Spotlight: LATEST EXPLOIT OF “DIDO,” THE BUSHRANGER

People’s Advocate and New South Wales Vindicator (Sydney, NSW : 1848-1856), Saturday 3 November 1855, page 6


LATEST EXPLOIT OF “DIDO,” THE BUSHRANGER.

On Friday, as one of Mr. Gunn’s shepherds, best known by the name of “Old Swede,” was following his sheep in the vicinity of the bullocks’ hunting ground, seeing a smoke in a thick scrub, entered it, and found Dido and his mate cooking the hind quarters of a fine lamb. “Old Swede” is said to have nearly as much affection for the sheep and lambs he has charge of as if they were his children : so he began to blow the thieves up, and threatened them with his vengeance. They very coolly tied his hands behind him, and fastened him to a log while they dined. After dinner they loosed him, gave him something to eat, and told him to inform his master that they could recommend his lamb as an excellent article when roasted : flung the forequarters and the skin into the bush, saying they could soon shoot another when they wanted it. They then started with “Old Swede,” robbed his hut and went down to the hut of two of Mr. Gunn’s sawyers, near the St. Patrick’s River, where they arrived at about 9 o’clock. Newman, one of the sawyers, hearing his dog growl, was in the act of taking down his gun when Dido kicked, the door opened, and levelling his ordered him to stand, and put his hands down or he would blow his head off. He then directed him to tie his mate’s hands ; when that was done, he made his own companion tie Newman’s. They searched the place thoroughly ; taking every trifling article likely to he of use to them. Dido remaining most of the time on guard outside the door. About 4 o’clock on Saturday morning he collected all the articles he had picked up at both huts, and divided them into three lots. From the sawyers he took about seventy pounds of flour; four pounds of tobacco, a quantity of tea, sugar, &c. He ordered each of them to take one of the lots ; Newman the flour, as he was the ablest man ; Newman’s mate had accidentally cut this foot with an axe the day before, and pleaded hard to be exempted on that account; but Dido swore if he had only half a foot he must tramp it.

They started at last, Dido leading, the three sumpter men following in Indian file, and King, bringing up the rear. About half a mile from the hut, Dido inquired if any of them knew of a bridge thereabouts. They replied that they did not. “Well, I’ll show you a first rate one,” said he ; but it requires a light footed fellow to cross it.” A little further on, where the river is about sixty feet wide, he showed them a place where a fallen tree lies across. None of the men dare attempt to go over with the loads so Dido, rather swearing at them for being such lubbers, told King to tie their hands behind while he took the loads across. This he affected in a few minutes, showing himself as sure-footed as a cat. He then called out to King to “let the men loose to come over, one at a time.” The sawyers got over pretty safely, but poor “Old Swede” tumbled off the log, got a ducking, and was very near being swept away with the current. He, however, scrambled up again, and got over. After proceeding some distance further, Dido halted, and told them, they might light a fire, and he would let them have some tea, after which they must walk ahead until twelve o’clock, when, “if they were civil, he would allow them to turn back ; if they grumbled, and didn’t like the arrangement, he would make them go a —— sight further.”

As soon as they had tea, they all started again, up the tiers next Ben Lomond : at many places they could scarcely reach high enough to put the loads up on the ledges of rocks they met in their ascent. As they had walked quick considering their burdens, Dido gave them permission to return, when he got on what he termed “his own ground.” He sent a rather insulting message by Newman to the “traps” — and “defied the whole body of them ; to take Dido on his own ground. He said, with the aid of his telesoope, he could see them from the teirs walking in the streets of Launceston; and the parties sent out in search of him couldn’t make a cup of tea in the bush without letting him know their whereabouts by the smoke. He said nothing about his party being six in number. From the sawyers he took a gun, a watch, and many other articles — valuable to them, poor fellows. He has two very sagacious dogs with him, they never bark, but when a suspicious sound or scent disturbs them, they rub their cold noses against the hand or face of their masters, to arouse them to their danger.

As we said when lately alluding to the efforts to capture this bushranger, there is no likelihood of effecting it by sending a few constables with one or two day’s provisions, without shelter, into a barren country, to return halfstarved on the third or fourth day. To make one effective expedition of it, send out six active, well armed men. Give them a light tent, and a good stock of portable provisions : one or two of the men could act as messengers to and from Launceston, in case supplies ran short, or an accident happened to any of the party : let them remain on the tiers for a month, and by that time, if not captured, he will be driven to some other part of the country, where he cannot carry on his depredations with such impunity. It is supposed that Mr. R. C. Gunn loses at least a sheep daily, and sometimes two, to support Dido, King, and their dogs.

This man has now been at large for some months, committing depredations far and wide. A few parties of constables have been sent out after him : but not in at all an effective manner. After three or four days’ fruitless search they have returned halfstarved and knocked up. At present Dido’s robberies have been confined to shepherd’s huts and cottages, and we confidently predict that so long as he confines himself to such small game, no great effort will be made by the Government to stop his reckless career. Let him rifle two or three large settlers’ houses, and we shall have placards announcing tempting rewards for his capture, and properly equipped bodies of men will be sent put after him. But who cares for a shepherd’s hut being robbed ? The fact of this man’s having what he calls “his own ground” is a disgrace to the police authorities.

— Tasmania Daily News Oct, 12.

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