Spotlight: Morgan, the Bushranger (Poem; 15 April 1865)

Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser (Vic. : 1860 – 1870), Saturday 15 April 1865, page 3


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.

He knew no refuge where all perils past,
If Fortune warded him, to seek for rest ;

He felt no ray of hope ; his choice had cast
It all away as an unwelcome guest.

He wooed no such like blisses to his breast.
He sought no pleasures such as humans seek

Who love by sweetnesses to be caressed.
His joys were ills and mischiefs ; and to wreak
Fiends’ deeds in equal triumph o’er the strong and weak.

Strange was his choice — and dark must be his soul
Erratic all the spheres upon his birth —

To choose a present easeless lot, with goal
Dark— darker than his end upon the earth.

No wealthy comforts beckoned to their worth
To compensate him here for future pain.

It was a lot of woe — a total dearth
Of all the good that mankind loves to gain ;
And which, sans virtue, Reason would not wish obtain.

And yet amid his deeds of ruthlessness
Some sparks of human sympathy would steal;

And then he seemed as if be would that less
Of odium had on him burnt its seal ;

As if in men’s eyes yet he cherished weal
But this was when on calmer moments bent ;

When he could see the pleasures others feel,
But ere his soul could purpose to relent
His passions loosed their springs and got unbridled vent

He was a terror ; he had made a name ;
‘Twas all he had for glory and for pride ;

‘Twas all his harm [?] that’s deserved [?] shame
Most infamous to all the w? ll? b?

Yes, he was great ; for[?] blood his hand had dyed,
And Iong men’s tongues had chosen him ? theme.

But do I when Death appears with sudden stride,
And changes all the “spirit of his dream,”
Who is there but doth shout in joyousness supreme?

He stood a terror midst a host of foes ; —
A moment and that terror was no more.

The unseen missile brought him low as those
Had helpless on his mercies lain before.

A few short hours his mortal course was o’er,
And he was but a lump of lifeless clay!

Oh, what collapse! that o’er the fearful doer
Of fearful deeds should thus be brought to bay
And helpless lay him down ‘neath Death’s all conquering sway.

Hamilton, April 12. B. H.

Spotlight: An Incident of Morgan the Bushranger (10 March 1899)

Molong Argus (NSW : 1896 – 1921), Friday 10 March 1899, page 7

An Incident of Morgan the Bushranger.

Old Bobby R — was a squatter millionaire in the Riverina district, and as tight-fisted an old screw as ever cumbered the earth. On one of his splendid stations Bobby employed a married couple, the husband being a boundary-rider, the wife looking after the hut and attending to the cooking. One day the man, while riding round on his usual work, was thrown from his horse and killed. The ration cart had been sent out by Bobby, the boss, the day before with his usual week’s supplies, but the moment the miserly master heard of his servant’s death he sent a message off to stop the cart and bring the rations back. He agreed to ration man only, and the man being dead, Bobby didn’t see why be should waste a supply upon the woman.

For meanness that was simply devilish, but it is at this point that the bushranger Morgan comes into the story. Morgan was prowling round seeking whom he might bail up at the time, and hearing of the scurvy trick just related he at once went to Bobby’s station, and after threatening to pump the old skinflint full of lead, he let him off on condition that he (Bobby) carried out to the poor widow’s hut a bag of flour, a bag of sugar, half-chest of tea, and other articles. Then he made the miser further agree to keep the unfortunate woman and her family on the station and give them all necessary support, failing which he (Morgan) would return and shoot Bobby dead without a moment’s hesitation. So terribly in earnest did Morgan seem that Bobby not only gave him his word he would do as he requested, but he honestly kept that word — at least until Morgan was shot, and that very day Bobby, the soulless skunk, shut off the supplies and turned the poor widow and her children adrift. Bobby is also dead now, and of the two I would rather change places with the bushranger than the miser.

Bushranging Gazette #12

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

Georgina Stones launches new Joe Byrne book

Historian and author behind An Outlaw’s Journal, Georgina Stones, has written another book detailing an overlooked part of the outlaw’s life.

Ah Nam tells the story of an incident in Byrne’s adolescence when he accompanied a Chinese man, the titular Ah Nam, and became involved in a brawl. Stones has not only crafted a narrative from the available evidence, fully illustrated with original drawings by Aidan Phelan, but has included notes, historical imagery and essays detailing her research, which provided the basis for the narrative. She also incorporates the oft forgotten history of the old Spring Creek camp in Beechworth and its inhabitants – particularly the prostitutes who worked under the infamous madam, Sarah Payne.

Ah Nam will be published through Ingram Spark and Australian Bushranging, and will be available to purchase in a hardcover or eBook format from retailers such as Booktopia, Angus and Robertson, and Barnes and Noble. The book launches on 3 February 2022.

Ah Nam with a Chinese lion in Beechworth [Via Joseph Byrne: The Untold History on Facebook]

Grantlee Kieza returns to the Kelly story

On 30 March, 2022, Grantlee Kieza’s new book The Kelly Hunters will be released. The book, a follow-up to his popular 2018 release Mrs. Kelly, which nabs its title from a Frank Clune book, focuses on the police pursuit of the Kelly Gang.

The publisher, Harper Collins, describes the book as:

…a fascinating and compelling account of the other side of the legendary Kelly story.

Via: Harper Collins

Kieza’s book will be in fierce competition with another book on the Kelly police pursuit, David Dufty’s Nabbing Ned Kelly, which Is also slated for a March release through Allen and Unwin. Both books look set to change the way the Kelly story is discussed for the foreseeable future and provide a welcome counterpoint to the oversaturated library of books that focus on Ned Kelly.

Mad Dog Morgan gets a new home release in UK and US

While Philippe Mora’s 1976 bushranger epic, Mad Dog Morgan, has had multiple DVD and Blu-ray releases here in Australia, international film buffs and fans of the movie have missed out. Now, thanks to Indicator, the movie is getting a new limited edition release for the US and UK markets.

Starring legendary American actor Dennis Hopper and the late David Dalaithngu, Mad Dog Morgan tells the story of the infamous bushranger from his time on the Victorian goldfields to his gruesome demise. Despite superficially veering from the history in some aspects, it remains one of the most authentic bushranger films to date and is well-loved outside of Australia as a slice of “ozploitation” cinema.

The Indicator release features a restored 4K version of the film by Powerhouse Films, both the shorter UK release version of the film as well as the director’s cut, a poster, and an 80 page book, and is packaged in individually numbered casing. Special features include audio commentaries, an option to listen to the original mono audio, image galleries, original theatrical trailer, documentaries Hopping Mad, That’s Our Mad Dog, Mad Country, and To Shoot a Mad Dog, as well as excerpts from Not Quite Hollywood. Australian fans will recognise many of these special features are already present on the locally produced Umbrella Entertainment release.

The Indicator edition of Mad Dog Morgan is currently available on some websites for pre-order, with an expected release date of 22 March 2022, and will cost approximately $27.99USD.

Kelly at La Mama

From 29 March to 3 April at Melbourne’s famous La Mama theatre, a rendition of Matthew Ryan’s popular play Kelly is set to perform.

The play, which has been performed in a variety of locations with a mix of interpretations, depicts Ned Kelly awaiting his trial and ruminating on what got him there.

Promotional art for Kelly

What sets this interpretation apart is that the role of Ned Kelly is being performed by an actor far removed from the historical Kelly’s ethnic background, which is sure to start much lively conversation.

For more information about the season follow the link:

Moondyne Joe

Joseph Bolitho Johns was the subject recently of a feature on 9 News. The article focused on his renowned escape from Fremantle Prison, which is undoubtedly his most iconic feat.

You can read the article here:

The Birdman of Coorong

Once again, the mythical ostrich-riding bushranger of South Australia’s Coorong is the focus of a news piece. This time it is for Farm Online National, written by Chris McLennan.

The article covers the story of the “Birdman” and features relevant quotes from The Meningie Progress Association president. Whether it is true or false is left to the reader’s imagination.

Book Review: The Story of Ned Kelly

A case of “absolutely judge a book by it’s cover”.

In a market so oversaturated with similar (and superior) content, it’s hard to fathom how a book like ‘The Story of Ned Kelly’ by Marie-Ève de Grave can get past the goal keepers of the publishing industry. It is the epitome of style over substance, with a wildly inaccurate and over-simplified “poetic” retelling of the Ned Kelly legend that has less historical accuracy than a Wikipedia entry. The words are accompanied by linocuts that were loosely inspired by Peter Carey’s novel ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’, though I don’t recall any part of that book describing Ned dressed in a bucket and waffle iron as demonstrated by the cover art. It’s nice to flick through and look at the pictures, and Five Mile Press have done a superb job with the printing and materials, but the product is wasted on such a sub-par text when so many better written, better illustrated, and better researched options are available.

I picked this up at Kmart for $12, and I wouldn’t pay any more than that for it. This is the kind of book you’ll find in an opp-shop in 20 years for $2 with a birthday message written on the inside cover.

My recommendation: If you’re looking for a kid’s book on Ned Kelly, leave this one on the shelf and fork out an extra few bucks and get Mark Greenwood’s far better offering, Ned Kelly and the Green Sash, or Janeen Brian’s quirky Meet… Ned Kelly. — AP

This month on A Guide to Australian Bushranging

A Bushranger’s Autobiography

Straight from the archives, this serialised account of the life of William Westwood, alias Jackey Jackey, is taken from the horse’s mouth.

As he awaited his appointment with the hangman, Westwood dictated his life story to a fellow convict, preserving his own perspectives on his lawless career.

Westwood’s autobiography is a frank and revealing account of a life gone astray, and the brutality of life in Her Majesty’s penal colonies.

Spotlight: MORGAN HAS GONE !

Tumut and Adelong Times (NSW : 1864 – 1867; 1899 – 1950), Thursday 20 April 1865, page 2


MORGAN HAS GONE! A week ago the name carried terror and alarm with it ; people did not know whether or not any night they might not be shot down in the dark and coldly murdered ; men of wealth were arranging to sell their property, and leave a colony where lawless out-rage and crime were so rampant ; persons who had thoughts of settling amongst us and giving us the benefit of their labor, their capital, and their skill, abandoned the idea in dread of the safety of their lives ; and now, at the end of a little week, the same name is a theme of public, rejoicing, and its owner is buried in the cemetery at Wangaratta —

” —— Cut off even in the blossom of his sins, Unhousel’d, unappointed, unanel’d No reckoning made, but sent to his account With all his imperfections on his head,”

And there was something dramatic, something appropriate in the end of Morgan. He who had without a word of warning, shot down others, was, in his own turn, treated in the same way ; and he who never gave one himself, complained that he “had not had a fair chance.” The very day was remarkable. It used to be a by-word that Sunday was a “Morgan day.” Poor Smith was shot, on a Sunday, M’Lean was murdered on a Sunday ; and, on a Sunday, these crimes have been avenged on their perpetrator. We have often said that Morgan’s end would be accomplished in some simple manner, and so it has proved. The thousands of pounds, probably now swelled to hundreds of thousands, have done nothing ; the police constables, by the score and by the fifty, could not achieve that which the coolness of a nurse girl and the courage of a simple shepherd have been able to bring about. Not all the force of detectives, not all the marchings and counter-marchings and ambuscades of the police, with all their trappings and firearms which would never go off when they were wanted, and with all their horses, which were always found useless when required for a run, could accomplish what the wit of ALICE KEENAN and the pulling, of a single trigger by the man WENDLAN did at Peechelba on that eventful Sunday morning.

And, at this stage we must make a few remarks respecting the police. Of course every Victorian paper we shall take up for the next week or two will be full, of praises of the police of that Colony, and of censure and disparagement of the force of New South Wales. It is true that the police here have failed ; but those of Victoria are not entitled to much of the glory. The shot would have been fired by WENDLAN if the police of Wangaratta and Beechworth had not been at his back, and it is very probable that if the single-barrelled gun had been in any of their hands instead of his, the shot would have missed its mark ; so that there is nothing to crow about after all, although when Morgan. fell, hit by WENDLAND’s shot, Detective MAINWARING and Troopers PERCY and EVANS could rush upon him and shout “we have got you now you rascal.” It must be remembered that the police of New South Wales have had numerous and great difficulties to contend with. As a rule they have been badly officered by men taken from counters, banks, and stores, and who have had more skill in cultivating a moustache or a Dundreary than in learning their business as members of a police force. They have been so bound and tied up in coils of red tape that every movement was fettered. They have not only not had the assistance and support of the settlers and squatters, but they have actually had their opposition. The hands on the stations have been of a very different description to those employed on the other side, and universally, instead of information being given to those engaged in his capture, it has actually been withheld or they have been purposely misled and thrown off the scent. So far has this been practiced that, with some few exceptions, the police have actually avoided the stations and have preferred to bush it and rely upon their own exertions. This has knocked up and killed men and horses, while those who ought to have aided and assisted them have protected and harbored the miscreant whom they were denouncing in words, but sheltering and sympathising with in their actions. The very mailmen who have met and seen him repeatedly have been afraid to give any information, and have almost trembled if it got out to the world that they repeated any remarks he might make to them while he was robbing Her Majesty’s mails without the slightest resistance. All these things have combined to make Morgan’s capture almost an impossibility, and it is only fair to the police to record the fact on their be-half.

In Victoria a better class of servants are employed, and WENDLAN could do that which here would cost him his own life. And this leads us to remark on the subject of the reward that should be given him and the girl ALICE KEENAN for their part in the transaction. We do not know whether there will be any difficulty in the payment of the reward of $1100 offered by the New South Wales Government, or whether the Victorian Government will also come forward and give a handsome amount to the girl and the man ; but we would go upon much broader principles, and at once say that it is the special duty of every squatter in the Colony and every landholder to raise a fund, of some thousands of pounds, which shall make them, both independent for the remainder of their lives, and we trust that immediate steps will be taken to open such a fund by lists and contributions through every bank and newspaper in New South Wales. And this should be done and the money invested in Government securities to give ALICE KEENAN and WENDLAN a life pension without any reference to any paltry sum they may or may not get from either Government. This would be the best inducement to others to go and do likewise, and would prevent much bushranging hereafter by the wholesome dread of punishment constantly hanging over their heads from those who would honestly and courageously do their duty.

We see that it is the opinion, of the Victorian Attorney-General that as a matter of form WENDLAN must take his trial for shooting Morgan. This certainly appears very ridiculous, particularly after a verdict by his fellow countrymen of “Justifiable homicide.” But the law, does curious things at times, and this is one of them with a vengeance. It was well known that a convict illegally at large was in a man’s house and premises to rob, and probably to murder ; that he was there with a heavy reward upon his head for numerous crimes of the worst description ; and, forsooth, because he was not first called upon to surrender to those whom he would instantly have shot if they had spoken a word, the man who had the nerve and courage to fire at him in pure self defence, if such a thing ever existed yet in this world, is to be made to look like a criminal himself. We should like to see the jury who would find such a man guilty of any legal offence! If such a jury could be constituted, by any chance, we certainly think that they ought themselves to be afterwards tried as aiders and abettors of the ill deeds, of MORGAN. We perfectly agree with the following remarks of a Melbourne contemporary on the subject :— “He would be rather an unreasonable stickler for the letter of the law, then, who would insist that this reckless ruffian should have been first put upon his guard, and thereby enabled to deal death freely from his many revolvers amongst the ranks of his pursuers, as they emerged from their ambush. Besides if WENDLAN had not fired the moment he did, Morgan in another instant, as his suspicions had been roused, would have probably descried him, and shot him down at once, as was his wont. It was therefore as much an act of self defence, as one of aggression, on the part of WENDLAN to anticipate the attack, certain to be directed in another instant against himself by the bushranger. And there can be little doubt, therefore that his firing upon Morgan was justified, according to the strict letter of the law, by the circumstances in which he was placed. It would be strange indeed if WENDLAN should suffer a moment’s inconvenience from his resolute conduct. If he were, it would go a long way towards educating our population into the New South Wales reverence for freebooters and homicidal bushrangers.” — Banner.

Spotlight: The Capture and Death of Morgan (13/04/1865)

Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), Thursday 13 April 1865, page 6


We take the following detailed account of the termination of the career of this ruffian from the Ovens and Murray Advertiser, of 11th April : — Daniel Morgan, who for two years has been the terror of the neighboring colony of Now South Wales, from the frequency and malignity of his bloody outrages, made his first attempt at robbery in Victoria at Mackinnon’s station, on the Little River, on Wednesday, the 5th inst., and lay dead, shot through the body by a Victorian civilian, near the banks of the Murray, on Sunday, the 9th, at two o’clock. This notorious scoundrel visited the Messrs Evans’ station, on the King River, about 25 miles from Wangaratta, on Thursday morning. About an hour before daybreak, the people at the station were aroused from sleep by observing one of the haystacks on fire. After the alarm of fire was given, all the inmates of the station gathered round to extinguish it, not knowing at this time the origin of the fire. After all the inmates had left the house, they heard the report of a firearm, with the order from a person who suddenly appeared from the back of the kitchen, to ‘ bail up.’ He ordered all the persons employed on the station to stand in the square opposite the house, including the female servants, who were only partially dressed. He asked for Mr. Evan Evans, and was told that he was from home. He said he was very sorry, as he particularly wished to see him and Mr. Bond, of Degamero station, who, he said, had acted very cowardly to him some four years ago. He took off his coat, and showed Mr. John Evans, brother to Mr. Evan Evans, his arm. He said he had extracted the shot some few weeks after having been fired at by Mr. Bond and Mr. Evans, and mentioned that, if he came across either of the above gentlemen, he would give them something they would not extract so easily. He showed a pair of pistols, and said they at one time belonged to Sergeant M’Ginnerty. He mentioned that New South Wales was getting too hot for him, and that the ? detectives were now walking about the country in the garb of pedlars. He bade one of the servants go and milk the cows, and get ready some tea for him. He also opened the stable door and let the horses loose, and confessed, if he thought Mr Evan Evans was in the house, he would at once set fire to it. On Mr. John Evans asking him for liberty to proceed to the house for his coat, as he felt extremely cold, he set fire to a second stack a short distance from the already burning one, and placed him between them, and asked him if he felt warm enough now. After a while he ordered Mr. John Evans to follow him into the bush a short distance. Mr. Evans obeyed, and came to a horse tied up. Morgan told him that the mare Victoria belonged to Mr. Bowler, of Albury, and that there was a reward of £50 for her, and, as the mare was knocked up, he might as well have the reward as anybody else. He also stated where he could find a fresh horse. During the time Mr. John Evans was away with Morgan, the bailed up inmates felt anxious concerning his safety. They imagined the ruffian intended murdering him in cold blood, but he shortly afterwards appeared. Previous to Morgan’s departure, about nine o’clock in the morning, he asked if they had any spirits in the house. On being answered in the affirmative, he ordered one of the female servants to bring him two bottles of brandy. He afterwards rode off, stating he intended visiting Mr. Bond’s station. The news arrived in Wangaratta of the sticking-up of the station about eleven o’clock. As soon as Morgan left, a lad was despatched with the news to the police here. Sergeant Montfort and Mounted Constable Duggan instantly left in pursuit. The Benalla police were also telegraphed to. It appears both the police from Benalla and Wangaratta instantly proceeded by the bush to the upper part of the King River.

Morgan bails up Italian Jack (from Mad Dog Morgan)

We next hear of the scoundrel at Winton, at about eleven o’clock in the morning; so he must have ridden rather quickly, the distance from Evans’s station to Winton being about twenty five miles. He entered Whitty’s Hotel and ordered dinner, and told the landlord’s daughter he was Morgan, the New South Wales bushranger. After partaking of dinner he proceeded on the road to Wangaratta, and bailed up several teamsters who were returning from the Ovens, the majority of whom had cash in their possession. He took from one man £30 in cash ; from another, £35 ; from another, £3. It is supposed he plundered the down waggoners to the extent of about £110 in a few hours. It would appear, for two or three hours, he was engaged sticking-up on the metal between Glenrowan and Winton. He stuck up a poor waggoner of the name of Italian Jack. He asked how much money he had in his possession. He answered, a few shillings. He pulled up his poncho, took out a roll of notes, and handed him a £1 note. The Italian says he saw several revolvers in his belt. He rode up to another waggoner, and asked him to pull up. The waggoner, thinking the man was joking, laughed, and paid no attention to him. Morgan said, if he did not pull up quick, he would send a bullet through his body. He asked the man the amount of money he had on his person. He pulled out a few shillings, and said that was all he had. Morgan said it was not much use in sticking him up. He said he had heard the flash Victorian police had been blowing about what they would do with him, if they found him over on the Victorian side; he intended to stop some time in Victoria, and give them a chance of getting the blood money. Morgan said he had got some brandy, and asked if he would have a nobbler. He told the man it was good stuff, and that he need not be afraid of being “hocussed.” We have also been told of a waggoner being stuck up, who had his wife with him. On the poor woman learning the message of Morgan, she burst into a fit of crying. The ruffian told her not to put herself about, and handed her a £1 note. One of the waggoners states that he knew who their mysterious visitor was at once, from his likeness in Madame Sohier’s wax-work. The man says the figure in the wax-work is life-like, and he knew him to be Morgan before he mentioned his name.

Mr. Porter, traveller for Messrs Burrows and Tomlins, states that he met a man answering to Morgan’s description, riding at a rapid rate towards Glenrowan, on Friday at dusk, when he was proceeding from Benalla towards Wangaratta. Mr. Charles Bowsey reported, on Saturday forenoon, that, when running cows in at daybreak, at Warby’s dairy station, about three miles from Glenrowan, he was hailed by a person on horseback. The person asked him what he was making so much noise for. Bewsey answered that was done in the part of the country he came from. Bewsey asked him if he had got bushed. Morgan, for he it was, said no. Bewsey asked again at what hour the storm took place on that morning. He said about two o’clock. Bewsey asked him if he would have some tea. Morgan said no. He then asked the distance to Ben Warby’s home station, and, on being told, he asked if Ben Warby had any trained horses, as he wished to purchase a good one. He then rode off in the direction of the home station. Bewsey says he had no idea who this man was, until a lad of the name of Barnes told him that the stranger’s description tallied with that of Morgan. Superintendent Winch, Detective Mainwaring, and three other constables arrived about an hour afterward, asking for a man answering to the one he saw an hour previous. He told them the direction he had taken. The bushranger then proceeded to Warby’s home station, where he arrived about eight o’clock, but found no one there but Mrs. Warby, with whom he was chatting familiarly in the garden, when three other ladies came out, to whom he paid the compliment of the fine morning ; but they expressing some indignation at his familiarity, he turned on them, and said, “You need not be — flash ; just hand me over what money you have.” They having only eighteenpence between there, he handed it back, saying that was no good to him. It is said he then told them who he was, but this has been contradicted, and it is believed no one on the station knew him to be Morgan, and this part of the story evidently had reference to something hereafter related. He also stuck-up two men on Broken Creek, with whom the police come up soon after. The police, under Superintendent Winch, arrived about half an hour after he had left Taminick, and it is certain they were dead on his trail, and determined to have him.


Saturday, ten o’clock p.m. — A horseman arrived at the police camp about five minutes ago stating that the notorious Morgan had stuck up Peechelba station, belonging to Messrs Rutherford and Macpherson, about 20 miles from Wangaratta. The man said that after the thunderstorm this evening, about six o’clock, Morgan arrived at the station and bailed all the people up, amounting to ten. He ordered them into a room, and took out several revolvers, and said he had as many more in his saddle bags, and that if a single man moved his finger he would shoot the whole lot. Mr. and Mrs. Macpherson, who had just arrived from Melbourne, were among the number bailed up. He allowed one female servant her liberty, and ordered her to bring him something to eat, and also ordered her to bring him spirits. He was compelling Mr. and Mrs. Macpherson to drink, and it appears he was drinking freely himself. The man who arrived on horseback escaped without Morgan’s knowledge by a strategic move. He ran to the stables, saddled a horse, and made off without Morgan’s knowledge. The man says Morgan was drinking freely, and did not appear to be in a hurry to leave. He was afraid of a repetition of the Round Hill station massacre. He was only about an hour and a half in coming in from Peechelba to Wangaratta. He says Morgan appears to be nearly knocked up, and if he partook of a little more drink he would be captured easily. About eight or nine volunteers instantly started with the man back to Peechelba. They left here about eleven o’clock, and would reach Peechelba at about one o’clock on Sunday morning. It is also probable that Superintendent Winch and party are on his trail. The rain that fell on Saturday night would make the tracks of the bushranger more discernible. If Superintendent Winch tracks him to Peechelba there is likely bloodshed before this hour (half-past three, Sunday morning). A great number of the inhabitants are walking about the streets expecting to hear the glad tidings that the brute is shot. It appears that he is almost hemmed in, and if he escapes it will be next to a miracle.

(From History of Australian Bushranging by Charles White)


Wangaratta, Monday. — News reached here at ten o’clock yesterday morning that the hell-hound Morgan was shot at Peechelba station, on the Ovens river, about twenty-three miles from Wangaratta, on the road to the Murray. Your reporter at once started off to the station, and arrived there shortly after one o’clock, at which time Morgan was lying at the point of death, and about thirty persona witnessing his dying agonies. A bullet from a rifle had entered his back, close to the shoulder bone, and penetrated the jugular. I made inquiries of those present, as to the manner in which he came by his death, when the following particulars were furnished me, which may be relied on as correct. Mr. Ewen Macpherson, partner of Mr. Rutherford, in the Peechelba station, stated that, on Saturday evening, about six o’clock, immediately after the thunderstorm, he observed a person passing his front window, which looks on to the verandah. Thinking it was some person looking for work, he paid no particular attention. Shortly after he heard a knock at the door, when he ordered his son to open it. On the door being opened, the person whom he had observed to pass the window immediately ordered him to stand back, at the same time presenting a revolver. Two men, working on the station, were at the same time ordered to enter the room. All those present were then ordered to range themselves on one side of the room. After they had done so, a servant girl entered the room. She was told to take her place with the rest, amongst whom were Mr. and Mrs. Macpherson, Miss Macpherson and her brother. The girl thinking that some practical joking was going on refused to obey. The man followed her into a passage, when she playfully gave him a slap on the face with the back of her hand. He said, “My young lady, I must take the flashness out of you,” and presented a revolver at her head. He then asked her if she knew who he wad. She answered, “No.” “Well, I must tell you, I am Mr. Morgan, and I will not allow you to play any tricks with me.” He ordered her to take a seat beside the rest. Two or three other servants shortly afterwards appearing, they were also ordered to sit down. Morgan took out two revolvers from his coat pocket and placed them on the table, and took a seat opposite the door. He told the servants to go and get him some tea ready. When he got what he wanted, he told Mr. Macpherson that he had been out in the bush for five nights, and had had no sleep for that time, but he said he hoped to have a sound sleep when he got to the Piney Range, New South Wales, on Sunday evening. He said he had heard that the Victorian police were blowing about capturing him, but if he met any of them he would take the flashness out of them. He said he had heard the tones of a piano as he entered the house, and asked who played the instrument, and, on being told that it was Miss Macpherson, he asked her politely to favor him with a tune, which was instantly complied with. He told them he was frequently out in the bush without meeting a living soul, and very often for weeks with little to eat. Mrs. Macpherson addressing him as Mr. Morgan, he said he did not like being called Mr, and preferred the more common appellation of Morgan. He said he had not come to take any money from them ; all he wanted, and that he must have, was a good horse to carry him to the Piney Range. Mr. Macpherson asked him if he liked his line of life. He said he was forced to it. He mentioned about his having received a very severe sentence in 1851 for a crime he was innocent of. He was tried at Castlemaine under the name of Smith, alias Bill the Native. He said he intended to have revenge on mankind ever after. He also told Mr. Macpherson that squatters now were getting very saucy, and would not give a feed to a poor man, but that he had been informed that Peechelba station bore an excellent character for liberality. He also stated to Mr. Macpherson that he was belied in the Round Hill station affair, and, if they would have only behaved themselves properly, he would not have adopted such cruel measures. He said the man who was sent for the doctor took the wrong road, and that was the reason for shooting him, as he imagined he meant to betray him. He mentioned that the revolvers lying on the table were those taken from M’Ginnerty, the trooper. Little did the villain know that means were being adopted that, if carried out properly, would eventually end in his capture and death. Alice Keenan, one of the servants, seeing Morgan busily engaged talking with Mr. Macpherson, took the opportunity of running down to the lower station to Mr. Rutherford’s residence, and mentioned to that gentleman the whole of the particulars of Morgan’s visit. Mr. Rutherford immediately despatched James Fraser, a carpenter, engaged on the station, on horseback, to Wangaratta. Fraser arrived about half-past nine o’clock, and mentioned his errand to Mr. Sandforth, the police magistrate. That gentleman lost no time in equipping a party of volunteers with the best firearms they could get, under the superintendence of Mr. Evans, senior constable. This party, consisting of about seven or eight, among whom were Messrs Harry Connolly, E. Collin, Henry Faithful, G. Church, two men in the employ of Mr D. H. Evans, the miller, of the names of Ryan and Dixon, and others, whose names we forget, instantly started for Peechelba. They reached there about one o’clock on Sunday morning. They instantly communicated with Mr. Rutherford, who informed them that Morgan was still at Mr. Macpherson’s, the upper station. The whole force at this time, including the men on the station, numbered about a dozen. Mr. Evans, the captain of the band, arranged them in places behind trees, bushes and fences, and waited in patience for the morning and the appearance of Morgan. Mr. Shadforth had especially instructed Evans, the constable, on no account to attack the house, but only to surround it at a short distance. The reason for this was obvious. Morgan being such a dare-devil, would fight to the very death, and might sacrifice any number of lives before his capture could be effected. This injunction was obeyed to the very letter. In the meantime the servant got a chance of communicating to Mr. Macpherson the stratagem that was laid for the capture of Morgan.

So Mr. Macpherson was cognisant through this girl of every thing that was going on ; Mr Macpherson all the time keeping up a friendly chat with the scoundrel who was so soon to meet with his deserts. At the dawn of the morning Mr. Macpherson said he felt cold, and would take a glass of whiskey. He asked Morgan if he would partake also. He said he would. The whiskey was brought by one of the female servants. Mr. Macpherson drank first. Morgan poured out a glass and took about half of it. Mr. Macpherson said he almost never tasted it. Morgan replied that he was not in the habit of drinking, he had only been tipsy twice in his life, and never since he was so cruelly used, alluding to the sentence he had received at Castlemaine, and which he said he was quite innocent of. At about dawn Morgan came out on the verandah, and stopped for about five minutes, which gave Mr. Macpherson ample opportunities of listening to the servant’s account, given in a low voice, as to what was doing to secure the capture of the ruffian. At the time he was on the verandah, Evans, who was stationed at the foot of the yard behind some paling, at one time thought of aiming at Morgan, but the morning being still dark, he declined risking the consequences in the event of a miss. At about seven o’clock in the morning Detective Mainwaring and party, consisting of Troopers Hall, Creilly, and Percy, rode up, and as some of those in ambush anticipated at once to attack Morgan in the house. Evans, seeing the danger of the whole stratagem being spoiled if Detective Mainwaring and party did attack the house, sent a young man, one of the persons in ambush, to inform them how things stood. The young man was successful in getting to speak to them without in the least attracting the attention of Morgan. The whole party now in ambush consisted of sixteen men well armed, and determined to do their duty. About this time one of the servants had the daring to bring some coffee to those in ambush without attracting the attention of Morgan. Morgan at this time was engaged in washing his face and combing his hair. Mr. Macpherson said he spent a long time in arranging his hair, of which he appeared to be very proud. After partaking of breakfast, of which he eat ravenously, he asked what horse he intended giving him. Mr. Macpherson said he would send his son for one that he thought would suit him. Morgan said “No,” I will go myself. At this time several of those in ambush communicated with one another, pretending that they were laborers engaged on the station. Morgan appeared not to have the slightest suspicion of their designs. In going to look at the horse Mr. Macpherson had promised him, he said he would require the others who were bailed up (not including the females) to accompany him. Mr. Macpherson, his son, a youth of sixteen, Mr. Telford, the overseer on the station and the other two men he originally brought to the house, were ordered to accompany him. Mr. Macpherson walked next Morgan. When they had got about 200 yards from the house, and had crossed over to a paddock where several horses were feeding, Mr. Macpherson said, “this is the horse I intend lending you,” at the same time stepping two or three yards aside so as to give those in ambush, who were closing up on him fast behind, a fair chance for a good shot. John Quinlan, a young man engaged on the station, took aim at Morgan at a distance of about sixty or seventy yards behind him, fired and brought Morgan to earth, the ruffian falling forward on his face heavily. Constables Percy and Evans, who were immediately behind Quinlan, and who were prepared to face Morgan in case of a miss, instantly rushed on the now helpless scoundrel, seized his revolver, his other revolver being left in the house unloaded, and threw it away from him. The greatest ruffian in this or any other country had received his death wound, and the demon who was the terror of thousands in a few hours would be a lifeless corpse. On the constables taking him up he said, “Why did you not give me a chance? Why did you not challenge me first?” On his removal to the woolshed, he was placed on a mattress. Some one suggested sending for a doctor. Quinlan said it was no use, he would die. The now helpless bushranger turned up his eyes, and said audibly, “You will die some day too.” The ball had penetrated through the shoulder bone, and came out by the throat. Mr. Tone, poundkeeper, asked him if his name was Morgan, to which he answered, “No.” Mr. Tone then inquired if his name was Smith, and received the same answer as before. He next asked the dying man if he had any friends in New South Wales, and received an answer in the affirmative. He then inquired if he knew Bogon Jack, and was answered, “Yes.” Mr. Tone finally asked him if he would like to hear a prayer read, to which the bushranger replied, “No.” On Dr. Dobbyn asking him if he could do anything for him, he said in answer, “I am choking.” He continued in a state of unconsciousness till a quarter to two o’clock, when he breathed his last. By this time there could not have been less than fifty persons present, nearly all from Wangaratta. As soon as the breath left his body several persons commenced cutting locks from his rather profuse head of hair. If they had been allowed to go on he would have lost all the hair of his head. This pillaging was put a stop to by Detective Mainwaring. After his death Mr. Ely took down his distinguishing marks. He has got a villainously low forehead, with almost no development, the head being of a most peculiar shape. His eyes are like those of an eaglet ; his nose very prominent. Behind the back of his head there is a skin protuberance of the size of a small egg. His mouth is well set, with beautifully even teeth. His beard is long and shaggy, He appears to be a man of about thirty-seven or thirty-eight years of age, and about five feet ten inches in height. A small piece of the third finger of the right hand is taken off as far as the nail. He answers in every particular to the Daniel Morgan described in the New South Wales Government Gazette. On his person was found by Detective Mainwaring the sum of £85 9s 9d ; a draft for £7 in favor of Charles Barton Pearson, Bank of Australasia, Sydney ; a silver open-faced lever watch with steel chain ; another open-faced silver lever watch with gold curb chain attached, a small telescope, powder, ball and some provisions. The body of Morgan was very emaciated, and my opinion is he would not weigh over nine stone. He wore a cabbage-tree hat, with tweed coat and trousers and Crimean shirt. He wore a very massive gold ring, and carried a very small meerschaum pipe, with case.

Great credit is due to all parties concerned in hunting down this live demon in human shape ; to Alice Keenan particularly, in communicating with Mr. Rutherford at the risk of her life. The two other female servants also deserve especial mention — Miss O’Dwyer and Miss M’Donald ; to the yonng man Quinlan, who fired the fatal shot ; also, to James Frazer, in riding to Wangaratta on such a dangerous mission. To Detective Mainwaring, Constables Evans, Percy, Hall, Creilly, Laverton ; and Messrs H. Connolly, Church, F. Collin, Tone, Faithful and others, whoso names I forget.


After leaving Bewsey’s station, Morgan proceeded to B. Warby’s (Taminick) station, a distance of some six miles, on Saturday morning, about seven o’clock, bailed up that station, and ordered Mrs. Warby to make breakfast for him. He told her not to be afraid as he would not hurt her. She said, “I suppose, then, you are Mr. Gardiner.” He answered, “No, I am Mr. Morgan,” and asked to borrow a horse, as his was knocked up, and as he had been riding a horse lately worth 200 guineas — meaning, of course, Victoria — but her hoof had been hurt coming down a range, and he was compelled to leave her at another station. He said he knew Mrs. Warby’s husband, and had been at school with him near Campbelltown, New South Wales, and would not harm any one on the station. There was no horse to be got, and he left on the same horse. Previous to leaving he pulled some grapes in the garden very coolly. He, then, apparently, made for either Peechelba or Killawarra. About half-an-hour after his departure, Superintendent Winch, accompanied by Detective Mainwaring, Mounted Troopers Percy, Hall, Creilly and others, arrived, and, on Mrs. Warby’s mentioning her visitor’s name, immediately got on his tracks ; and, Percy, saying he knew the road, made for Peechelba. Here it is supposed that Mr. Winch, thinking that he might double back on the ranges, sent the men mentioned on towards Peechelba, and tried back for the Murray in the nearest direction. But he had previously taken such steps as to render Morgan’s escape from Victoria nearly impossible. He had lined both sides of the Murray wherever there was a ford, or wherever a horse could be shoved in for a swim with tried men, who would have given some account of Mr. Morgan, and was prepared, in case he crossed, to follow him into N. S. W. with every available man. Mainwaring’s party lost the track, and made for Killawarra, where they thought it more likely that Morgan would take. They there made preparations for his reception ; but, as luck would have it, Morgan had gone to Peechelba ; and one of the volunteers from Wangaratta, having got off his track, struck Killawarra. By an oversight, he was nearly shot, as, on the police challenging, he answered, “Morgan,” but his voice was luckily known to the police, and he got off free. He, of course, informed this party where the villain was; and, “boot and saddle” being the word, although their horses were knocked up, they made for Peechelba, and arrived as already stated about seven in the morning. Here, Mainwaring’s party, it being daylight, were about to rush the house, not knowing the plans of the other party, but fortunately Constable Evans saw the police approaching, and sent a scout to intercept them and inform them how matters stood. This, again, altered all the plans, and a fresh disposition of the men was made out of sight and without noise. Morgan was at this time in the house engaged at his toilet, but every one know what was in preparation for him. Morgan occasionally, towards morning, appeared to doze, but always with a revolver ready in one hand, and often starting up and assuring the inmates that he slept with one eye open. He had at the same time cunningly left a revolver on the table within reach of the watchers, but this subsequently proved to be unloaded, and no doubt the man who took that up to shoot him would himself have been shot dead. During the night he chatted very freely with Mr. Macpherson, and told him that his parents were still alive and residing at Appin, near Campbelltown, New South Wales. The catastrophe is already known to our readers. There is not the slightest doubt of the man shot being the veritable Morgan. Mr. Thomas, the photographic artist of Beechworth, proceeded on Sunday night to the scene to take the likeness of the dead bushranger, copies of which will no doubt be eagerly sought. His remains have been visited by hundreds of persons from a not altogether unreasonable curiosity to see the body of a miserable man who, for two years, set the Government and police of the neighboring colony at defiance and kept its whole people in a state of abject terror. There was very extraordinary excitement indeed throughout this district, both on hearing of his arrival and on the news of his close pursuit, and death ; but the excitement was of the right kind, that of men hearing there was a tiger among them, and not the cowardly terror of New South Welshman. We have to thank the residents of Wangaratta for their kindness in favoring ourselves and our correspondent with all particulars, and we may mention that our reporter was on the spot immediately after Morgan was shot and saw him dying, and was, therefore, in a position to learn the fullest particulars. We will have some remarks to make with regard to the whole of this sad but glorious affair, but cannot close our account without expressing, not our astonishment, but our admiration of the manner in which the whole public was stirred up as one man with the determination that this monstrous villain should be swept off the face of the earth. We need not say what we think of the police and volunteers engaged in accomplishing the bloody scoundrel’s fate, but we think the conduct of the girl, who at the risk of her own life, gave the alarm, is worthy of the Victorian Cross. Indeed, the conduct of all the ladies in this district, who were brought in contact with this miserable coward, was marked by extraordinary sang froid in his presence, and giving information at once to the police. We may now remind some persons who, at the time, sneered at our remarks, when we expressed, some eight months ago, our opinion that this man would not be alive within forty-eight hours of his setting foot on this side of the Murray, that it was exactly forty-eight hours from the time that it was known that he was in Victoria, until he lay mortally wounded. We invite Mr. Benjamin Hall and other such ruffians, to pay us a visit if they dare. We are informed, upon good authority, that Morgan’s real name is Dan Moran ; the surname of Morgan being an assumed one.

The Bright correspondent of the same journal, writing on Monday, the 9th inst, says : — “On Friday, and since, the interest on the deep lead has ‘paled its ineffectual fires’ — before the excitement caused by the said Morgan — which I was an unbeliever in until Saturday. On Thursday last Constable Baird brought intelligence here that Morgan had stuck up Mackinnon’s station, and that night Sergeant Harkins, in charge here, sent an express to Beechworth with the information. The particulars, which I took some pains to learn from the mass of wild report current, seem to be as follows : — On Wednesday morning, Mr. Mackinnon and a lad named Madison, saw a stranger riding into some scrub above the station, but, perceiving he was seen, he turned, and took them to the station, where Mr. Brady was buying cattle. He asked who Brady was, and on being informed, drew a revolver, and told Brady to throw him his coat and waistcoat. This being done, and no money obtained, he called on Brady to show he had no belt under his shirt, which command was complied with. He, then ordered all hands into the hut, and took down two guns, into which he poured water. Noticing some whispering between some of the men, he threatened to ‘put a hole in them’ if it were not stopped. A Mr. Johnston (Lankey) of Growler’s Creek, now came in, and he was ordered to bail up, which Johnston demurred to, saying ‘he would fight him,’ and that ‘if he had a pistol the other would not be so cockey.’ Morgan then said, ‘come into the bush, and he would lay down two revolvers, fifteen yards apart, and let them take them up and fire.’ Johnston said he was no shot, ‘but would take him by the left hand, and let each fire with the right.’ This arrangement not suiting, Morgan told him who he was, when Johnston subsided. It is probable Morgan respected Johnston’s pluck, and had some sympathy with him from Johnston telling him (what I have heard is true) ‘that he licked two policemen rather than be taken during the Buckland riots, and would have got off, only the third man came up.’ He now ordered young Madison to act as his guide, and although, as a blind, not taking the route, he ultimately came by Happy Valley, and crossed the Ovens River at Wabonga, and kept the boy with him until Thursday morning. It appeared as if he attempted at first to preserve his incognito, but afterwards avowed he was Morgan. During the night he kept one horse tied up, and ready for instant service, and seemed as if he never closed his eyes during the night.”


The following account of the inquest of Daniel Morgan lays out what occurred at Peechelba Station in April 1865. One of the curious aspects of this recounting the end of Morgan’s life is the spelling of the name of the man who fired the fatal shot. Herein spelt “Windlaw”, he is more commonly known as John Wendlan or Quinlan. The lack of conformity in the spelling of the name in the press has produced much confusion as to what the correct spelling is. Overall, the inquest provides a fairly clear narrative of what transpired on that fateful day in April, and the subsequent letter paints a more vivid picture of how things played out. Reports such as this continue to prove invaluable to historians, both professional (academic) and amateur. ~AP

Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), Friday 14 April 1865, page 6



The inquest on the body of Morgan was commenced on Monday, by Dr. Dobbyn, the coroner, at the woolshed, Pechelba [sic].

Mr. Superintendent Winch examined the witnesses.

After viewing the body, the jury were taken to the spot where Morgan fell, and were shown as near as possible where Windlaw stood when he fired the fatal shot. They then adjourned to the parlour in Mr. McPherson’s house, where Morgan the previous evening had bailed up the family. On the previous morning, Morgan’s body was sewn up in a woolpack and brought into Wangaratta; and the head was cut off and a cast taken of it.

The following evidence was taken:-

Edmond M. Bond, Bunganwo station, King River, squatter. — Have seen the deceased. Recognise him as a man that I knew three or four years ago as “Down the River Jack,” alias ” Bill the Native.” Saw him at that time about a mile and a half from my paddock fence. I pursued him at that time, and fired at him, with a charge of shot, at his left arm ; he dropped a coat, which I afterwards picked up riddled with shot, and supposed from that I had wounded him. I identify the deceased by his general appearance.

Thomas Kidston, settler, Walbundra sta-tion, Billabong, said, — I have viewed the body of the deceased. Recognise him as a man that has stuck me up twice, and told me his name was Morgan. It was in October or November, 1863. He took a horse from the station. The second time was two months afterwards. I heard a shot near the house. Met the deceased, and saw a pistol, my property, in his belt,which he must have taken from my house. He admitted he had been in my house, looking for a revolving rifle. I have no doubt that the deceased lying outside is the man Morgan, who stuck me up twice. I have not seen him since. I know that a reward has been offered for the capture of the deceased man, Morgan, by the newspapers.

Ellen Turner, wife of Thomas Turner, labourer, Mulwala. — I have seen the deceased outside. I have seen that man alive at Dr. Mackay’s, Wahgunyah station, New South Wales. I think it was on the 1st February, 1865, that he was there. He came overnight, and remained there till morning, when I saw Mr. John Mackay’s rifle in the deceased’s swag. Mr. Mackay’s horse bolted, with the swag on him. The deceased carried away with him the rifle, a saddle, and a horse, and about £4 in money. I was in bed when he came, and did not hear him say much. Have no doubt that the deceased is the same man.

William Ariel, of Corowa, New South Wales, storekeeper. — I have seen the deceased man outside. I recognise him as the man that stuck me up at Wallandual, New South Wales, fifty miles from Corowa, on the 28th December, 1863. He called me out of the hut, and told me he wanted my cash. Told me to put it on the ground. Presented his revolver at me, and I put the cash on the ground. He said, “Now I want your watch.” I put that on the ground. He then said, “Now your ring.” He took that. I was hawking at that time, and the property he took amounted in value to £35. Have no doubt whatever that the deceased is the same man that I have referred to as having robbed me. I do not know his name.

Morris Brash, hawker, Beechworth. — Have seen the body of deceased lying in the shed. Recognise him as a man that stuck me up and robbed me about four miles from Wallan Wallan station, New South Wales. He took £4 10s. in money, and about £30 worth of property. This was in June, 1863. On the second occasion he stuck me up twenty-five miles from Wagga Wagga; then took £12 cash, and £50 or £60 worth of property. Am sure that the two robberies were committed by the same man, and by the deceased. Saw him next, at a distance, in February, 1864 ; and have not seen him since.

John Pickering Jackson, carrier, residing in Melbourne, stated. — On Friday night last I was about four miles on the Benalla side of Winton. I was walking alongside the horses when a man galloped up to the leaders, waved one revolver about, and presented it at me. He said, “Stop the waggon.” I stopped it. He said, “Cash, cash; I want your cash; quick, quick.” I said “All right.” He uttered no verbal threat. I gave him £7 under coercion. I have seen the deceased, and I swear he is the same man that committed the offence. Have no doubt about his identify. I noticed him carefully, and am certain he is the same man. He was riding a black cob — a sort of Arab breed. After leaving me he galloped forward, and stuck-up the next waggon.

Thomas Tuckett, carrier, stated, — On Friday night last I saw the deceased, about half past three. He stuck me up about four miles the Benalla side of Winton. He rode up on the near side of the waggon, pointed a revolver at me, and ordered me to stand. I pulled up the horses, and by his direction got off the waggon. He presented his pistol at me and demanded my cash, and all my jewellery, and told me to throw them on the ground. I threw down one pocketbook containing £7. He then asked me if I had any more. I said I had another pocketbook, containing three halfcrowns and a sixpence, and at his request I threw that down. He told me to get on the waggon, and as I turned round he demanded my watch, and at his request I threw the watch on the ground. I recognise the silver watch produced as my property, by a piece of string tied round the guard, and by the thinness of the case, and by the maker’s name, “Harrison, Liverpool.” l am confident that the man lying dead is the same that robbed me.

Ewen McPherson, of Peechelba station, squatter, stated, — About a quarter past six on Saturday evening I noticed the man now lying dead. I was sitting on the sofa in the room I am now in, with my family. I saw the figure of a man passing along the verandah. I called out to know what he wanted, and he walked into the lobby to the room door, and ordered me back, as I approached within three inches of him. As soon as he came in he said, ” I am Mr. Morgan. I suppose you have heard of me?” I said “It is all right : step in.” Immediately afterwards Mr. Telford and two men came in, and he ordered them up to the end of the room. He let me sit on the sofa. He ordered the girls in, and asked me if there was a man cook. I said “No.” He put no more questions. He stood against the check of the door. He had a revolver in his hand at this time. He remained in the room all night. He conversed with me about Round-hill. He said it was said he was drunk when he was at the Round-hill station, but he was the only sober man there. He said positively that it was he that stuck-up the Round-hill station. With reference to the shooting of persons at Round-hill, he said it was reported in the newspapers that his own revolver went off when he was mounting his horse, but it was not so. That Watson, the super, or some one in the shed, fired at him. He said he found the old pistol in the shed afterwards. He said Watson was catching at his bridle when he fired, shot Watson through the hand, and with the same ball broke young Heriott’s leg. He said he was sorry for that, and did not mean to shoot him. About shooting McLean, he said McLean asked his (deceased’s) leave to go for Dr. Stitt. He said he gave him positive instructions not to go to the police camp, saying, “I saw you there yesterday ; don’t go there.” He said McLean, after getting out of the paddock, made straight for the police camp. He called to him to stop and take the other road : but McLean did not do so, and he (Morgan) mounted his horse, followed him, and after calling several times to him to stop, put spurs to his horse, and shot McLean. He said he was not going the straight road to Dr. Stitt’s He said “To show you I was not drunk, after I had shot McLean I put him on a horse and carried him back to the station, and found young Heriott lying in mud, where he had left him,” and that he took him in and attended to him also. Deceased told me it was Sergeant McGinnerty’s revolver he had in his hand while in my house. He made no allusion to having shot McGinnerty. The revolver produced is the one deceased said he took from Sergeant McGinnerty, of the New South Wales police, and is the one he covered us with in the room. Deceased told me he was on the Upper Murray a few days before. He told me that two days before he was riding a fine racing mare worth 200 guineas. Deceased told me he was convicted in 1854, and sentenced to twelve years. He said he had been at Warby’s, and spoke of a mare in Warby’s stable, which he did not take, because her hoof was cracked. I understood from deceased’s conversation that he had lost his way coming from Warby’s, and that meeting the two men he brought them in with him. He (deceased) remained in my house till a quarter or twenty minutes past eight on Sunday morning. He then went out. I went out with him, and Mr. Robert Telford, my son Gideon McPherson, and two other men also, went with deceased. As we were starting deceased said he would have to press a horse from me, but that the horse would cast up tomorrow or next day. We all then walked down towards the stockyard. I asked Morgan how the horses were to be got in, and he agreed to let my son go for them, but when we got outside we saw the horses at the stack. The stack-yard is about 250 yards from the house, and we were within twenty or thirty yards of the stack-yard when, looking round, I noticed a number of men running down behind us. I was then close to Morgan’s side, and my son was on the other side of him. I stepped aside three or four yards when I noticed the men behind, and immediately after that I heard a shot fired, and deceased fell within three or four yards of me. A number of people came up. I saw Percy the trooper. He was about the first man up, and took Morgan’s pistols from him. John Windlaw told me that he fired at and shot Morgan. Windlaw has been a servant of mine for years. Deceased was then carried down to the woolshed. I heard deceased say nothing after he was shot. I was confined to the house by deceased from his arrival until we all went out together, except that he allowed me to go on the verandah once. I have seen the body lying in the woolshed, and identify it as that of the man who stuck me up.


George Rutherford, of Peechelba Station, squatter, stated, — On Saturday night last, about seven or eight p.m, Mr. McPherson’s nurse informed me Morgan had stuck them all up. I came up to the back of Mr. McPherson’s house, and found all the girls, with the exception of the nurse, in this room, I knew, as a matter of fact, that the place and inmates were stuck up, but did not know for certain by whom. I started a man with a note to Sergeant Montford, at Wangaratta, requesting police assistance. A party of volunteers arrived, with Constable Evans, and we concerted measures for capturing the man who had stuck up the house. I saw one person come out of the house in the morning, about eight a.m. I saw Mr. McPherson, his son, two other men, and Mr. Telford come out of the house. One of the two men was a labourer on the station, and the other was a man whom I supposed to be Morgan, and who is identical with the man now lying dead in the woolshed. I was at that time at my house, about 400 or 500 yards from here. I saw the five persons walk down to the gate, the now deceased walking behind the others. After passing through the gate, deceased came up between Mr. McPherson and his son. I saw a number of armed men running up from different directions towards deceased, and I saw John Windlaw fire at deceased from a distance of about forty yards. I saw the deceased drop simultaneously with the firing of the shot. It was arranged by Windlaw, myself, and Evans that Windlaw was to shoot the man that had stuck up the house, and whom we believed to be Morgan. It was not particularly arranged that Windlaw was to shoot the deceased, but that any of the men who had arms and got a chance was to shoot him. The directions given by Mounted-constable Evans in my hearing to the armed men were given under the belief that the man who was sticking up the house was Morgan, and that warrants had been issued for his arrest. I have read descriptions of Morgan in Government advertisements in the newspapers. I identify a portrait purporting to represent Morgan to be a likeness of the now deceased. I conversed with deceased soon after he was shot. He said he did not know me ; did not know Mr. Connolly. I asked him if he knew Mr. Warby. He said, “Yes.” I asked him if his real name was Morgan or Moran. He said, “No.” He then said, “Why did they not give me a chance? Why did they not challenge me?” I asked him which was his real name, Morgan or Moran? Deceased said, “No.” I have seen deceased, and he is the same man that I saw shot. Windlaw has been an old servant of mine. I saw five men, whom I took to be, and believed to be, police, coming towards the house before Morgan came out of the house. Constable Evans and another Wangaratta policeman arrived before the Beechworth police.

William Mainwaring, first-class detective, stationed at Beechworth, stated, — I was, with others, in pursuit of the deceased, supposed to be Morgan. I departed from Mr. Connolly’s on Saturday evening, my destination being this station (Peechelba). Was in company with Constables Percy, Hall, and Chilly. Before that I was with Superintendent Winch and Constables Nicholson and Ryan. First obtained information of this man about five miles on the Melbourne side of Wangaratta, and we tracked him on to Peechelba. We were bushed on the road, and arrived about seven a.m. on Sunday. About an hour and twenty minutes after we arrived I saw deceased come out at the slip-panel. I saw deceased shot by John Windlaw. He was the only person that fired at the time. I went up after deceased fell. I searched deceased, and Mounted-constable Percy found seven £5 notes and thirty-two £1 notes. I took from his left-hand trousers pocket a purse containing three £1 Sydney notes, a draft on the Australian Joint-Stock Bank at Wagga Wagga in favour of Charles Barton Pearson for £7, marked “A.” five sovereigns, and one half-sovereign. In his swag I found £6 12s. 9d., in silver. Percy handed me the watch produced. I saw Percy, when he ran up, draw one revolver from deceased’s belt and throw it over his shoulder. I had been out after the supposed Morgan since early on Friday morning, with Superintendent Winch, Constable Shoobridge, and the other constables before mentioned.

James Percy, mounted constable, stationed at Beechworth, stated, — I was one of a party of police who started in pursuit of the sup-posed Morgan. I went as far as Glenrowan when a man brought information to us that Morgan had just stuck up Warby’s station. We went to Warby’s, and found that the bushranger had started three-quarters of an hour before towards Connolly’s. We went to Connolly’s, and Superintendent Winch arrived shortly after, and ordered us to go to Peechelba. This was about four p.m. on Saturday. I reached this place (Peechelba) between six and seven a.m. on Sunday. We ascertained that Morgan was in Mr. McPherson’s house. We were going to the house, when a man ran out and told us to keep back. Mainwaring’s party, of which I was one, was here while Morgan was in the house. The first time I saw the deceased was when he was walking towards the stack-yard. Windlaw and I were close together, and as I turned to see where the others were I saw Windlaw take aim and fire at the deceased, and I saw deceased fall. Windlaw fired with a single-barrelled gun, at a distance of sixty paces. As soon as deceased fell I rushed on him, drew a revolver from his belt, and threw it away. The revolver produced is the one I took from deceased. Deceased’s left thumb was in his pocket, and some notes were sticking out. I saw the butt of the pistol sticking up at his left side, as he lay on his back. I took the two watches produced from deceased’s waistcoat. I handed the notes and property that I took from deceased to Detective Mainwaring. The pistols were loaded.

George Evans, foot constable at Wangaratta, stated, — I arrived at this place (Peechelba) about one or two a.m. on Sunday with two volunteers and another constable named Leverton. One of the volunteers was armed. We had received information that the station was stuck up. We made our way to Mr. Rutherford’s house with the help of a guide along the river bank. I stationed the men round the house. I, Windlaw, and Donald Clarke were stationed twenty or thirty yards from the verandah. We were there from 2.30 a.m. till near daybreak. I saw deceased shot, and I identify deceased as the man I saw shot. When day broke I shifted the men to the back of the house, and I afterwards saw deceased come out of the house. Deceased was shot by Windlaw.

John James Hallett, M.D. — I have made a post-mortem examination of the body of the man now lying dead in the woolshed at the Peechelba Station. I found the lowest of the cervical vertebras to be shattered, and the spinal marrow within, as a consequence, destroyed. I found that whatever may have caused his death must have entered just above the left shoulder blade. It was apparently a bullet wound. The edges of the wound were inverted. I traced the exit of the ball to a portion of the neck high up and under the chin to the right side of the windpipe. The wound of exit was a little more dilated than the wound of entrance, and was a little ragged. I consider the cause of death was the destruction of the spinal marrow, caused, I should suppose, by a gunshot wound. A man wounded like that, I should consider, would fall immediately, and might linger and live a few hours. No blood-vessels were destroyed.
By the Jury. — I noticed a fatty tumour a little to the right of the centre of the back of his head.

Joseph Henry, duly-qualified medical practitioner, stated, — I assisted to make a post-mortem examination of the body outside with Dr. Hallett. I found the cause of death to be the fracture of two of the cervical vertebrae by a gunshot wound. Such a wound would cause a man to drop immediately, and he could not live very long.


Dr. Dobbyn, the coroner, was examined by Mr. R. W. Shadforth, police magistrate of Wangaratta. — Yesterday, shortly after twelve noon I arrived at Peechelba. I saw the deceased, who was then alive. I examined him, and found two bullet wounds — the entrance wound on the left scapula, and the wound of exit on the right side of the lungs. When I saw him first he was in a dying state, but quite sensible. I asked him if he was in much pain. He said, after some time, that he was choking. He died very shortly after. I examined deceased for peculiarities immediately after death. I had the body stripped. I observed that deceased was about five feet ten inches in height, of very spare build, had very long darkish brown hair; a fibrous tumour, rather larger than a pigeon’s egg, on the back of his head ; his eyes were greyish-blue ; he had lost the top joint of the third finger on the right hand ; and there were shot marks, or what appeared to be such, on the back of one of his hands. The most peculiar look of his face was his nose. He had several very small moles on his back, and a vaccination mark low down on one arm, six inches above the elbow. There was a small piece of nail growing over the top of the mutilated finger. The description of Morgan exactly tallies with that of deceased.


“That the deceased, whom we believe to be Daniel Morgan, met his death from a gunshot wound, inflicted by John Windlaw on the morning of the 9th April, 1865, at Peechelba station, on the Ovens River; and we further consider that the homicide was justifiable. We further consider that great praise is due to all concerned in the capture of the deceased.”


WANGARATTA, April 11. As a spectator at Morgan’s death, I have thought fit to send you my impression of the scene.

Peechelba station is twenty-one miles from Wangaratta. Being a friend of the families there, the messenger sent by Mr. Rutherford for the police aroused me near midnight on Saturday with the news—”Morgan is at Peechelba.” Mounted on a fast horse, I soon over-took the party of police, with two other men and the guide ; but we had not gone half-way when another party of four joined us. The messenger guiding, we were brought to a re-tired spot within a few hundred yards of Mr. Rutherford’s house, and here we dismounted ; while the guide on foot went to reconnoitre, and find whether Morgan had come down, and taken possession of it also. In the deepest anxiety we waited in the thick river-side scrub.

At last we heard persons approaching. We found these to be Mr. Rutherford and the guide, with the glad news—”Morgan is still at McPherson’s, and likely to remain there till morning.” We all left our horses, and went on foot to Rutherford’s house, and there, after much consultation, the armed men were distributed, and sent off to their respective stations round McPherson’s house.

It was about half-past two when the armed men took their places, while the unarmed remained at Rutherford’s. Three of these, I being one of them, sat in a room looking towards McPherson’s. It was an anxious time. We knew not when we might hear the report of firearms, for we feared that Morgan might attempt to drive his captives down to our quarter. We knew that he could not well go away, as his horse, and indeed all the horses, were in the paddock. We saw the lamp burning hour after hour in that distant house ; and there we pictured — as, indeed, had been described by the bold nurse-girl — the revolvers on the table, the sleepless, but sleepy murderer, and the innocent in-mates huddled together in the room. A brave Scot, D. Clarke, who had been the guide to the placing of the armed men, brought us tidings of the inmates twice through that strange night-tidings that all as yet was well, and that the ladies were in their bedrooms.

As morning broke we extinguished our lamp, to avoid suspicion, threw open the shutters, and then sat down to watch with anxious hearts. While it was yet scarce broad day, we saw a new lamp light, it was that of the hall ; and then a figure on the verandah, whom we judged to be Morgan. Soon the door closed. Then ever and again we saw the women servants going backwards and forwards from the house to the main building. After a while down came a man with pails in his hand, and a message from Mrs. McPherson from her bedroom to allow everything to go on as usual. So the hours flew speedily; and as the house was being lit up by the rays of the sun, one man went to milk cows, another to drive the horses to water, other two with a cart to bring in some mutton killed the night before — and all this in sight of McPherson’s house.

And how we watched that house so eagerly, for that door to open. “O God!” cries one of our party, “there moves these armed men at the fence” (it was a far better shelter, we afterwards learned). About eight, the door again opens. A man comes in his shirt sleeves ; walks in the garden; looks over the fence. It is Morgan! But again the door is shut.

But who is this coming down on horse-back, past McPherson’s house ; and who are these men in the distance, with glancing arms ? The man we find is from Wangaratta, and these are police just arrived, who take their station behind the house (McPherson’s). Well it was that a man had been stationed on the road from Wangaratta to stop any who might come that way, or there would have been a different tale to tell ; however, they were warned in time. Still the door remains closed. A scout brings in news that Morgan is at breakfast, chatting freely with his captives. Mr. Rutherford and his men go about as usual ; while we strangers, to avoid suspicion, stay within doors. It was nearing nine. On that lovely Sunday morning there must be death ere long, were our thoughts-of how many, who could tell? There must be blood spilt – whose we knew not. One thought of one, and another of another – of friends they loved. What was to be the end? Some dozen men, armed, were round that house – a cool, well-trained shot and cruel murderer within. The suspense grew terrible. The clock was about to strike nine, when the door opened, and one, two, three, four, five persons came out into the verandah. In Indian file they passed, Morgan last, through the gate, and evidently through the horses, now eating hay at the haystack. When they were half-way down we saw the three armed men moving at last, running stealthily-running from tree to tree — behind that man driving down his captives before him — little he knew who was behind.

We four now stood in the verandah. One of our party could not restrain the shout of cheer “Well done.” Nearer, nearer. Two are behind a tree. That string of men separate a little. A sharp ringing sound — some smoke — a shout. I ran, fleetest of our party, and I stood at the head of that man — his long black hair, his long dark beard, his keen, half-closed grey eyes, his arms lying still by his side, his mouth with warm blood frothing on his compressed lips — these are the lines of a picture which Time’s weird hand can never blot out.

A warm pressure from the hand of him whom I call my friend — the man whose life was in peril from the murderer’s — and from the avenger’s hand, this was all ; and I fled on speedy horse to the distant township, to hear the bells calling worshippers to prayer.

The most grisly bushranger stories

[Warning: The content in this article may be distressing for some readers. Discretion is advised.]

Justin Kurzel’s hyper-stylised and ultraviolent interpretation of True History of the Kelly Gang received positive reviews when it debuted in Toronto in September 2019 and seems to be landing blows in the UK where it opened this weekend. Many critics praised the gritty aesthetic and the subversion of history employed throughout. Fans of the historical Kelly story were not so embracing and questioned why the creative team felt the need to stray from history so radically to play up the violence and sex (and dresses). While Kurzel’s approach may be artistically valid, it certainly falls into his wheelhouse of telling grimy tales of psychopaths and nihilism. But is the Kelly story truly the one to use as a basis for this kind of story? Here is a list of five bushrangers stories more ripe for the Kurzel treatment than that of the Kelly Gang.

Kurzel’s Ned Kelly film exchanges historical accuracy for a grungy, gory aesthetic

1. Michael Howe: One of the earliest bushrangers to be labelled as such was Van Diemens Land’s most notorious outlaw. Already the subject of a film that took vast liberties with the history to create a twisted and gory tale of a madman (The Outlaw Michael Howe), the historical Howe has more than enough violence and weirdness in his story to sustain even the most subversion-inclined filmmaker. According to the generally accepted story, Howe was a former Navy man, and a violent ruffian who joined John Whitehead’s bushranging gang in 1815. This version of events also describes the banditti roaming through the Van Diemonian frontier raiding farms and torching them for good measure, and attacking Aboriginal camps where they would kill the men and take the women as sex slaves, which is how Howe supposedly paired up with “Black” Mary Cockerill, who was portrayed as his love interest in the 2010 film. During a violent gunfight, Whitehead was wounded and Howe hacked off his head to stop the attackers claiming the reward that was on it (in those days presenting an outlaw’s head was used as proof to receive the bounty).

Michael Howe

Howe frequently escaped the law, once being granted minimum security incarceration in exchange for giving evidence about his colleagues, from which he simply walked away. This has fuelled conspiracy theories that he was working for the government to dob in bushrangers in exchange for leniency, though the historical record shows it is not so clear cut. Howe was said to have murdered his confederates when his paranoia got the best of him and even escaped from capture on one occasion by murdering his captors with a hidden dagger. He shot Mary Cockerill with a blunderbuss to create a distraction during a chase allowing him to escape from soldiers, resulting in her helping the military track him down in spite when she had recuperated. He kept a diary bound in kangaroo skin, supposed to have been written in blood and detailing his lust for power. Eventually Howe became a hermit, his clothes disintegrated and he wore a cloak made of kangaroo skins he had stitched together. When a former associate tried to lure him into a trap, Howe fled to the Shannon River where he was cornered and bludgeoned to death. His mangled head was then hacked off and taken to Hobart for the reward. It was displayed proudly on a spike near where the Drunken Admiral restaurant now stands. Of course, as with a great many bushranging stories, even though this is the most widely accepted version of events it is also very wide of the mark in terms of accuracy, and the real Michael Howe was nowhere bear as bloodthirsty or savage as he has been made out to be.

The Outlaw Michael Howe was a gritty, “grimdark” retelling of the story of one of the earliest bushrangers.

2. Alexander Pearce: The historical Pearce has been the subject of two feature films that were released close to each other (Van Diemens Land, The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce) due to the harrowing narrative of his last years. Pearce was transported to Van Diemens Land and suffered the fate of all convict transportees. Malnourishment, hard labour and floggings were the daily grind. Pearce soon joined a gang that managed to escape from prison and went bush in an attempt to gain liberty.

Illustration of Pearce after death by Thomas Bock

The bushrangers soon realised the fatal flaw in their plan was their complete inability to navigate the wilderness and find food. When the rations ran out they turned to cannibalism, the victims being hacked to death in their sleep and turned into food for the survivors. Eventually the few that were left went seperate ways and Pearce was apprehended while raiding a sheep farm. He was returned to prison but escaped again with another convict who he immediately took into the bush and slaughtered. When he was recaptured Pearce declared that human flesh tasted “better than fish or pork” and had some of his companion’s flesh in a pouch that he was saving for later. Naturally, he was hanged for his crimes.

Post-mortem sketches of cannibal convict, Alexander Pearce.

3. Thomas Jefferies: Called “The Monster” by those who heard of his despicable crimes, Jefferies was another Van Diemonian bushranger of the 1820s. He was a transportee who quickly climbed the ranks to become flagellator (the man who performed the floggings), which was a job he relished. Jefferies was known for abducting female convicts and taking them into the bush to have his way with them. When this behaviour lost him his privileges he went bush with three other convicts. Jefferies travelled through Van Diemens Land raiding farms and committing arson, rape and murder.

Jefferies by Thomas Bock

In his most infamous crime, he and his gang raided a farm, murdered a neighbour and wounded the owner, abducted the owner’s wife and child, and when the woman slowed down to tend to her infant Jefferies plucked it out of her hands and smashed the baby’s head against a tree until it was dead, before dumping the body in the scrub to be eaten by wild animals. Jefferies went deeper into the bush with the traumatised woman and raped her before releasing her to walk home two days later. It was this crime that earned him his nickname. Jefferies also killed and ate one of his gang members when they got lost in the bush, later admitting that he had cut the remains into steaks that he would fry up with bits of mutton, adding to his horrendous reputation. Later he also murdered a constable by shooting him through the head. When he was finally captured by John Batman, he was sentenced to death. Lynch mobs formed to try and break him out of prison so they would have the joy of administering the punishment themselves. There was supposedly an elderly woman that was so enraged she tried to stab him with a butcher’s knife through the cage of the wagon he was being transported in. Even bushranger Matthew Brady, who had been a former associate of “The Monster” and was captured after Jefferies had given the authorities information about his whereabouts, refused to be kept in a cell with him, telling the guards that he would decapitate the villain if he was not relocated. When Jefferies was hanged many sighed with relief that justice had been served.

The notorious Thomas Jefferies was the most despised man in Van Diemens Land.

4. Dan Morgan: The story of Dan Morgan’s life is a complex one to retell due to so many decades of misreporting and folklore obscuring the truth. The film Mad Dog Morgan is a perfect illustration of how difficult it is to tell the story with adherence to the facts. Yet, if one was to create a narrative based on the folkloric Morgan, it would have be one of the most violent and perverse stories put to film. Morgan has no definitive backstory, the only reliable account of his life starts when he was imprisoned on the prison ship Success for highway robbery in the 1850s. Success and its sister ship President were reserved for the worst criminals in Victoria. On these ships prisoners were isolated, kept in undersized cells with poor ventilation, and subject to cruel and unusual punishment. During the day Morgan was ferried to the mainland to break rocks, which is where he lost the tip of a finger when his hand was crushed. Morgan was also a witness to the murder of prison inspector John Price by convicts, who bludgeoned him to death with their tools over the harsh conditions he enforced. When Morgan was released he became a swaggie and never used his real name. He worked for a time breaking horses on stations around Victoria and New South Wales but eventually went rogue. He was joined by a man called German Bill or Fancy Clarke and began a career of robbery. One of their victims was Henry Baylis, the magistrate of Wagga Wagga, who they bailed up but quickly released. Baylis, accompanied by a party of police, located the bushrangers and engaged them in a shootout. During the battle, Baylis was shot but survived, but depending on which version you believe German Bill was either mortally wounded by police or by Morgan attempting to create a diversion to facilitate his escape. The more damning accounts of Morgan’s exploits tend to be based on hearsay and exaggerate his bloodthirstiness. He was accused of tying people naked to trees and leaving them to die from exposure; threatening a woman by backing her so close to a fireplace that her dress caught alight and badly burned her legs and back; branding people; making an old man dance on a table for him under threat of death; shooting a shepherd in the groin over a perceived slight; and tying people to fences and flogging them. While some of these may be grounded in actual incidents, albeit loosely, most are not. Even popular understanding of his known crimes portrays him as an unhinged monster. Most accounts of his visit to Round Hill Station suggest he got drunk on rum, then started shooting at people. He was supposed to have threatened the station manager whose wife begged for mercy so he shot the man in the hand instead, either putting a hole through it or blowing off one of the fingers. He then shot one of the staff who had gone for help, believing he was fetching the police. During another robbery, Morgan shot a Chinese man in the leg and in another he forced a station manager to write cheques at gunpoint.

Dan Morgan’s death mask

Eventually Morgan’s reign of terror ended when he was shot in the back at Peechelba station. His body was displayed and photographed then mutilated. A police superintendent had the jaw skinned so he could souvenir the beard; locks of hair were cut off and so was the head. There were also descriptions of the ears being hacked at and the scrotum being sliced off to be turned into a tobacco pouch. A film depicting Morgan as folklore describes him could indeed be a very grisly and twisted experience for the kind of director who wants to make a film that will shock and mesmerise.

The infamous murder of Sgt. McGinnity by Dan Morgan.

5. Jimmy Governor: Governor’s life was the basis of The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, which was first written as a novel by Thomas Kenneally then adapted by Fred Schepisi as a feature film. Both stick remarkably close to Governor’s real life. Governor was an Aboriginal man who worked briefly as a black tracker for the police. Undoubtedly he was used in acts of state sanctioned aggression against fellow Aboriginal people. Governor was part white on his grandmother’s side, which no doubt created some identity confusion. He then became a labourer for the Mawbey family, living in a hut on the edge of their property with his wife, a white woman, and their son, who was probably not Jimmy’s. Jimmy worked hard but was paid poorly and at the same time his wife complained about living in squalor away from her family, begging scraps from Mrs. Mawbey. She was also subjected to bullying from the Mawbeys and their associates for having married a black man. This reached breaking point when she threatened to leave Jimmy. He snapped and took his uncle with him to the Mawbey house where they slaughtered the women and most of the children with a nulla nulla (club) and a hatchet. Immediately afterwards they went on the run, but Jimmy decided to strike back at the white society that had bullied and demeaned him.

Jimmy Governor after his capture.

A murder spree began, where Jimmy targeted farms where he knew the families and murdered any women or children that were there, usually with his club. Jimmy had a list of around thirty names that he was systematically working through on his murderous vendetta. Jimmy and his brother Joe were made outlaws by act of parliament and stayed on the run for almost two years. Huge posses were formed to track them down as the murder count came to double digits. Governor was ambushed and shot in the jaw, but escaped. He survived by eating honey he took from a farmer’s beehive. He was soon caught and nursed to health so he could stand trial. He was found guilty of murdering the Mawbeys and hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol.
The murders committed by Jimmy Governor prompted one of the biggest manhunts in New South Wales history.

As can be seen, there are far more gory and gruesome stories in bushranging history than that of the Kelly Gang, though none are as easy a sell as a movie. Still, we have already seen some of these stories adapted to screen in some form: The Outlaw Michael Howe, The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce, Mad Dog Morgan and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith. Whether any of these horror stories would get the exposure of Kurzel’s punk-gothic homage to A Clockwork Orange with Ned Kelly helmets is unlikely, however.

2019’s most popular articles on A Guide to Australian Bushranging

2019 was a very busy year for A Guide to Australian Bushranging. Of the scores of articles published in the past year, these were the ones that attracted the most attention. If you want to check them out, just click the titles to go to the articles.

1. True History of the Kelly Gang (July 2019 update)

2. Joe Byrne: An Overview

3. “Mad Dog Morgan”: An Analysis

4. The Armour: The Myths, The Facts (Review)

5. The Death of Happy Jack

6. Dan Kelly: An Overview

7. Johnny Gilbert: An Overview

8. The Legend of Ben Hall: An Analysis

9. Like the Bushrangers of Old: The Kelly Gang in Jerilderie

10. Ned Kelly (2003): An Analysis

A Guide to Australian Bushranging on tour, 2019 [Blog]

With November 2019 seeing the 140th anniversary of the Wantabadgery Siege, the decision was made to make a pilgrimage to Wantabadgery. As no formal acknowledgement of the anniversary or notification of any organised commemoration thereof had been announced, I decided that somebody ought to fill the void — and who better than the chap that does all the bushranger stuff online? It should be pointed out before we continue that this recap is not all about bushrangers, but rather a recounting of the things that happened during the trip. Hopefully it will give you some travel ideas. That said, let us continue…

With Georgina Stones from An Outlaw’s Journal in tow, I headed up northeast of Melbourne. On the way we passed through Benalla, where Georgina added some fake flowers to Joe Byrne’s grave. Previously she had left real flowers, but this time wanted to leave something a little more enduring. Every time we go up I see if I can spot the little bust I placed on the grave. The tiny polymer clay portrait has been there through searing heat, bucketing rain and everything in between but is still looking pretty good despite being put through the ringer.

Giving Joe Byrne’s grave some TLC

Our first night was spent in The Empire in Beechworth. This heritage hotel was around in the days of the Kelly Gang and has an interesting anecdote connecting it to the Kelly story. Following the murder of Aaron Sherritt, his widow Belle and her mother Ellen were lodging in The Empire. Aaron’s inquest had been held in The Vine (no longer in existence, and definitely not the one in Wangaratta) and the pair had stayed on in Beechworth long enough to see Ned Kelly arrive for his committal. Having been convalescing in the hospital in Melbourne Gaol, he had been deemed fit enough for transportation to Beechworth via train. When being taken from the station to the gaol by buggy, he was taken past The Empire where he saw two women watching him from the balcony. He tipped his hat to them in a conspicuous show of gentlemanly behaviour, perhaps unaware that it was his machinations that had led to the brutal slaying of the husband and son-in-law of the two women he was saluting.

Upstairs in The Empire

Dining at The Empire was exquisite. Food and drink were top notch, and the service equally as commendable. That night we were the only ones in the building, which should have meant a nice, quiet stay. However, there were other occupants that were not keen on staying quiet — occupants who were not of the physical world. Disembodied footsteps and the sound of objects being shifted or dropped was pervasive throughout the night, though we did get some shut-eye. It should be added that the rooms at The Empire are nice and cosy with very comfortable beds, so if you’re looking for a place to stay, give them a look-in (the ghosts don’t cost extra).

The next morning after an obligatory visit to the Beechworth Bakery, we headed to the Beechworth Cemetery so that Georgina could pay her respects to Aaron Sherritt. While there I tracked down the grave of John Watt. Watt was the proprietor of the Wooragee Hotel on the outskirts of Beechworth. One night he answered the door of the pub to reveal three bushrangers who ordered him to bail up. Rather than comply, Watt turned to head back inside. One of the bandits shot him in the back, then they fled. It took Watt over a week to die from his wound. Subsequently, two of the bushrangers, James Smith and Thomas Brady, were hanged in Beechworth Gaol for the murder.

John Watt’s grave in Beechworth Cemetery

Upon leaving the cemetery, we began the journey into New South Wales. Our prior search for accommodation had led us to a motel in Gumly Gumly, just outside the city of Wagga Wagga. The accommodation was nice enough for the price, however our neighbours weren’t exactly the quiet type. One couldn’t help find some amusement in their loud interrogation as to whether their companions were “giving wristies” while blaring Spotify over a Bluetooth speaker right in front of our door. In fairness, they did apologise when they realised that it was actually people they had seen park and enter the room they were in front of and not a very potent hallucination.
For the next few days we were right in the heart of the territory connected to Dan Morgan and Captain Moonlite. After so many visits to Kelly Country, it was great to finally be immersing myself in other bushranger stories. The only major drawback was the threat of fire. Following prolonged drought, much of New South Wales was suffering from their worst bushfires in living memory. Though the region we were exploring was safe, one couldn’t help but think about the beleaguered fireys battling the blazes further north on the other side of the Blue Mountains. Driving through the lower portion of the state and seeing how bone dry it was and how wispy the vegetation looked, it did not take much imagination to picture it going up like a celluloid girdle on bonfire night. With the anniversary of the Wantabadgery Siege, there are no prizes for guessing where was first on the list of locations.

Wantabadgery is a small town between Wagga Wagga and Gundagai that is mostly farmland and built on a mix of steep hills and flat pasture. It was here in November 1879 that Andrew George Scott would seal his name in infamy. Having been the target of police harassment since his release from prison earlier in the year, Scott had decided to seek his fortune in New South Wales. Venturing out on foot from the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy with his companion James Nesbitt, Scott soon added Frank Johns, August Wernicke and Thomas Rogan to the mix. A few miles outside of Wantabadgery they convinced a swaggie named Graham Bennett to join them and from there they continued on to Wantabadgery station, which Scott had been told would provide them food, shelter and possibly work. When they got there they were made to wait outside for two hours to see the superintendent, who simply told them to go away. On that day 140 years ago it was cloudy and raining, but when we were there the heat was unrelenting, as were the flies. Despite the difference in climate, the immersion was easy. The terrain doesn’t appear to have altered much all these decades after the fact. It is very easy to picture the bushrangers huddled among the boulders on the outskirts of Wantabadgery station, trying to get some sleep after being turned away.

The Webb-Bowen memorial

The first stop for us was the Webb-Bowen memorial (“The hero of Wantabadgery”), which is the only real public acknowledgement of the bushranging event in Wantabadgery. The result of a wonderful community effort to honour the fallen officer, it features a metal sculpture by Max Burmeister and artworks by locals that portray Webb-Bowen as something of a pop culture figure (I personally really love the Warhol inspired piece on display there and would like to see that become a poster of some description). A simplified map is on display to indicate the significant spots in the area related to the events, which gives a decent indication of where to go and came in handy. It would have been nice to see some signage at the relevant sites akin to those placed at locations pertaining to the Ned Kelly story, but it is understandable that more of an effort hadn’t been made to draw attention to these places in that manner, especially as these are still working farms. Regardless of where you go that is connected to the Moonlite story, there is almost no acknowledgment of it or only a vague understanding of it. Captain Moonlite does not bring tourists into towns like Ned Kelly does, unfortunately.

The sweeping hills on the edge of Wantabadgery Station

Wantabadgery Station is currently a working cattle farm, concerned with raising black Angus, and by all accounts they do a very good job of it. No doubt they occasionally get visitors asking to see the homestead the Moonliters bailed up in 1879, but on this occasion I decided it was better to be more respectful than simply rocking up and asking to have a sticky beak. It must be remembered that a great many of the sites associated with bushranger stories are on private property, especially in the Riverina where bushrangers preferred to raid farms rather than rob mail coaches. One day, perhaps, I’ll pluck up the courage to get a look at the farm, but until then I must be satisfied with having stood at the gate, much as Moonlite and his boys did while waiting to see Percy Baynes.

Wantabadgery Station has much better security now than it did in 1879

McGlede’s farm was the location of the final shootout between the gang and police. While a gunfight had occurred at Wantabadgery station, there were no casualties. When a combined troop of police from Wagga Wagga and Gundagai intercepted the gang at the McGlede selection, however, a deadly battle ensued. It was here that James Nesbitt and Gus Wernicke were killed, and Constable Webb-Bowen was mortally wounded. There is nothing left of the selection now apart from the land. There are no signs pointing to it or seemingly anything at all to indicate the site. I stopped to ask some locals if they knew where to find it and they merely stared at me with the vaguely confused look cows usually give humans (Georgina did not find my bovine interrogation a-moo-sing). Having to be satisfied with having gone to the approximate location, the decision was made to head for Gundagai, where hopefully at least one of us might get enough phone reception to plot our return trip. I annoyed Georgina greatly by cranking up Slim Dusty’s version of “The Road to Gundagai” as we approached the town. It was a place that I had wanted to visit ever since I was a little boy. Some of my family members had visited back in the ’90s and brought us back souvenirs related to the statue of Dad and Dave, Mum and Mabel. It became something of an ambition of mine to see the real deal myself. It wasn’t hard to find exactly what I had sought for so long. The statue is right next to the visitor centre. The familiar shapes of the popular Steele Rudd characters immediately caught my eye. We parked and walked down to the statue. It was incredible to see these strange, almost malformed figures looming over me with hollow eyes. The statue was far bigger than I had imagined, and far more detailed. It’s original location when unveiled in the 1970s was opposite the statue of The Dog on the Tuckerbox (more on that later), but in 2005 it was relocated to the reserve next to the info centre. The connection to Gundagai comes from the old radio series of Dad and Dave of Snake Gully that used the song “The Road to Gundagai” at the beginning of each episode. To get a sense of Australian culture from the turn of the century, I recommend getting your hands on some form of media pertaining to Dad and Dave. I think Dad and Dave: On Our Selection, starring Leo McKern and Geoffrey Rush in the title roles, is a great way to get an introduction to the quirky world of the Rudd family.

Dad and Dave, Mum and Mabel

One of the best and newest attractions in Gundagai is the statue of Yarri and Jacky Jacky. These two courageous men are hugely important in the history of the town and more than deserving of such a beautiful sculpture to commemorate them. In the 1850s Gundagai was first founded on the flood plains of the Murrumbidgee river. Of course, the local Wiradjuri people had warned the whites about the risk of flooding; after all, the name of the place came from a word in the local dialect meaning “big water”. In 1852 the area was subjected to a catastrophic flood, destroying homes and leaving many people stranded amongst the gurgling floodwaters. Seeing that the people needed assistance, Jacky Jacky and Yarri led a rescue mission, riding out in bark canoes with other Wiradjuri men into the torrent to rescue survivors, saving 69 people. 89 of the 250 settlers perished in the flood, which left only three buildings intact when things settled. It is hard to say anything to adequately emphasise or exaggerate what is already an incredible turn of events. Happily, the statue stands in front of a series of information panels that describe Gundagai’s history. More effort needs to be made to highlight these stories of unity from our history, but this is a good start.

Yarri and Jacky Jacky statue by Darien Pullen

Antique shops have always been attractive to me, most likely because of my Dad’s hobby of looking for a bargain in any obscure place he came across. A collector of items ranging from ceramic horses to Inuit soapstone carvings, he played a big part in my fascination with collecting. Naturally, the moment I saw what appeared to be a decent collection of vintage knick-knacks I had to poke my head in. Beyond the rows of vintage clothing and antiques in Junque and Disorderly, a creaky staircase led up to the Gabriel Gallery, a collection of photography from the turn of the century by Dr. Charles Gabriel. The images were a fascinating look at the history of Gundagai and portrayed a vibrant community at the dawn of Federation. Of course, as is the way with basically every museum, big or small, there was one very unique part of the collection. In this case it was a walking stick and letters belonging to Henry Lawson, the great bush poet. If you have an interest in photography or early federal Australian history, the Gabriel Gallery is a great attraction to visit in Gundagai.

The Henry Lawson exhibit

After a brief rest to have a cool drink, we decided it was time we headed for the gaol. Gundagai Gaol is located on a steep incline behind the courthouse and is only accessible on a tour, which you can book in the information centre. The blistering heat proved not to be very conducive to getting up the hill without becoming out of breath, but it was good to tick off the list, even though we didn’t go in. The gaol consists of two small buildings around the size of camp dormitories, and was the location where the Moonliters were held after their capture. The courthouse being so close to the gaol meant that it was no effort to have a quick walk around the outside on the way back down the hill from the gaol. The courthouse is a handsomely designed and built structure that operates very rarely, but is still a functional courthouse. It was the place where the Moonliters were committed for trial, which would take place in the Supreme Court in Sydney.

Gundagai Gaol

We geared ourselves up for a visit to the local museum but a makeshift sign informed us that the opening hours had changed and we would not be getting in this particular day. Unfortunate, but not unexpected. The itinerary was subsequently shifted around and we made way for the cemetery. By this stage I was glad to be taking advantage of the air conditioning in the car. Throughout the trip the temperature rarely dipped below 30°C.

Gundagai Courthouse

The Gundagai Cemetery was a little way out of town but worth the visit. It is the one location that makes an effort to signpost anything connected to Captain Moonlite. The cemetery is surprisingly vast and open and the ground rock hard from the rigorous drought that has plagued the region. The monument marking the resting place of Senior Constable Webb-Bowen is hardly inconspicuous and juts out of the smattering of squat and crumbling grave markers, gleaming white. Next to it is the far more humble headstone belonging to Sergeant Edmund Parry who was killed by Johnny Gilbert in 1864. To see two officers of high esteem next to each other in such a way is just brilliant for the die-hard bushranger buffs.

The graves of Sgt. Parry (left) and Snr Const. Webb-Bowen (right)

To find Moonlite’s grave one must trek further uphill to the back of the cemetery. Here you will find a large rock with a plaque on it marking the resting place of the notorious preacher. Were it not for the seating heat and the incessant flies, the moment would have been quite profound – after all, this was my first time visiting the resting place of one of my favourite historical figures. I left a copy of my article about Wantabadgery on the grave, both as a sign of respect to Scott and his mates as well as the police, but also so that people that visited after us could learn something about the reason why the grave was significant enough to earn signage. I should point out that Scott would be fairly chuffed at being in such a prime location in the cemetery, looking down on the rest of the graves from beneath the shade. It was very rewarding to have finally connected with these historical figures.

Moonlite’s grave has the benefit of being the best shaded of the marked graves in Gundagai

The Dog on the Tuckerbox statue is a must-see if you are in Gundagai. This humble canine has become an icon ever since its unveiling in 1939. Inspired by a poem about a bullocky who is having a bad day, the statue depicts a cattle dog perched on a tuckerbox and is mounted on a plinth in a little pool. Recently the statue was vandalised but was quickly repaired and put back on his pride of place. There are some ruins adjoining the courtyard that used to be hotels for travellers going through the region, and there is a cafe where you can get a bite to eat and a Dog on the Tuckerbox souvenir. One of the more unexpected sights in this location is a cubist statue of folk musician Lazy Harry. Long time Kelly buffs will be well acquainted with Lazy Harry from his album about Ned Kelly, which has been on loop in Glenrowan for several decades.

The Dog on the Tuckerbox

After our jaunt through Moonlite country, we headed into Junee for a day without the focus being on bushrangers. Though Junee was on Ben Hall’s beat and was the location of a store his gang robbed multiple times, we had something else in mind.
Junee itself is quiet and pleasant, with easy to navigate streets. It wasn’t difficult to find the Licorice and Chocolate Factory, a huge brick building surrounded by gardens and gravel car parks. We were greeted by the sound of live music wafting as we walked into the premises. There were statues of sheep and dogs, the meaning of which were somewhat lost on us, and we made our way inside. Crossing through the cafe, we reached the factory where many warm and tasty smells lingered in the air – the rich aroma of chocolate mingling with the tang of licorice. There was not much to see through the big windows that kept the onlookers separated from the equipment on this day, but it would be interesting enough if we were on a guided tour, which the television display was obviously a part of. We went upstairs and looked at the homewares and knick-knacks, noting the beautiful writing sets and kitchenware. There was a lot of cast iron pieces as well, which were quite nice. We went back to the cafe and had hot chocolates, which were delicious and creamy. Georgina bought Orange Whiskey Marmalade, and although we didn’t buy any chocolate for fear it would simply melt in the heat, there was a lot of items we would have snapped up (though the chocolate boobs – yes, that’s a thing – were not on that list).

Despite my initial suspicions, this car is not, in fact, made of chocolate

Monte Cristo is one of the most spooky and well-known attractions in New South Wales and probably the best known thing in Junee. Billed as Australia’s most haunted homestead, it dates back to the mid-1870s and has many spooky stories attached to it. Restored from essentially ruins by Reg and Olive Ryan, the homestead is an impressive example of late-Victorian/early-Edwardian architecture. Though the buildings are starting to look a little shabbier than in the glory days after the restoration, one can appreciate the degree of work that went into essentially rebuilding the place. While I had believed that the property must have been remote, it turns out that Monte Cristo is right in the heart of Junee, making it super easy to find.

Monte Cristo Homestead

Though the place dates from later than the height of bushranging in the area, one can still imagine how the Crawleys who owned the property might have responded to news that the Kelly Gang and the Moonliters were close by in the late 1870s. Of course, the one thing everyone wants to experience at Monte Cristo is the paranormal, and if you’re open to it you won’t be disappointed. I personally witnessed a man’s shadow moving in “the boy’s room” when nobody was in there, and there were plenty of weird vibes in certain rooms. The Dairy Room is the most disturbing part of the property. Both Georgina and I entered thinking it looked nice and cozy, but that quickly changed. For me it struck when I realised the chain looped through a hole in the wall was not for locking the door. See, it was in this room that an intellectually disabled boy was restrained by a chain in that same spot, resulting in the extreme wear and tear on the bricks. In fact he had been in there, restrained, when his mother died of heart failure right in front of him and left there for days before someone went to investigate. It was in this building also that a caretaker was murdered by a local youth who allegedly was inspired to kill after watching the movie Psycho.

The Dairy

One must be careful not to let the spooky reputation get the better of you, as we almost gave a visitor a heart attack when he came past the original homestead and saw Georgina and I taking the weight off our feet on a bench. Certainly the place could have done without all the Halloween decorations everywhere, most of which appeared to have been left partly taken down. In the courtyard between the servants’ quarters and the ballroom were two old hearses filled with plastic skeletons. It cheapened the vibe of the place considerably. A recent addition to the site is the Doll Museum, which I knew we had to do as soon as I saw it. Though only a small building, the collection is huge and very impressive. The horror section should appeal to many visitors with replicas of Annabelle and Chucky in glass cabinets. There’s even a Ned Kelly doll in the mix. Seriously, Ned is everywhere!

The original 1876 Monte Cristo homestead (later, servants lodgings)

When our time in Wagga Wagga was at an end, it was time to head back towards the border. Of course, the Riverina was the home to many notorious bushrangers – Dan Morgan, Blue Cap, Harry Power – but our next stop put us in a key location in the Kelly story.
Jerilderie is not far from the border, but it isn’t exactly the kind of place you would go to unless you had a specific reason to, and you would be able to see the attractions in an afternoon. While trucks rumble through it at all hours, there is hardly any other traffic, and the place is so small that it really isn’t hard to understand how easy it was for the Kelly Gang to keep essentially the whole town prisoner in the pub. Alas, such is life where many of these old country towns are concerned, as infrastructure has frequently bypassed many of them, leading to isolation and a reduction in the strength of the local economy. A town like Jerilderie could definitely use the cash injection that tourism would bring, but the lack of tourism has led to many of the tourist attractions becoming little more than dots on a map. It’s a “catch 22”.

By the time we arrived, the heat was fairly intolerable. We stayed in Ned’s Studio Apartment, which was a really lovely spot. With its close proximity to everything the town offers as well as its own amenities enabling us to cook and clean our clothes, it was a perfect base during our stay. There was only one downside. At first we didn’t make much of the fact that the water tasted strange but when we washed our clothes and they smelled like they had been washed in a swimming pool we knew something was up. Sure enough, a bit of Googling revealed that Jerilderie has an issue with chlorine in the water supply. While easy to get around, it’s the kind of thing that is helpful to be aware of in advance and the sort of thing you don’t find out about unless you specifically look for information about it.

Ned Kelly dummy in the Royal Mail Hotel, Jerilderie

After our arrival in town, we stopped in at the Royal Mail Hotel, where the Kelly Gang had kept their prisoners while they robbed the bank. In 1879, this building was attached to the bank, which is now the location of a motor mechanic shop, and this feature proved useful to the Kellys. While Dan Kelly kept the prisoners guarded in what is now a dining room, Joe Byrne walked next door to the bank via a rear passage and began the work of robbing it. Where once Ned Kelly gave a speech about the circumstances of his life that led him to become an outlaw, now stand inactive arcade machines and dining tables. The walls are decorated with a mix of historical photos and framed photocopies of images from Ned Kelly: A Short Life. As Georgina had a whiskey and I unwound from driving through kilometres of parched New South Welsh farmland, the other patrons comprised entirely of a man of around his late thirties and his friend who was a “little person”. The pair added a bit of life to the bar. Perhaps we just went in at the wrong time, seeing as that night when we went there for dinner the bar room was full of men knocking back beers after a hard day’s work.

At the time of the Kelly Gang’s visit, the Jerilderie Motors shop was the bank and was joined to the Royal Mail Hotel (far right)

After settling in at the accommodation, we decided to take a quick look around town. It soon became apparent that when reports described Ned Kelly and Constable Richards going through the streets so Ned could make a mental map of the town, it wasn’t quite as much effort as one might imagine. Where the gang’s plot unfolded was in a small section in the heart of the town.

The old printing shop that was run by Gill, the newspaper editor, was only a short distance away from the hotel. Gill was the man Ned Kelly wanted to publish his letter. At some stage the place had been turned into a museum but there was no way in as the place was locked up and left alone, though a peek in the windows showed there were displays set up inside still.  No doubt there would have been interesting things to see in the museum had it ever opened, but alas it was another closed door to add to the list.

The Jerilderie Printing Shop

The Traveller’s Rest is situated in the street behind the council building, right by a giant windmill. This was the location of the infamous incident wherein Steve Hart took a watch from Reverend Gribble. Gribble complained to Ned Kelly, who in turn made Steve return the watch. It was also here that Ned had his last drinks before heading home after the bank robbery. It is said that he placed his pistol on the bar and said in his typical braggadocio fashion, “There is my gun. Anyone can take it and shoot me; but if you do, Jerilderie will drown in its own blood.”

The Traveller’s Rest

The telegraph office is probably the most iconic building in Jerilderie, owing to its very conspicuous signage stating its connection to the Kelly story. In the past it was open for visitors but now remains closed. A peek through the windows reveals not only the huge cracks in the walls, but also the few exhibits that have been left out to gather dust, the plaque on the wall in the main room and a bunch of boxes and crates that were evidently used for packing up items in the building. There is also a plastic box out front that presumably used to contain maps or pamphlets of some kind, but is now empty. I left a printout of my article on Jerilderie in the box for a visitor to collect with the intention that it could help set the scene as they explored the town.

Post and Telegraph Office

The old blacksmith shop was where Joe Byrne took the gang’s horses to be shod. No longer publicly accessible, in previous years it was able to be explored for $2, and a radio interview with Andrew Nixon, one of the smithies that worked there when the gang visited, would play in the background to set the scene. Now, apart from the Kelly trail signage there is nothing to indicate the historical significance of the building.

The Blacksmith Shop

Jerilderie’s information centre doubles as a lolly shop, appropriately dubbed Sticky Fingers. In a back room you can get information about the town and surrounding areas, while in the main entrance you can buy souvenirs and lollies. As well as getting maps and useful tips, I procured some sweet treats to enjoy. The souvenirs are the usual Kelly fare with Jerilderie slapped on where otherwise it would say “Glenrowan” or “Beechworth” or whatever town the things were to represent. It would be great to have something to purchase that reflected Jerilderie specifically, but sometimes you have to be satisfied with what you have on offer.

Display of antique items in the Jerilderie Bakery

A little further out is the site of the old police complex, where once stood the barracks, stables and lock-up. All that remains is the stables, and what I took to be the adjoining lock-up cell, but the printed sheet that explained the building was long rotted by the elements so it wasn’t exactly easy to find the info. Road works were being undertaken at the site so we had to dodge earth moving vehicles as we headed up to the stables. There is something strangely poetic about the dilapidated state of the building, excepting the recently installed guttering. It was here that the Kelly Gang had their base of operations in the town after locking the police up in the cell. The original police station is long gone, now a big empty patch of dirt marks where the police station used to be.

Remains of the police stables

As was becoming a recurring theme in our travels, we started our days in town at the bakery. The food is good, the prices reasonable and the service friendly. The mural of notable figures from the town’s history was certainly… unique. Now, at the risk of sounding perhaps a smidge insensitive, I am used to seeing wall murals that adhere to artistic conventions like balance in the layout and verisimilitude in the portraits. Evidently some degree of effort went into the portraits, but there’s something odd about  seeing a depiction of Joe Byrne with what looks like an advanced case of Proteus syndrome. Fortunately around the corner is a nice little exhibit of items found on the site, including a shortened Martini Henry rifle that may have been dropped by one of the trooopers that went to the town from Victoria in search of the gang. Out the back there is also a big statue of Ned Kelly made from bread tins, which I quite liked. It gave me a few little flashbacks to my short-lived baker apprenticeship seeing all those tins.

Mural painted on the interior wall of the bakery

After a short stay in Jerilderie, it was time to hit the road again. I made the executive decision to pass through Culcairn so that I could get a chance to see some key sites related to Dan Morgan. We stopped for brunch at the Culcairn Bakery and had some of the best, freshest food we had had the entire trip. Honestly, it was tempting to linger in town a bit longer, but we had places to be and things to see.
Just outside of town is the grave of John McLean, the stockman who has the dubious honour of being the first man murdered by Dan Morgan. After Morgan had drunkenly fired his pistol into a crowd of captives at Round Hill Station, a local squatter named John Heriot had been badly wounded when a bullet struck his leg. McLean had gotten Morgan’s permission to fetch a doctor, but Morgan’s accomplices convinced him that McLean was going for the police instead. When Morgan ordered McLean to stop and the man continued riding, Morgan shot him. He took McLean back to the station and stayed with him all night. McLean died soon after and even though the grave by the side of the road has a big sign next to it to tell the story, it is in fact a fake grave. The real grave is actually several hundred metres away by Round Hill Station.

John McLean’s Grave

Round Hill Station is another example of a bushranger site that has continued to thrive beyond its infamous past. Now billed as Round Hill Homestead, it is both a farm and a perfect place for functions such as weddings. As with Wantabadgery Station, I elected not to go wandering in uninvited, satisfied with knowing I had been to the spot, more or less, where Morgan went from just another highwayman to Morgan the Murderer.
The brief spell outside the car saw me swarmed with flies and seriously wishing I had one of those hats with the corks hanging off the brim. I happily shooed the last of them out of the car before we headed off towards Walla Walla.

Morgan’s Lookout

Morgan’s Lookout was one of the few things on the list that I had positioned as a must. Located on the outskirts of Culcairn, northwest of Walla Walla, the lookout is essentially a collection of huge boulders where Dan Morgan is believed to have made a camp so he could monitor the movements of police and potential victims from afar. There is no admission fee and it opens from sunrise to sunset. By the time we arrived the heat was blistering and the moment we stood outside it hit like opening a preheated oven. It appeared that some effort had been made to create a set of signs detailing the history and ecology of the location. Walking through the huge boulders was incredible. You could easily imagine Morgan sleeping inside the overhangs or lurking between the rocks, ready to pounce. A steel staircase allowed access to the top of the largest boulder. On the way around we met another visitor that was taking photographs – the only other living soul at the spot at the time. The hike up the stairs was almost as breathtaking as the view from the top of the lookout; once up on the platform you realise just how far Morgan would have been able to see. For what seemed thousands of miles around, everything was dry, mostly flat and yellow. It was easy to see how an enterprising bushranger would find the viewpoint useful. Unfortunately the weather proved intolerable and we headed back to the car quicker than originally intended. Once inside our conveyance we spent five or more minutes trying to get the flies out before resuming the trip.

Taking in the view from the top of Morgan’s Lookout (speaking of tops, you can get one of these Dan Morgan t-shirts from here)

We returned over the border much earlier than originally planned due to a decision to power through to Beechworth. This decision may have proved to have been wise given that only an hour or so after passing back through Wodonga we heard news of fires breaking out in Albury. Once we were back in Victoria we were relieved to once again see hills and the colour green. The trip was slowed considerably by road works, but hopefully soon there will be nice new road surfaces for drivers in the area. When we finally made it to Beechworth we checked in at the George Kerferd Hotel. This lavish accommodation, especially in comparison to our previous lodgings, is situated within the grounds of the former lunatic asylum (somewhat appropriate, some may say, for someone such as I). That night we indulged in Chinese food from the Chinese Village Restaurant. Georgina probably wouldn’t have felt the trip was complete without having done so at least once.

Old Beechworth Post Office

One of the best things to do in Beechworth is to explore the darker side by going on a ghost tour of the old lunatic asylum. As an enthusiast of all things paranormal, this came highly recommended and did not disappoint. Our original plan to walk from the accommodation was vetoed by our disinclination to walk after our dinner. This proved a wise decision as the asylum grounds are deceptively huge. The winding road to where the tours operate was suitably eerie as night closed in and a light drizzle began. The Asylum Ghost Tours signs, with their ominous bloody handprints, led us to the Bijou Theatre from where the tour would begin. The theatre is decked out with a mix of historical medical paraphernalia and ghostly themed decorations of questionable taste, but you can buy merchandise from there either before or after the tour. I bought a copy of the book Palace of Broken Dreams, which is an interesting read and details the history of the site. Our guide Bronwen was excellent, leading us through the buildings and recounting the history, both earthly and otherworldly, clearly and without any forced theatricality. It should be noted that this is not one of those tacky tours where you’re led into darkened rooms where some git in a Halloween costume will jump out and scare people. No, this tour lets the history and the location do all the work. As for paranormal experiences, both Georgina and I experienced things on the tour. For myself, I saw what appeared to be a young boy with a shaved head trying to hide behind some cars parked outside of what was at one stage an arts room, as well as hearing the voice of an older male in an empty room as we entered the complex where the nursery was housed. Throughout the tour, our guide was gracious in answering questions. My inclination during such tours is always to dig deeper where possible and Bronwen demonstrated that she was intimately acquainted with the place and the entities therein, as much as the history side of things, which was very impressive. Ultimately I would rate this tour extremely highly and recommend it for anyone with an interest in the paranormal or even just in the history of medicine in Australia.

Nursery display in the asylum

One of the important things we had to do while in the region was visit the El Dorado Museum for a meeting. Georgina’s work on An Outlaw’s Journal has led to a very close relationship with the museum as they are in the process of updating their collections and displays. As small local museums go, El Dorado is a beauty. Their collection ranges through all sorts of history from the colonial era to militaria and even geology. Our work with the museum at present is super secret, but Georgina took the opportunity to give the museum a beta copy of the book she has been working on about the El Dorado cow that Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritt stole. As usual, it was a fruitful meeting and an absolute pleasure to meet the committee with whom we look forward to working with in future.

Meeting the committee at El Dorado Museum [Photographer: Sue Phillips]

As in previous visits, we went to the Beechworth Courthouse, where many infamous faces had their day in court. Recently restoration works were performed in parts of the building and the historical books in the library were treated to prevent any creepy crawlies from making a meal out of them. The courtroom is basically unchanged from the era that saw members of the Kelly gang and their families on trial there and there are some very interesting exhibits. The staff are friendly and happy to have a chat about the building and its history, and even though I’ve heard the spiel a half dozen times it never gets dull.

Georgina taking up the judge’s spot in the courtroom

We also made a trip to the Burke Museum, where they are doing refurbishment to a portion of the interior where the Chinese collection is housed. The Chinese artifacts are one of the most important collections in the museum, owing to the cultural significance both to the Beechworth community and the Chinese in equal measure, many of whom travel to Beechworth specifically to connect with their heritage. In light of this, I purchased a set of postcards with illustrations depicting frontier life for the Chinese featuring artwork by Andrew Swift. We were privileged enough to get a look through some of the historical photographs in their archives in search of sites connected to Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritt. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go back and get copies as intended. The team at the museum are friendly, enthusiastic and very helpful if you are looking for assistance in your research.

Georgina examines a photograph of The Vine Hotel

We also went to the Ned Kelly Vault, one of Beechworth’s best attractions. The small building houses the best singular collection of Kelly related relics in the world, spanning the whole story and it’s cultural influences. As a big enthusiast of film, it is always a hoot to see armour worn by Mick Jagger, John Jarratt and Heath Ledger on display, among the various other exciting items such as Ann Jones’ table, helmets and weapons used by Victoria Police, and a range of photos of people involved in the story, including an image purporting to show Ned and Dan Kelly prior to their outlawry (which can only be viewed in a specially constructed box). The volunteer-run museum has thousands of people going through its doors every year and hopefully things will continue to grow.

Replicas of Dan and Ned Kelly’s armour

Another spot we visited in Beechworth was the remnants of the old hospital. Essentially, all that remains of the busy frontier hospital is the stonework from the front wall. As impressive as it is, there is something rather melancholy in the absence of the rest of the building, but that’s progress for you. Once upon a time, this would have been bustling with nurses and doctors going about their duties, attending to patients from the town and the goldfields. Now, it’s just a bunch of carved stone leading onto an empty lot.

The dramatic remnants of the old Beechworth Hospital facade

The following day we started with a trip to the El Dorado Pottery, a favourite of mine. After making a few purchases, we headed through the Woolshed Valley. Although the speed limit along the trail is 100km p/h, the road is covered in fine dust and gravel – not exactly prime conditions in case of a need to stop suddenly at top speed. We briefly stopped at Reedy Creek so Georgina could dip her toes in the water. As we were leaving there were already locals coming down in their swimmers to cool off. It’s a beautiful spot to have a swim and no doubt Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritt did as much back in the day. As we continued, we stopped at the site of the Sebastopol Flats, where Joe Byrne used to work and socialise with the Chinese. Georgina made a series of videos for her Facebook page covering aspects of the story related to the locations we were visiting, the last of which was The Devil’s Elbow, where Aaron Sherritt lived at the time of his murder. The trail is conveniently signposted throughout and you can read up on the history as you go. Unfortunately there is not a lot of structures left to see, so the signs do a fantastic job of explaining what things were there and their significance.

Reedy Creek

We then made our way back to Beechworth where we managed to get in on a tour through the Beechworth Gaol. Despite some factual inaccuracies on this occasion that only big nerds like myself would pick up on, the tour was lively and engaging. The gaol itself is in excellent condition, owing to the fact that it was only fifteen years ago that it was decommissioned. If you are in Beechworth, try and get on the tour, which operates twice daily. There are many links to not only the Kelly Gang (all of whom had served time there), but also more recent high-profile criminals such as Squizzy Taylor and Carl Williams. To drive home the Kelly connection, a set of dummies dressed in replica armour stands between the corridors of cells. For some reason Joe Byrne’s helmet had been swapped with a second Dan Kelly helmet, but not everyone is as pedantic enough to notice as I am. Hopefully there will be more attractions at the gaol soon to encourage visitors beyond the tour, but as in all things it requires money and time, which is often in short supply these days.

Dummies representing the Kelly Gang in armour

That night we returned to the Beechworth Gaol for an evening hunting for ghosts. The Beechworth Gaol is the location of the four hour long paranormal investigations hosted by Danni from Paranormal Prospectors. Entering the gaol with the lights off, after dark, was a confronting experience itself, but this was heightened by the fact that the electronic temperature gauge that had been set up in the aisle of the male cell block appeared to be floating when we entered, though it may have been an optical illusion caused by the dramatic change in lighting. Regardless of whether or not it was, this has to be hands down the single most paranormally active place I’ve ever been. We got EVPs, Georgina was poked in the back by a disembodied finger (with an EVP capturing a voice describing exactly that), the laser grid was manipulated to go brighter and duller, there were intelligent responses where whistling patterns were being repeated by a disembodied voice in various points in the prison, there were disembodied footsteps, and intelligent responses on the spirit box. One of the most incredible things was the table tipping, where the group lightly rested their fingertips on the edge of a small table and it began to tilt and spin. It spun so fast we were all running in a circle and it tipped so intensely it fell over several times, and yet nobody was gripping the table at all – I have no conventional explanation for it. Overall, it was absolutely exhilarating to experience and as a ghost buff I feel like I definitely got my money’s worth.

Interior of the gaol at the conclusion of the investigation (that’s not a ghost standing at the end of the corridor)

On the return trip we popped into the Beechworth Galleries, where we examined the bric-a-brac and marvelled at the welded sculptures. The statues, of which a considerable number depicted Ned Kelly in armour, are made by a South African artist and range from the whimsical to the absolutely astounding. Any garden or deck would be immediately improved by having one of these amazing artworks on display there – just don’t ask me how you’ll get a life-size elk made of steel home. A keen observer might recognise the artist’s work on display outside of the Billy Tea Rooms in Glenrowan.

A trio of welded Neds

We also made sure to visit Glenrowan. For me, this is where it all began in 1998 during a stop on the way to Beechworth for my grade six school camp. Of course, in some ways it was a very different place back then. For one, back then Bob Hempel was still fit enough to charge out of the animated theatre ringing a bell to attract visitors whenever a session was due to begin. Nowadays, he’s far more subdued but you still hear the crack of the “gunfire” echoing through the main strip to remind you of the attraction’s presence. Kate’s Cottage hasn’t really changed, though the pet birds are dead now and the re-created Kelly house is starting to sag like an under-baked cake, but they still play Lazy Harry on loop, and you can still get your Ned Kelly tea towels and ciggie lighters from there. The site of the siege has recently had the stolen wooden replica of the inn sign replaced with a metal one that is hopefully harder to pinch, though the metal sculpture approximating Ned’s armour at the capture site has already had the helmet stolen, having been there for only around a month.

Site of the Glenrowan siege

We had our brunch at the Vintage Hall Cafe, which is both a cafe and a shop that sells a mix of souvenirs and second hand items. It was here in 1970 that the Mick Jagger film had it’s Victorian premiere, and some local brainboxes decided to set off explosives around the building in protest (surprisingly this act did not somehow stop the film from existing). I managed to pick up a copy of the Monty Wedd Ned Kelly comic strip in a hardcover book, which was something I had been wanting for a long time. Then Georgina and I did our usual trip to Kate’s Cottage to browse the books. If you’ve got a decent wad of cash on you, you can pick up some really great titles from the range of second-hand books. I was very tempted by a number of the titles but decided to save up. Then it was a quick sojourn at the Billy Tea Rooms, which provide a lovely spot to have a bite to eat. We walked to the site of the siege where we had a moment of contemplating. It probably would have been longer than a moment if it wasn’t so hot that we could feel our skin baking.

A token of affection for an infamous pioneer family

After this we made our way to Greta to visit the cemetery, but ended up going to Moyhu and buying a fake plant centrepiece because we couldn’t find anywhere nearby that we could get flowers from. The volunteers that have been working to maintain and upgrade the facilities in the cemetery have done exemplary work and it is a pity that more of the smaller country cemeteries don’t get as much TLC. The Kelly graves are not marked, though with some research you can find out where the plots are. While many people complain that the graves are unmarked, it is very unlikely that it would make much of a difference. The marker at the gate is a tasteful memorial to the whole family, unified in the afterlife. Of course, having visited three quarters of the gang, we had to visit Joe Byrne one more time as we returned via Benalla (I doubt Georgina would have forgiven me if we hadn’t). From that point it was just a straight ride into the sunset on our way home where I hoped the cat hadn’t baked to death in my heat-trap of a house. Fortunately my mum had been an angel, as always, and made sure that the cat was looked after in my absence. By the time we got home we were both exhausted and decided that it was time to order a pizza now that we were somewhere that it would actually get delivered to.

It was indeed a very eventful trip. To experience the places where these incredible stories unfolded is always wonderful and exciting. It was good to see so much of the history preserved, but at the same time the amount of attractions that were poorly maintained or not maintained at all was disappointing. Australia’s heritage may not be full of Roman hippodromes or Greek amphitheatres, but what we do have is valuable and it is disheartening to see so much being lost because people either can’t afford to restore and maintain, or just can’t be bothered. Ideally, a town like Jerilderie could be thriving with frequent visitors coming through to visit the Kelly sites, if it wasn’t for the fact that they are so small and off the beaten track. Towns like Beechworth, in comparison, embrace their history and perhaps it could even be said that they take it for granted along with their accessibility due to proximity to the highway. It’s sad to see, but the reality is that it’s getting harder and harder to keep these things up and running in Australia, and these attractions will exist only as long as the people owning them are physically able to be there. Some young entrepreneur with a bit of cash behind them could revolutionise the tourism industry in bushranger country, but it would require real passion for the history as much as a fat bank account. These sites are our history and our culture and deserve to be maintained and cared for. Perhaps in the not too distant future, they will get the attention they need. Only time will tell.

Morgan and the Magistrate

After his release from prison, the man known as John Smith was compelled to head to the Ovens district in compliance with his parole conditions. He never arrived. Instead, he travelled through Victoria and New South Wales as a tramp, picking up odd jobs where he could, usually shifting or breaking in horses, for which he had a natural affinity. He assumed many names and in time his true identity was forgotten. It was years before he would re-emerge with a new trade and a new name: Dan Morgan; bushranger.
Morgan ventured into New South Wales, where he soon teamed up with a man known variously as “German Bill” and “Flash Clark”. The man who would become Morgan’s off-sider was as much a mystery as his confederate. Likely he was one of the many visitors to the colony that had headed to the goldfields in search of fortune but only found disappointment. Perhaps it was destiny that brought these two mystery men together, but the pair seemed to have a common desire to take to bushranging for excitement and easy money, rather than desperation, which was worryingly common in the 1860s. The success of the gold rush had made highway robbery surprisingly lucrative as a career and many young men saw it as a preferable alternative to backbreaking labour.

The first confirmed offence by the pair was the sticking up of two young men who were taking their horses to a race meeting. Subsequently, the pair were connected to a series of other robberies throughout the Riverina. Always on the move, the bushrangers utilised abandoned huts in the bush and natural structures such as caves, particularly around the Piney Ranges, or built themselves shelter out of bark and saplings. Armed with pistols and shotguns, and mounted on grey horses, Morgan and his mate quickly established themselves as a public menace.

On 20 August, 1863, police magistrate Henry Baylis was riding along the road from Bullenbong to Brookong Station in order to attend court in Urana when he encountered the two bushrangers. Due to his position as a magistrate, Baylis regularly ventured between Wagga Wagga, Urana and Narrandera to perform court duties. Upon seeing Baylis, Morgan and Clarke attempted to bail him up, armed with pistols and double-barrelled shotguns. They were on foot, their horses evidently hitched nearby. The bold magistrate was not one to be waylaid by bushrangers. He turned and took off back through the bush, one of the bandits, likely Clarke, firing at him, until he found a small camp a couple of miles away. A drayman, to whom the camp belonged, seemed rather surprised by the arrival and queried as to whether Baylis had been accosted by two armed and mounted men in the bush. Baylis replied in the affirmative. The traveller elaborated that the figures were none other than the notorious Morgan and his mate, who he had encountered the previous day. Morgan had procured an axe from the drayman to use in cutting down telegraph poles. As if on cue, Baylis heard the sound of hooves and spotted Morgan moving through the bush on a grey horse. Baylis dug his spurs in and took off through the scrub, the ground perilously soft after recent rains. Morgan and Clarke gave chase. Baylis was knocked out of the saddle multiple times by rogue saplings that brushed against his mount, but he managed to regain his seat, hurtling through the bush for a mile and a half. The magistrate’s reluctance to be bailed up seemed to signify to the bandits that he must be carrying a good haul of cash or valuables, and his haste in attempting to evade them only served to excite the bandits further, like hounds chasing a fox.

The superior mounts and riding abilities of the bushrangers saw them not only catching up to Baylis, but overtaking him and cutting him off with cries of “Pull up! Pull up! or I’ll fire!” They finally succeeded in bailing up the magistrate and held him at gunpoint, demanding he dismount and give up his money. Morgan appeared to have dropped his shotgun in the scrub during the chase but Clarke kept his trained on their target, one barrel had already been discharged but the other was cocked and ready. Baylis refused to comply with the demands. Morgan was impressed by Baylis’ pluck but chided him for his folly in trying to escape them and risk being shot. Baylis finally gave in and did as he was told. He handed over £4 and his watch with much chagrin. Morgan and Clarke were unconvinced when Baylis stated that he had nothing else of value. Morgan enquired as to his victim’s identity. When Baylis introduced himself as the magistrate of Wagga Wagga, Morgan was sceptical. Baylis went so far as to present a valise with official papers to prove the truth of his claim and Morgan was satisfied. He handed the money and watch back to Baylis and stated that as his goods had been returned he had not been robbed and therefore, he reasoned, one good turn deserved another. The request was that if ever the pair came before Baylis in court that he would be lenient. Baylis responded that he had to do his duty irrespective of the circumstances, which disappointed Morgan. Morgan respected the magistrate’s position, but asked that Baylis not make a report of their meeting. Baylis also refused to agree to this demand and was sent on his way without further molestation. As Baylis left, Morgan and Clarke cut down the telegraph poles with the stolen axe to stifle communications about the attempted robbery.

The parley had been in close enough quarters that Baylis was able to take in many details about the assailants. Morgan was about six feet tall with long black hair to the nape of his neck, and a long black beard. He had a sallow complexion and was incredibly lean of build. Baylis noted that Morgan was weak in the knees and looked as if he’d been gravely ill or injured from his stance. He was dressed in a drab overcoat with only the top button fastened and had on a cabbage tree hat. His mouth twitched and his hands were shaky and when he spoke he did so in a slow drawl, which Baylis took to be an attempt to hide his nervousness. Clarke he would describe as a stout man of thirty-five years dressed in a cabbage tree hat and black overcoat with a short beard of a light colour. Both men appeared to be quite nervous, but Morgan was better at hiding it, Clarke trembling violently as he kept Baylis covered. This was hardly the image of two bold outlaws, but rather a pair of nervous and timid men who seemed increasingly unsure of how to approach their situation. Certainly it shows no hint that Morgan was a maniac who would kill and torture for his own amusement as many would later claim from second and third hand accounts.

Baylis continued his ride to Brookong Station where he gained a fresh horse and rode of to find police. He made a report and formed a posse to capture the offenders. In the party were Constable Brown, Constable Charlton and Sub-Inspector Morrow. The following day they set out and searched the surrounding bushland for clues, focusing on the areas around Mittagong and Urangeline. It took several days of searching before they found the first signs of where the bushrangers had been. On 26 August, stumbling across the remains of a campfire with a billy can full of tea, the police discovered the mia-mia where the pair of bandits had been staying. Comprising two forked saplings as support beams for another sapling against which bark sheets rested, the empty lean-to allowed the police to lay in wait for the offenders to return in relative security. Here they found supplies and items belonging to the bushrangers such as Morgan’s black and red-striped poncho, a Bible, blankets and rugs, as well as items that were more than likely stolen, ranging from bottles of gin to a silver snuff box.

When Morgan and Clarke returned, they kept their distance, walking barefoot around the camp, and watched the police in case they were noticed. Constable Brown was the first to notice the sounds of movement in the scrub outside. Baylis scoffed and stated that it must have been a possum, though he would later turn the tables in his memoirs, claiming he was the first to notice the footsteps and it was the others that insisted it was a possum. Baylis went outside to investigate. Two shots were fired from the scrub without effect and Baylis called on the bushrangers to surrender. The offenders refused and a shoot-out began, Baylis opening fire on Fancy Clarke.

In the chaos Baylis was injured, a bullet from Clarke striking his right thumb and ricocheting back to hit him in the right breast, where it passed through his body obliquely to the left side, exiting by his left shoulder blade, and getting tangled in his shirt. A shot from Constable Brown struck Baylis’ sleeve and when Morgan suddenly appeared he fired close to Baylis’ face, singeing his eyebrows and blackening his face with gunpowder. Baylis succumbed to his injuries and collapsed. Morgan and his mate scampered into the darkness, chased by Brown and Morrow, but Clarke had been injured in the firing. It was unclear whether the wound was the result of police fire or friendly fire, though it would later be asserted that Morgan shot his mate as a distraction, despite him helping Clarke escape, which would have slowed him down considerably. Brown and Morrow lost them in the darkness and doubled back to assist the wounded magistrate. Baylis was evacuated and taken for medical treatment.

It wasn’t until the following morning that Constable Brown was able to reach Wagga Wagga to alert people of what had happened. That same day, the Gilbert-Hall Gang struck Hammond’s store in Junee, causing panic in the district. The era of the bushrangers was now in full swing in New South Wales, and what would follow would be nearly a decade of intense lawlessness never seen before or since in Australia, or perhaps indeed in the British Empire.

Henry Baylis wearing his bushranger medal and lucky chain fob containing the bullet that passed through him.

Fortunately, Baylis’ injuries were not ultimately life threatening, though severe, and could be operated on. When his coat was removed, the bullet that had put a hole through him tumbled out of the sleeve. Baylis would later have it turned into a chain fob and wore it as a lucky charm. He suffered intense pain from the wound for years after the battle, even suffering bone fragments working their way out of his body as late as June 1866. The wound would cause him trouble for the rest of his life and he was eventually paid compensation by the government for his injury. However, the initial payout in 1876 of £1500 was argued over for some time and the respective committee decided to reduce the payout by £300 in order to discourage other people that had been injured in the line of duty from seeking a payout. Beyond this, Baylis was presented with a bravery medal for his actions. Baylis continued to perform his duties as magistrate, but he would never have to worry about Morgan or his mate coming before him in court.

Things would not go so well for Morgan and Clarke. Mortally wounded, Clarke was not able to travel far. In a panic, he told Morgan that he wanted to turn himself in. Morgan slung his wounded friend onto his horse and rode to the Mahonga Run. There Morgan tried to make his friend comfortable as he died in the bush. A severely decomposed body was allegedly found on the run two years later, still wearing the same black coat as Fancy Clarke.

Morgan was beside himself and began looking for answers. He settled on a shepherd named Haley. He suspected Haley had supplied the police with the information that allowed them to find the camp. When he located Haley the day after the battle, he shot him in the back, perforating the shepherd’s lungs. Haley would never recover.

In response to the events, a reward of £200 was offered for Morgan’s capture on 31 August. Morgan’s crimes would quickly escalate over the following two years to include three murders and multiple counts of arson and robbery. Morgan’s mastery of the bush and horseriding meant that he was easily able to avoid capture. In the end his biggest vice, alcohol, would lead to his undoing at Peechelba station.

Morgan as he appeared in later life.