When Melbourne Went Mad

Most cops are on strike. The few loyalist police left on duty risk life and limb because tens of thousands of citizens are crowding the streets and the mood is turning darker as fists and bottles fly. When the last cops defect or retreat just after dark, rioters become looters and the city becomes a war zone. With blood flowing in the streets, politicians summon a militia and order the military to protect the city. But this isn’t Berlin or Moscow. It’s Melbourne, November 1923, and Australia’s sophisticated southern metropolis is descending into anarchy.

Specials - medium shot

Specials were often former soldiers. Each was given an armband and a baton.


Former members of the Light Horse were summoned to Melbourne to act as mounted Specials.


Outside the Leviathan clothing store, on the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets, sailors fought with the crowd. The consequences were tragic.

Flinders & Swanston Street

100,000 people poured into Melbourne to witness for themselves the carnage wrought by the riots.

Specials in car

Specials roamed in motor vehicles, busting up crowds with their batons.

Shopkeepers Spent Late Saturday Night Repairing Damage and Barricading

By Sunday shopkeepers were cleaning up damage and barricading their storefronts.

The Herald - The Mob In Charge

The mob stormed trams and tried to set one on fire.

Melbourne's Streets Were Jammed

100,000 people flooded into the centre of Melbourne.

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