THE LAST OF THE BUSHRANGERS.

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Post  Guest on Tue May 10, 2011 7:01 am

THE LAST OF THE BUSHRANGERS.

BY
FRANCIS AUGUSTUS HARE, P.M.
LATE SUPERINTENDENT OF VICTORIAN POLICE


WHEN narrating to friendly audiences my experiences
in the early days of the Colony of Victoria in what may be termed
the "gold era," and some of the various incidents which occurred
during my connection with the Victorian police, I have often
been asked to give the records of them a more permanent
form. After hesitating long, I have listened
to those promptings, and, greatly daring, have ventured
to address a wider range of hearers. I claim
no more than to tell a plain, unvarnished tale,
recalling from the reminiscences stored within my
mind, events and incidents of by-gone days. Perhaps.
had I written down the facts while the events were
still fresh, I might have been able to put more spirit
into my narrative, but my aim has been to keep
within the record, to extenuate nothing, nor to set
down aught in malice. I have endeavoured to
refrain from mentioning names of private persons as
much as possible, but, where I have found myself
compelled to do so, I trust my references will raise
no unkindly feelings.
Unfortunately, after the destruction of the Kelly
gang, unpleasant feelings and jealousies sprang up
between different officers engaged in the search, and
interested persons kept adding fuel to the fire. In
writing this account of the capture and destruction
of the last of the Victorian Bushrangers, I have
endeavoured to avoid locating the blame for the
various unsuccessful attempts. We had a difficult
task before us, and I feel sure each of us spared no
effort to do his duty, though in thus acting all of us,
no doubt, committed errors of judgment. In a matter
of this kind every one has a right to his own opinion,
and none but those who underwent the hardships we
did can have any idea of our sufferings during the
months we were in pursuit of the outlaws.
It seems hardly possible to imagine that ten years
ago a field-gun was being dragged up Collins Street,
Melbourne, to blow down an hotel, which practically
was little more than a wooden hut, within two
hundred yards of one of the principal stations on
the main line of railway between Melbourne and
Sydney, as the last resource for the capture of four
men, who for the previous two years had set law,
order, the government, and police at absolute defiance.
Nor is it much more easy of credence that the
capture of this gang should have cost the state, from
first to last, over 115,000. And yet these are facts
which cannot be controverted.
The first feeling that will arise in the minds of
English people on reading this, will be one of wonder.
How came it that four men should have been able
for two years to carry on their career of crime
unchecked ? And what were the police doing ? The
police, and I speak from actual knowledge, were
doing their "level best." A reward of 8,000 was
offered for the capture of the men, dead or alive,
and there was kudos and promotion to be gained.
But there were peculiar difficulties connected with
this undertaking, difficulties which could arise in
no other country. Firstly, it must be remembered
that these men were natives of, and were brought
up in, the district in which they carried on their
depredations; they knew every inch of the ground,
bushes, and mountains ; they had hiding-places and
retreats known to few, if any, but themselves, and
they were acquainted with every track and by-path.
Secondly, the sparseness of the population outside
the towns must be taken into consideration. These
men might commit an act of violence in a town, and
disappear into the bush, where they might, with the
knowledge of the locality at their command, ride
hundreds of miles without coming near a dwelling
house, or meeting a human being, and thus obliterate
all traces of themselves for the time being ; and lastly
what aided them more than anything else they
commanded an enormous amount of sympathy among
the lower orders. It was a well-known fact that
they had friends and adherents, either open or semiveiled,
all over the colony. The families of the Kellys, Hart,
and Byrne were large ones, and members
of them were to be found scattered over all the
district ever ready to provide asylum, or furnish
information as to the movements of the police. And
outside their own families the sympathy they obtained
was almost as great, though it was of a more
meretricious order. The gang was lavish with its
money. They subsidized largely, instituting a body
of spies known by the name of " Bush telegraphs,"
who kept them fully informed of every movement
of the authorities, and aided them on every possible
occasion to elude capture.
And apart from this money consideration there was
a further one, which appealed quite as effectively
to their humble admirers. The gang never behaved
badly to, or assaulted, a woman, but always treated
them with consideration and respect, although frequently
compelled by the exigencies of the situation
to put them to considerable inconvenience. In like
manner they seldom, if ever, made a victim of a
poor man. And thus they weaved a certain halo
of romance and rough chivalry around themselves,
which was worth a good deal to them, much in
the same way as did the British highwayman during
the last century.
And now, with these few necessary words of explanation
and introduction, let me get at once to my
story, and the events which led to my being connected
with the capture of the last of the Bushrangers.
I was born at the Cape of Good Hope, at a small
village called Wynberg, about eight miles from Cape
Town, and near the celebrated vineyards of Constantia.
I was the youngest son of a family of seventeen
! My father was a captain in the 21st Dragoons.
The whole of his regiment was disbanded at the Cape ;
all the officers settled down amongst the Dutch
inhabitants, and nearly all of us were born at
Wynberg. When I left school I joined a brother
who had a sheep farm, with which he combined horsebreeding
and agriculture. After I had been on the
station four or five years, I disliked the life so much
that I was persuaded to emigrate to Australia. I
arrived in Melbourne on 10th April, 1852, about six
months after gold had been discovered. I did not
know a soul out there then, and after a short time
went on to Sydney, where I found a few people to
whom I had letters of introduction.
After staying in Sydney a few months I returned
to Melbourne with two mates whom I had picked up
there, one a fellow-passenger I met going to Sydney.
The voyage lasted seventeen days. My other mate
was a runaway convict from Norfolk Island. He had
been employed as workman and gardener in my other
mate's family, and was a very hard-working old
scoundrel. Melbourne at this time was a place to be
remembered ; the scenes that occurred in the streets
and in the hotels would hardly be credited. The
principal objects throughout the day to be seen in
Collins and Bourke Streets were wedding-parties.
Diggers used to come from the diggings with pounds'
weight of gold, for the purpose, as they called it, of
"knocking it down," and they managed to do this in
a marvellously short space of time. You would hear
of a man calling for two or three dozen of champagne
(1 per bottle), throwing it into a tub, and having a
bath in it. Again, men would call for two slices of
bread, put a ten-pound note between them, and eat
the note and bread as a sandwich. Hardly a day
passed without seeing six or seven wedding-parties
driving up and down Collins Street, dressed in most
gorgeous attire. It was said the same women were
married to different men over and over again. When
the man had spent all his money he would go back
to the diggings to make another "pile," and when he
had made it he would return to Melbourne. In
those days there were no hotels, theatres, or places of
amusement on the diggings, and any one who wanted
any enjoyment had to run down to Melbourne. Gold
was easily got a man had only to sink a hole from four
to twenty feet deep, and if he was on the "lead," the
probabilities were he would get some pounds' weight
of gold. At this time it was most difficult to secure
any accommodation in Melbourne. You might offer
any sum of money you thought fit, and yet not procure
a corner to sleep in. I happened to get a bed
at Hockin's Hotel, at the corner of Lonsdale and
Elizabeth streets. I was awakened in the night
hearing some one who was calling out for help ;
but help there was none. The colony was
infested with convicts from the other colonies, and
the most daring robberies in the streets of Melbourne
were of nightly occurrence.
My two mates and I started with our swags on our
backs from Melbourne to Bendigo, and camped out
all the way up. The roads were very bad, and it was
impossible to get a conveyance, so we humped our
swags. As we went we joined in with large parties
of men, all bound in the same direction as we were,
for the purpose of our mutual safety. All along the
road we heard of gangs of bushrangers sticking up
parties of men. The dreaded spot on the road was
the Black Forest, between Gisborne and Woodend.
Having passed that we were tolerably safe. It took
us eight days to reach Bendigo, and we pitched our
tents on Golden Gully. Our first duty was to take
out a licence to dig for gold, which cost us 305.
each, and then to sink a hole, which we bottomed,
and took two or three ounces of gold. We then
sank another, but were not so successful. About this
time a new rush broke out at a place not far from
Golden Gully, called Kangaroo Flat. We left our
tent pitched in the same place, and went off to peg
out a piece of ground, and set to work to sink a hole.
This we bottomed, but it was also a "shicer."
We sank another, and found it a little better, and got a
few ounces out of it. All the diggers were very unsettled.
It was the general belief that a mountain of
gold would be discovered, and every one was anxious
to be first in the rush, so as to mark out a portion of
the mountain. Rumours of new finds frequently
reached us, but those that were far off always
appeared the most attractive somehow.
I must give some idea of the life on the diggings
in those days. The parties consisted of from three
to six men. One had to cook for the week, turn
about. The leads of gold were always found in the
gullies, and on each side of these gullies the diggers
pitched their tents. Every party was provided with
firearms, and at night it was the custom to fire
off and reload them after dark. It was a peculiar
sight to see the fires lighted all round each tent,
and the diggers sitting about, and many of them
having lighted candles as well. Bendigo in those
days consisted of an irregular number of stores and
tents erected where Sandhurst is now built. My
ex-convict mate turned out to be an excellent workman,
and would do anything for me. He always
volunteered to undertake my part of the cooking, and
was famous for his "damper," which was baked in
the ashes. As there were no bakers in those days
we had to bake our own bread. There was a quartz
reef in Ironbark Gully, at the back of Bendigo. On
Sundays we went there with a hammer and broke off
a handkerchief full of specimens, which were quartz
covered with gold. This reef belonged to no one,
and any one might have taken possession of it.
Quartz-crushing was unknown in those days, and I
believe since then this same reef has yielded several
hundred thousand pounds' worth of gold.
After staying at Bendigo for a month or so we
heard of a new rush at the Ovens. So off we started
to try our luck. The distance was great, but that
only lent all the greater charm to our prospects. We
had engaged a dray to carry up our swags, and were
to have started off on a certain day, but owing to
some reason we were delayed ; so, being of an active
disposition, I started off to a little gully by myself to
prospect it. I took with me my pick, shovel, and
tin dish ; it was not 200 yards from my tent. In the
evening I returned to my mates with ten ounces of
gold. We held a consultation as to whether we
should remain or go to the Ovens, and, I regret to
say, we decided to leave Bendigo and the new claim
I had discovered, and go to the Ovens. Accordingly
off we started, early next morning. It took us ten
days to get to Beechworth, but being a large party
we had a jolly trip. We arrived at Read's Creek a
few miles below Spring Creek, as it was called in
those days, but now known as Beechworth a few
days before Christmas, 1852.
The first thing, we set to work to make our
Christmas dinner I remember it as though it were
yesterday. I bought the materials for a plum pudding
; for a dozen of eggs I gave 1. I forget the
prices of the raisins, &c., but I shall never forget the
pudding ! We boiled it for twenty-four hours !
it took us a week to digest it was as hard as a
cannon-ball ! it lasted a long time, and was something
to remember ! When we arrived at Read's
Creek we found it in a most excited state. The
diggers were up in arms against the Government
officials, and whenever a policeman or any other
Government servant was seen they raised a cry of
"Joe-Joe." I never heard the origin of the word.
The cause of this excitement was in consequence of
a digger having been accidentally shot by a policeman,
as he was obeying some order of a warden who
was settling a dispute.
It appeared that the. warden had directed an
armed policeman to eject a man from a claim, and
in stepping down he slipped, and his carbine accidentally
went off, killing a digger who was standing
on the bank of the claim. There was a general
muster of the diggers immediately, and they hunted
the warden and policeman off the ground, pelting
them with stones, and for some weeks no official was
to be seen on these diggings. My party happened
to arrive at Read's Creek a few days after the
accident had happened. The diggings at Spring
Creek were quite different to Bendigo. The ground
was very wet, and we sank what we called paddocks.
The sinking was not more than twelve to fifteen feet
deep, and the paddocks generally twelve feet by
twelve feet. Not only did we find gold there, but
large quantities of tin, in the shape of black sand,
which was allowed to run down the creek. Eventually
this black sand was collected, and as it was very
valuable, large quantities were sent to Melbourne.
After working about a month at Read's Creek, a
new rush was started at the head of Spring Creek,
which was called " Madman's Gully." We started off
there. By this time we had learned enough to know
the best place to mark out a claim, and certainly
found the richest hole we had yet had. The sinking
was about fifteen or twenty feet, but gold was seen
in a vein running through the wash-dirt. I used to
pick out a match-box full of nuggets every day. I
forget the exact quantity of gold we got out of it, but
my own share came to more than 800 after the gold
was sold.
We got very tired of paying thirty shillings a
month for our licences, and only took out one licence
between the three of us, trusting to chance to avoid
the police when they were out digger-hunting. I
remember on one occasion having great difficulty in
doing so, and giving them a great chase after me.
We had only the one licence, and suddenly found
ourselves surrounded by a large body of police. I
saw them observing us. I had the licence in my
pocket. My mates had none. So off I started across
the diggings to a hill on the side of the lead. My
two mates stood where they were. The police, seeing
me endeavouring to hide from them behind some
rocks, tried to follow me; but their horses were
unable to face the rocks. They all came after me,
and in about ten minutes I was overtaken. The
man who caught me demanded my licence, and I
quietly produced it from my pocket. They asked
me why I had run away. I answered, I was always
afraid when I saw a policeman. In the meantime,
my two mates, who had no licences, escaped, and we
got off that month. The next month I was walking
into Spring Creek with one of my mates, having
left the other man with the licence behind. Suddenly
the police were on us, before we could make
an escape ; they immediately demanded our licences.
We made some excuse about not being able to pay
for them, so we were handcuffed, and made to march
back, whilst other non-licensed diggers were searched
for. None were found, and when about four miles
from the Spring Creek camp our captors asked us if
we would promise to take out our licences if they let
us go. We said yes. The handcuffs were taken off,
and we were allowed to go free. I could give many
instances of the iniquitous law of arresting diggers
because they had not taken out a licence; but I
have given two instances of my personal experience.
Our clothes were washed in a very simple manner.
A flannel shirt lasted a week, and when washing-day
arrived was tied to a root of a tree in the creek and
left there for three or four days, then hung out to
dry. We remained at these diggings for about three
months. I was then attacked by a low fever and
was gradually becoming weaker and weaker every
day, until the doctor at last suggested I should leave
the diggings and go to Sydney. I was terribly weak,
not being able to walk more than a yard, so my
mates found a dray bound for Wangaratta, and put
me on top of the load that was going to town. The
shaking of the dray was fearful. However, we arrived
that night at a place called Tarrawingee, about ten
miles from Spring Creek. The weather was very
warm, and we camped under a fine tree. The draymen
on the roads in those days had great difficulty
to prevent their horses being stolen, and the unfortunate
men, after driving all day, had to watch
half the night to protect their horses. At daybreak
the drayman got up and made some tea. He offered
me some, but I could neither eat nor drink, so he
left me to get his horses, not returning till late in
the afternoon.
Whilst under that tree a circumstance occurred I
shall never forget. After the drayman left me a
crow took up a position on a branch near me. And
as the day wore on closer and closer he approached
me, calling out unceasingly, " Caw, caw," as I thought
to encourage other crows to come to a feast. As he
became bolder I got in a terrible fright that my eyes
would be eaten out before I died. So I exerted
myself to drive him away, but he seemed to know I
was too weak to do him any harm. At last I worked
myself up to such a state that I forgot my illness
and only thought of "going for" the crow, and I
kept him off until the drayman returned. From
that hour I improved. The next day we reached
Wangaratta, where I remained a few days, until I
was strong enough to bear a journey in the two wheeled
dog-cart, or mail cart, the only conveyance
running in those days. I fastened a strap round my
waist, sat with my back to the horses, and so went
down to Sydney. My two mates soon afterwards
dissolved partnership, and I never saw the escaped
convict again.
After remaining in Sydney some three or four
months, I met a cousin of mine, a Colonel Butterworth,
who was the Governor of Singapore. He had
come from Singapore, and advised me to get some
settled employment, and as I knew no one in Melbourne,
he promised to do his best for me. If I
came with him to Melbourne, he thought he might
be able to get me into the Government Service. I
said I would prefer a cadetship in the Victorian
police, as I was anxious to go in pursuit of bushrangers
who were overrunning the colony.
I accompanied my cousin to Melbourne, but when
he reached Queenscliff, he found a steamer going to
Hobart Town, where he had left his wife, so he gave
me letters to Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Latrobe. However,
I got no satisfaction from either of them, so I
went off to the Warranga diggings again, falling in
with a Mr. G. D. M'Cormick, a native of Canada,
and we agreed to be mates and work together. I
must mention an extraordinary coincidence with
regard to M'Cormick. He was born in Canada ; I
at the Cape of Good Hope. He was born on the
11 th October, 1830 ; so was I. We parted from each
other for many years, and in 1882 we were both
appointed police magistrates for the colony of
Victoria.
I met a man from the Cape there who had opened
a store, a Mr. Barn (my father used to buy his snuff
from his father at the Cape), and we used to sleep
in the store for his protection. At that time I got
an insight as to how grog was brought to the diggings
(it was prohibited in those days). Flour was imported
from America in barrels ; and when it reached
Melbourne a two-gallon keg of spirits was put in the
centre of the flour, and the barrel with its double
load was sent off to the diggings. The fine for
having spirits in your possession was 50, and all the
liquor confiscated. My Cape friend, wishing to pay
a visit to Melbourne, asked me to take charge of the
store during his absence. I did so, and served out
tea and sugar to his customers, bought gold, and
carried on the business for over a fortnight. My
mate and I barely got enough gold to pay our expenses.
I found the store-keeping a much pleasanter
occupation.
About three months after I had been at Warranga
I received a letter from my cousin, telling me he
had seen Mr. Mitchell, the Chief Commissioner of
Police, and he had given me a commission in the
mounted police. I lost no time, and called on Mr.
Mitchell (afterwards Sir William H. F. Mitchell),
and he appointed me lieutenant in the Victorian
police, 1st January, 1854.


Taken from the book THE LAST OF THE BUSHRANGERS.

FOURTH EDITION.

RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED, LONDON :

Printed By

HURST AND BLACKETT, LIMITED,
13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
1895.

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THE LAST OF THE BUSHRANGERS. Empty Re: THE LAST OF THE BUSHRANGERS.

Post  Billy on Tue May 10, 2011 9:05 pm

James, can I just say, one of your best mate cheers cheers cheers

Loved that snippet of early life and by gee did he tell it well.

Would buy several copies if they were still available (at a sensible price of course Neutral )

Reading stuff like this really reminds me of this GREAT COUNTRY some of us are lucky enough to live in.

P.S. any idea if this book is available??
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Post  Guest on Tue May 10, 2011 10:03 pm

Billy mate you can down load the book see below. cheers

The Last of the Bushrangers: An Account of the Capture of the Kelly Gang. To download the book click the link below then click the PDF link on the left hand side of the page.

BY FRANCIS AUGUSTUS HARE, P.M.

FOURTH EDITION.

Link

http://www.archive.org/details/lastofbushranger00hareiala

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THE LAST OF THE BUSHRANGERS. Empty Re: THE LAST OF THE BUSHRANGERS.

Post  Billy on Tue May 10, 2011 10:43 pm

Much thanks James, will enjoy reading it.
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