Bushranging has long been a part of Australia’s history and folklore. We have all heard about the big stories, but we probably don’t realise that bushranging occurred regularly in poorly policed areas and that Wangaratta was one such place, until at least the early 1860s. This sketch by S. T. Gill, composed in 1852 and courtesy of the State Library of Victoria is of bushrangers lying in wait for ‘contributions’ by passersby who were transporting their gold findings around Bendigo.
Below is an account of bushranging carried out by one Wangaratta resident and an accomplice at the One Mile bridge on 22nd June 1857. Their victims were John Currie and Robert Cousens. Even in these early days the bandits tried to add a romantic element and a touch of notoriety by giving themselves nick names. Robert Harding dubbed himself “The Trooper”, while his partner in crime John Banks had yet to determine to own personal style. Also in this article published in the Ovens & Murray Advertiser is a report that John Brown, a butcher, was burgled by John Hilton, also known as John Robinson Hall, who fancied himself as “the Marquis”.
My husband had an ancestral cousin who went by the sobriquet of “Gander” – not overly thrilling for the ladies if he wanted to project a romantic image, and he didn’t bushrange, he did city jobs, like knocking off the ticket office of Spencer St Station, and was also the perpetrator of the Surrey Hills Outrage. A little bit of honest bushranging might have made all the difference.
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Daring deeds! For those who want to read more about Lenore’s husband’s relative, the urban bushranger see: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7940902 for his Spencer Street robbery and http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7869323 for an account of the Surrey Hills Outrage – both within a 6 day time frame. He must have been a legend at Pentridge… 😉
Also check out Lenore’s blog about her own ancestor George Griffiths – a goldfields violin player: http://goldrushadventure.blogspot.com.au/