Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Tuesday 13 August 1872, page 4
A BLACK BUSHRANGER CAUGHT.— Sergeant Byrnes of Mundooran, brought into Dubbo (says the Dispatch) last Friday a blackfellow named Bungarribee Jack, whom he arrested on charges of horse-stealing, bush, ranging, and hut-robbing. It is believed Jack is the aboriginal who, not long ago, stuck-up Brophy’s shepherd’s hut near Mitchell’s Creek. He is supposed to have been armed, and in the bush with two other blackfellows. For some time he has been at large in the Merri Merri and Marthaguy districts. One story told of him is that he called at Mr. Morris’s public-house, and inquired if Sergeant Byrnes were there, because, if he was, he had come to shoot him.
Australian News for Home Readers (Vic. : 1864 – 1867), Friday 23 February 1866, page 12
THE ESCAPE AND RECAPTURE OF DUNN, THE BUSHRANGER.
This notorious bushranger, the last of Ben Hall’s gang, after a series of robberies in the northern district of New South Wales, was apprehended about the end of December last and lodged in the lock-up of Dubbo. The police effected his capture entirely by their own exertions; not having received any information of his whereabouts. They took him by surprise, but he did not surrender, until after a most desperate resistance, and until he was unable from his wounds to continue the contest. McHale, the policeman whose bullet disabled Dunn, was, also wounded. When Dunn was secured he treated the affair with the greatest jocularity, remarking that he was tired of bushranging, and had thrown away his gun. On the 14th January he effected his escape in the manner described in the following communication addressed to the Bathurst Times:— “Dunn had been getting so strong that it was deemed advisable to put him in irons. He got sulky at this, and refused to take food, and expressed his determination to die rather than be hanged; and when he was informed by Dr. Ramsay that if even he did escape the rope he would be paralysed, he became firmer than ever in his determination. His groans during the time the irons were on him prevented McHale, whose case is most dangerous from the fact that the wound has closed prematurely — his groans, I say, prevented McHale from getting any sleep. Instead of being removed into another room, McHale was left in the same apartment with Dunn, and this prevented his getting the sleep so required. The van had arrived from Bathurst for his removal. He heard of this, and shammed dying. On Saturday evening Mr. Hogg had prepared a stretcher for him at the gaol, in order to allow McHale to sleep but Dunn was considered too bad to be able to be removed, and he was suffered to remain where he was, as he was thought to be dying, and the irons were knocked off by Dr. Ramsay’s order. Between one and three on Sunday morning he made his exit through the window while five or six troopers lay in the next room, some of them having kept watch until twelve o’clock. I may here mention that Walton, the harborer of Dunn on the Marthaguy Creek, had been brought into town by Hawthorn and another policeman. He was brought before the bench on Saturday, and as McHale, who had most material evidence to give in consequence of ferreting out information from a sly-grog seller he had apprehended provious to his gallant capture of Dunn, was required to be present at the examination, he had to be brought from the barracks to the court house, where he was detained the greater part of the day. This exertion so fatigued McHale that he was scarcely able to get back. The consequence was that he slept much better than he had done since his arrival in Dubbo; and this accounts for Dunn escaping unheard and unobserved by McHale. Why one of the troopers in the next room did not keep watch, especially as one hour from each would have prevented the escape, is a mystery. Towards early dawn McHale awoke, and on looking towards Dunn’s bed he called the outlaw by name, and, on receiving no reply, concluded he was dead. He crawled over to his bed and found Dunn gone; his handkerchief was spread cunningly out where his head ought to be, as if he had spread it over his face to keep off the flies, and the pillow was placed in the centre of the bed, to induce McHale, should he accidentally awake, to fancy that his man was there. McHale kicked and knocked at the door of the men’s room, and shouted out that Dunn was gone, but they thought he was hoaxing and only playing them a joke. McHale limped out as well as he could, to inform Mr. Hogg, who lived next door, but was prevented from his design and persuaded to go into his room. He again crawled out in a pitiable state of mind, and tracked Dunn from the window for some yards, where he found the poultices which had dropped off. All the police were out in an instant, but it was of no avail, although there were black and white trackers, and volunteers. Various were the rumors and surmises as to how he effected his escape. Some said Thunderbolt had been seen that day in the neighborhood of the town, and some four or five young men (strangers) had been in town, whose movements were suspicions; that a stranger, who represented himself as a photographer, had been seeking an interview with Dunn about twelve o’clock. A horse had been seen close to where the tracks were lost. That night (Sunday) a meeting was held in the streets, and several enrolled themselves as volunteers for that night and the next day. On Monday morning most of the troopers returned, but could find no traces of the fugitive. About six o’clock in the evening, a young man who had been in the scrub about a mile and a half at the back of the river and town, saw emerging from under a log the wasted and emaciated form of Dunn, who supplicated him for a drink of water. This he gave him; and after chatting for a quarter of an hour, he asked the young man if he would take him in his cart to the river, for the wound McHale gave him disabled him from riding for ever. The young man fortunately rejected the proposal, and drove into Dubbo and informed constable McKeown of his meeting with Dunn and the attending circumstances, and went back with McKeown, who at once took him into custody. Meanwhile an immense crowd had congregated, some bringing water, others brandy, and other stimulants, an the unfortunate misguided creature was in the last stage of exhaustion from exposure, hunger, thirst, and the effects of his almost fatal wound. He was brought into town on a vehicle and placed this time where he should have been first — in the gaol — and this morning he was sent off under escort to Wellington to join McHale, who had started in the Bathurst police van on the day previous for your good “city of the plains.” A telegram had been received, on Monday, from the Government, authorising a reward of £50 for information and £100 for the capture of Dunn. This, no doubt because the Government should give the original reward to the captors who handed their man over to the higher powers. There is no small amount of dissatisfaction at the manner in which McHale’s paramount claims to the major part of the £750 have been grossly ignored, his bullet— and his alone — having disabled Dunn, and rendered his apprehension by the other two a matter of certainty. Besides, to his fortunate shot we may attribute the recapture, as Dunn himself admits he could have escaped only for its disabling effects.. Besides, it is probable McHale will be a cripple for life, if, indeed, his life is secure at all.
Saturday’s Times thus records Dunn’s arrival at Bathurst:— “At four o’clock yesterday, Dunn was brought into Bathurst by Mr. Superintendent Lydiard and a strong escort. He was conveyed in the police van, a bed being placed on the floor of the vehicle for his accommodation. With him were Murphy, the boy bushranger, and the old shepherd belonging to the hut in which Dana was hiding when surprised by the police, both having been committed for trial — the first for bushranging, and the latter for harboring Dunn. As soon as the van was espied going towards the gaol, there was a rush from all directions of persons anxious to catch a glimpse of the outlaw; but they were doomed to disappointment, for the gaol gates swung open to admit the vehicle and then closed, shutting out all but the escort. In appearance Dunn is a small spare-built man, about twenty two years, old, anything but ferocious in aspect. The wound which disabled him is in the loins, about two inches to the right of the spine, the sinews connected with which appear to be injured and to have caused a loss of power in the right leg. He complains of a tingling sensation along the entire limb at the back, but does not appear to suffer much from the wounds itself. The injury caused by the shot which struck him on the toes of the right foot is of a very trifling nature. We are informed that over since his disappearance from the Southern districts he has been engaged on the Macquarie breaking in horses. He kept very quiet and was unknown, and but for his own fears, which led him to take to his heels when he saw the police, he might still have been at large, for the constables had no idea that he was in the neighborhood. No danger is expected to result from his wound, and it is considered that he will recover. He has been brought down to Sydney that he may be tried by a more impartial jury than would most likely be obtainable in that part of the colony where he has made himself so notorious. He was taken to Darlinghurst gaol, and will be tried at the next criminal sessions, which will commence on the 12th inst.
Beyond the Kelly Gang, only one other bushranging gang has truly cemented its place in the culture of Australia so firmly to become synonymous with bushranging. The early 1860s belonged to a rotating roster of brigands that operated mostly on the Lachlan Plains and came to be known popularly (for reasons that will become apparent) under the name of Ben Hall, though the contemporary press preferred to take their nomenclature for the gang from it’s most prominent figure, Johnny Gilbert. They were said to have committed hundreds of crimes ranging from robbery to murder. The following is not a detailed account of their career as the sheer scale of their depredations makes for heavy reading, but rather it is a summary of the career of the most legendary bushranging gang of the 1860s.
The origins of the Hall Gang are quite ephemeral. There was no definitive incident that forged the gang as it would come to be known, rather it evolved from the vestiges of other gangs. The one element that brought the key players together was the Prince of Tobymen, Frank Gardiner. Gardiner had been on the run after violating his ticket of leave, and after having worked the roads with companions such as The Three Jacks and John Peisley, he decided to set his sights on a bigger score than what mail coaches could yield. Gardiner wanted to have a crack at the escorts taking the gold from the diggings. He soon realised to do so he would need a lot more men to help him out. So in 1861 Gardiner began forming a gang to help him rob the Orange gold escort. This would become a defining moment for the core members of what would eventually become the Gilbert-Hall Gang.
The gang Gardiner had formed consisted of Johnny Gilbert, the flash Canadian who had been his off-sider on and off during his time in the bush; John O’Meally, a volatile Australian-born who had proven to be a reliable and enthusiastic underling; Charlie Gilbert; Henry Manns; Alex Fordyce; John Bow; and Patsy Daley. These men were to be the shock troops who would attack the escort but Gardiner needed more assistance. To hold the horses and scout he had Jack “The Warrigal” Walsh, the teenage brother of his lover, Kitty Brown. It was also rumoured that among those helping to look after the horses was a young stockman named Ben Hall and his brother-in-law John Maguire, who had turned to crime as a way of getting easy money to counter the hardships of farming life.
On 15 June, 1862, the Gardiner gang bailed up two bullock teams near Eugowra Rocks. They tied up the teamsters and left the drays on the road to act as a blockade. The bushrangers were disguised with their faces masked or blackened. When the wagon came up the road from the Lachlan diggings, it was forced to stop because of the blockage. As it did, Gardiner emerged and the gang opened fire and riddled the coach with bullets, injuring two of the police. Sergeant Condell was shot in the ribs, while Constable Moran was shot in the testicles. The horses were spooked and bolted, causing the wagon to strike a boulder and topple, flinging the driver and police across the road. Once the victims had escaped, the gang descended upon the wreckage and picked it clean, stealing around £6000 worth of gold and cash.
The booty was split among the bushrangers but the celebrations were short-lived as police led by Sir Frederick Pottinger soon found the gang’s hideout. Their sudden arrival forced the bushrangers to split up. Gardiner and Walsh narrowly avoided capture, but lost their share of the gold when their over-burdened packhorse was seized. The bushrangers tried to hide their booty and keep quiet but the police were quick to make arrests. Charlie Gilbert and Henry Manns were captured by Pottinger but rescued by Johnny Gilbert and Frank Gardiner. Manns set off alone and was soon recaptured. Bow and Fordyce were arrested as were Ben Hall, John Maguire and Daniel Charters, an associate of theirs. The Gilbert brothers successfully managed to escape to New Zealand to lie low. Gardiner took Kitty Brown with him and escaped New South Wales, eventually being arrested at Apis Creek in Queensland.
When Johnny Gilbert returned from abroad he started bushranging with a number of off-siders including Fred Lowry. As each of them left, John O’Meally was the only one who remained. The pair did not exactly like each other but it was a marriage of convenience that allowed them both to enjoy the lawless adventure they craved.
When Hall got out of remand he had a chip on his shoulder. He promptly found his way to Johnny Gilbert and John O’Meally and joined them in bushranging. The trio hit the highways with considerable success. Nobody was safe and the police could not catch up to them. Eventually they decided that they needed extra help as their operation became more prolific.
In 1863, the gang recruited John Vane to source horses for them. Vane and his cousin Mickey Burke acted as scouts for the gang but soon managed to become fully fledged members. Vane was a tall, quiet young man who was a fearless rider and a skilled bushman but not as ruthless as the others. Burke was young and feisty; itching to go on the adventure of bushranging but not keen to use violence willingly. This latter quality seemed to make him a target for bullying.
In late September, 1863, the gang began a spree of lawlessness that caused a stir throughout the colony. On 22 September they bailed up three troopers and stole their weapons and uniforms. The next day, the gang bailed up Hosie’s store dressed as police. The gang took supplies and stole all of Hosie’s sweets. It was not the first time the gang had robbed him.
On 26 September they raided John Loudon’s house at Grubbenbong dressed in their stolen police uniforms. They went through the building in search of police they believed were staying there. The search turned up nothing but the gang bragged that if any troopers came after them, they would handcuff them and march them back to Carcoar. They forced Loudon’s wife to prepare food for them. Once they were satisfied, the gang left.
The following day the bushrangers, still in their stolen uniforms, went to William Rothery’s Cliefden Station at Limestone Creek, where they engaged in a standoff with Rothery’s staff. Rothery ordered his men to stand down and the bushrangers bailed up the household, ate lunch, drank champagne then played piano. As with their visit to Grubbenbong, they left quietly after having their fill. They moved on to the township of Canowindra. They robbed Pierce’s store then quietly rounded up the townsfolk, including the local constable, into Robinson’s pub and held an impromptu party. The party continued into the morning and the gang left without fear of police intervention.
The success of the Canowindra raid bolstered the gang’s confidence and they set their sights on Bathurst, one of the biggest cities in colonial New South Wales. With John Vane on watch, the gang entered town at dusk on 3 October, 1863. They went to the gunsmith and looked at what he had in stock but could not find anything to their liking. They attempted to rob the jeweller but the screams of female onlookers roused attention. Suddenly Vane called out to signal the arrival of troopers. They mounted and bolted through the streets, escaping without a scratch. They took refuge in the house of a man named De Clouet, from whom they intended to steal a racehorse named Pasha, but the horse was not there. The gang were able to leave town without further incident after the search had been called off.
The gang decided to stick to what they were good at and once again headed to Canowindra. Again the townsfolk were rounded up into the pub and festivities took place. In the morning Mickey Burke proved difficult to rouse, his drinking having been rather excessive, but even though they were delayed in leaving, there was no sign of the police until long after the gang had left.
The reward for the gang was sitting at £4000 and things were becoming serious as police drew heavy criticism from the press over their inability to stop the bandits. On 24 October, 1864, they headed to the Keightley farm on Dunn’s Plains on a vendetta to take the flashness out of gold commissioner Henry Keightley. Keightley had bragged about his part in helping the police hunt the gang and his readiness to shoot them down. The bushrangers arrived at sunset whereupon they were spotted by Keightley and his friend Dr. Pechey. The bushrangers dismounted and opened fire as the men sheltered inside. There was a vicious shootout during which Mickey Burke was shot in the belly. Keightley and Pechey took refuge in a barricade that had been made on the roof but were low on weapons and ammunition. Burke refused to allow his wounding to lead him to be captured and he determined to take his own life. He shot himself in the head but only succeeded in further wounding himself. He shot himself in the head again, finally succeeding in committing suicide. John Vane was grief stricken and when Keightley and Pechey were captured he bashed Pechey with his pistol, mistaking him for Keightley, and was fully prepared to execute them in retaliation. Mrs. Keightley intervened and convinced them to hold her husband to ransom instead of murdering him. Dr. Pechey rode into town and fetched £500 – the equivalent of the reward money offered for Burke – from Mrs. Keightley’s father and returned to the farm. The bushrangers entrusted Keightley’s servants to convey Burke’s corpse to Carcoar then left.
In the wake of the tragedy tensions were high and Vane left after a fight with Gilbert. He turned himself in and was imprisoned at Darlinghurst Gaol. Once again the gang was a trio, but they were determined not to lose face. They continued to rob travellers at an alarming rate and soon heard about a magistrate named David Campbell who had been talking about his eagerness to capture the bushrangers.
On 19 November, 1863, the gang rode to Goimbla Station, where the Campbells resided. They spread out to find a way inside. O’Meally went to the back door where he was met by Campbell. O’Meally discharged his shotgun and narrowly missed Campbell’s head. O’Meally ran to the front of the house, chased by Campbell who doubled back when he saw the others. The bushrangers began firing into the house. Campbell took cover by the kitchen and his wife, Amelia, ran under fire to fetch ammunition and weapons from the drawing room. Campbell’s brother had been roused by the firing and was shot and wounded. He ran and hid in a crop field until there was a safe moment to get help. The bushrangers took cover behind a fence and O’Meally set fire to the barn. Campbell called out for the bushrangers to set his horses free but they refused out of spite and the animals were burned alive. As O’Meally stood to admire his handiwork, Campbell shot him in the neck. Hall and Gilbert dragged him to the bush on the edge of the property and propped his head up but the wound was fatal. When O’Meally died they looted his body and evacuated, leaving the grisly find for the Campbells to deal with.
Hall and Gilbert slowed down after Goimbla but found two new recruits very quickly. James “Old Man” Gordon and John Dunleavy were inducted into the gang and soon they were up to the same old tricks. The new outfit was put through the ringer when they were ambushed at the Bang Bang Hotel and engaged in a shootout with police. The bushrangers narrowly escaped but it clearly rattled Gilbert who left the gang to return to Victoria for a spell.
Hall continued on with Gordon and Dunleavy but they were hardly alike the outfit Hall was used to. During a shootout in the bush at Bundaburra, Dunleavy was injured. He surrendered himself and was soon tried and sent to Darlinghurst Gaol. Hall and Gordon continued together briefly before Gordon also split and was arrested near the Victorian border. He too was imprisoned.
Hall now faced the daunting prospect of bushranging solo. He kept a low profile, preferring to avoid confronting police or making his presence known. From time to time police would stumble upon where he had been sleeping and he would barely escape, but the lifestyle was beginning to impact on his health. Fortunately for Hall he was soon reunited with Gilbert.
Ben Hall was just as eager to recapture the glory days as Gilbert, but they knew that they needed at least one extra set of hands. Gilbert recruited John Dunn, a teenaged jockey and Gilbert’s former bush telegraph. Dunn was wanted for skipping bail and saw bushranging as a viable alternative to honest work or gaol.
The trio hit the roads and bailed up as many people as possible, their exploits reaching new heights of audacity with each event. At the end of 1864 the gang went to work at Black Springs near Jugiong. They bailed up scores of people travelling the road, robbed them and kept them prisoner behind a large hill while they awaited their true goal: the mail coach. The coach arrived as expected and the bandits bailed it up, but when Ben Hall spotted the police escort catching up the trio galloped away and doubled back once they had sized up the threat. All three demonstrated their incredible horse riding abilities by steering the horses with their legs while double-wielding pistols. The gun battle was frenetic and vicious. Sergeant Edmund Parry became locked in one-on-one combat with Johnny Gilbert. They exchanged fire and a bullet from Gilbert hit Parry in the back, killing him.
A dangerous precedent had now been set and the gang had become elevated from audacious highwaymen to murderers. Undeterred, the gang continued to go about their depredations. At Christmas the bushrangers visited their girlfriends, Christina MacKinnon and Peggy and Ellen Monks, and decided to have some fun at the Boxing Day ball in Binda. They bailed up a former policeman named Morriss and robbed his store before heading to the Flag Hotel. They sang, danced and drank with the patrons while Morriss plotted to take the wind out of their sails. As the night wound on Morriss managed to escape through a window and tried to set the gang’s horses loose. When Hall discovered Morriss missing, he tried to find him outside. In an act of vengeance the bushrangers and their girlfriends burned down Morriss’ store. The women were arrested for their role in the arson but not convicted.
On 26 January, 1865, the gang bailed up several travellers on the road near Collector before heading to Kimberley’s Inn. The occupants were marched outside and robbed while Hall and Gilbert raided the interior. As the local police were in the bush looking for the gang there was only one constable in town – Samuel Nelson. Nelson heard that the inn had been bailed up and set out on foot to confront the bushrangers. When he arrived there was a brief standoff between himself and John Dunn before Dunn shot him in the stomach and head, killing him.
In response to the murders and countless other offences committed by bushrangers in the colony, the New South Wales government passed a legislation called the Felons Apprehension Act. This would render any person declared an outlaw to lose all protections of the law, and anyone could kill them without provocation and with no fear of punishment. It literally rendered the proclaimed outlaws as exempt from human society and encouraged people to treat them as vermin. The act allowed the wanted people 30 days to turn themselves over to police before being officially declared outlaws.
Things became very treacherous for the gang. Several ambushes occured where the gang narrowly escaped alive. The decision was made to do one last heist and get out of the colony before they were officially outlawed. They recruited John Dunn’s mate Daniel Ryan to help strike at a gold escort. The gang lay in wait on a stretch of road in the bush at Araluen and when the gold escort arrived they opened fire. The heist was a poor imitation of what Gardiner had masterminded and the end result was that the gold remained untouched and the gang was forced to retreat. Daniel Ryan would carry out several other robberies with the gang before disappearing from the line-up.
Back down to a trio, the gang attempted to rob a wagon full of teenage boys – the Faithful brothers. What the gang did not anticipate was that the brothers, who had been out hunting, would resist with firearms. A gunfight broke out wherein Gilbert accidentally shot his own horse and was trapped under it. The brothers succeeded in getting to safety, leaving the gang to lick their wounds.
The gang decided the time had come to call it quits. Ben Hall took care of some business around Forbes before heading to a rendezvous with the others at Billabong Creek. Unfortunately Gilbert and Dunn had seemingly gotten spooked by teamsters they mistook for plainclothes officers and Hall decided to set up camp near the home of police informant Mick Coneley. On 5 May, 1865, Hall was ambushed as he fed his horse. He ran to escape but was shot over and over until, as he held a sapling, he died from around 30 bullet wounds, two passing through his brain. Coneley would earn £500 for selling Hall out.
Gilbert and Dunn continued to run from place to place before seeking shelter at Dunn’s grandfather John Kelly’s place near Binalong. In the wake of Hall’s death they had learned not to trust harbourers, especially as the date to turn themselves in by was rapidly approaching. Unfortunately the belief that Dunn’s family was a safe bet was another poor judgment and Kelly sold them out as well. A team of police surrounded the house and the bushrangers were forced to escape through a window. As they ran Gilbert was shot through the heart and killed. Dunn sustained a leg injury but managed to escape.
Dunn by virtue of being the only survivor of the gang at large became the first person to be declared an outlaw in New South Wales. Rumours abounded that he had joined up with Captain Thunderbolt, but in fact he had gone into hiding on a farm under an assumed identity. He was soon discovered, however, and once again tried to escape. He shot a trooper in the leg but was himself shot in the back, the bullet lodging in his spine. He fought off the police as much as he could but the pain was too intense and he was captured.
He was taken to the lock-up in Dubbo but managed to escape despite his crippling injuries by climbing out of a window. He crawled along the ground, unable to walk from his wound, but was soon recaptured. He was tried for the murder of Constable Nelson and sentenced to death. He was hanged in Darlinghurst in January 1866. With Dunn’s death the Gilbert-Hall Gang had finally been snuffed out for good.
Even in their own lifetimes, the bushrangers who formed the roster in the gang were something akin to celebrities. They developed a reputation as daring highwaymen and folk heroes that robbed from the rich but would never molest a needy person or woman. The truth was far from this lofty ideal and the gang had its fair share of indiscriminate robberies to their name. It has been estimated by some that the gang committed hundreds of crimes in their short career. Indeed, the number of bail ups attributed to them is probably far and away the largest of any organised gang of bandits in Australian history. It was the inefficiency of the police that helped seal their reputation and turned this band of robbers into glorious rebels, rather than incorrigible ne’er-do-wells. What pushed them into this life of crime is hard to pinpoint as most members of the gang came from respectable backgrounds. Perhaps the allure of reaping the benefits of the gold rush without having to engage in the back breaking labour was just too big a temptation to refuse.
[The following account of the capture of the notorious John Dunn, former member of the Gilbert-Hall Gang and proclaimed outlaw, was taken from The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 11 January 1866. Dunn was the last member of the gang to be at large and had been identified as a member of Thunderbolt’s gang following the death of Gilbert, though the descriptions of Dunn from those encounters do not match the real Dunn.]
THE CAPTURE OF DUNN.
A correspondent of the Bathurst Times gives the following graphic account of the capture of the outlaw Dunn. It differs in some important respects from the accounts hitherto published.
Dating from Dubbo, 2nd January, the writer says :
Your readers will no doubt be curious to know the full particulars of the desperate engagement between Dunn and the police, in which I may say all engaged were wounded. Constable Hawthorne had a bullet put through his hat, senior constable Elliott received a wound from a blow of the pistol Dunn carried, whilst Dunn himself and McHale were badly wounded, and both are in a very low state, neither of them being out of danger. Sub-inspector Hogg, of this place, set off this morning for the scene of the affray.
From a comparison of Elliott’s statement with that of a gentleman just arrived at Dubbo, and who went expressly some twenty miles out of his way to Coonamble to hear the facts of the case, I can vouch for the perfect accuracy of the following information.
Dunn, Thunderbolt, and Co, were in November last sticking-up on the Birres River, in the Northern country. They afterwards visited the Bemo, Gulgoa, and all the country circumscribed by the Bogan, the Macquarie, the Castlereagh, the Darling and the large creeks tributary to these Inspector Zouch and sergeant Flynn let the party slip through their hands, and only for the pluck and activity of constable McHale, this trebly-dyed murderer would be at large still. McHale, who had been but a few months in charge of the Coonamble station on Duck Creek, together with one of his men, named Hawthorne, and Elliott, of the Coonamble station, came early on the morning of the 24th December, before daylight, to the hut of a man named Walton, in the employ of Mr. Perry, on the Marthaguy. This Walton was suspected of harbouring a most notorious scoundrel, a half-caste, that went by the name of George Smith, alias Yellow George. Elliott had a warrant for him. About dawn of day the three policemen proceeded to the hut, and early and cautions as was the approach, the party “wanted” was astir. Without returning the civilities of the morning to the strangers, Yellow George bolted off in the direction of the bush. Elliott and Hawthorne immediately gave chase straight after him, whilst McHale, unconscious of the nobler game he was to light on, doubled quickly round the corner of the hut to intercept the fugitive. Having got to the back of the house, he saw a young man running at tip-top speed across the paddock, and he perceived firearms in his hand. He at once said, “There goes Dunn.” He jumped the fence, and after him he went, and as McHale was very active and complete master of the use of his limbs (of which, poor fellow, he no longer is) he soon overhauled Dunn considerably. McHale three different times challenged the pursued to stand, as he believed him to be Dunn, and each time Dunn turned his head round, shewed his revolver, and still kept on with all his might. McHale then fired a random shot. Dunn turned round to fire, but did not, as he was evidently husbanding the few shots he had (having only one revolver with him). McHale again called on him to stand as “JohnDunn,” and then put forth all his speed of running, and when he came within forty or fifty yards of Dunn be stood, took deliberate aim, fired, and forthwith Dunn fell flat on his face to the earth, dangerously wounded in the loins. The blood soon covered his person, and be was hors de combat. And now it was that Dunn’s ferocity, like that of a furious bull at bay, displayed itself. McHale had reached within fifteen or twenty yards of Dunn. When the latter saw him so near at hand, and found the officers of justice were about to clutch him for the misdeeds of his life, he made a desperate effort, rolled himself round on his back, and by the exercise of the energy which the dreadful nature of his case afforded, he managed to get into a sitting posture. He took deadly aim at McHale, fired twice; the second bullet wounded him in the thigh. From that moment, McHale was powerless. The ball hit him above the knee, glanced along, and finally lodged itself in the groin. There they were, the constable and the outlaw, within a few yards of each other, each dangerously and desperately wounded by the other. All this time McMale’s mates were firing after Yellow George. When McHale found himself unable to apprehend the man be had so gamely crippled and brought to earth, he called out in a loud voice to his mates, some 200 or 300 yards off, “I am shot.” They at once desisted from pursuit of the half-caste, and by McHale’s directions took positions behind some trees near at hand. Dunn by this time had drawn breath, and seeing that his only hope was to get the police near him and from behind the trees, he made a desperate effort and got on his feet. Of course, wounded as he was he did not go far before the police were beside him, but he certainly partly succeeded in his intention, for as Hawthorn was about to apprehend him, he turned round and fired, driving the bullet through the rim of Hawthorn’s hat. Elliott then laid hands upon him, upon which Dunn desperately clutched his revolver (it being now unloaded), and wounded him with it on the head. McHale had fainted from loss of blood. During the fracas Mr. Hogg was distant from the spot only about fifteen miles, after young Murphy.
It was evidently intended to form the nucleus of another band of bushrangers, that should reproduce, during the year 1866, under the command of Dunn and company, the lawless dramas hitherto enacted by Gilbert and Co., but fortunately for the country, the career of the future banditti has been cut short. The Clerk of Petty Sessions at Coonamble, who happens to be a doctor, paid every attention, and did all that skill and kindness could effect, till the arrival of Cr. Ramsay. He has been a surgeon in the army, and will, it is hoped, succeed in extracting the bullets from the bodies of McHale and Dunn.
Source: “THE CAPTURE OF DUNN.” The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 – 1893) 11 January 1866: 3.