A research project by year 5 and 6 students at
Herberton State Primary School 1997
Ned Kelly wearing the armour he fought his last battle in
The Bushrangers of Australia's history have a special place in the hearts
and imaginations of Australians. These outlaws, (highway men, or brigands as they are known in other countries)
are remembered with pride and admiration rather than the contempt and hate that they probably deserve,
as many were violent and ruthless criminals who made their livings by murdering and stealing.
Perhaps it is their bravado, self-reliance, apparently carefree and reckless defiance of authority,
and their romantic wandering, adventurous lifestyle that has appealed to generations of Australians.
The first Bushrangers were escaped convicts, called bolters. These men bolted to defy authority,
and run away from the harsh conditions and treatment that they received as convicts.
Others were just young men looking for adventure and freedom from everday work.
Some were as young as fifteen years old. In the gold-digging years of the 1860's the bushrangers were freeborn
young men with a wild or vicious streak.
Their exploits were spectacular and they won a kind of fame, but most died by the gun or the gallows.
The growing population and the lack of sufficient numbers of trained policemen at that time meant that
little could be done to stop the bushrangers. Their stolen racehorses were faster than the police horses.
The 'Bush Telegraph' made up of sympathesizers and friends of the bushrangers, who kept and eye out for
police and informed the bushrangers of their movements also abetted the bushrangers' success.
Following are the biographies of several famous Australian Bushrangers, researched and written by year 5 and 6 students.
Black Caesar - the First Bushranger
Black Caesar was born some were around 1770. His place of birth was Madagascar. He was a dark, tall ,strong negro
who wore convict clothing in gaol. His home place was Madagascar. His family was not known. Caesar was very poor.
Life Before Bushranging
His occupation was being a convict on the First Fleet in 1788 and he was a slave on a sugar plantation before
becoming a convict.
He became a bushranger because he wasn't getting enough food.
The gang had 7 members in the gang. Black Caesar was the leader of the gang. Black Caesar robbed and stole food
from travellers around Sydney.
Death Black Caesar died on the 15th of February 1796 at Liberty Plains. He was shot and died a few hours later.
Five gallons of rum was rewarded for his capture.
By Abe Swiers, year 5.
Jack Donahoe was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1806. He was a confident convict but a viscious criminal.
He stoood 5'4" with a brown, freckled complexion, flaxen hair and blue eyes.
He had a scar under his left nostril.
In 1823 he was arrested for intent to commit a felony. he worked on a road gang. In 1827 he robbed bullock carts
with two other men. They were caught and sentenced to death but escaped.
Donahoe and his gang held up the explorer Captain Charles Sturt. He recognised him and gave him his money back.
Jack Donahoe was known as the Wild Colonial Boy. Many songs were sung about him, but authorities banned the songs.
In 1829, Private Muchsteston shot Jack Donahoe in the neck and forehead with a double loaded pistol.
He had been tracked by troopers to Campbelltown. When Private Muchsteston caught up with him, he took off his hat,
waved it in the air three times and shouted, "Come on you ******, We're ready if there's a dozen of you."
By Aaron Dozier, year 5.
His real name was Andrew George Scott. He was born in 1842 at Tyrone, in Northern Ireland.
He was properly educated. He grew up to be a respectful man and wore fancy clothes.
He was the son of a clergyman.
Andrew was a poor man so after fighting in the second Maori war in New Zealand, he came to Australia in the gold rush,
to make his fortune.
After being in jail for 8 years for no reason he became a bushranger. There were 5 members in the gang
and their names were Thomas Rogan, James Nesbitt, Thomas Williams, Augustus Wernicke and Graham Benett.
Some of his crimes include a robbery at his local bank and giving a bad cheque for a yacht.
They held up the Wattabadgery Station. Their most famous crime was to steal 1000 pounds in notes and gold.
After the longest shooting duel in Australian history, he had given himself up after after a third gang member was shot.
After a trial in Sydney, he died in Darlinghurst on the gallows in 1880.
By Aidan Joseph, year 6.
|We have received the following comments on this item: (Writer's
I noted the following statement:
"Andrew was a poor man so after fighting in the
second Maori war in New Zealand, he came to Australia in
the gold rush, to make his fortune.
After being in jail for 8 years for no reason he
became a bushranger.
I believe it should be corrected to "Andrew Scott CLAIMED to have
fought in the Maori wars but this was a FALSE claim"
he was not jailed "for no reason". He had been accused
of robbing the bank at Egerton---my great grandfather was the bank
manager at the time and our relatives suffered great distress over the
incident, since Scott tried to claim that bank manager Bruun had tied
himself up and Scott tried to accuse my great-grandfather of robbing his
To this day, Mr Bruun's descendants get upset when Capt Moonlite is
Therefore, I am writing this to ask that you re-check the facts and
please stress that Andrew Scott was a bushranger by CHOICE---not because
of poverty or bad luck.
Ned Kelly was born in 1855 at Beveridge in Victoria he and his family were very poor.
Life Before Bushranging
In 1870 Ned was arrested on assault charges and received 6 months in gaol. In 1871 he received a stolen horse.
The arresing officer brutally pistol-wipped Ned. Ned was given 3 years in jail. Ned's sister was physically
abused by a police man. Ned thought police were demons. He was a horse thief
Ned was strong, wild and rebellious. His parents were John Kelly and Ellen Kelly, ex-convicts from Tasmania.
In 1880 Ned's family moved to Avenel where Ned went to school but Ned's relatives were in trouble with the police.
The members of his gang were, himself [Ned Kelly], his brother [Dan Kelly], Steve Hart [Dan Kelly's
friend] and Joe Byrne.
His crimes included horse stealing , robbing and shooting. A 800 pound reward on his head.
A bank robbery was commited at Jerelderie and a murder at Stringybark Creek.
Sergeant Kennedy , Constable Lonigan and Sergeant Scanlon were killed.
Ned and his gang held up the Glenrowan Inn on Monday 24th June, 1880. They tried to derail a police train
but a school teacher warned the people on the train and the train was stopped before it got to the broken tracks.
Ned's gang were ambushed. Ned was shot 42 times. He only wore his armour for the final battle with the police.
Ned was hung in Melbourne gaol on November 11th 1880. Steve Hart and Dan Kelly suicided and Joe Byrne was shot.
Ned's last words were "Such is life." His mother's last words to Ned were
"Mind you die like a Kelly, Ned!"
By Jan Ballhaus, year 5.
Matthew Brady was born in the year of 1799 in Manchester. He robbed the rich and gave to the poor.
His home place was Van Dieman's Land and he had Irish parents.
Matt was a well educated young man. He listened well in school, but ruined it by going to jail for forgery.
He then became a convict. No sooner than when he was put in jail, he escaped with fourteen other convicts.
His career of bushranging went well and they called the gang, The Tasmanian Gang.
Matt wasn't their leader at first, but he soon became their leader.
His most famous crime was that he stole a whole boat and dressed up as a trooper.
He also released all the prisoners in Sorell Jail and was responsible for several killings.
The Governor put up wanted posters of Matt Brady and Matt put up some of his own, saying he would
reward fifty gallons of wine for the Governor to be apprehended and taken to him!
His death occured on the 5th of May 1889. He was executed.
By Emma Dickinson-Currie, year 6.
Mad Dan Morgan
Mad Dan Morgan, a famous Australian Bushranger, was born in 1833. Researchers say that he was born in Campbelltown, but
Mad Dan claims that he was born in Appin. Scientists say that Daniel Morgan was vicious, violent, crazy and vengeful.
He wore black trousers and a black, daggy jacket.
Dan lived in New South Wales, but he travelled to different places. Daniel's parents were ex-convicts.
Historical records do not indicate whether he was rich or poor. He was sentenced to jail twice.
Once for hitting a policeman over the head, and then he was framed for a crime he didn't commit.
Dan became a bushranger because he went to jail for a crime he didn't commit and he wanted revenge.
He was sixteen when he became a bushranger. Dan' education was adequate.
Dan had no gang. It is suspected that he had no gang because he was crazy. Other bushrangers probably feared
that he might turn around and kill them.
He burnt down Mr. Evan's barn for having his fingers shot off. His other crimes included horse stealing,
burning hay stacks and shearing sheds, robbing families in isolated homesteads, robbing a hawker near Castlemaine
(for this he was sentenced to twelve years hard labour) and carriage hold-ups.
Dan's most famous crime was when he held up the MacPherson's Station. Alice Macdonald, a maid servant,
somehow slipped out of the house and told the nearest neighbour. Then she slipped back into the house.
Dan died in Northeastern Victoria. He was shot and killed by a stationhand, John Quinlan.
He was shot and killed while walking out of Mr MacPherson's house after holding up the homestead occupants
for twelve hours.
After he was killed, he was propped up and photographs were taken of him for souvenier postcards.
They chopped off his head for scientists to study, and one of the troopers kept his beard for a tobacco pouch.
By Stacey Buck and Melissah Smith, year 6.
His real name was Fredrick Ward. Fredrick Ward was born in 1836 in Windsor in New South Wales.
Frerick Ward was kind to ladies, but he was not kind to men.
His wife was called Mary Anne.
Fredrick Ward lived a poor life.
Fredrick Ward was a skilled horseman. Fredrick Ward got sent to prison at Cockatoo Island in SydneyHarbour
because he was stealing horses. In 1863 he escaped with Fredrick Britten.
His wife helped him with his bushranging. She helped him to prepare crimes and get supplies.
Fredrick Ward became a bushranger because he stole horses all the time, so he was sent to prison.
He robbed mail coaches and inns in Northern New South Wales.
Fredrick Ward mostly worked by himself but sometimes he worked with John Thompson.
In Manilla, behind the inn, John Thompson was shot by troopers.
Thunderbolt held up a german band, and he said, "Play for me and I will give you back your money."
Fredrick stole horses and used them for his getaways.
Fredrick Ward was shot in 1870 in Tamworth.
By Bronwyn O'Hare, year 6.
Frank Gardiner was born in 1831 at Boro Creek, Targo in New South Wales. Frank was well educated and a well dressed man.
He also had a beard.
Frank Gardiner grew up in the bush. He was a rich man. Frank opened up a butcher shop at Wombat Flat.
He went digging in Victoria in the 1850's and was sentenced to five years at Geelong for horse stealing.
Frank escaped and returned home. In 1854 he was gaoled again for horse stealing and was sentenced to seven years.
After serving only half of this he was granted a ticket of leave. Frank returned to his butcher shop and most of
the beasts he slaughtered and sold were said to to be obtained 'on the cross'.
Becoming aware of a warrant for his arrest, he abandoned his shop and took to the mountains.
He organized a gang of bushrangers and started bushranging. His gang was called the Gardiner gang.
His gang consisted of fifteen members. The members would leave when they wanted to and most of them
formed their own gangs.
New members would join his gang when they wanted to become bushrangers.
Frank Gardiner was the leader and he organized all the robberies. He moved to Kosciusko after robbing the
Mudgee Mail of just over 1700 pounds.
Frank Gardiner's most famous crime was robbing the Government Gold Escort of 14000 pounds although it was
heavily guarded by police.
Frank retired after this, was married and moved with his wife to America.
He died in 1890. It is unknown how or why, but it is thought to have been in a bar room brawl.
By Timothy Bassett, year 6.
This page compiled and constructed by Janet Swinkels 1997