Spotlight: The Story of Constable Miles O’Grady

Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 – 1931), Saturday 14 October 1899, page 2




At the top of a street in the ancient gold diggings town of Nerrigundah, N.S.W., stands this monument on a small plot of grass-covered ground, that has been reserved from the pick and shovel of the gold-seeker, although rich claims were worked just a few vards from the monument. It stands opposite the site of the old police barracks, erected after the death of the brave fellow. It is of substantial construction, and is of sandstone, enclosed with iron railings. Its height may be imagined by comparing it with the figure of the present officer of Nerrigundah, Constable Stinson, who stood by the monument as it was being photographed for our artist, who has made a drawing from the photograph.

On the column is inscribed the following, which may be taken as a heading to the short story of Miles O’Grady:

‘Erected by the Government of New South Wales, in honor of Constable Miles O’Grady, who on the 9th April, 1866, while suffering from severe illness. Single-handed attacked Armed bushrangers, and lost his life in the encounter, thus setting a noble example of bravery in the discharge of public duty.’

The town was ‘stuck up’ by the Clark gang of bushrangers, and the news was soon conveyed to O’Grady, who was lying on his bed suffering from low fever. He said, ‘I must do my duty,’ and was soon in his uniform, armed ready for action. In company with Constable Smythe (who till recently has been In charge of the Candelo Police Station, which he left, having retired on a pension, taxing up his residence in Sydney, where his death was chronicled a few months ago), he set out to protect the inhabitants. On reaching the scene where the bushrangers had ‘bailed up’ all the people that had come to that part of the town on business, and had them under guard of one of the gang in the large ballroom of Wallace’s Hotel (for in those days every hotel had its ballroom), the police soon saw that the rest of the gang were busy robbing Pollock’s store, but they could not fire at these for fear of shooting the storekeeper or his wife, who looked on as the bushrangers helped themselves. They fired at the one who was guarding the ballroom door, shooting him dead. The police then went across the street, and the gang ran out of the store and fired a volley, with the result that O’Grady was shot through the stomach. The poor fellow lingered a few hours, but said he was satisfied that he had done his duty. He died like the brave man he was, with his friends around his bed, and his sweetheart holding his hand.

One thought on “Spotlight: The Story of Constable Miles O’Grady

  1. I came upon Nerrigundah years ago and saw the monument . This led me to read up on the bushranging Clark brothers. The brave officer’s first name, Miles, was the nickname given to a prominent homicide Detective I came to know in 2 cases in Sydney in the 1980s-90s. I’ve driven out there again on a later trip down to Mallacoota just to see the old village and reflect on the story. .

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