Ned Kelly in the News



Ben Hall's Death

the death of bushranger Ben Hall
"Don't let the traps take me alive."
Ben Hall did most of his bushranging in New South Wales, where he was known as 'Brave Ben Hall'.

Between1863 to 1865, Ben Hall and his gang are thought to have conducted over 100 robberies, including the robberies of 21 towns and many coaches.  Due to the amount of hold ups on their coaches the Cobb and Co. coaches published in their timetable the phrase: "Ben Hall permitting".

By May 1865, Ben Hall planned to leave New South Wales. He was betrayed by a man who had previously given him assistance and the police were prepared to catch him.  The illustration above shows his ambush by eight armed policemen at dawn on 5 May, 1865 at Billabong Creek near Forbes.  Ben Hall did not fire a shot and was shot 30 times and killed. It is said that while he was lying wounded he turned to Billy Dargin and said "Shoot me dead Billy! Don't let the traps take me alive."

More information on Ben Hall:
Timeline of Ben Hall's Life
His early life


Bushranging in Tasmania

Tasmanian convict uniorm
Studio photograph of old William Thompson
a Tasmanian convict
wearing convict uniform and leg irons
Bushranging began in Tasmania in the early years of settlement, when near starvation meant convicts were sent into the bush to hunt. Some remained there, living by stealing from or trading with settlers. Their numbers grew as more convicts escaped, and until the 1850s there were many bushrangers. Attempts made to suppress them included a proclamation in May 1814 promising a pardon if they came in by December. Thus they could continue their depredations without fear of punishment for six months, after which many came in; some later returned to the bush.
Read more of Robert Minchin's article at the companion to Tasmanian History.


What did bushrangers eat?

Australian pioneer settler's hut
Pioneer settler's home in the Australian bush

What a bushranger ate, when they were in the bush, would depend upon many factors:

  • what part of the country they were in
  • their own bush survival skills
  • if they were actively on the run from the authorities
  • if they knew free settlers who would support them
Many bushrangers hunted wild rabbits and native animals such as duck, pigeons and kangaroos and if they were near an ocean or river they would try and catch fish or eels.
When bushrangers were being hunted by police and trackers it would have been difficult to stop and cook food over a fire.
Some bushrangers stole provisions owned by the settlers or travellers or store owners if they were near a town, helping themselves to salted meats, potatoes, onions and flour.
Some were supported by free settlers who had been convicts and were sympathetic to the bushrangers hatred of authority.  

Bushrangers may have known about native plants that they could eat such as stinging nettle, prickly pear and tea tree but this is not documented.


The call of the Australian Bush 1880

vintage photo
1880 Northern Queensland Australia
Travelling through the bush in the Cooktown District

The road is rough - but to my feet
Softer than is the city street;
And then the trees! - how beautiful
She-oak and gum - how fresh and cool!
From The Call of the Bush by Dora Wilcox,
born Mary Theodora Joyce Wilcox (1873-1953) poet and playwright.


A bush home in Australia in 1895

The first settlers endured the inclement climate and the harshness of the bush as they went forth into the forest with the manly determination to reclaim the wilderness and to make themselves a home in its previously unbroken solitudes. To do this, has involved no small amount of courage, of patient endurance, of steadfast hope, of physical strength and of pertinacious toil.  Picturesque Atlas of Australasia: published in 1886.

It's hard to tell from this photo, due to the fence, whether it is a fully wooden construction called a bark hut or a slab hut or a wattle and daub home.

Bark Hut
A hut almost entirely made from the stringy bark tree which was chosen because of its straight grain. The bark was stripped and cured before being used to create the walls.

Slab Hut
A hut made from slabs of split or sawn timber, often in a vertical construction. Timber was split along the grain and used green not seasoned.

Wattle and daub
The wattle is the horizontal weaving of thin branches between vertical stakes.
Daub is the binding ingredient usually made of clay in Australia mixed with wet soil, or sand, animal dung and straw.


The Ballad of Ben Hall's Gang

Come all ye wild colonials And listen to my tale;
A story of bushrangers' deeds I will to you unveil.
'Tis of those gallant heroes, Game fighters one and all;
And we'll sit and sing, Long Live the King,
Dunn,Gilbert, and Ben Hall.

Ben Hall he was a squatter bloke Who owned a thousand head;
A peaceful man he was until Arrested by Sir Fred.
His home burned down, his wife cleared out,
His cattle perished all;
"They'll not take me a second time,'
Says valiant Ben Hall.

John Gilbert was a flash cove, And John O'Meally too;
With Ben and Bourke and Johnny Vane
They all were comrades true.
They rode into Canowindra And gave a public ball.
'Roll up, roll up, and have a spree,'
Says Gilbert and Ben Hall.

They took possession of the town, Including the public-houses,
And treated all the cockatoos And shouted for their spouses.
They danced with all the pretty girls And held a carnival.
'We don't hurt them who don't hurt us,'
Says Gilbert and Ben Hall.

They made a raid on Bathurst, The pace was getting hot;
But Johnny Vane surrendered After Micky Burke was shot,
O'Meally at Goimbla Did like a hero fall;
'The game is getting lively,'
Says John Gilbert and Ben Hall.

Then Gilbert took a holiday, Ben Hall got new recruits;
The Old Man and Dunleavy Shared in the plunder's fruits.
Dunleavy he surrendered And they jagged the Old Man tall -
So Johnny Gilbert came again
To help his mate Ben Hall.

John Dunn he was a jockey bloke, A-riding all the winners,
Until he joined Hall's gang to rob The publicans and sinners;
And many a time the Royal Mail Bailed up at John Dunn's call.
A thousand pounds is on their heads -
Dunn, Gilbert, and Ben Hall.

'Next week we'll visit Goulburn And clean the banks out there;
So if you see the troopers, Just tell them to beware;
Some day to Sydney city We mean to pay a call,
And we'll take the whole damn country,'
Says Dunn, Gilbert, and Ben Hall. 


Bushranger's quote - Matthew Brady

Matthew Brady, the bushranger.

"A bushranger's life is wretched and miserable. There is a constant fear of capture and the least noise in the bush is startling. There is no peace day or night." Matthew Brady Tasmanian bushranger, (1799 - 1826)

Read more about this "gentleman" bushranger.


Benjamin Hall, bushranger - a timeline

Ben Hall bushranger
Wood carving of Benjamin Hall (1837-1865)
  • 9 May 1837 Benjamin Hall  was born at Maitland, New South Wales. His father was also named Benjamin Hall and his mother was Elizabeth Somers.  Both of his parents were ex-convicts. Read more about his early life.
  • became a stockman. 
  • 29 February 1856  married Bridget Walsh.
  • 7 August 1859 their son Henry was born.
  • July 1856 detained for his share in the Eugowra gold robbery.  
  • 1860 leased a run, Sandy Creek, near Wheogo with John Macguire. 
  • April 1862 arrested for armed robbery with Frank Gardiner but was acquitted. 
  • 15 June 1862 robbed the gold escort coach at Eugowra Rocks with 7 others including Frank Gardiner, John Gilbert and John O'Meally. It was the biggest gold robbery in Australian history.
  • 14 March 1863 Hall's home was burnt down. 
  • Hall joined  became leader of the gang of bushrangers when Frank Gardiner left for Queensland.
  • 12 October 1863 held the entire town of Canowindra for ransom for 3 days.
  • October 1863 daring raid on the town of Bathurst.
  • 24 October, 1863  raid on Henry Keightley's homestead at Dunn's Plains.
  • 1864 conducted robberies on the Sydney-Melbourne Road south of Goulburn
  • 15 November 1864  robbed sixty travellers near Jugiong
  • May, 1865 Hall and his companions were declared outlaws 
  • £1000 on his head
  • Hall decides to quit bushranging
  • 5 May, 1865 he was ambushed and shot by the police near Goobang Creek in New South Wales
  • 7 May 1865 buried at Forbes Cemetery

Sydney Mail, Newspaper - 30 July, 20 Aug 1864 and 20 May 1865
Australian Stories by the Australian Government
Eugowra Historical Museum and Bushranger Centre


Mystery of Dan Kelly

public domain image of Dan Kelly outlaw
Wood engraving of Dan Kelly
 published in The illustrated Australian news, November 28, 1878.

Dan Kelly, younger brother of Ned Kelly and one of the Kelly gang, is said to have died in the Glenrowan Inn fire of June 28,1880 as a 19-year-old. But when a man, who lived his life under the assumed name of James Ryan, walked into the Brisbane offices of the Sunday Truth in 1933 claiming to be the real life Dan Kelly, it unleashed questions that have remained unanswered to this day.
Read the full story at The Queensland Times.

Read the Demise of the Kelly Gang


Family group in front of rough bush dwelling

This is a slab hut construction with a bark roof. A slab hut is made from slabs of split or sawn timber, often, in Australia, in a vertical construction. Timber was split along the grain and used green not seasoned.

Linked to Oh My Heartsie Reviews, Twinkle in the Eye, Today in History...on your site


Goldmining @ 1869

public domain image
Queensland, Australia.

This photograph was taken by Richard Daintree, geologist and photographer, who was born in 1832 in  England. In 1852 he joined the gold rush to Victoria, Australia.  Unsuccessful as a prospector he became assistant geologist in the Victorian Geological Survey until 1856. He rejoined the Geological Survey in 1859  pioneering the use of photography in field-work. In 1864 he became a resident partner with William Hann in pastoral properties in the Burdekin country of North Queensland. There he was able to indulge his passions for both photography and prospecting. When the pastoral boom collapsed he used his knowledge to open up goldfields at Cape River (1867), Gilbert (1869) and Etheridge in 1869-70. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.


1851 - Edward Hargraves discovers gold in Bathurst, NSW and the 'Gold Rush' begins.1851 - Gold was discovered in Bendigo, Victoria. 

1859 - Queensland made a colony.
1865 - Cape River goldfield in North Queensland discovered by Richard Daintree.
1869 - Convicts no longer sent to Australia.
1893 - Gold discovered in Western Australia.
The discovery of gold in Australia saw a rise in bushranging activity. This was because gold was being transported from the gold fields to the cities leaving the transportation open to highway robbery and gold nuggets were small for their worth and relatively easy to sell once stolen and unlike jewellery or money could not easily be identified.


    1873 photo of Bank of NSW in Warwick

    vintage photo of Bank of NSW in Warwick Queenslad
    Photographer: William Boag

    This building was erected by the Bank of NSW in Palmerin Street, Warwick opposite the Warwick Dispensary in 1871 and opened for business in February 1872.

    In 1842 Governor Gipps declared that 'all settlers and other free persons shall be at liberty to proceed to the Darling Downs in like manner as to any other part of the Colony.' Warwick was the first town on the Darling Downs established on the banks of the Condamine River. The Leslie brothers first settled in the area as squatters and in 1847 the NSW government asked them to select a site for a township. The local Aborigines called the area as Gooragooby, it was going to be called Canningtown but the name Warwick was chosen.
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...