Spotlight: Bushranging on the Lower Murrumbidgee

The Bluecap Gang was one of the many gangs of bushrangers that developed a reputation as infamous brigands of the bush while committing very little in the way of high-end robberies. The gang was prone to stealing merely what they needed – usually clothing and horses – and then moving along. Their apparent ineptitude was only rivaled by that of the police in pursuit of them who were ill-equipped for bush work. An excellent illustration of the gang’s modus operandi is shown in this article from 27 August 1867.

BUSHRANGING ON THE LOWER MURRUMBIDGEE.

The bushrangers “Blue Cap” and his two companions have within the last week committed several additional robberies on the Lower Murrumbidgee, but in none of them have they, we rejoice to say, acquired much booty. On Saturday last, they made their appearance at Mr. Gordon’s, Barrellan Station, and as only one man happened to be about the place at the time, and they were all well armed, one of their number carrying no loss than four revolvers, resistance was out of the question. Though they did not know any of the station horses by sight, they were very accurately informed of the condition, stamp, and even names of many of the best of them, and had evidently obtained their information from someone possessing some knowledge of the place. One valuable horse, belonging to Mr. Gordon himself, and another to one of the men, they selected and appropriated, and they then went into the store and helped themselves to some tea, sugar, and a pair of boots, the pair worn by one of their number being in rather a dilapidated condition. On Monday they stuck up the station of Messrs. Waller and Gorton, and robbed the former gentleman of his watch.

On Tuesday, near Benerembah, about fifty-two miles on the Hay side of Narandera, they stopped the mail, which was driven by David Roach, then coming up on his last trip. The only other person in the cart was a man named Kerr, who succeeds Roach as driver. The bushrangers ordered Roach to drive off the road into the bush, and when they thought themselves sufficiently removed to be secure from the observation of chance passengers, they made him pull up, and then proceeded to rifle the bags. They opened all the letters, but fortunately did not find money in any of them, with the exception, of one cheque for £10, which had been sent in payment for some postage stamps, and which, as it was worthless to them, they did not take. After searching all the letters they left everything with the mailman but one Victorian Police Gazette, which one of them carried off. They did not search or attempt to rob Roach or his companions, and as they were riding away, the former remarked to one of them that the road they were taking was a very wet one. He replied that it would not much matter, as they soon expected to have some hot work. After sticking up the mail they fell in with a Chinaman, and ordered him to unstrap his swag. This John refused to do, and for some time clung to his property, but on the production of a revolver gave it up. The swag was then cut open, but nothing of value was found therein, and the Chinaman was then allowed to proceed. Those scoundrels are all now splendidly mounted, and as they know the country well, it is to be feared that the police will experience great difficulty in hunting them down. Both the Cootamundry and Narandera police are now understood to be upon their track. According to the Hay correspondent of the Deniliquin Chronicle, the same men, on the 7th instant, stuck-up Mr. Pigot, a hawker, travelling with goods in teams, who gave information to the police at Hay that he had been stuck-up by three armed bushrangers on Groongal. They helped themselves to what clothing and other articles they desired, and obligingly informed the robbed man that they were doing remarkably well, and intended shortly to visit the township of Hay and stick-up the Joint Stock Bank. The same men stuck-up Bringagee and Groongal (Messrs. Learmonth’s), and Howlong (Mr. Rudd’s) stations.

Whilst engaged at Groongal, the steamer Providence was close by, and the vessel is said to have had about it no less than thirty persons.


Source:

“NEW SOUTH WALES.” The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) 27 August 1867: 3.

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