinking. Presumably, the damage to the nation’s economy would have been too great, although it’s also likely that our hard-drinking politicians were simply less under the sway of wowsers. But this isn’t to say that certain districts haven’t experimented with going dry – indeed, some continue even to this day.

The Carnegie region was such an area, in its never-ending pursuit of donations from wealthy Americans and willingness to curry favour in order to receive them. When legally-enforced sobriety in America came into being in 1920, an effort was made to attract funding from John Harvey Kellogg, a prominent and (more importantly) wealthy pro-Temperance advocate. To win his appeal, several local regulations were enacted, including bans on dancing, masturbation and alcohol.

Unsurprisingly, all three bans proved hard to enforce in a pre-panopticon era, and alcohol in particular was a problem. It was legally sold at establishments in every region bordering the territory, and then there was Silas Pentaculah. Silas was an old school moonshiner who had come to Australia in the 1890s under the mistaken impression that the gold rush was still going on. When he learned that it was not, he turned to crime to make ends meet, proving to be a competent if unimaginative and poorly-educated criminal.

This lack of education was his undoing in the end. He never realised that the distinctive smell of his home-made ales and lagers would easily lead police to his door, and to his dying day, he denied that they had saved his life by dismantling the shoddy home made still he referred to as “Mah Rum Bierner” in a thick Kentucky accent before it could explode. Despite himself, Silas became a hero of sorts to those who opposed local prohibition (successfully, in the end), and the area where Pentaculah once lived is still named for its most notorious criminal endeavour.

Suburbs near Murrumbeena: