John Gilbert was a bushranger of terrible renown for sticking lots of people up, and shooting others down. John Gilbert said unto his pals, “Although they make a bobbery about our tricks, we’ve never done a tip-top thing in robbery. We’ve all of us a fancy for experiments in pillage; but never have we seized a town, or even sacked a village.” Continue reading Spotlight: The Diverting History of John Gilbert (29/10/1863)
A new folk song about one of the most infamous bushrangers by Queensland artist Rodd Sherwin and musician Jeremy Williams. Continue reading Mad Dog Morgan by Rodd Sherwin
Dark, brooding, melancholy, and alone,
Beast-like, the ruffian plundered, prowled and slew,
Without a rival or compeer to own
His fellowship ; all shuddered in his view.
Like to a tiger whose fierce maw once drew
The life-blood from some shrieking unaware,
And ever after’s thirsty to renew
The baleful draught ; still watching from his lair,
Where fetid bones, half-gnawed, pollute and plague the air.
Thus seemed the human monster ; he had swilled
His godless hands full oft in human gore :
It was a pastime— horrid, grim, but filled
His fiendish longing restlessness for more.
It joyed the tiger’s instinct in his core ;
Or devil’s impulse that delighted in
Such deeds as man bad never done before ;
That sighed to top the summit of all sin
Which man hath scaled, where devildom can but begin. Continue reading Spotlight: Morgan, the Bushranger (Poem; 15 April 1865)
There’s never a stone at the sleeper’s head,
There’s never a fence beside,
And the wandering stock on the grave may tread
Unnoticed and undenied;
But the smallest child on the Watershed
Can tell you how Gilbert died.
Continue reading Spotlight: How Gilbert Died by A. B. “Banjo” Paterson
Owen Suffolk, the poet bushranger, spent many years in and out of prison, which enabled him to find a lot of inspiration. His depiction of prison life is mournful and tinged with melancholy. To Suffolk, the prison is the place where souls and minds are broken and every day is a reminder of the grim reality of that condition. To this end his poem ‘The Prison Bell’ captures the essence of the convict life and all its suffering. The Prison Bell By Owen Suffolk Hark to the bell of sorrow! – ’tis awak’ning up again Each broken spirit from its … Continue reading Spotlight: The Prison Bell
Owen Suffolk was a bushranger who spent more than a decade in prison for a range of crimes, particularly Pentridge Prison. Suffolk gained the moniker “The Poet” for his deftness with poetry much of which refers to the experience of convicts and bushrangers. Perhaps his most well-known is For Frank Gardiner. It is a bold declaration of defiance and desire for freedom at any cost, the sort of liberty the outlaw archetype represents free from the constraints of the law and the mores of society; a liberty denied Frank Gardiner when he was finally apprehended at Apis Creek and dragged back to New South Wales. Continue reading Spotlight: For Frank Gardiner
While many folk songs have been written about the Kelly gang, one that stands above the others is this one supposedly penned by none other than Joe Byrne himself. Joe’s reputation as a wordsmith would certainly be demonstrably true if … Continue reading Spotlight: The Ballad of the Kelly Gang
When we think of bush ballads and Australian folk songs, there’s really only two voices that jump to mind: John Williamson and Slim Dusty. Here, Slim sings about Captain Thunderbolt painting a colourful portrait of the bandit by contrasting him … Continue reading Spotlight: Captain Thunderbolt by Slim Dusty
Remember that song from the end of “Mad Dog Morgan”? Can you remember any of the words? Neither could I so here they are… Continue reading Spotlight: Over the Border
Come all you sons of Erin’s Isle that love to hear your tuneful notes, remember William Wallace and Montrose of sweet Dundee – The great Napoleon played his part, but by treachery was undone; Nelson, for England’s glory bled and nobly fought by sea – and Wellington, old Erin’s son, who Waterloo so bravely won, when leading on his veteran troops, bold faced his daring foes – but Martin Cash of matchless fame, The bravest man that owns that name, is a valiant son of Erin, where the sprig of shamrock grows. Continue reading Spotlight: The Ballad of Martin Cash