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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.”

 

Bushranger ‘Black Douglas’ Charles Russell

The legendary ‘Black Douglas’ Charles Russell was an English-born bushranger who held Melbourne and its surrounding areas to ransom during the 1850s. Russell preyed on those diggers travelling to and from the goldfields between Bendigo and Melbourne. There are several accounts of victims being tied naked to a tree or fallen log with their boots full of bull ants, left to die a slow and excruciating death. He reportedly led a gang of 16 bushrangers who worked together in their marauding. Their camp was strategically located a few kilometres away from the Alma minefields in Maryborough, Victoria. Eventually, a frustrated group of nearly 200 diggers burnt their camp to the ground and overpowered Russell in May 1855. He was 75-years-old when he died in Bendigo gaol in 1892.

 

ON THIS DAY – October 15, 1872

Living on the goldfields was hard and the threat of bush rangers was constantly on one’s mind. On the evening of the 15th of October three bushrangers named James Smith, Thomas Brady and William Heppanstein bailed up the Wooragee Post Office robbing them of their takings. They then rode to the Hotel next door. When John Watt, the publican of the Wooragee Hotel, opened the door he was confronted with three men with their faces covered. “Bail Up, Your money or your life”. When John refused he was shot, stumbling back into the kitchen where he fell on the floor, and standing back up he fell again, knocking chairs over. His wife then sat him up against the wall and sent a worker for the doctor. On the doctor’s arrival he was amazed that John was still alive. The exit wound on John’s back below his shoulder blade was large enough for a man’s clenched fist to fit into. Unbelievably, John lived for another nine days. Brady and Smith were charged with the murder and sentenced to hang on the 12th of May 1873 in the Beechworth Gaol. On the morning of the execution, Smith handed the Sheriff a hand written statement in the defence of both Smith and Brady. The hangman Bamford, bought up from Melbourne for the occasion, placed a white cape over their faces and the rope around their neck. Brady died straight away. However Smith struggled for minutes after his drop. It was a terrible sight, witnessed by sixty people.

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.”

 

Bushranger ‘Black Douglas’ Charles Russell

The legendary ‘Black Douglas’ Charles Russell was an English-born bushranger who held Melbourne and its surrounding areas to ransom during the 1850s. Russell preyed on those diggers travelling to and from the goldfields between Bendigo and Melbourne. There are several accounts of victims being tied naked to a tree or fallen log with their boots full of bull ants, left to die a slow and excruciating death. He reportedly led a gang of 16 bushrangers who worked together in their marauding. Their camp was strategically located a few kilometres away from the Alma minefields in Maryborough, Victoria. Eventually, a frustrated group of nearly 200 diggers burnt their camp to the ground and overpowered Russell in May 1855. He was 75-years-old when he died in Bendigo gaol in 1892.

 

On this day ………… 10th February 1879

Early in February 1879, Ned Kelly and his gang rode into the small town of Jerilderie, located in the Riverina area of southern New South Wales. After robbing the bank of some two thousand pounds, Ned Kelly then dictated a letter to gang member Joe Byrne, which became the infamous “Jerilderie letter”, one of just two surviving original documents from Ned Kelly. Kelly sought to have the letter published as a pamphlet by the local newspaper editor, so that others could see how he had apparently been mistreated. The Jerilderie letter outlined a number of Ned Kelly’s concerns and grievances about the way he had been treated by police, and what he believed were injustices in how his actions had been perceived. In the letter, Kelly tried to justify his criminal activity, and outlined his own version of events leading to the murder of three policemen at Stringybark Creek the previous October. He also alleged police corruption, outlining evidence for his argument, and called for justice for families struggling with financial difficulties – as his own had done. The letter began: “I have been wronged and my mother and four or five men lagged innocent and is my brothers and sisters and my mother not to be pitied also who has no alternative only to put up with the brutal and cowardly conduct of a parcel of big ugly fat-necked wombat headed big bellied magpie legged narrow hipped splaw-footed sons of Irish Bailiffs or english landlords which is better known as Officers of Justice or Victorian Police…” In essence, the missive was an expansion of a letter Ned Kelly had written previously to Victorian parliamentarian Donald Cameron and Victorian police in December 1878, also outlining his version of the events at Stringybark Creek. Kelly’s pleas for understanding were dismissed: thus, Kelly sought to elicit sympathisers among a new audience. The Jerilderie letter contained some 8000 words, and went on for 56 pages. A copy was made by publican John Hanlon, and another by a government clerk: the original and both handwritten copies have survived. It was first referred to as the ‘Jerilderie Letter’ by author Max Brown in his biography of Kelly, “Australian Son”, written in 1948.

 

 

On this day …….. 27th of January 1868

How easy history can be changed. On this day in 1868 a young Ned Kelly, his brothers and sisters, their mother and her sister were rescued from almost certain death in a house fire, which had been deliberately lit. The culprit was Ellen’s brother in law, James Kelly. Kelly was sentenced to death by Sir Redmond Barry. The sentence was commuted to ten years. James Kelly however would die in the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum.

 

ON THIS DAY – January 6, 1859

Mr Cornelius Green, commission agent of Bruthen and Omeo, was shot by bushrangers whilst on his way from Omeo with gold on this day in 1859, Mr Green left Swift’s Creek in company with a mounted trooper and Mr Thomas Jenkins. His gold supposed to be about 1000 ounces was secured on a packhorse. A short distance from Swift’s Creek the party were fired upon by bushrangers. Mr Green was shot dead, and Mr Jenkins severely wounded and the mounted constable had his arm broken when shot. Cornelius Green is buried in the Omeo, and a stone monument marks the location of the attack at Swifts Creek.

 

ON THIS DAY – October 15, 1872

Living on the goldfields was hard and the threat of bush rangers was constantly on one’s mind. On the evening of the 15th of October three bushrangers named James Smith, Thomas Brady and William Heppanstein bailed up the Wooragee Post Office robbing them of their takings. They then rode to the Hotel next door. When John Watt, the publican of the Wooragee Hotel, opened the door he was confronted with three men with their faces covered. “Bail Up, Your money or your life”. When John refused he was shot, stumbling back into the kitchen where he fell on the floor, and standing back up he fell again, knocking chairs over. His wife then sat him up against the wall and sent a worker for the doctor. On the doctor’s arrival he was amazed that John was still alive. The exit wound on John’s back below his shoulder blade was large enough for a man’s clenched fist to fit into. Unbelievably, John lived for another nine days. Brady and Smith were charged with the murder and sentenced to hang on the 12th of May 1873 in the Beechworth Gaol. On the morning of the execution, Smith handed the Sheriff a hand written statement in the defence of both Smith and Brady. The hangman Bamford, bought up from Melbourne for the occasion, placed a white cape over their faces and the rope around their neck. Brady died straight away. However Smith struggled for minutes after his drop. It was a terrible sight, witnessed by sixty people.

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.”

 

Bushranger ‘Black Douglas’ Charles Russell

The legendary ‘Black Douglas’ Charles Russell was an English-born bushranger who held Melbourne and its surrounding areas to ransom during the 1850s. Russell preyed on those diggers travelling to and from the goldfields between Bendigo and Melbourne. There are several accounts of victims being tied naked to a tree or fallen log with their boots full of bull ants, left to die a slow and excruciating death. He reportedly led a gang of 16 bushrangers who worked together in their marauding. Their camp was strategically located a few kilometres away from the Alma minefields in Maryborough, Victoria. Eventually, a frustrated group of nearly 200 diggers burnt their camp to the ground and overpowered Russell in May 1855. He was 75-years-old when he died in Bendigo gaol in 1892.

 

On this day ………… 10th February 1879

Early in February 1879, Ned Kelly and his gang rode into the small town of Jerilderie, located in the Riverina area of southern New South Wales. After robbing the bank of some two thousand pounds, Ned Kelly then dictated a letter to gang member Joe Byrne, which became the infamous “Jerilderie letter”, one of just two surviving original documents from Ned Kelly. Kelly sought to have the letter published as a pamphlet by the local newspaper editor, so that others could see how he had apparently been mistreated. The Jerilderie letter outlined a number of Ned Kelly’s concerns and grievances about the way he had been treated by police, and what he believed were injustices in how his actions had been perceived. In the letter, Kelly tried to justify his criminal activity, and outlined his own version of events leading to the murder of three policemen at Stringybark Creek the previous October. He also alleged police corruption, outlining evidence for his argument, and called for justice for families struggling with financial difficulties – as his own had done. The letter began: “I have been wronged and my mother and four or five men lagged innocent and is my brothers and sisters and my mother not to be pitied also who has no alternative only to put up with the brutal and cowardly conduct of a parcel of big ugly fat-necked wombat headed big bellied magpie legged narrow hipped splaw-footed sons of Irish Bailiffs or english landlords which is better known as Officers of Justice or Victorian Police…” In essence, the missive was an expansion of a letter Ned Kelly had written previously to Victorian parliamentarian Donald Cameron and Victorian police in December 1878, also outlining his version of the events at Stringybark Creek. Kelly’s pleas for understanding were dismissed: thus, Kelly sought to elicit sympathisers among a new audience. The Jerilderie letter contained some 8000 words, and went on for 56 pages. A copy was made by publican John Hanlon, and another by a government clerk: the original and both handwritten copies have survived. It was first referred to as the ‘Jerilderie Letter’ by author Max Brown in his biography of Kelly, “Australian Son”, written in 1948.