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On this day …….. 4th of June 1891

Moyhu in North East Victoria, revived an unexpected visitor from old time Bushranger Harry Power on this day. Power had been released from Pentridge Gaol due to ill health and was ready for a career in show bussiness. An old convict ship had been refitted to show what life was like on one of the old prison hulk on Port Phillip Bay. Harry was the official greeter of guests and was billed as “a real bushranger”. Harry had returned to Moyhu, he said to search for a plant of gold he had made some years earlier. He disappeared from the district, and reappeared in Swan Hill, where he died latter that year. Harry is buried in the Swan Hill cemetery.

On This Day……… 8th April 1865

On this day in 1865, bushranger Dan Morgan arrived at Peechelba Station near Wangaratta and held up a homestead. He demanded good and entertainment, and settled down for the night, holding the occupants of the homestead hostage. On the pretext of seeing a crying baby, one of the station staff raised the alarm. Swift messenger rode to Wangeratta to get the Police.

 

 

ON THIS DAY…… 18th September 1854

When gold was first discovered in Beechworth in 1852, John Edward Cox was one of the first to arrive and set up business. He quickly became well known in the Spring Creek Digging as a reliable and trusted gentleman. With his business growing almost overnight with more and more miners arriving in the search for gold, John made his money selling mining equipment to the miners. On an outing to Albury, John had partaken in a day’s gambling where he won 1200 pounds. In a time where you’re lucky to make a pound a week this was considered quite a windfall. On the way back to Beechworth John was robbed by a bushranger. He was made to pull his horse and cart over to the side of the road where he was hit repeatedly over the back of the head with a sharp object which punctured his skull. The front of his face was so badly fractured that he was almost unrecognisable. He then had a rope tied around his neck, the rope thrown over a branch and tied to his horse. By slapping the horse on the rump the animal walked forward and John was slowly lifted off his seat and hanged. This is known as a short drop hanging and was very common on the American gold fields. He was then robbed of his money. It was strongly believed that the killer had watched him win. Stranger though was that, almost 2 years to the day, another man was murdered in the same place and in the same manner. John’s murderer was never found. John was buried in the first Beechworth Cemetery, only to have his body exhumed in three years and moved to the current cemetery. At his funeral almost 3000 were in attendance.

 

 

On this day …….. 11th September 1863

Bushranger Captain Thunderbolt was born Frederick Ward at Wilberforce near Windsor, NSW, in 1836. As an excellent horseman, his specialty was horse stealing. For this, he was sentenced in 1856 to ten years on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour. On 1 July 1860, Ward was released on a ticket-of-leave to work on a farm at Mudgee. While he was on ticket-of-leave, he returned to horse-stealing, and was again sentenced to Cockatoo Island. Conditions in the gaol were harsh, and he endured solitary confinement a number of times. On the night of 11 September 1863, he and another inmate escaped from the supposedly escape-proof prison by swimming to the mainland. After his escape, Ward embarked on a life of bushranging, under the name of Captain Thunderbolt. Much of his bushranging was done around the small NSW country town of Uralla. A rock originally known as “Split Rock” became known as “Thunderbolt’s Rock”. After a six-year reign as a “gentleman bushranger”, Thunderbolt was shot dead by Constable Alexander Walker in May 1870.

 

A rare photo of Ned Kelly not seen by the public in 138 years has resurfaced

A RARE photo of outlaw bushranger Ned Kelly not seen by the public for 138 years went under the hammer at auction in February 2016. The photo has only previously been seen by a select few when Lawsons auction house sold it in 1988. The photo formerly belonged to descendants of William Turner, the 1878-9 Mayor of Launceston in Tasmania and since its 1988 sale it has been kept in a private Sydney collection. It has now resurfaced and will go under the hammer once again. The photo taken in December 1878 shows a relaxed Ned Kelly, centre, standing with his brother Dan Kelly on the left and gang member Steve Hart on the right. The photo was signed by all three men but the signatures were written by Joe Byrne, a Kelly Gang member, as none of the other men could read or write. Tom Tompson, a publisher and specialist for auction houses, told News Corp Australia the photo was taken in the town of Euroa on the day the Kelly Gang robbed the local bank. This was the Kelly’s first bank robbery and a means to support themselves while in hiding from authorities. Tompson said the photo was taken as an attempt for the men to gain support from sympathisers. “Ned was compiling letters, which Joe Byrne actually wrote for him, and these were put to newspapers who in the main would not publish them because the Victorian police were coming down hard on anything that looked like sympathetic treatment of outlaws,” Tompson said. Tompson said the photo shows the three men deliberately portraying a different image of themselves having gotten rid of their old clothing. “You can see a larrikin streak which is obviously there, they’ve got their new duds (clothes), they’re making their mark and it’s a very likeable shot of the Kellys instead of the dour, dark and troubling ones that exist,” he said. The photo has been pasted on a Tasmanian photographer’s card, then glued to 1920s Kodak paper. The photo has now been published in the new edition of George Wilson Hall’s book The Kelly Gang, Or, Outlaws of the Wombat Ranges. Tompson said there is huge historic value to the photo. “The Kellys are very much part of a mythical Australia,” he said. “At the time the Irish were being treated incredibly badly, they weren’t allowed to have schooling or own horses. “They bought out the Irish police to create the Victorian police force to keep a form of class distinction,” he said. The Kelly Gang became a Robin Hood-type myth for a lot of people who were struggling with their life in Australia, he added. Tompson said photos such as this one were traded between sympathisers and photographers for years. Lawsons auction house expects the photo to sell for between $10,000 and $15,000 but Thompson predicts it could go for much more. The photo was taken just over a year before the Kelly Gang’s last stand with police at the siege at Glenrowan where Ned and others wore their homemade metal armour. Ned Kelly was the only one of his gang to survive the siege and was hung at Melbourne Gaol in 1880 where he uttered “such is life” before he was hung.

 

Frank Gardiner, born in 1830 Scotland and shipped out to Australia as a child with his parents, made an illustrious career out of horse thievery and highway robbery. On 15 June 1862, Gardiner along with Ben Hall, John Gilbert and associates held up a gold escort travelling from Forbes to Bathurst. They stole over £14,000 worth of gold and bank notes – Australia’s biggest gold robbery. In February 1864, New South Wales police traced Gardiner to his hideout in Queensland. He was arrested and sentenced to 32 years of hard labour in July. Ten years later, Governor Hercules Robinson granted him mercy and released him, subject to exile. Gardiner lived in Hong Kong and Francisco before dying in Colorado in 1903. “Colonial rule was constantly challenged by bushrangers – it was a major threat to the central administration,” says Dr Hamish Maxwell-Stewart from the University of Tasmania. “They were turning the tables on the convict state.”

 

The childhood home of bushranger Ned Kelly at 44 Kelly St, Beveridge, north of Melbourne was sold on the 20th of September 2014 for $640,000. The house is believed to have been built around 1859 or 1860, when the young Ned was about four years old.

According to Heritage Victoria, the original house had just three rooms but was extended over time to have 11 rooms. And given Ned was one of eight children, it’s no wonder. Ned’s father John built the house using local stone and his knowledge of cottages from his native Ireland. It was home to the bushranger for about four years, before the family moved north to the town of Avenel, where the young Ned went to school. Today this is the only one of Ned Kelly’s childhood homes that remains intact and it carries a heritage register overlay thanks to its architectural and historical significance. It’s also a popular stop on the Ned Kelly trail, that follows the story of the bushranger’s life.

 

Despite dubbing himself with a title more fitting for a comic book hero than an Australian bushranger, ‘Captain Thunderbolt’ Frederick Ward recruited children for armed holdups and shootouts with police. Originally a drover from Paterson River, New South Wales, Ward was charged with horse thievery and sent to Cockatoo Island, Sydney harbour in August 1856 to serve 10 years of hard labour. After escaping on 11 September 1863, he settled into a life of armed robbery. Among Ward’s juvenile accomplices was 16-year-old John Thomson, who was shot and captured by police during an armed robbery, 16-year-old orphan Thomas Mason, who was captured by police and convicted of highway robbery, and 13-year-old runaway William Monckton. On 25 May 1870, Ward was shot-dead by Constable Alexander Walker at Kentucky Creek, Uralla.

 

Another Irish convict-turned-bushranger was ‘Bold Jack’ John Donohoe. He arrived in Sydney from Dublin as an 18-year-old in January 1825 to serve a life sentence on a settler’s farm in Parramatta. Donohoe escaped with two other convicts and together they formed a gang known as ‘The Strippers’ – named after their technique for taking everything from wealthy settlers. All three were eventually captured and sentenced to death. Donohoe escaped while being transported to the jailhouse. Eventually, he formed another gang of brazen bushrangers known as ‘The Wild Colonial Boys’. His bushranging days came to an end in a showdown with a contingent of soldiers and police on 1 September 1830. It was said that he shouted “come on” to the officers before dying from a shot fired by Trooper Michael Muggleston. “Bushranging was very common in the convict era,” says historian Hamish Maxwell-Stewart. “Australia was a prison without walls.”

 

After the bushranger Ned Kelly’s sister Kate drowned at Forbes NSW in 1898, historians grabbed her most treasured possession – her bed. Kate is said to have enjoyed sleeping and now visitors to a museum at Mount Victoria in NSW can stand at the foot of the bed and dream of those wild bushranger days……..

 

On this day …….. 13th of July 1882

Ann Jones, who’s hotel was burned to the ground during the Siege of Glenrowan and the capture of Bushranger Ned Kelly, rebuilt the Glenrowan Inn on the same site. On this day 1882, Jones had new furniture delivered from Irving’s in a Wangaratta.

 

On this day …….. 26th of June 1880

Ned Kelly, Australia’s most famous bushranger, was born in December 1854 in Beveridge, Victoria. As a teenager, he became involved in petty crimes, regularly targetting the wealthy landowners. He gradually progressed to crimes of increasing seriousness and violence, including bank robbery and murder, soon becoming a hunted man. Ned Kelly’s gang consisted of himself, his brother Dan, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart. One of Kelly’s more daring bank robberies was carried out in December 1878 when Kelly and his gang rode into the Victorian town of Euroa, where they robbed the National Bank of about 2,000 pounds. As a result of this robbery, the reward for their capture was increased to 1,000 pounds each. Aaron Sherritt was an associate of the Kellys, having grown up in the same area, and he was quite close to the Byrne family. He was engaged to Byrne’s sister for awhile. After the gang was outlawed following the murder of three policemen at Stringybark Creek in October 1878, Sherritt turned police informant for money. Sherritt advised the police to camp out in a cave near Byrne’s family home in the hopes of capturing Byrne as he visited his mother. Sherritt’s presence was noted, and Byrne’s sister broke off her engagement to him. Many months later, on the night of 26 June 1880, Sherritt was at home with his new wife, mother-in-law and four policemen. When Sherritt answered a knock at the door, he was shot dead by Byrne. The police officers hid, as they were unsure whether they were Byrne’s real target, and did not report the killing until late the following morning. Within a couple of days, Byrne was himself killed in a shootout at Glenrowan between the gang and the police. Ned Kelly was the only one to survive to stand trial, after which he was hanged.