Spotlight: Thunderbolt’s Wife

Grenfell Record and Lachlan District Advertiser (NSW : 1876 – 1951), Thursday 13 October 1927, page 5


In the early seventies of last century (writes ‘Hawkeye’ in the ‘Northern Champion,’ Taree) a young Manning River man had to drive a spring cart from Raymond Terrace to Manning River. Some distance on his way towards Stroud he saw a woman on foot ahead carrying a child. When he caught up and offered her a lift, he found it was the wife of Frederick Ward, who had been down to see him in gaol. With a brave heart she had set out to walk to the Stroud country, where her home was. As they went along, she told the driver odd items of Thunderbolt’s history — and, of course, he was always more sinned against than sinning. That is always the way — and people believe it, sure. Mrs. Ward gave the driver certain bush-Masonic signs and information to be used if he were ever overtaken by her captain. Over hill and dale the long day wore on. Suddenly a man appeared ahead, driving tandem toward them. The lady shouted to him, and then passed her child to our hero, without so much as ‘By your leave.’ Springing from the cart she followed the other vehicle some distance, and conversed with the driver. “He’s not a bad sort,’ and she flashed a bundle of 25 notes he had given her. There is no doubt it was a case of ‘saving the stock on the station’ by helping the bushranger’s wife, and Mackay understood quite well. Many miles farther on the strong, self-reliant woman left, thanking the man with the spring cart, and waving her hand as she left the main road for tracks across hills that only the initiated knew. The driver assured me he had occasion to use the secret code some years after, and found her instructions true in every particular. The flight of time, and the glamor of romance, have surrounded those tribesmen, but, taken all in all, bushranging was a wretched life, and a passing phase of history that can never come again.

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