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Deadly swim on New Year's Day

With the first day of the 1891 new year came unrelenting hot weather. So much so that many residents of the NSW town of Casino sought out one of the popular bathing areas on the river. Among these were sisters Bridget and Maria Farrell and their friend Alice Lusted.

As the girls cooled off in the refreshing waters of the Richmond River, Bridget suddenly slipped into deeper water. She called out to her sister for help and both Maria and Alice raced in to help her. Sadly, all three got into trouble.

Bridget Farrell's grave in Casino cemetery. Courtesy Findagrave

As Maria sank into the deep waters for the second time, she managed to find the ledge of a rock, which she scrambled up and remained there, waist deep in water, until she was rescued.

The screams of the young women were heard by William Weary who rushed to where they were and saw Alice floating face down in the water. He quickly extracted her from the water. She eventually came to.

The same could not be said for Bridget, who sank under the waters and wasn't seen again until her body was recovered two hours later. An inquest into the drowning ruled accidental death.

William, a 48-year-old farmer from Deep Creek received an award for his bravery from the Royal Humane Society for rescuing the two young women.

The tragedy for the Farrell family didn't end there. Bridget's headstone includes the name of Mary Agnes Farrell who died in 1904 at the age of 21 years. She had suffered from a severe bout of appendicitis. Previously, she had been housekeeping for the Catholic Lismore Bishop Doyle.

Closer view of Bridget and Mary's grave in Casino cemetery. Photo: Samantha Elley


  • 'Sad fatality at Casino', Clarence and Richmond Examiner, Saturday 3 January, 1891, Page 5

  • 'Lines from RR', The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser, Friday 9 January, 1891, Page 4

  • 'Sad Death', The Richmond River Express and Tweed Advertiser, Friday 18 November 1904, Page 4

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