Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Saturday 16 August 1873, page 3




Written by J. E. Calder.

To the reader of Tasmanian history, the most remarkable passages, after those relating to the capture and extinction of the Native tribes, are those that embody the details of the careers of the most remarkable of the bushrangers, who have at different times held the country, so to speak, in their hands. They stand before us it is true, without any of the artificial adornments with which writers customarily invest the robber heroes of Europe, and with a far less romantic and euphonious designation, than the brigands or banditti of the historical lands I speak of, and with plain vernacular names, that it may be grate too harshly on the ear of the sentimental reader of English narratives. The acts of the bushrangers of the remote and unclassical land of Tasmania, may be hardly readable, when achieved by men bearing such vulgar plebeian names as Michael Howe or Matthew Brady, even though the details of their marauding lives, are a hundred times less revolting than those of the ferocious bands who still infest many of the European states. With rare exceptions they shed no man’s blood, and the two men above named, never in wantonness; and though both of them destroyed life, it was when writhing under strong and not unnatural excitement, created more by the treachery of the victims themselves, than by their own malevolence. That there were amongst the fugitives of Tasmania, men as infamous as the brutal brigands of Europe, is true; such for example as Pearce, Jeffreys and Wheelan; but the majority of them were neither cruel nor very ferocious, nor quite devoid of the better feelings of our nature, of which they often gave proof in practising forbearance, even under circumstances when forbearance could hardly be expected of them, and where persons under less temptation have not always proved too forgiving. The remission of vengeance is always a pleasing act; but in the brigand, who stands himself beyond the line that mercy never crosses, forbearance, such as Brady more than once evinced, must be accounted to be a redeeming quality, particularly in his case, who lived in times when clemency was never shown to men of his kind. Of the disposition of the strangely compounded man there is a clever sketch in Montgomery Martin’s Colonial Magazine for 1840 (a London publication), written by a writer long resident in Tasmania. He thus speaks of Brady at page 412 :- “If he did much injury, he also evinced much forbearance. He never wantonly sacrificed human life, and on no occasion was female delicacy outraged or insulted. This was much from a proscribed outlaw, the possessor of unlimited temporary power, who well knew that no aggravation of crime would enhance his amount of punishment, whenever he fell into the hands of justice,” &c.

Bushranging in Tasmania extended over two protracted periods. The first one began soon after the establishment of the colony in 1804, and only ended with the death of Michael Howe on the 21st October, 1818, when there intervened a period of repose of rather more than five and a half years, during which it was that the occupation of the lands of the country commenced in earnest; for it was not until Howe’s gang was thoroughly rooted out and himself destroyed, that this took place, except in a very limited degree. The plague broke out again in June of 1824, when Matthew Brady and thirteen others escaped from Macquarie Harbour; and this second period never quite died out until the cessation of transportation in 1853, which put a complete end to it; Brady’s bush career lasted not quite two years.

Matthew Brady, but whose proper name was Bready, (so at least he is styled in both Gaol and Ship records), was born at Manchester, just about the close of last century. His occupation in England was that of a gentleman’s servant, probably a groom, as he was an excellent and even a graceful rider, and perfect in his horsemanship.

For some delinquency, he was tried at Lancaster, on the 17th of April, of 1820, and received a seven-year sentence of transportation, and arrived here in the convict ship Juliana, on the 29th of the following December.

As a young man his habits appear to have been more scampish than profligate, and the Reports of his conduct, whether in gaol or on board ship, enumerate a long list of offences committed after his conviction, and conclude with the general statement of his conduct, as bad in one instance, and very bad in the other. But his transgressions do not seem to have been grave ones, mere infractions of discipline in most cases, to which through life he was notoriously inattentive. In Tasmania, his worst misdeeds before taking the bush, were that he twice attempted to escape from the colony as a stowaway on board ship, for one of which it was, that he was sent to the penal settlement of Macquarie Harbour for the unexpired portion of his sentence, about five years, a doom from which, considering the severities customarily practised at those dreadful places of torment, it is not to be wondered at, that he determined to escape, should chance ever offer the means of getting away.

It will be known to most of your readers, that Macquarie Harbour is an extensive inlet of the bleak West coast of Tasmania, the climate of which part of the colony is at least twice as humid as that of the eastern hemisphere of the island. The prevailing winds are from North West round to South West, and after traversing the breadths of the vast Pacific, are mostly so loaded with vapour,that the rainfall all along the western shore-line is very much heavier than elsewhere. This is attributable to the peculiar configuration of the country, which is occupied by very elevated land through nearly all its central length, on either side of which the climates, in so far as moisture is concerned, are very different. This elevated region naturally acts as a screen to the districts of the east, intercepting, and thus warding off, most of the vast volume of vapour that rolls in from the west or stormy quarter. A chilly and humid atmosphere, and the general repulsive aspect of the place, have long conferred on Macquarie Harbour the character of being the most dreary spot within the four shores of Tasmania.

The area of this so-called harbour is about a hundred square miles. It abounds with mud-flats, having deep water passages between them. The outlet of the harbour, called formerly “the Gates,” is so narrow, that the place is not discernible from the sea, or hardly so; and Lieutenant Flinders, when surveying the coast of the island, passed on without discovering that there was any break in the coast line here, which was first ascertained by the late Captain James Kelly, on the 28th December, 1815. It is a bar-mouthed inlet, and the rush of water through the entrance, at every turn of tide, is very great. It is indeed so narrow, that, as I have stood here, I have thought that in my youthful cricketing days I could have thrown the ball across it. The depth on the bar does not exceed eight or ten feet; and to increase the difficulties of entrance, a low rock or two stand nearly within it. It is the estuary of two fine rivers called the King and Gordon, each of which drains a large extent of mountainous and marshy country.

Forests that are intricate beyond conception, and absolutely impervious to unpractised bush travellers, grow round most parts of it, and extend inland for many miles; thus cutting off all hope of successful escape from it in a landward direction; while the chances of getting away by sea (at least to the prisoners who were kept here) were nearly as hopeless, for the gates were not only guarded by military and police, but the pilot, Lucas (a man more dreaded by the convicts than any other) was also stationed as nearly as could be, at this point.

There are two small islands within this harbour, about eighteen miles from the gates, that were used for settlement purposes. The chief establishment was on one called Sarah Island, said to cover about twenty-five acres ; and the lesser one, named Grummet Island, was the receptacle of all the worst characters of the place, that is to say of such as Governmental severity had demoralised and brutified beyond hope of regeneration.

The excessive difficulties of escaping into the distant settled districts from hence, recommended it to our third Governor, Colonel Sorell, as a place of banishment ; and determined him at the close of 1821, to establish one here, and it was, formed accordingly.

Sorell was only the ruler of a dependent province; and his orders for the Government of the place were received from a higher quarter, and he was forced to adopt the disciplinary usages of the parent colony, as New South Wales was then called, and Macquarie Harbour, like Norfolk Island, soon became a place of unmitigated and unbearable torment, and not one of reform.

Reformation by the means in force here fifty years ago, whose tendency was only to deprave, was never affected by them, or very seldom indeed. The late Mr. Lempriere, who for several years filled the post of Chief Commissary at Macquarie Harbour, informs us in his history of this old settlement, that in all his experiences he knew of but one example of it, which may be read of in the second volume of the Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science, &c., at pages 207-8.

To escape from those abodes of misery and despair, was always the predominating idea in the minds of these sufferers: and to compass this the rashest enterprises were often undertaken; and it is recorded in one of the Parliamentary Blue Books of 1838 that of one hundred and sixteen men who absconded from this place in something less than four and a half years from the time of its first establishment, no less than one hundred and one of them came to untimely ends, either by ordinary executions, shooting down by the military and police, drowning, or perishing miserably in the woods. Of this last named class there were seventy-five instances. Of the small remainder nothing is known. They probably died by the spears of the natives.

To this place Matthew Brady was sent, as related above, in 1821. Here as elsewhere he was ever in some scrape or other, and for upwards of two years endured all that was miserable in a convict’s life at Macquarie Harbour.

As the settlement was always badly provisioned it was determined to establish what was called a farm on the mainland opposite to Sarah Island, that vegetables at least might be had, which were much wanted to counteract the evils of constant salt meat diet ; and Brady was one of the farm employés at the time of his escape, which event is thus described by the historian of the settlement, D. A. C. G. Lempriere, who resided there for several years :-

“From this spot, in June, 1824, a party of convicts, which afterwards formed one of the most formidable bands of bushrangers that ever infested Tasmania, made their escape. These men had planned to run away with one of the barges, when the commandant, accompanied by the surgeon, visited the place where they were working.

“It was soon perceived there was something wrong amongst the prisoners ; and the commandant succeeded in reaching the boat, and in pushing off, just before the fellows ran to seize her. The poor doctor was not so fortunate, he was taken prisoner by the gang, who after a kind of council of war, determined to give the doctor, in his own person, an example of the scenes he had so often witnessed-the application of the cat-o’-ninetails. The instrument of torture was in a few minutes prepared, and ready for action. It was in vain, the intended victim attempted to expostulate-it was in vain, that argument in arrest of judgment flowed from his trembling lips ; he was ordered to strip. There appeared no remedy, and he slowly managed to get off his coat, when a deliverer appeared in the shape of Brady, who had been a patient in the hospital, and kindly treated by the doctor , he would not allow him to be touched.

“The men made good their escape in the open boat, though closely pursued by the pilot, Mr. Lucas, a most active and determined man, who during the time he was stationed at Macquarie Harbour, became the terror of the runaways ; for they scarcely ever entertained hopes of escape, when they knew he was pursuing them.”

The runaways, fourteen in number, cleared the heads of Macquarie Harbour on the 9th of June, (two days after the attack on the commandant), and immediately bore away for the shores of the Derwent, under every inch of canvas that their boat could live under. The wind was at W.S.W. at the time, and the sail was close-hauled ; and though the sea ran very high, they dare not relieve her ; for with the fiery and resolute Lucas in sight, and only a few miles astern of them, their capture was certain, had they shortened sail in the least. Both were crack sea boats, and of that class called whaleboats, rigged mostly with a lug sail, and which though dangerous in a high degree under bad management, will live almost anywhere and in any weather if well handled. The runaways were unarmed, and therefore no match for Lucas if he came up with them, for he had soldiers with him, and as his own well-trained crew were also armed, they were forced to run for it at all hazards, or be taken.

Their course was southerly inclining a little to the east until they rounded the South West Cape, which is about a hundred and ten miles from the Gates of Macquarie Harbour, and then easterly and north-easterly for ninety or a hundred more, before they could reach Storm Bay, where they landed after a ten days’ voyage, somewhere on the east coast of that magnificent estuary of the Derwent river.

It is surmised that they escaped from Lucas by landing at night in some one of the nooks of the coast, and that he thus passed them by, still believing that they were ahead of him, and thus he lost their track. Baffled in this manner this excellent servant of the public, who was never known to evade his duty in any manner, and who in long after years sacrificed his life to it, never landed anywhere except at night, until he reached Hobart Town, and apprised the Government of the escape of these desperate fellows. His boat voyage, which began on the same day that the pirates passed through the Gates, 9th of June, terminated on the 18th. The bushrangers were not far behind him, for they entered the Derwent and landed the next day.

Amongst the fourteen runaways was a Scotchman named James Crawford, who it is said formerly held a commission as lieutenant in the Royal Navy, and he commanded the boat expedition, and he is also said to have directed the first shore movements of the party, but from the conduct of Brady at the outrage at the doctor, which he repressed in spite of the others, it is pretty clear that ashore he was one of the leading spirits of the party from the first, for which his daring character, disregard of self in all times of danger, circumspection in attack and retreat, and undoubted natural talents, fitted him.

In Tasmania, Brady’s name is not always mentioned reproachfully. There are many still living who remember his visits to their parents’ homesteads, and their reports of his bearing (leaving his robber practices out of the question), are not very unfavourable, and though it was his constant custom to bind all the inmates of the places he plundered, females and children excepted, he never permitted any more serious outrage to be inflicted on their persons, and it is reported that he had frequent bitter misunderstandings with his men on the subject, who were often inclined to be disorderly, and who he more than once forced to restore such of their plunder as their victims particularly desired to retain, such, for example, as family papers or souvenirs, that had a value in the estimation of their rightful owners, beyond their mere intrinsic worth, and though these forced restitutions gave rise to many quarrels, he was always inexorable. His deportment to females is always named to his credit, and his uniform respectful demeanour in their presence was so well known, that his appearance at any homestead was much less feared by the women than the men. The latter, especially the men servants, never escaped the indignity of being tied up in couples like hounds. If there were no military or police in the neighbourhood of any house that he took possession of, he often held it for a whole day or more, but strove to make his visit as little disagreeable as possible, in the presence of his grim freebooters, and being a man of good address, he seldom failed of partially allaying the fears of the occupants. It is, however, complained of him that he was too fond of fun and practical jesting to have been quite agreeable, and that he too often made all the menials of the household helplessly drunk when he left, which looked like carrying frolic too far. But this conduct, which was mistaken for mischievous fun, was in reality a piece of policy only; for he well knew that it was from the convict class of servants, and hardly any others, that treachery was to be feared, and that they were the men and not their masters, who were in league with the police, and by leaving them hopelessly drunk, he had nothing to fear from them till he was far enough away.

Many of the old bushrangers had the same bad opinion of those men ; and I think it was Dunne, a most notorious bush robber, who, as he was being led captive to Hobart Town, chanced to be marched through a chain-gang working on the roads, who he, in a seemingly subdued state of mind, asked his conductors to permit him to address; and they, thinking he meant only to give them a little seasonable admonition, allowed him to do so; whereupon he commenced his exhortation by charging such of them as had any thought of taking the bush “to shoot every _____ assigned servant where-ever they met them,” as they were the men, he said, who were the real betrayers of all “honest fellows,” meaning thereby persons of his own class.

One or two instances only are cited when Brady’s people were absolutely mischievous; but those were the acts of the most riotous of his followers, Bird, Murphy, and McCabe, whom he sometimes found it impossible to restrain. But acts like theirs were quite at variance with the usual tenor of his bush career. It is indeed said that Colonel Arthur was himself not insensible of this man’s merits, and that he would have saved him when taken at last in compliance with the general wish of the colonists, only that the blood of one man was on his hands. Of this, however, I have no proof, and relate it on hearsay only, hardly, indeed, believing it, as that Governor was not overflowing with clemency to men of Brady’s class, and not very likely to be merciful to any of his people, by one of whom he was once within an ace of being shot himself, as I shall presently relate.

On what point of the shores of the Derwent it was that the bushrangers landed after their voyage from Macquarie Harbour, I have no precise information; but believe it was at Clarence Plains. They were hardly ashore before they began operations on the highway. The first traveller whom they met was a Mr. Patrick Brodie, who they stopped and robbed of what he had about him, Almost directly afterwards, they possessed themselves of firearms and ammunition, which they took from a man in the service of Lieutenant Gunn, who from that moment became one of the most zealous and determined of the pursuers of this party. He chanced to be in Hobart Town at the moment; but directly he heard of this robbery, he started after them with a party, and very soon came on them; and attacking them on the instant, captured five of the four-teen in less than five minutes. This occurred on the 25th of June, or less than a week after their landing. This bad beginning was made still worse,by the voluntary surrender of a sixth. For the above named robberies, and one or two others, the men taken by Gunn, were tried almost directly, were sentenced to die, and died accordingly on the 22nd of July.

Very few acts of bushranging had been committed in the colony since the fall of Michael Howe, nearly six years before this time. The sudden appearance, therefore, of so numerous a horde of freebooters as were now in the field, created great excitement everywhere. But in the midst of all this ferment, the Governor preserved, or pretended to observe, an attitude of perfect tranquility, which the colonists regarded as most unseasonable. The inhabitants of Hobart Town, almost to a man, offered him their services, to be used in any way he might direct in the suppression of these men. But Colonel Arthur, with the characteristic disdain of civilians, too usual with soldiers, politely rejected the offer. He himself was satisfied with stationing a few detachments of military at those points of the interior which these during rovers were the most likely to visit, and to offer a small reward, £10, for the capture of any member of the band.

The spirit of the military in the colony, seems to have been more torpid at this period, than it was in Howe’s time, when nearly everything that was done to crush bushranging was achieved by them. But they now received more than one defeat from Brady; and what was done at this time, in repressing this and other gangs, was more generally the work of the police and civilians, than of the soldiers. Even Lieutenant Gunn, who took the first of them, and who continued the pursuit of them till they disabled him, was not now in the service, having quitted it some years before ; and though he retained his military designation, being on half-pay, he was at present a farmer of the Tea Tree Brush. This gentleman, of whom I shall have more to say presently, was formerly in the Bourbon Regiment, which he joined sometime about the close of the career of Napoleon I., and was placed on the half-pay list shortly after the end of the war, and so remained unattached till his death in 1868. He was a man of gigantic stature, being, he once told me, six feet seven inches high. He was cool and daring in a high degree, and was never known to fail in anything that he undertook, except the destruction of Brady’s band, which about seventeen months afterwards (under very extraordinary circumstances), took his party instead. But this resolute man never gave in himself, till nearly shot to pieces. This was the most dramatic incident of Brady’s career ; and tragical as it was, in so far as Gunn’s fate was concerned, was so full of comic adventure, that it, is strange it has never formed the subject of stage representation, as Howe’s exploits have.

It would unnecessarily extend this paper to relate all the lesser adventures of these depredators. I shall therefore pass over, either with slight notice or none at all, those that are of little interest, or of, which the particulars are imperfect. Brady’s career of outrage, which lasted scarcely two years, comprised, of house and highway robberies, something like three hundred instances, that would require a volume to describe, the most of which are not worth noticing. Of this latter class were several in which his party were engaged, between the dates of their repulsion by Gunn and their attack on the residence of Mr. Robert Taylor, of Valleyfield, where they were also defeated.

This gentleman’s farm house stood on gently rising ground near to the Macquarie River, formerly called the Relief, which is one of the many affluents of the South Esk. The country hereabouts is either open or is lightly-wooded grass land, and the districts that surround it may be be fairly ranked amongst the elite of Tasmanian pastures.

Mr. Taylor was a very elderly person, having passed through more than the allotted years of human life, being seventy-four years old at the time he was called on to resist the onslaught of seven armed bushrangers (to which the party was now reduced), headed by Crawford, who led the attack. There were in the house at the moment, Taylor and his aged wife, two sons, and two daughters, besides several free domestics whom Mr. Taylor had brought from Scotland when he left home.

In the fore part of the day of this assault, 15th July, the bushrangers had robbed the residence of a lady, who is spoken of in the annals of the time as the widow Smith, from which they had removed considerable booty, making prisoners of several of her servants, who they loaded like pack-horses with their plunder, and who they also took along with them to direct their march on Valleyfield, which they meant to assail that night. With this view they pushed forward as rapidly as their heavily laden prisoners could travel, and came in view of Taylor’s cottage just about dusk. In their way thither they fell in with one of Taylor’s sons, a mere youth, who, like one of Jacob’s children, was tending his father’s flock in the wilderness. It was now midwinter, and this young man was heavily clothed against the cutting gales, which are felt chillily enough at this season, particularly in the open country, and to this circumstance it was that he owed his life, from the misdirected fire of a friend, who, in the heat and excitement of the fight, and the duskiness of the long twilight of a Tasmanian evening, mistook him for one of the assailing host. Seeing the advantage of having one of Taylor’s family with them, he was seized and placed in front, with the view of distracting the fire of the garrison, in case the two parties came to blows. Crawford loaded him like the rest; and on his being asked if he thought his father would fight, replied that he was quite sure he would. “Oh, then,” said Crawford, “we will give you the post of honour, so go to the front and let him shoot you first,” and he was forced to march in the van.

Taylor’s family were quietly seated within for the night, all except the young shepherd, who they were, however, expecting home every moment. But the dogs, of which there are always several about a bush homestead, especially in troublous times, were very uneasy, and, though nothing could be seen, it was evident that there was something astir more than usual. Their restlessness excited old Taylor’s suspicions that all was not right, and he went round the premises, but could hear or see nothing. Still the dogs would not lie down, but continued watchful and unquiet, which convinced their master that it was unsafe to disregard the warning of those vigilant sentinels. I have said before that the country hereabouts is open, and Taylor or some one of his household, going out again to see if he could discover the cause of their disturbance, now saw the advancing party approaching, in number about a dozen ; and as several of them carried arms, there remained no doubt of their being on an evil errand. Old Taylor, who, notwithstanding his age, retained much of the energy and fire of youth, now marshalled his sons and servants, and told them that the bushrangers were coming down on Valleyfield, and that he meant to resist them, and asked which of them would stand by him. They all volunteered excepting one man who demurred, saying they would all be killed, and that he would not fight, and then went to the rear of the premises, and oddly enough was the only one who was killed in the fray that followed. Taylor then armed his friends, and put himself at their head to repel the advancing party, if it proved a hostile one, of which he was speedily made sensible by his shepherd son, who called out to him that the place was in danger, and not to fire on him. The father recognised the voice, and guessing that he was a prisoner, forbade his people to fire until they could distinguish friend from foe. A sharp sighted servant led off by letting fly at the bushrangers; on which young Taylor, who had all the pluck and spirit of his aged father, threw off his load, and rushed over to his friends, who received him with a joyous shout of welcome, and the firing became general. The bushrangers were as determined to carry Valleyfield, as the others were to prevent it, and plenty of shots were exchanged between the two parties; but as usual in such cases, when daylight is failing, many were ineffectual. Old Taylor was ably seconded by his people, and owed his own life to the gallantry of the youth, who had just before escaped from the bushrangers, who, seeing one of them levelling his piece at his father threw himself on him, and he succumbed to the stripling, who though no match for him, brought him to the ground by the suddenness of the assault, and the energetic exertion of whatever strength he possessed. This man who he had under him was Crawford. A servant instantly shot the fallen brigand, but not fatally, and his followers rushed to his assistance, but were unable to beat back their adversaries, or even to reach their leader. In the melée, a shot from one of the defenders hit the youth, who was struggling with Crawford. The official account that I am writing from says :- “A servant came to the aid of his young master, and in attempting to shoot his opponent, by some intervention of lamentable fate, he missed his aim, and mortally pierced the beloved object of his zeal.” But in the times I am writing of, newspaper correspondents were not always reliable; and there is one if not two misstatements in this short quotation. The shot, though a dangerous one, was not mortal, and he recovered from it, to die by the hands of a more merciless foe than the bushrangers, namely, the natives, who speared him to death in November of 1826. I believe there is also another grave mistake in this report, but which I am not quite able to correct.

The fight was now going against the attacking force; but notwithstanding this, one or two of them, amongst whom was the sanguinary McCabe, got to the back of the premises, where he found the unfortunate non-combatant John Lowe. Irritated at the desperate resistance that his party had met with, he sent his bayonet through his heart, and the thrust proved instantly mortal.

Crawford and another man named James Bains were made prisoners by the Taylor party, and another bushranger was badly shot, but escaped capture. Brady, who now took the command, drew off the rest of his people, now reduced to five, including the wounded man, who had lost an eye in the fight, but was carried off by the others.

Of Taylor’s party, none were killed but Lowe, and none hurt except the youth who was accidentally shot.

A writer in M. Martin’s Magazine, speaking of this skirmish, says that the ladies in the house “were not idle spectators of the scene in which their father, brothers, and friends were so hotly engaged,” but, like the heroines of Saragosa, “charged the supernumerary firearms of the father and brothers, and evinced the most praiseworthy fortitude.”

As soon as this act of resistance was publicly known, the whole colony rang with the praise of the heroic family who had taught the outlaws such a lesson, and the inhabitants presented the family with a piece of plate in acknowledgment and admiration of their spirited conduct.

The prisoners, Crawford and Bains, were tried at Launceston, and died some time in September following ; but owing to the loose state of the newspaper reports of the time, I cannot say when exactly. The notice, such as it is, of their trial and death will be found in the Gazette of the 24th September, 1824.

The five robbers who escaped now turned to the South, and travelled thitherward quite unobserved, and even passed through Hobart Town itself unnoticed, the head-quarters of the Government, where Colonel Arthur had his official residence. In less than six weeks after the attack on Valleyfield, Brady was plundering the settlers of the valley of Brown’s River, about ten miles south of Hobart Town. He even extended his visit a dozen miles further down, namely, to Oyster Cove, the future and last residence of the captive natives, where he robbed the establishment of Mr. David Wedge. He then returned to Hobart Town, which he actually entered a second time on the night of the 23rd of August, and slept there with all his people under the very noses of the military and police. Whatever the authorities could have been thinking about to suffer such a gang to pass between their legs twice in less than ten days unperceived, and even unsuspected, is unaccountable. Nor were these the only times that Brady and his riotous followers slept in Hobart Town, in contempt of the Government. The police report, published in the Gazette, of 27th August, 1824, speaking of their present movements says :- “The banditti were on a hill within three minutes’ walk of the police office at eight o’clock in the evening.” With singular audacity they entered and slept in the hut of a Government overseer named Chandler, not nearly a mile from the police station, and only quitted town next morning ; and having seized two men from the street to act as guides, they pushed on for the settlement called the Black Snake, about ten miles north-westerly of Hobart Town. Here they dismissed their guides, and went to their usual work directly, attacking the farm houses, and plundering their owners all round of their cash, ammunition, and provisions ; while the Hobart Town police were all astir to take them alive or dead, as they returned from Brown’s River, where it was thought they were still concealed.

Before the many robberies which they had committed amongst the terror-struck farmers of the Black Snake were known to the Government, the light-footed marauders were off again, and were next heard of in the neighbourhood of the river called the Plenty – a well known affluent of the Derwent, which, as we all know, has in recent years obtained attention as the scene of an experiment for the propagation of the English salmon. This stream is about thirty miles from Hobart Town; and here Brady and his wearied followers established themselves on the last day of August.

[To be continued].


Leave a Reply