Lesson

The Port Arthur Massacre

Anyway, guys, let’s get into the Aussie English fact for today which is a bit of a sombre fact, it’s a bit macabre, it’s a bit…. It’s a bit sad, but it’s worth knowing, guys, it is important that you guys know more about Australian culture if you’re coming to Australia and yeah that’s why I thought I would talk about this today.

So, today I want to discuss the Port Arthur massacre, guys. This occurred at, obviously, Port Arthur, the Port Arthur Historic Site in Port Arthur, Tasmania, on the 28th and 29th of April in 1996.

So, the Port Arthur Historic Site was a penal settlement that began as a small timber station in 1830 and it is a tourist attraction that you can visit in Tasmania, but tragically it is now well known in Australia for this massacre that happened where one of, if not the largest, mass shootings occurred in Australia. So, 35 people died and 23 were wounded. The murderer was Martin Bryant and he had a subnormal IQ and was intellectually disabled. And he pleaded guilty for the incident and was given 35 life sentences without the possibility of parole.

So, he is currently serving something like over a thousand years in jail in Tasmania. So, this event underpins some fundamental changes of gun control laws in Australia that came into place shortly after this incident.

But what happened? What exactly occurred? Let’s chat a bit about the story.

So, Martin Bryant was this kid who grew up in Tasmania. He, for all intents and purposes, had two normal, loving parents. He was bequeathed about $600,000 in property in assets from this eccentric woman that he became really close friends with. She had apparently, like, 40 cats and 16 or so dogs that he was paid to take care of as a job, but she tragically passed away in a car accident and he gained all of this inheritance.

So, he went on many trips around the world from 1993 onwards and was withdrawing quite a lot of money during this time, obviously, spending it on himself and life experiences, but he also spent this money on some guns including an AR-10 semi-automatic rifle through a newspaper advertisement that he had seen in Tasmania and then later he went on to buy an AR-15. At the time, non-handguns in Tasmania were not required to be registered.

Switching on to his family, though. Bryant’s dad wanted to buy a bed and breakfast called Seascape, but unfortunately a couple called Noelene and David Martin bought the property before his father could organise his finances. Unfortunately, his father fell into a deep depression and ultimately committed suicide. And so, this, coupled with Martin Bryant’s best friend, that woman, having passed away, set him on a path to destruction. He blamed the Martins and described them as the worst people in his life.

So, what happened on the fateful day?

Martin woke up at about 6:00 AM and saw his girlfriend off to visit her parents. He switched on the burglar alarm and left the house at around 9:40. He went to the Seascape bed and breakfast and shot and stabbed both for Martins to death. He then travelled to the Port Arthur Historic Site parked his car in the parking lot near the Broad Arrow Cafe and entered the cafe with the sports bag and a video camera. He purchased a meal, ate the meal on the deck outside and then walked back into the cafe to return his tray. This is when the story becomes macabre.

He pulled out his bag on the table, pulled the gun out and started shooting at people. Within 15 to 30 seconds he had already killed 12 people in the cafe and 10 more were wounded. He moved into the gift shop, killed another 10 people and wounded two more. He walked out into the car park and killed another four people and injured another six. You see the pattern here. He just was on a rampage. He ended up getting into his car and actually sounding the horn and waving at people as he was leaving this scene.

He killed a number of people on the way out including a woman and her two daughters who were three and six. Just horrible. He ended up hijacking a car with a man named Glen Pears in that car and his girlfriend Zoe Hall. He forced Pears into the boot of his car, and then shot Pears’s his girlfriend who was trying to climb into the driver’s seat of her car.

He headed to the Seascape Bed and Breakfast again and forced Pears inside and handcuffed him to a stair rail in the house, and at some point, he also set the BMW on fire.

The police arrive shortly afterwards, and after an 18-hour stand-off, they caught him the next day when the guesthouse was set on fire and Bryant came running out of the house on fire himself with his back and buttocks severely burned.

He was arrested and taken for treatment in a local hospital where his victims were being treated and it was later discovered that Pears, the man he had kidnapped, had been shot before the stand-off had even begun.

So, by the end of the day, the body count was at 35 dead people and 23 wounded people. An incredibly tragic event and the only positive side to this event was the fact that after this, shortly after this, all states and territories of Australia restricted the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles, self-loading shotguns, and tightened controls on their legal use by recreational shooters. The government initiated a mandatory buyback scheme with the owners paid according to what they had in their possession.


Vocabulary:

ST – Something

SO – Someone

SW – Somewhere

1993 onwards – starting in 1993 and into the future
A bed and breakfast – sleeping accommodation for a night and a meal in the morning, provided in guest houses and hotels.
A boot – an enclosed space at the back of a car for carrying luggage or other goods
A burglar alarm – an electrical warning system that sounds when thieves break into a place
A buyback scheme – a large-scale systematic plan to repurchase the goods from SO who has already purchased them
A car accident – a car crash
A deck – a timber platform or terrace attached to a house or other building.
A driver’s seat – the seat in which the driver of a vehicle sits
A gift shop – a store that sells things that can be given as presents
A horn – a device sounding a warning or other signal.
A jail – a place for the confinement of people accused or convicted of a crime.
A life experience – an important event in one’s life that gains them knowledge
A life sentence – a punishment of life imprisonment or of imprisonment for a specified long period.
A mass shooting – an event in which many people are shot
A newspaper advertisement – a notice or announcement placed in a printed publication (usually issued daily or weekly) consisting of folded unstapled sheets and containing news, articles, advertisements, and correspondence.
A non-handgun – ST (i.e. a gun) that is not a handgun
A penal settlement – a type of colony/prison, especially one that is far away from other people.
A recreational shooter – SO who likes to fire guns as a hobby.
A rifle – a gun, especially one fired from shoulder level, having a long spirally grooved barrel intended to make a bullet spin and thereby have greater accuracy over a long distance.
A stair rail – a wooden or steel bar on a staircase designed to be held by people as support
A stand-off – a deadlock between two equally matched opponents in a dispute or conflict.
A shotgun – a smooth-bore gun for firing small shot at short range.
A timber station – a location where timber was stored, bought, or sold
A tourist attraction – a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited natural or cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, offering leisure, adventure and amusement.
A tray – a flat, shallow container with a raised rim, typically used for carrying food and drink, or for holding small items or loose material.
An asset – a useful or valuable thing or person.
An incident – an instance of something happening; an event or occurrence.
Apparently – as far as one knows or can see
Bequeathed – leave (property) to a person or other beneficiary by a will.
Blame SO (for ST) – feel or declare that (someone or something) is responsible for a fault or wrong.
Climb into ST – get into ST
Commit suicide – kill oneself
Coupled with ST – Paired with ST; going together with ST
Eccentric – (of a person or their behaviour) unconventional and slightly strange.
End up (doing ST) – ultimately (do ST)
Fall into a deep depression – become incredibly depressed
Finances – the management of large amounts of money, especially by governments or large companies.
For all intents and purposes – for all practical purposes; virtually
Fundamental – forming a necessary base or core; of central importance.
Gun control laws – laws created in order to limit access to or use of guns
Handcuff SO (to ST) – a pair of lockable linked metal rings for securing a prisoner’s wrists.
Inheritance – a thing that is inherited.
Intellectually disabled – having significant limitations both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem solving) and in adaptive behavior, which covers a range of everyday social and practical skills.
IQ – short for ‘intelligence quotient’.
Kidnap – abduct (someone) and hold them captive, typically to obtain a ransom.
Macabre – disturbing because concerned with or causing a fear of death.
Mandatory – required by law or mandate; compulsory.
On a rampage – in the course of a period of violent and uncontrollable behaviour by a group of people.
Or so – approximately; or thereabouts
Ownership (of ST) – the act, state, or right of possessing something.
Parole – the temporary or permanent release of a prisoner before the expiry of a sentence, on the promise of good behaviour.
Pass away – die
Plead guilty – (of a person charged with an offence) to admit responsibility; confess.
Possession (of ST) – the state of having, owning, or controlling something.
Register ST – enter or record on an official list or directory.
Require – need for a particular purpose.
Restrict – put a limit on; keep under control.
See SO off – say goodbye to SO as they leave
Self-loading – (of a gun) able to place the next round of ammunition in the chamber itself automatically
Set SO on a path to destruction – put SO on track to destroy things, other people, and/or themselves.
Set ST on fire – ignite ST
Sombre – dark or dull in colour or tone.
Stab SO – thrust a knife or other pointed weapon into (someone) so as to wound or kill.
Subnormal – below usual
Switch on to ST – change topics on to ST else.
The scene – an incident of a specified nature.
Tragically – in a way that involves or causes extreme distress or sorrow.
Wave at SO – move one’s hand to and fro in greeting or as a signal.
Withdraw ST – remove or take away (something) from a particular place or position.
Wound SO – injure SO