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Australian Bushrangers


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  • Chamberlain

Over 2,000 bushrangers are estimated to have roamed the Australian countryside, beginning with the convict bolters and drawing to a close after Ned Kelly's last stand at Glenrowan.

Bushranging began soon after British settlement with the establishment of New South Wales as a penal colony in 1788. The majority of early bushrangers were convicts who had escaped prison, or from the properties of landowners to whom they had been assigned as servants. These bushrangers, also known as "bolters", preferred the hazards of wild, unexplored bushland surrounding Sydney to the deprivation and brutality of convict life. The first notable bushranger, African convict John Caesar, robbed settlers for food, and had a brief, tempestuous alliance with Aboriginal resistance fighters during Pemulwuy's War. While other bushrangers would go on to fight alongside Indigenous Australians in frontier conflicts with the colonial authorities, the Government tried to bring an end to any such collaboration by rewarding Aborigines for returning convicts to custody. Aboriginal trackers would play a significant role in the hunt for bushrangers.

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Convict artist Joseph Lycett's 1825 painting of the Nepean River shows a gang of bushrangers with guns.

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  • Chamberlain

Colonel Godfrey Mundy described convict bushrangers as "desperate, hopeless, fearless; rendered so, perhaps, by the tyranny of a gaoler, of an overseer, or of a master to whom he has been assigned." Edward Smith Hall, editor of early Sydney newspaper The Monitor, agreed that the convict system was a breeding-ground for bushrangers due to its savagery, with starvation and acts of torture being rampant. "Liberty or Death!" was the cry of convict bushrangers, and in large numbers they roamed beyond Sydney, some hoping to reach China, which was commonly believed to be connected by an overland route. Some bolters seized boats and set sail for foreign lands, but most were hunted down and brought back to Australia. Others attempted to inspire an overhaul of the convict system, or simply sought revenge on their captors. This latter desire found expression in the convict ballad "Jim Jones at Botany Bay", in which Jones, the narrator, plans to join bushranger Jack Donahue and "gun the floggers down.

Donahue was the most notorious of the early New South Wales bushrangers, terrorising settlements outside Sydney from 1827 until he was fatally shot by a trooper in 1830.  That same year, west of the Blue Mountains, convict Ralph Entwistle sparked a bushranging insurgency known as the Bathurst Rebellion. He and his gang raided farms, liberating assigned convicts by force in the process, and within a month, his personal army numbered 80 men. Following gun battles with vigilante posses, mounted policemen and soldiers of the 39th and 57th Regiment of Foot, he and nine of his men were captured and executed.

Convict bushrangers were particularly prevalent in the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land (now the state of Tasmania), established in 1803.  The island's most powerful bushranger, the self-styled "Lieutenant Governor of the Woods", Michael Howe, led a gang of up to one hundred members "in what amounted to a civil war" with the colonial government.  His control over large swathes of the island prompted elite squatters from Hobart and Launceston to collude with him, and for six months in 1815, Lieutenant-Governor Thomas Davey, fearing a convict uprising, declared martial law in an effort to suppress Howe's influence. Most of the gang had either been captured or killed by 1818, the year Howe was clubbed to death.[6] Vandemonian bushranging peaked in the 1820s with hundreds of bolters at large, among the most notorious being Matthew Brady's gang, and cannibal serial killers Alexander Pearce and Thomas Jeffries. Originally a New South Wales bushranger, Jackey Jackey (alias of William Westwood) was sent to Van Diemen's Land in 1842 after attempting to escape Cockatoo Island. In 1843, he escaped Port Arthur, and took up bushranging in Tasmania's mountains, but was recaptured and sent to Norfolk Island, where, as leader of the 1846 Cooking Pot Uprising, he murdered three constables, and was hanged along with sixteen of his men.

The era of convict bushrangers gradually faded with the decline in penal transportations to Australia in the 1840s. It had ceased by the 1850s to all colonies except Western Australia, which accepted convicts between 1850 and 1868. The best-known convict bushranger of the colony was the prolific escapee Moondyne Joe.

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  • 1 month later...

jesus mate that is some journey that's like driving from Paris to Moscow ... you must have witness some really contrasting scenery ... i think the most rugged scenery is the most breath taking and Australia has that in spades ... the heat would have done me in though lol

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i meant to say thanks for posting the images mate ... i'm originally from a rural part of Scotland in Ayrshire (now a townie) my old village it's surround by large hills (50 or 60 feet from being classed as mountains)  we had a old saying "Muirkirk where men are men and sheep are petrified" or the other say "Muirkirk where men are men and so are the women" but you don't say that in front of the women they would bloddy kill you 

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17 minutes ago, Merlin said:

Splitinfinitive and Makara:

My friend Gregorius curates The Gallery section here on MerlinWz. If you like road travel pics you should have a look at his On The Road thread:

The pics you posted actually belong in there they are so good. He doesn't mind others adding to his threads. But if you want to start your own Collection Thread that's great too.

The Gallery is full of wonderful photos.

Either way thank you for those road pics. I love travel pics. I love to look through any pics. So if you have stuff you want to share or show off post them in The Gallery for us all to see.

I would be delighted if other forum members would upload their photos to the various Gallery threads or create other threads of their own.

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Thanks for the nice comments guys.

I actually drove to Innisfail, about 80km south of Cairns where I had a house sitting gig and it took me exactly three days with three overnight stops.

Bear in mind that no sane person drives in the hours of darkness in the area crossed, the wild life is as thick as fleas on an old dog and I was driving alone in a small car.... Kangaroos, emus and wild goats are present in huge numbers and don't look both ways when crossing the road. 

 

Edited by splitinfinitive
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