Shearing in the bushranging era

Sheep shearing at Yandilla Station, ca. 1894
Sheep shearing at Yandilla Station, ca. 1894
Sheep shearers working in a shed at Yandilla Station.
A supervisor or manager in a hat, vest, shirt and trousers
and a tarboy in rough clothes pose for the photograph.
(A tarboy assists by dabbing tar or antiseptic on any cuts suffered
by the animals during shearing.
Shearers shearing sheep in the Barenya Station wool shed in 1916, Queensland
Shearers shearing sheep in the Barenya Station wool shed in 1916, Queensland.
The shed was installed on the property in 1916.                                
Shearing in the bushranging era

Shearing in the bushranging era
Shearer's Union

In the 1800's wool was one of the main industries in Australia but the shearer's worked in atrocious conditions.  John and Elizabeth Macarthur, established the wool industry in Australia in the early 1800s with rare Spanish sheep. Compared to growing crops, sheep grazing needed less labour. But the wool had to be washed, shorn and pressed to turn it into a product.

The Amalgamated Shearers' Union of Australia was formed in 1887 and by 1890 they had thousands of members.

The weather has been sultry for a fortnight now or more
And the shearers have been driving might and main
For some have got the century who ne'er got it before
But now we all are waiting for the rain

For the boss is getting rusty and the ringer's caving in
His bandaged wrist is aching with the pain
And the second man I fear will make it hot for him
Unless we have another fall of rain

Now some had taken quarters and were keeping well in bunk
When we shore the six-tooth wethers from the plain
And if the sheep get harder then a few more men will flunk
Unless we have another fall of rain


Books about Australian Bushrangers

List of Books about Australian Bushrangers

Australia's Most Notorious Convicts: From thieves and bushrangers to murderers and cannibals by Barbara Malpass Edwards. Thousands of convicts were transported to Australia. This book shows what became of the most dangerous and desperate of those incarcerated in Australia, and records their deeds.


The Birth of a Bushranger by Raymond Boyd Dunn

In Search of Captain Moonlite: Bushranger, Conman, Warrior, Lunatic By Paul Terry looks for the man behind the legend. It uses little-seen histories, a remarkable cache of rare documents, and the records of his time to rewrite the story of a man who was not what he seemed.

The Last of the Bushrangers An account of the Capture of the Kelly Gang By Francis Augustus Hare. This account is written by the Police chief who tracked them down, and is illustrated with many photographs, including one of Ned Kelly in his famous home-made armour.

The True Story Of The Kelly Gang Of Bushrangers by C H Chomley. This factual tale of the rampage of The Kelly Gang was first published in the late 1890's and reads as if the events occurred yesterday.

The True History of the Australian Bushrangers by Jack Bradshaw from 1911 - 1925.

The Adventures of Ben Hall, Bushranger: Bushranger by Raymond Boyd Dunn

Outlaws of the Australian Bush: The Bushranger Series (The Complete Bushranger Series Book 1)  By Raymond Boyd Dunn.  This is a compilation of the five books in the series.
1. Bushranger
2. Birth of a Bushranger
3. Millie and the Bushranger
4. Bushranger's Gold.
5. The Adventures of Ben Hall, Bushranger

The Last of the Bushrangers An account of the Capture of the Kelly Gang. By Francis Augustus Hare An indispensable book for all interested in the Kelly story, the history of crime and outlaws and early Australia.

Brady: McCabe, Dunne, Bryan, Crawford, Murphy, Bird, McKenney, Goodwin, Pawley, Bryant, Cody, Hodgetts, Gregory, Tilley, Ryan, Williams, and their ... bushrangers in Van Diemen's Land, 1825-1827. By James Erskine Calder

Morgan the murderer: a definitive history of the bushranger Dan Morgan. By Edgar F. Penzig

Happy Jack: The Definitive Story of the Bushranger John Gilbert
By Edgar F Penzig

By Jane (ed); Jack Larkin ( Ills.) Barnaby

The bushranger Harry Power, tutor of Ned Kelly
By Kevin J Passey

Meet Ned Kelly by Janeen Brian

Midnite: The Story of a Wild Colonial Boy.
by Ralph & STOW, Randolph. STEADMAN

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

The Gold Escort Robbery Trials by Noel Thurgood

The Last and Worst of the Bush Rangers by Michael Howe

The Sandy Creek Bushranger - A Definitive History of Ben Hall, His Gang and Associates. By Edgar F. Penzig

Uncensored Story of Martin Cash The Australian Bushranger as Told to James Lester Burke.
By Joan Dehile Emberg, Buck Thor Emberg

Australian Son The Story of Ned Kelly by Max Brown 


The Old Bush Songs by Andrew Barton Paterson A. B. Paterson

Out of the Mists: The Hidden History of Elizabeth Jessie Hickman By Di Moore Out of the Mists is by far the most accurate account of Elizabeth Jessie Hickman's unusual life, compiled with respect and honour by her own granddaughter. This is Jessie's true story-warts and all.

The lady bushranger by Pat Studdy-Clift

Harry Readford alias Captain Starlight

The Birth of a Bushranger by Raymond Boyd Dunn

Tell 'em I died game: The Stark Story of Australian Bushranging
By Bill Wannan

Australian Bushrangers: The Romance of Robbery
By Anonymous

Thunderbolts Last Hours by Russ Blanch

Clarke of the Kindur: Convict, bushranger, explorer
By Dean Boyce

Michael Howe: The Last and Worst of the Bush-Rangers of Van Dieman's Land 
By Thomas E. Wells

Stand and Deliver!: 100 Australian Bushrangers, 1789-1901
By Allan M. Nixon

Cry of the Dingo - A Study of the Australian Bushranger
By Conrad Phillips

The wild Scotsman: A biography of James McPherson, the Queensland bushranger
By Patrick McCarthy

Real Flash Cove: A Biography of John Gilbert, Bushranger
By Edgar Penzig

Ned Kelly: Bushranger by Brian Carroll From Landsdowne Press

A pictorial history of bushrangers by Tom Prior

Kelly Country: A Photographic Journey by Brendon Kelson

Wild Colonial Boy: Bushranger Jack Donahoe,...
by John Meredith 

Ned Kelly;: The life & adventures of Australia's notorious bushranger. By George Farwell

You'll never take me alive: The life and death of bushranger Ben Hall By Nick Bleszynski A ripping yarn about bush ranging in Australia in the 19th century told through the eyes of the quintessential Australian bushranger, Frank Gardiner—the only one who wasn't killed by gunshot or hanging.

Captain Thunderbolt and His Lady: The true story of bushrangers Frederick Ward and Mary Ann Bugg By Carol Baxter. This is an unputdownable story of an extraordinary partnership and a fresh retelling of one of Australia's greatest bushranging stories.

Ned Kelly by Peter Fitzsimons the author has taken the best of the research available, as well as the work of previous authors combined with official historical documentation to produce the ultimate book on Ned Kelly.

Bogong Jack : The Gentleman Bushranger by Eric HARDING

Ben Hall the Bushranger by Frank Clune

Among the Bushrangers by G.A. Henty 

Ned Kelly, bushranger by Brian Carroll

Bushrangers-Pictorial History by Nunn 

Martin Cash - The Last Of The Tasmanian Bushrangers
By Frank Clune

An Illustrated History of Australian Bushrangers
By George E. Boxall

Thunderbolt: a biography of the last of New South Wales' notorious bushrangers. By Bob Cummins

Bailup! A Pictorial History of Australia's Most Notorious Bushrangers, Including a Complete Transcript of Ned Kelly's Jerilderie Letter By Geoff Hocking

Wild Colonial Boys Tall Tales & True Australian Bushrangers
By Geoff Hocking

And wretches hang: The true and authentic story of the rise and fall of Matt Brady, bushranger
By Richard Butler

Bloodiest Bushrangers by John O'Sullivan

Bushrangers by Charles J. Finger

History of the Australian bushrangers by Boxall, George

Ben Hall: Bushranger by D.J. Shiel

Australian Bushrangers by Bill Scott

Morgan: The bold bushranger by Margaret Carnegie

Australian Bushrangers by Sacha Molitorisz

The Legend of Moondyne Joe by Mark Greenwood

The Last of the Bushrangers: An Account of the Capture of the Kelly Gang. By Francis Augustus Hare

The Bushrangers: Illustrating the Early Days of Van Diemen's Land - Primary Source Edition. By James Bonwick

Ned Kelly's Last Days: Setting the Record Straight on the Death of an Outlaw. By Alex C. Castles

Martin Cash,: The last of the Tasmanian bushranger; By Frank Clune

The Truth about Dan Kelly, brother of outlaw Ned Kelly: his escape from the Inferno & the hangman's Noose By vince allen, carolyn ann allen The book contains several photographs and at the end, lots of testimonies from people who had contact with Dan during his long and adventurous life.

NED KELLY: In His Own Words by Waldo Tomosky

Bushrangers of the north east by Graham Jones

Bushranger Ballads by Bill Scott; Pro Hart

Bushrangers, bandits and bastards: An illustrated history of colonial crime, 1850-1900. By Edgar F Penzig

The Bushranger of Van Diemen's Land in 1843-1844; A Personal Narrative of His Exploits in the Bush and His Experiences at Port Arthur and Norfolk Isla By Martin Cash

The bushrangers; illustrating the early days of Van Diemen's Land By James Bonwick

Bushrangers - Heroes or Villains: The truth about Australia's wild colonial boys By Edgar Penzig

Ned Kelly: A Short Life by Ian Jones

The Jerilderie Letter by Ned Kelly

Australia's Most Notorious Convicts: From thieves and bushrangers to murderers and cannibals. By Barbara Malpass Edwards

The Story of the Australian Bushrangers (Classic Reprint) By George Boxall

Mary Ann Bugg

Mary Ann Bugg (Ward)

Mary Ann Bugg (1834 - 1867)

Mary Ann was born on 7th May, 1834 in Stroud, New South Wales, Australia. Her mother was Charlotte Bugg (nee Derby) and her father was James Bugg. 

She married Edmund Baker when she was 14 years old in 1848. 

Mother: On Mary Ann Bugg's birth certificate her mother is named as "An aboriginal woman". Charlotte Derby's son William gave the information that she had had 8 children, the first being Mary Ann. Charlotte was a Kamilaroi woman.

Father: Born James Bugg in Essex, England and died Monkerai, in the Hunter region of New South Wales, Australia. He was convicted of stealing meat and transported to Australia onboard the Sesostris arriving in NSW on 23rd November, 1825. His name was recorded as James Brigg in these records. 

James Brigg Convict Records
Hill End Family History - May Ann Bugg  - Captain Thunderbolt - Michael Ward & James Bugg Families Australia
Convict Creations - Mary Ann Bugg
Mary Ann Bugg"Captain Thunderbolt's Lady"
Coal River - Mixed-race unions and Indigenous demography in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, 1788-1850


Bushranger - Captain Moonlite

Captain Moonlight, November 1879 Gaol photograph
Gaol Photograph of AG Scott alias Captain Moonlight, November 1879
NRS 2138 [3/6043] No. 2170 p.132 
The historical gaol photograph description books at State Records were created to assist gaol staff to keep track of each prisoner’s record. The records cover c.1870-1930 and contain a photograph of each prisoner along with information such: as name, place of birth, year of birth, year and ship of arrival, occupation, religion, education, physical description, where and when they committed an offence, sentence, previous convictions and when the portrait was taken.
One of the more famous photographs in the collection is that of A.G. Scott otherwise known as Captain Moonlight (or sometimes Moonlite) who committed various crimes – bank-robbery, passing false cheques, stealing gold – and led a gang of outlaws until he was eventually caught by police, tried in Sydney in 1879 and subsequently executed in Darlinghurst Gaol in 1880. NSW Gov. Archives Outside
Find out more about Captain Moonlite here. 


Australian life in Queensland in the bushrangers time

The bushrangers roamed Australia during the 1800's. The term bushranger was first used in a newspaper in 1805. Here is are some images of what life was like in the northern state of Queensland during that time.

1878 image of police station Cooktown
Mounted Police station in Cooktown.
Barracks and police station in the country above Cooktown 1878
Australia 1800's
Hopetoun selection in southern Queensland.
Edward McDermott's grocery store
in Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, ca 1884

Bushranger era public domain image
 Family having tea in the garden of Richmond Hill homestead,
Mackay, Queensland, ca. 1890
Australian life in Queensland in the bushrangers time
Group of women having a tea party in Queensland, ca. 1887
Bushranger era public domain image
Reading the paper in a Gympie garden, ca. 1871
Blacksmith shop, Oxley Road, Oxley, Brisbane 1888.
 bushrangers era
 Gold miners outside a bark hut, Queensland, ca. 1870
Two gold miners dressed in working clothes outside a slab bark hut
with mining tools nearby
You might like to find out more about:

Moondyne Joe

Joseph Bolitho Johns better known as Moondyne Joe
Joseph Bolitho Johns (1826 or 1830 - 1900) aka Moondyne Joe.
This is the only known photo of him.
Born in Cornwall, England around 1826 
Died Western Australia 13th August 1900

Joseph Bolitho Johns was the third child of blacksmith Thomas Johns and his wife Mary Bolitho. He was one of six children in a poor family and had to work as a copper miner with his brothers after his father died.

On 15 November 1848, Johns and William Cross, were arrested near Chepstow for "... stealing from the house of Richard Price, three loaves of bread, one piece of bacon, several cheeses, and other goods".[1] He was charged with burglary and stealing, the pair pleaded not guilty. On 23 March they were tried at the Lent Assizes before Sir William Erle. Newspaper reports of the trial suggest that the pair gave an unexpectedly spirited defence, but Johns was abrasive and "contravened the conventions of court procedure". The men were convicted and sentenced to ten years' penal servitude.

He came to be better known as Moondyne Joe.  He goes down in history as Western Australia's best known bushranger known, not for his offences and crimes but, for being the person who had escaped multiple times from prison. Here is his brief history:
  • Johns and Williams were transferred to Millbank Prison 
  • transferred to Pentonville Prison to serve their mandatory six months of solitary confinement
  • transferred to Dartmoor Prison on 21 October 1851
  • Johns transferred to the Woolwich prison hulk Justitia, probably for disciplinary reasons
  • transferred to the Defence when the Justitia was destroyed by fire 
  • transported to the British penal colony of Western Australia prison ship Pyrenees to serve out the remainder of his sentence
  • arrived at Fremantle on 1 May 1853
  • Granted an immediate ticket-of-leave on arrival in reward for good behaviour
  • 1855 granted a conditional pardon
  • worked at various tasks near Toodyay, in the Avon Valley, one of the most rugged and inaccessible places in the Darling Range. The Aboriginal name for the area was Moondyne
  • arrested on a charge of stealing the local magistrate's horse in 1861
  • While awaiting trial he escaped from Toodyay gaol but was recaptured to serve three years' imprisonment
  • Released
  • sentenced in 1865 to ten years for killing an ox with the intent of stealing the carcass
  • Determined not to serve this long sentence and protesting his innocence, he made four attempts to escape from November 1865 to March 1867, three of which were successful. With two companions, he was once at large for two months in the unsettled Darling Range. 
  • Recaptured he was placed in irons in solitary confinement in a specially reinforced cell with triple-barred windows at Fremantle gaol. He was only allowed out for exercise on medical advice.
  • He escaped again in 1867 through a clever trick and for two years roamed the hill country east of Perth.
  • Recaptured while raiding a wine cellar and sentenced to a further term in Fremantle prison. He was released in 1871 and gained his conditional pardon in 1873.

The remainder of John's life consisted of periods of good behaviour punctuated by occasional minor misdemeanors and brief jail terms. In January 1879, he married a widow named Louisa Frances Hearn, née Braddick, and they spent some time prospecting for gold near Southern Cross, in Western Australia. In 1881, while exploring the countryside around Karridale, in the south-west of Western Australia he discovered Moondyne Cave.
In his later years he became known locally, in Kelmscott where he lived after his wife's death, as 'Old Mad Moondyne Joe'. He was declared to be mentally ill and died of senile dementia in the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum on 13 August 1900. He was buried, in a paupers grave, in Fremantle Cemetery , his tombstone bearing the Welsh word for freedom - "rhyddid".
 Fremantle prison and Moondyne Joe
Illustration of Fremantle prison with image of Moondyne Joe on left by Ian Coates

It was because the authorities found it impossible to keep Moondyne behind prison walls that a cell in Fremantle Gaol was specially prepared for him, and it remains today as it was when he occupied it many years ago.
The walls of the confined space are heavily timbered and appear to have been laboriously carved and patterned, but is the triple-barred window which is of special interest. Moondyne laughed at ordinary locks and bars and prison walls, but when he first saw the cell prepared for him after many escapes, he must have realised that he would never be able to break through the bars which covered the small window space.
He became a romantic figure in the eyes of the public, at the time, and after for his many escapes. 
His determined bids for freedom inspired John Boyle O'Reilly, a convict who escaped from Western Australia to the United States, to write in 1887 a novel on convict life in Western Australia featuring a fictitious and highly romantic Moondyne as central character.

[1]"Breconshire Lent Assizes". The Welshman. pp. 1849–03–30.
  Bolitho Family History
  Fremantle prison records, convict register 1853 (State Library of Western Australia)
  Australian Dictionary of Biography

A book by Mark Greenwood
These books are available to purchase at Amazon through my affiliate account*.
The Legend of Moondyne Joe by Mark Greenwood.
The Ballad of Moondyne Joe by John Kinsella and Niall Lucy.

* I am an Amazon Affiliate which means a very small percentage of the sales of these books go to me, at no extra cost to you.

Artworks about bushrangers

paintings about bushrangers
Bushrangers attacking Goimbla Station
Bushrangers attacking Goimbla Station
an oil painting (1894) kept in the National Library of Australia
by Patrick William Marony (1858-1939)

Bushrangers on the St Kilda Road
 Bushrangers on the St Kilda Road
 painted by William Strutt in 1887.
Stage coach hold-up, Eugowra Rocks
Stage coach hold-up, Eugowra Rocks, oil on canvas, 137.5 x 183 cm
by Patrick William Morony (1858-1939) painted in 1894.

Bailed Up 1895 painting by Australian artist Tom Roberts.
Bailed Up 1895 painting by Australian artist Tom Roberts.
Shows a stage coach being held up by bushrangers in an isolated, forested section of a back road.
Part of the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales
 Troopers after bushrangers by S.T. Gill 1871
watercolour, pencil, ink and gum arabic on cream paper ; 17.6 x 25.8 cm
owned by the State Library of Victoria


Ned Kelly's Jerilderie Letter.

Jerilderie Letter
Extract from Ned Kelly's Jerilderie Letter. 

The Jerilderie Letter was dictated by famous Australian bushranger Ned Kelly to fellow Kelly Gang member Joe Byrne in 1879. It is one of only two original Kelly documents known to have survived.

The Jerilderie Letter is a 56-page document of approximately 8,000 words. In the letter Kelly tries to justify his actions, including the killing of three policemen in October 1878. He describes cases of alleged police corruption and calls for justice for poor families. Ned Kelly is the only Australian bushranger known to have attempted to justify his actions in writing.  WIKIPEDIA

Dear SirI wish to acquaint you withsome of the occurrences of the present pastand future, In or about the Spring of1870 the ground was very soft, aHawker named Mr Gould got his waggonbogged, between Greta and my mother'splace house on the eleven mile creek,the ground was that rotten it wouldbog a duck in places so Mr Gouldhad to abandon his waggon for fearof losing his horses in the spewy groundhe was stopping at my mother's awaitingfiner or dryer weather, Mr McCormack and hisWife, (Hawkers' also) were camped in Gretaand the mosquitoes were very bad which theygenerally are in a wet spring and tohelp them Mr Johns had a horse calledRuita Cruta, although a gelding was asclever as old Wombat or any other Stallion      
 Transcript of page 1 of the letter from The National Museum of Australia


Frank Gardiner Bushranger "THE KING OF THE ROAD" Workday Wednesday

"THE mere mention of the name of Frank Gardiner in  any part of the Western or Southern districts of New South Wales, is sufficient to set any of the residents in  those districts of 30 years' standing talking of the "old bushranging days." For Christie, alias Clarke, alias Gardiner, has been ever looked upon as the father of that bushranging which was followed by so many young men during the decade commencing in 1860."
"Frank Gardiner — I shall call him throughout this story by the name by which he was commonly known in the bush   — commenced his criminal career by "lifting" a horse when     20 years of age. He was born at Boro Creek, near Goulburn,   in 1830, and when quite a young man crossed the border into   Victoria. In October, 1850, he committed the crime of horse-   stealing, and as that exploit was the initial step in his down-   ward course, a short account thereof will not be considered out of place just here.  
At the time that Gardiner crossed the border into Vic-toria that part of the country was infested with prowling bands of well-mounted men, ostensibly in search of employ-   ment ,but really on the look put for horses and cattle that admitted of easy "lifting." It was the custom in those days for the station-holder to extend hospitality to all callers, and  it is said that on some stations the cost of entertaining the callers amounted to over £1000 per annum. It was a fortu-nate thing, indeed, for the colony that the discovery of gold was made, and that the periodical wanderers were drawn off by the excitment to different and widely separated fields.  
In was in June of 1850 that Mr. Lockhart Morton, who had recently entered into possession of Salisbury Plains  Station, on the Loddon, suddenly discovered that all the horses on his station, with the exception of four which were  in a secure paddock, had mysteriously disappeared. Search- ing round the run with one of his stockmen, Mr. Morton at last came upon their tracks, making straight for the Lower Avoca, and he at once arrived at the conclusion that they had been driven off by horse stealers. Returning home he found a message awaiting him from an adjoining station to the effect that three men had been seen by the shepherd three days before driving ofl the horses at a furious pace. Mr. Morton was a man of pluck and energy, and after making a supply of cartridges for his guns and writing to the chief con- stable at Melbourne, asking him to send intelligence of the robbery to Geelong, Portland, and Adelaide, daylight on the Wednesday morning (the horses had been removed on the   previous Sunday) saw him in the saddle fully equipped and determined to run down the robbers. (To be Continued.) 

Written by "Chatterer" C White. 
Printed in the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal Tuesday 26th January, 1892.

The spelling errors are in the original newspaper article.


SEE: more general information on Frank Gardiner


Tombstone Tuesday - John Gilbert's Grave

Bushranger John Gilbert's grave
John Gilbert's lonely grave near Binalong, NSW.
In May 1865, Ben Hall, John Gilbert, and John Dunn were proclaimed outlaws. The Felons Apprehension Act 1865, allowed known bushrangers to be shot and killed rather than taken to trial.
John Gilbert, aka Happy Jack, Johnny, and Flash, had a 1000 pound reward on his head and had been involved in around 630 hold ups including the death of a police man.
John Gilbert was shot and died instantly on the 13th May, 1865 near Murrumburrah, New South Wales, Australia in a shoot out with police troopers.  The police involved in the shoot out were Senior Constable Charles Hales of the Binalong police station and constables John Bright, Michael King and Henry Hall. Constable Henry Hall was put in charge of the body. When Gilbert's body was searched money, jewelry, powder flask, guns, and bullets were found. The guns included a Tranter revolving rifle and a government issue revolver.
Gilbert's body was taken back to the court house of the Binalong Police Station.
An inquest was held on the 14th May 1865 and it was generally agreed that Constable John Bright fired the fatal shot that had killed Gilbert and that he had died instantly. The verdict of the jury at the inquest was "Justifiable Homicide." The jury also found "that Senior Constable Hales and Constables Bright, King and Hall were deserving of great praise for the gallant and courageous manner in which they acted."
The Government reward for the dead bushranger was divided up: the informer received £500; Hales, £150; Bright, £130; King, £120; and Hall £100.

The New South Wales Police Report published in the Sydney Morning Herald 16th July, 1870 stated:
May, 1865.—John Gilbert, robbery under arms ; shot dead
by police under senior-constable Heales.

John Gilbert (1842 - 1865) was buried in a paddock at the back of the Binalong Police Station.

Bushranger John Gilbert's Grave

Felons Apprehension Act 1865 PDF
Australian Cemeteries Index
"NEW SOUTH WALES POLICE.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954)
Senior Constable Charles Hales's Police Report Dated 15th May 1865
The Yass Courier of 17th May 1865.
New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Coroners' Inquests, 1821-1937 for John Gilbert        
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