Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Vale David Dalaithngu

Acclaimed Australian Aboriginal actor, dancer and singer David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu has passed away aged 68. Best known for his prolific screen career as David Gulpilil, and his work in preserving the traditional culture, dances and music of his people (Mandjalpingu clan of the Yolgnu people of Arnhem Land), to bushranger buffs he will be known for his roles in movies such as Mad Dog Morgan, The Proposition and The Tracker. Dalaithngu was fluent in multiple Aboriginal languages and English, and first appeared in the 1971 film Walkabout. In 1987 he became a Member of the Order of Australia, and received many other accolades in his career (including AACTA/AFI awards, Best Actor at Cannes in 2014, and a portrait of him won the 2004 Archibald Prize), which continued into early 2021, when he was the subject of the acclaimed documentary My Name is Gulpilil.

Dalaithgnu was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017, but he continued to act until retiring in 2019. He had many public controversies, particularly around his substance use, which he opened up about in the 2021 documentary, but it is his tremendous work in preserving and continuing the ancient beliefs and practices of his people, as well as his charismatic acting work, that he is remembered for.

Dalaithgnu in one of his earliest roles, as Billy in Mad Dog Morgan.

David Dalaithgnu’s family gave permission for his voice and images to be used to celebrate his life, but stipulated he not be referred to by his professional name, but his true name. For more, visit this link:

Vale David Bradshaw

Veteran Australian film and television actor David Bradshaw has reportedly passed away, aged 74. In his illustrious career he appeared in some of Australia’s most popular films and television shows, such as The Man From Snowy River, Homicide, The Sullivans, and Neighbours. Bushranger enthusiasts will know him best as the brash and bellicose Wild Wright in The Last Outlaw, but may also have seen him in Cash and Company, Robbery Under Arms, Five Mile Creek and Eureka Stockade. Keen-eyed tourist may even have spotted him as one of the police in the animated theatre at Glenrowan.

David Bradshaw. The voice of a god. He played Wilde Write [sic] to my Ned Kelly in 1979. A fight scene took place. He dislocated my shoulder, I broke his ribs… friends for life. Unfortunately he just lost his. Every time he answered the phone he’d say in his deep voice “Darling boy”… Bye for now darling boy.

John Jarratt (via Facebook)
Bradshaw as Wild Wright in The Last Outlaw.

The Thunderbolt Mystery

Shayne and Joanna Cantly announced in early November on social media that their long-awaited documentary The Thunderbolt Mystery is on track for a 2022 release.

It’s official! The Thunderbolt Mystery Doco is to be released in 2022 at the Thunderbolt Festival in Uralla, along side a new book release from Peter Spencer. It’s been a long ride, but we’re finally going to cross the finishing line.

Via Captain Thunderbolt on Facebook

The film will explore the myths about Thunderbolt, including the persistent conspiracy theories around his death.

You can learn more about the project at the official website:

‘You just don’t know who’s going to come forward’: why do police offer rewards?

The Guardian has published an article discussing the rewards that police offer and why they do it. The article makes reference to historical instances such as Ned Kelly and Ivan Milat, and contemporary cases such as Cleo Smith.

The point of reward money is to elicit new information and move investigations forward. Most often, they are deployed at the end of an investigation, when leads are exhausted. The prime target, Dr Goldsworthy said, is usually a “recalcitrant witness” who has never come forward. They may be scared, or simply not want to be involved, and the thinking is the money could push them over the line.

From – ‘You just don’t know who’s going to come forward’: why do police offer rewards?

In relation to the Kelly case, the article refers to the division of the reward money after Ned Kelly’s capture, and particularly the fact that the Aboriginal police – the Queensland native police – were actively prevented from receiving their due portions.

Read the article here:

Grave business: The mission to find fallen police

John Silvester has written a piece for The Age discussing the ongoing research being conducted by retired Inspector Ralph Stavely into historical incidents of police dying in the line of duty. It emerges that due to poor record keeping it will be impossible to name how many police have actually died as a result of their job throughout Victoria’s history. Many of the issues raised in the article also pertain to the many difficulties to be encountered when researching other areas of history – bushrangers for instance.

Stavely’s research has proven important in uncovering some of the forgotten stories from Victoria’s police force, and highlights how different (and dangerous) police work was in the colonial era compared to the modern day.

Stavely says Miller realised the history of the force, including documenting those who had died while performing their duty, had not been recorded. “He had a real passion for the subject and said ‘let’s get the job done’. He committed the resources and opened doors that had been closed.”
After four years of research the project team came up with a list of 129 police killed in the performance of their duty. Now that number has grown to 174, with seven new cases about to be acknowledged.

From – Grave business: The mission to find fallen police by John Silvester

Read the article here:

Archaeology at Port Arthur

An archaeological dig at the site of workshops adjacent to the Port Arthur penitentiary has yielded some fascinating and tantalising insights into convict life at the prison.

A collection of coins from around the 1850s that would be approximately equal to a week’s salary was found secreted, possibly after having been stolen by a convict. Gambling tokens, tobacco pipes and other creations such as iron nails and an anvil were also found.

The dig site in February 2021 [Photographer: Aidan Phelan]

The dig was part of an ongoing exploration and preservation effort that has been rolling out for around a decade, and has provided invaluable insights into life at the settlement that will be reflected in updated displays for visitors.

Additionally, Port Arthur tour guide Tammy Reardon is attempting to identify all of the people buried on Port Arthur’s Isle of the Dead in an effort to preserve the history, in addition to other conservation projects on the island, such as the recently added walkways that will protect the unmarked graves where convicts were buried.

Read about the dig here:

Read about the Isle of the Dead conservation here:


Captain Melville’s Appearance

Frank McCallum, aka Captain Melville, was something of an enigma. Very little is recorded about his life before being transported to Van Diemen’s Land as a child, where he was sent to Point Puer boys’ prison. Even what took place in the time following his arrival in Australia is largely unknown, and this is largely due to McCallum allowing misinformation about his life and exploits to be spread by others (when he wasn’t doing it himself). Many stories of Captain Melville are little more than folklore, if there is any substance to them, such as the story of him bailing up a homestead and making the man of the house’s daughters perform music for him. It was noted by the press of the time that McCallum enjoyed the notoriety that came from accepting responsibility for crimes he did not commit, which further muddies the waters around what he did and did not actually do.

Strangely, even the records of McCallum’s appearance are not consistent, differing on basic points such as scars and hair colour; and the death mask often attributed to him in books is actually of George Melville, one of the McIvor Escort robbers. Thus any image we have of Captain Melville, or impression of his life we are presented with, is mostly a matter of interpretation except where incidents are well recorded (which is extraordinarily rare).

Frank McCallum as he may have looked when bushranging. [Illustration by Aidan Phelan]

Christmas Gift Ideas

It’s that time of year again, and there are plenty of gift options available for the bushranger buffs in your life.

There are many book options available in our own online store (here) including a bundle that combines the entire ETT Kelly Classics collection, including:

The Origin, Career and Destruction of the Kelly Gang by F. Hunter

Originally published in 1894 and one of the rarest of all Kellyana, this has been out of print in any form for over 100 years. Fully illustrated with contemporary engravings and photographs, for the 140th anniversary of the events at Stringybark Creek.

The Kelly Gang or The Outlaws of the Wombat Ranges by G. W. Hall

Produced by George Wilson Hall, the owner of the Mansfield Guardian in 1879. It is the first and rarest book on Ned Kelly, there being only four copies known to exist, with none in private hands. Hall was close to several informants and appears to have exceptional first-hand accounts of Stringybark Creek and other Kelly encounters. This new edition includes rare photographs of the participants from the period.

The True Story of the Kelly Gang of Bushrangers by C. H. Chomley

Published in 1900, this is a highly researched biography of the notorious 19th-century Victorian family of bushrangers. C. H. Chomley wrote the biography using court documents, police records and court evidence. It is recognised as being one of the most accurate depictions of the story of Ned Kelly, particularly regarding the police involvement.

The Girl Who Helped Ned Kelly by C. E. Taylor

Originally serialised in 1929, and out of print for 90 years, the book was written within the life spans of people who knew the Kellys – Taylor even interviewed Ned’s brother Jim prior to writing the book, while Ellen Kelly had died only a few years before it was published. With that in mind, The Girl Who Helped Ned Kelly represents one of, if not the earliest romanticised fiction of Ned Kelly. With original illustrations, introduced by Gabriel Bergmoser.

You can also find a range of original designs in our Redbubble store (such as those shown below), where you can get a whole swag of different bespoke items from t-shirts and hoodies to stickers, mousepads and wall art.

Outside of Australian Bushranging’s merchandise, below are some of the best gift ideas currently available.

DVD and Blu-Ray

Ned Kelly (1970) Blu-Ray

Based on the fascinating true-life story of the 19th-century Australian Armored Bandit, Ned Kelly is a powerful, action-packed adventure that thrillingly captures a bold and lawless era. When their mother is unfairly persecuted by police, Ned Kelly (Jagger) and his brother Dan earn money for her defense by selling homemade liquor. But what begins as a simple moonshine operation quickly escalates into a series of armed robberies, desperate pursuits and deadly confrontations. Soon, Ned finds himself revered throughout the country as a larger-than-life sagebrush hero even as the law closes in and prepares for an all-out war.

Rock superstar Mick Jagger gives a dynamic screen performance in this explosive tale from Academy Award-winning director Tony Richardson

Special Features and Technical Specs:

  • 1080p high-definition transfer by MGM 
  • Audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin (2021)
  • Shooting a Rolling Stone – featurette (2021)
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • LPCM 2.0 Mono 
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Limited Edition slipcase on the first 2000 copies with unique artwork

Available here:

The Last Outlaw DVD

An unmistakable Australian icon – a smoking revolver, two piercing eyes behind a makeshift mask of armour. But beyond the armour, behind the eyes was a man both ruthless and gentle, rugged and kind – the infamous last outlaw, Ned Kelly was his name. Both revered and reviled throughout the ages Ned Kelly (John Jarratt, Wolf Creek) was an Irish-Australian battler-cum-bushranger, fiercely independent and pushed into action by the repressive colonial authorities of the time. From the creative team behind Against The Wind, accurately presented and meticulouslyresearched to the finest detail, The Last Outlaw examines the life of Ned Kelly, and expounds the legend from early indiscretions and the formation of his gang through to the violent killings at Stringy Bark Creek, culminating in his explosive last stand and shoot out at Glenrowan. Also featuring Sigrid Thornton, Steve Bisley, Gerard Kennedy, Julia Blake, Lewis Fitz-Gerald and a throng of first-class Australian talent The Last Outlaw is a remarkable four-part miniseries presentation that deflects historical judgement and allows the legend to live on.

Available here:

Cash & Company and Tandarra DVD Box Set

A true classic of Australian television, Cash & Company captures the essence of the 1850s – a pioneering era where life was lived on the land and gold was ready for the taking. Wanted by the law, likeable bushrangers Sam Cash (Serge Lazareff) and cigar smoking accomplice Joe Brady (Gus Mercurio) are men with purpose and the know-how to stay one sneaky step ahead of the authorities. Aided by trusty cohort Jessica Johnson (Penne Hackforth-Jones), the cunning bushrangers set out to capitalise on the great prosperity surrounding the gold rush. However, challenged to uphold the law, Lieutenant Keogh (Bruce Kerr) is on the case and never far behind the bandits. Featuring all 13 episodes and a Logie Award winner for best new series in 1976, Cash & Company includes a dynamic line-up of guest stars, including Terry Gill, Judith Durham (of The Seekers, performing six songs), Gerard Kennedy, Judy Morris, Michael Pate, Noel Ferrier and Tony Bonner. Driven by a lively theme from the ‘Bushwhackers and Bullockies Bush Band’ and directed by award-winning filmmakers George Miller (The Man from Snowy River) and Simon Wincer (Lonesome Dove), Cash & Company is an action-packed trip back to an era of horses, hold-ups and wild colonial boys. TANDARRA Following the next exciting chapter in the lives of Aussie bushrangers, Tandarra is the lively spin-off of the classic 1850s era television series, Cash & Company. With Sam Cash out of the picture, Joe Brady (Gus Mercurio) is still wanted by the law for his past bushranging exploits. Remaining one sneaky step ahead of the authorities, in particular Lieutenant Keogh (Bruce Kerr), Joe continues to capitalise on the prosperity brought about by the gold rush – aided by his trusty cohort Jessica Johnson (Penne Hackforth-Jones)on her homestead named Tandarra. But this time around Joe has a new concern keeping him looking over his shoulder. He has a mysterious man on his trail named Ryler (Gerard Kennedy, Underbelly), a tough as leather bounty hunter, determined above all to get his man. Including all 13 episodes , Tandarra features an engaging line-up of guest stars, including George Mallaby, Norman Yemm, Terence Donovan, Max Gillies, Briony Behets, Maurie Fields, Val Lehman, Mike Preston, Peter Cummins and Anne Pendlebury. Filmed at the picturesque Emu Bottom homestead in Sunbury, directed by Russell Haig and Simon Wincer (Lonesome Dove), Tandarra continues the exploration of Australia’s rich colonial past with a pounding sense of heart and adventurous spirit.

Available here:

Mad Dog Morgan Blu-Ray

Set in gold rush-era Victoria, and based on a true story, this violent, rollicking portrayal of infamous Irish outlaw Dan Morgan, a bravura performance from an intense Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now) is a classic of Australia’s ’70s cinema renaissance. A prospector who turns to crime and opium after failing at gold mining, Dan Morgan spends six brutal years in prison before terrorising country Victoria with a young Aboriginal, David Gulpilil (Walkabout, The Tracker). Having escaped into NSW, the bush ranger and his accomplice easily dodge the police and mercilessly intimidate the wealthy land owners but wracked by madness and a lust to avenge an earlier attack from an irate squatter, the notorious Mad Dog makes a perilous journey back into Victoria. Combining an all-star Australian cast, including Jack Thompson, Bill Hunter and John Hargreaves, with a brilliant Dennis Hopper who called the role one of his great life experiences – director Philippe Mora (Communion) creates one of the great period action dramas.

Available here:

The Legend Of Ben Hall Blu-Ray

After two years on the road and with the law closing in around him, Ben Hall has gone in hiding and is considering surrender. However, he is drawn back into bushranging by the reappearance of his old friend and gang member, John Gilbert. Reforming the gang with a new recruit John Dunn, the trio soon become the most wanted men in Australian history after a series of robberies that result in the death of two policemen. Ben Hall also struggles to reconcile himself with his estranged son now living with his ex-wife and the man she eloped with many years earlier. When the Government moves to declare the gang outlaws, the gang make plans to flee the colony, but they are sold out by a trusted friend.

Available here:


Bone and Beauty: The Ribbon Boys’ Rebellion of 1830 By J. M. Thompson

October 1830

Rebelling from years of maltreatment and starvation, a band of Ribbon Boys liberate eighty convicts from Bathurst farms and lead them inland towards freedom. Governor Darling, fearing that others would also rise up, sends the 39th Regiment in pursuit. Three bloody battles follow, but to whom will justice be served?

Rich with detail, Bone and Beauty fuses archival evidence and narrative technique to tell the gripping story of the Ribbon Boys and their reputed leader Ralph Entwistle. For the first time, the influence of Irish secret societies, the scale of oppression and corruption, and the complex web of criminal and family relationships behind these events are revealed.

Available here:

Tommy Bell Bushranger Boy Slipcase Books 1 – 4 by Jane Smith

Join Tommy Bell and friends on their time travelling escapades that take them face-to-face with some of Australia’s most notorious bushrangers. Pack includes the first four books: Shoot-out at the Rock (Shortlisted for the 2017 ABIA Children’s Book of the Year Award); The Horse Thief; The Gold Escort Gang and Outback Adventure.

Available here:

Bushranger Tracks II: Beyond the Legends by Gregory Powell

There is more to Australia’s bushranging history than Ned Kelly, Ben Hall and Captain Thunderbolt. Explore and discover the haunts of bushrangers from the Highlands of Tasmania, the Tall Forests and Wheatbelt of Western Australia and the vast Queensland Outback in Bushranger Tracks – Beyond the Legends. Read about Martin Cash, the Wild Scotchman, Moondyne Joe, the Kenniff brothers and many other lesser known bushrangers, as well as the troopers who pursued them, from the colonial past of three states – Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland.

New South Wales and Victoria were not the only places to experience a wild colonial history. With a keen imagination, the historic locations can transport the modern explorer back to the wild days of the early settlements when chains rattled, gold glittered, guns blazed and men and women struggled their way into the pages of our fascinating heritage. Bushranger Tracks – Beyond the Legends, follows on from Greg’s first book Bushranger Tracks (New Holland 2016) and continues his passion for Australian history and in particular, the bushranging era.

Available here:

Moonlite: The Tragic Love Story of Captain Moonlite and the Bloody End of the Bushrangers by Garry Linnell

A gay bushranger with a love of poetry and guns. A grotesque hangman with a passion for flowers and gardening.

A broken young man desperate for love and respect. These men – two of them lovers – are about to bring the era of Australia’s outlaws to a torrid and bloody climax. Moonlite is the true and epic story of George Scott, an Irish-born preacher who becomes, along with Ned Kelly, one of the nation’s most notorious and celebrated criminals.

Charismatic, intelligent and handsome, George Scott was born into a privileged life in famine-wracked Ireland. His family lost its fortune and fled to New Zealand. There, Scott joins the local militia and after recovering from gunshot wounds, sails to Australia.

One night he dons a mask in a small country town, arms himself with a gun and, dubbing himself Captain Moonlite, brazenly robs a bank before staging one of the country’s most audacious jailbreaks. After falling in love with fellow prisoner James Nesbitt, a boyish petty criminal desperately searching for a father figure, Scott finds himself unable to shrug off his criminal past. Pursued and harassed by the police, he stages a dramatic siege and prepares for a final showdown with the law – and a macabre executioner without a nose.

Told at a cracking pace, and based on many of the extensive letters Scott wrote from his death cell, Moonlite is set amid the violent and sexually-repressed era of Australia in the second half of the 19th century.

Available here:

Ned Kelly’s Last Days: Setting the record straight on the death of an outlaw by Alex C. Castles

Australia’s leading legal historian examines the chain of events that occurred between Ned Kelly’s last stand at Glenrowan and the day he faced the public executioner revealing the truth behind the drama, intrigue, and pathos of the death of Australia’s most notorious outlaw.

Ned Kelly – Australia’s beloved national icon – was once just a bushranger who had to be punished for his crimes. In 1880, everyone wanted him dead.

There are many stories that form the Kelly myth. But the side of the story rarely told is what really happened in the 137 days between Ned’s last stand at Glenrowan and the day the hangman’s noose was placed around his neck. Who was with him in his last hours, and why did he have so many powerful enemies? Ned Kelly’s Last Days exposes the blatant cover-ups, the corruption and the rampant press baying for blood that were ultimately Ned Kelly’s death sentence.

Piecing together a vast jigsaw of obscure records and unpublished material, Alex Castles sets the record straight on the highly questionable judicial processes of the time and sheds a whole new light on the life and death of the most famous bushranger of them all.

Available here:

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