Russell Street Bombing

On 27 March 1986, an explosion rocked the Russell Street Police Headquarters and shattered glass in buildings a block away. One person died and 21 were injured in what was described as a ‘revenge attack' on Melbourne police.

While terrorism has been of international significance since the events of 9/11, in 1986, Australians were unfamiliar with the concept of explosions or terrorist attacks on their own soil. At 1.00pm in downtown Melbourne, Australia had a shock awakening.

The first explosion came from a parked car, which had been loaded with 50 to 60 sticks of gelignite – enough to wipe out all the windows in the front of the building and set off a series of petrol tank explosions in nearby cars. A policeman who was on duty that day, reported that:

The court was still sitting and we just heard an almighty bang. I raced outside and it was just a scene of carnage – there was a car on fire, there was glass everywhere, rubber all over the place and people were running and screaming. It was like nothing else I've ever experienced.

– Sergeant Yeoman

The Age, 25 March 2006.

Newspapers often use quotes from eyewitness accounts to bring a story to life. Primary sources like newspapers are excellent places to find quotes from people who actually saw the events you're writing about.

The blast could be heard throughout the city and the smoke was seen by people several blocks away.

Constable Angela Taylor was crossing the street to get lunch when a nearby car exploded, sending a huge fireball towards her. She survived the blast but her burns were extensive and she died 24 days later. She was the first Australian policewoman to be killed in the line of duty.

19-year-old Constable Carl Donadio was also crossing Russell Street to buy lunch. He was on the other side of the exploding vehicle, which sent a hail of shrapnel in his direction. He was thrown 15 metres across the road by the force of the explosion. He was severely injured but survived and remained in the police force for another 15 years.

The explosion was a ‘revenge attack' on the police force by two ‘career' criminals who were eventually caught and tried for the offence. Stanley Taylor and Craig Minogue were convicted of the murder of Angela Taylor and related crimes, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Photograph of the Russell St police headquarters.
Newspaper article describing the events of the Russell Street bombing.
Firefighters deal with fire and smoke from the Russell Street bombing.
Eyewitness accounts of the Russell Street bombing.