Stuck on what to get that special bushranger lover in your life? Here are some things to look at that might give you some ideas with links to buy online. Just remember: if you see a portly old man with a big white beard carrying a sack full of goodies it may just be Harry Power…
Last week to celebrate the first anniversary of A Guide to Australian Bushranging and to commemorate the siege of Glenrowan, Aidan Phelan was joined by Matthew Holmes, Steve Jager and Joshua Little at the site of the siege to announce the upcoming feature film Glenrowan. The reveal caused a buzz and the call was put out for followers of A Guide to Australian Bushranging to ask some questions and in the above video are the answers.
It’s Fan Art February at A Guide to Australian Bushranging. Do you have a sketch, painting, sculpture, photograph or cosplay that you’d like to share? Perhaps a drawing based on your favourite bushranger film or a Lego set based on a historic building or event?
Email email@example.com with the subject line “Fan Art February” and provide your name, the name of your piece and any images you would like included. The pieces will be shown on Facebook and be included in the blog as part of a retrospective. If you have a website or blog for your art include a link and it will be included in the post.
Get creative and share your work with the world for Fan Art February!
There are many myths about the death of Dan Morgan, some of which aren’t entirely without reason. Here we examine the end of one of Australia’s bloodiest legends.
Despite being seen by many as monstrous and inhuman, Morgan had a great many sympathisers and friends who were so outraged by his death and mutilation that police had to quell potential riots around Wangaratta in the aftermath.
As he lay dying, Morgan was asked if his real name was Morgan or Moran – he refused to answer. This may lend a certain weight to the “McNally” origin. The origin story championed by Margaret Carnegie is that Morgan was born as William Moran junior in Campelltown in 1833, though his siblings had the surname McNally because that was the surname that the parents were using prior to their relocating to Campbelltown. Jack Bradshaw, whose autobiography is often riddled with false information, claimed to have been a good friend of Morgan’s and reported that he frequently visited his widowed mother in Wangaratta. If Morgan’s real name was Moran, could he have been trying to obscure attempts to single out his relatives?
Claims that Morgan’s scrotum was removed to make a coin pouch seem to be no more than rumour handed down as oral history, however the flaying of Morgan’s beard and the people cutting off pieces of hair (including one alleged instance where the knife wasn’t sharp enough so the souvenir hunters just yanked the hair until it came out with a piece of scalp) definitely happened and Superintendent Cobham was suspended over asking Dr. Dobbyn to perform such a gruesome act. This combined with the subsequent decapitation and postmortem contusions indicate more may have occurred that wasn’t deemed acceptable to print at the time. Thus with the postmortem autopsy having been carried out before the butchery occurred it is impossible to say what condition the remains were in when they were buried so this rumour may actually have some substance to it.
The man who shot Morgan, John Wendlan, was reported as being named “Quinlan” in earlier reports, likely because the reporter was attempting to record the name phonetically and rush the information to the editor as quickly as possible.
Reports in the wake of the death of both Morgan and Ben Hall shortly after state that copies of Morgan’s death mask were being sold around Wangaratta and were doing excellent trade. None of these copies are known to exist still, or if they do the owners are not willing to let on.
The bullet that killed Morgan shattered vertebrae in his upper spine and caused considerable damage to his throat. Morgan was paralysed from the neck down and died choking on his own blood. Though he was capable of speaking in small bursts he was largely inaudible.
When Morgan’s head was severed it was wrapped in cloths that were soaked in brine to preserve it for the trip to Melbourne. It was then placed in a wooden box and taken by coach to Professor Halford of Melbourne University. Initially the head was deemed incapable of molding by Professor Halford due to the severe damage inflicted upon it and the decay that was beginning to set in, but a cast was made nonetheless. The casting demonstrates a severe contusion (swelling) in Morgan’s left eye that was not present in any of the photographs, which could indicate that claims the head was kicked around like a soccer ball may have been true. Many of the people who examined the corpse expressed that they were impressed at how straight and handsome his teeth were. After the casting the flesh was stripped from the bones and the skull was kept in the university archives where it was later studied for a book comparing races based on bone structure.
Peter Carey’s novel True History of the Kelly Gang is widely renowned for its intriguing and colourful fictionalised depiction of the people and events of the Ned Kelly story. In this video he discusses his thoughts on the Kelly story and his approach to telling his own version of the story and reads a portion of the text as well.
Carey’s book plays, as many of his stories do, with the notion of the unreliable narrator, hence the deceptive title “True History” implying the subjectivity of truth. In emulating an essence of Ned’s voice from the Jerilderie letter he crafts a narrative that is emotionally charged and multi-layered, though not without questionable choices (the “Sons of Sieve” sub-plot is of note here). Carey’s understanding of the Kelly story is demonstrably strong and lends a sense of authenticity to the text, perhaps the reason why so many even to this day believe that this is a factual account. With Justin Kurzel, the man behind the recent Assassin’s Creed film, taking on the task of adapting this novel (a task abandoned by Neil Jordan in the early 2000s) it will be interesting to see if Kelly-mania once again sweeps the nation as it did when the novel won the Booker Prize in 2001.
This 1950s adventure movie, now lost except for the footage in this trailer, is an example of the attempt to revive the bushranger films during the mid-20th century. It seems to essentially transpose our “wild west” characters into the typical Western genre fare, which was typical of the time. The trend to portray bushrangers as essentially the same as cowboys was common from the 1930s onwards and can be seen in media ranging from film to books and newspapers as a way of cashing in on the popularity of the genre.
John Hillcoat’s moody “Pavlova Western” is a grim, brutal perspective on colonial Australia. Ruminating on violence, racism and isolation, The Proposition pulls no punches in the depiction of a fictional band of outlaws in a far flung Western Australian town in the late 1800s. Written by Nick Cave, best known for his grim, brooding, rock music, the film depicts the Burns brothers – Charlie, Michael and Arthur – at the tail end of their outlaw career. Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) makes a deal with Charlie (Guy Pearce) to bring his brother Arthur (Danny Huston) in dead or alive in order to save the life of his little brother Mikey (Richard Wilson). It’s certainly not a film for the family by any far stretch of the imagination, but it definitely gives an accurate feel for the sense of constant danger and desperation most bushrangers must have felt.
The Legend of Ben Hall is a 2016 independent Australian film depicting the last few months of the life of legendary outlaw Ben Hall. This clip shows part of the fateful hold-up at Jugiong that sealed the fate of the Hall gang.
The Legend of Ben Hall is available in Australia and Germany on DVD and Blu-Ray, iTunes, Ozflix and YouTube Movies. It has also been signed up for HBOEurope and is released in America on DVD and Blu-Ray on August 1, 2017.
Harry Power was one of the last bushrangers during the height of the bushranging era. He had a reputation for escaping from tight situations and traversing large distances in short periods of time. One of his most renowned deeds was escaping from Pentridge Prison – twice!