I had a strange experience yesterday. Legendary psychiatrist Carl Jung might have described it as “synchronicity” – when seemingly unrelated events coincide in improbable ways that have some sort of significance for you.

Jung believed synchronicities were evidence of a unifying consciousness at play in the universe.

I’m a layman, so I just thought it was a bit freaky.

I was posting a photo on my Ruby & Peggy Instagram page and trying to guess why the girl in the picture was waving a flag.

My nan (the cute little freckled girl in the pic) wasn’t very helpful. Her caption on the back of the photo said “Me”.

So I did a quick Google of royal visits to the Hunter Valley and found an article about the Prince of Wales visiting Australia on behalf of his father King George V in 1920. The visit was to thank the Australian people for the sacrifices and contributions made during the First World War. The Prince visited many cities and towns across Australia and his popularity grew to the point that he became known as the ‘digger prince’.

Then I stumbled across a small item in a copy of the Cessnock Bugle from 1920 that mentioned the Prince popping into East Maitland on his travels.

Just “the Prince” mind you, like there was only one in the world.

So I decided to pretend that’s why my nan was all dressed up with an unknown girl was waving the Union Jack.

I started reading some of the other items on the newspaper page and I was fascinated.

A remarkably high price had been paid for a pig, there was contention over the price of milk and imported sacks … and there was a brief mention of “The Man-Woman”.

It noted a “Man-Woman” was appearing in court charged with murder and that the court room was crowded with people keen to get a glimpse of the accused.

My curiosity was piqued. More Googling followed.

I discovered that a person called Harry Crawford was arrested in 1920 on suspicion of murdering his wife, Annie Birkett. Crawford was ordered to be held in prison until he faced court and there was an uproar when he requested to be held in a cell for women.

It turned out Crawford had been born female, as Eugenia Falleni, in Italy in 1875. The eldest of 22 children, she was often punished for dressing in boys’ clothes. In her teens, she ran away to be a ‘cabin boy’ on a ship.

Terrible things happened on the ship when the captain discovered her secret but I won’t go into those right now.

Falleni renamed herself Henry Crawford upon settling in Australia.

At age 39, Crawford married Annie Birkett, who believed he was a biological male.

It appears that when Crawford’s secret was discovered, they fought and Birkett either accidentally fell and hit her head and died or was murdered, depending on which side of the fence you sit on.

Crawford told Birkett’s son she had run off with another man, but the son became suspicious and went to the police.

The case of The Man-Woman Murderess quickly went international.

Crawford’s solicitors argued the Crown had no proof that a burnt body that had been found in the bush at Lane Cove was that of Annie Birkett and the evidence against their client was circumstantial; hence it could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt that he had committed murder.

But Crawford was found guilty and sent to the Long Bay Women’s Reformatory and lived as a woman until being granted early release on the condition that he remained living as a woman.

I found the story disturbing on so many levels. Why has gender been so contentious throughout our history? Why did it matter so much whether Crawford lived as a man or a woman after leaving jail?

I was also shocked to discover that Mark Tedeschi had written a book about the case in 2013, called Eugenia.

Tedeschi was the Crown Prosecutor in Kathleen Folbigg’s case and secured her convictions.

In his book Tedeschi said he believed that Falleni/Crawford was wrongly convicted on the basis of “fallacious scientific evidence, unreliable sighting witnesses, dubious police practice and an avalanche of prejudicial publicity”.

You can imagine how much my eyes widened when I read those words.

The irony.

Kathleen is still locked in a prison cell, despite the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions conceding there is ‘reasonable doubt’ in her case.

It was her 20th anniversary of incarceration this month.


As for the rabbit hole my research sent me down, I am constantly fascinated by the mysterious ways in which my universe works.

And now I know there’s a fancy word for it: synchronicity.

One thought on “Synchronicity

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: