On one occasion I chased a wild bull and fired at him repeatedly to train our horses to it. We chased this bull for two miles, constantly firing, until we killed him. It occurred to me that this was about the best practice men should be drilled to who are sent after the bushrangers; for it teaches them to ride, to fire while galloping, and to exercise caution. For a wild bull, with a couple of bullets in a fleshy part will test a rider on the side of a mountain to keep beside him. One drill of that sort would be of more service to a man than twelve months drill in Sydney, and for the horse to. Well, if two or three of us could travel about, firing our arms off occasionally, and camping about without attracting the notice of the police, how long could a man whose object was occasional plunder, remain in those ranges without being taken? As things are now Thunderbolt can remain there five years longer, perfectly secure, with police stations all round him, and he may become the father of a numerous family. I know the men who were with me will try hard to take him, but what can they do? Their horses were done up when I left, and they were ordered to remain at home till they got fresh again. They wanted ammunition, but could not get it. They had only six rounds when I left, the most of this being damaged by camping out in the wet. The Gunnedah police were put on Ward in his camp, when I left, and my old tracker who was up there was left behind for some reason or other — it would be hard to tell. So they sneaked on the camp and blazed away at Ward and his mate, but they both got away on foot. The boy took one road and Ward the other — so ended the encounter. Continue reading BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Twelve)
The fact is the natives are not required in the force. They are considered as only fit to make bushrangers, and many a promising young man has been driven to the bush by police persecutions. Do you suppose that all the young people who have taken to the bush have done so for the sake of robbing and plundering? They are usually disliked by the police and are taken on suspicion for some supposed case, acquitted, and retaken, and they are pointed at until they take the bush in disgust under the mistaken notion of recovering their self-respect. Not many are driven to this, but it is well known that two or three of the most formidable bushrangers took the bush from their self-respect being wounded by some police interference. But it is also a well known fact that many bush natives live by nothing else but rowdyism, and by horse and cattle stealing. There are black sheep in every flock, and I do not exempt my native countrymen, more especially those in the back parts of the country, where they run almost wild. Continue reading BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Eleven)
Now I was drilled and equipped in the regular way and was sent out to catch Clarke. I never had any one with me at first, though I bailed him up behind a tree on one occasion, but I had to give him up on account of my revolver at first missing. I had a tracker with me but he would not come near after the first shot. He left me to the mercy of the two of them; but though I did not take them I took all sorts of care they did not take me. When my revolvers missed I was close to Clarke, and the moment my last cap missed fire he rushed at me like a tiger and called on me to surrender. I could do nothing. I dared not attempt to take him as he had a revolver in each hand and I saw the caps on the nipples plain enough. When he found I would not stand for him he made a rush to get his horse, but I knew he would have me then, so I galloped between him and ran the horses away, and while my eye was off him for a minute he disappeared — whither I could not tell; but I will own the truth — I got very frightened then, as I expected to be knocked off from behind every tree. I had only one fresh cap on, so I pushed home with his horses. If I had had a mate with me that day there would have been an end of the Clarkes. I could always find them if allowed my own way, but my superiors would have their way, and it was only once in the first twelve months we came on them in the official way, and then we made a mess of it. Continue reading BUSHRANGING AND OUR POLICE SYSTEM (Part Ten)
It has been ascertained that the two men who stuck up a hut at Gostwick are the identical two who escaped from Cockatoo Island some time ago. It appears that after their affray with the police they managed to elude all further pursuit by secreting themselves in a hut belonging to one of Mr. Stitt’s shepherds while he was absent, who upon his return found one of them quietly feasting upon his supper. Continue reading Spotlight: Britton and Thunderbolt at Gostwyck (07/11/1863)
This month we look at new book releases, a petition for the Clarke bushrangers, an update on developments in Glenrowan and more. Continue reading Bushranging Gazette #21
Among visitors at the Howell races on Monday last was Mr. William Monckton, interest in whose earlier career has been revived of late by the publication of his Narrative “Three Years with Thunderbolt’ in a city paper. It was a long while since our repre sentative had previously seen Mr. Monckton. Mr. Monckton informed us that a book dealing with the history of his adventures whilst with “Thunderbolt” will shortly be published. A sensational drama founded on the outlaw’s career is shortly to be staged at the Theatre Royal-Sydney, and it is not improbable that Mr. Monckton will add to the realism of its production by representing in his own person one of the characters in the play. Mr. Monckton looks well. He has led an uneventful life for a long time now, but we could not help observing that his old love for the race meeting is still uppermost, and he was an interested spectator at the good sport provided by tho Howell Jockey Club in celebration of Eight Hour Day.
This month’s Gazette features reports on the Thunderbolt Festival, a new novel about William Monckton, a Ned Kelly exhibition at CMAG and more. Continue reading Bushranging Gazette #20
It seems that when constables Lynch and McCausland came upon Ward, Mason, and the mistress of the former on the Borah Ranges, they directed their efforts almost exclusively to the apprehension of Thunderbolt, but he managed to escape with the loss of the spare horse he was leading. Mason could have been then arrested had the police been as anxious for his apprehension as for Ward’s, but as he was not such a dangerous character, he was temporarily allowed to escape.
A report on the life, crimes and death of Thunderbolt. Continue reading Spotlight: Death of Thunderbolt (4 June 1870)
in this issue we look at Captain Thunderbolt on ABC Radio, an upcoming Ned Kelly computer game and more. Continue reading Bushranging Gazette #16