Between July and December he was absent and was supposed to have made a voyage to Fiji , but on 28 December he was in Sydney selling at the mint ounces of retorted gold, resembling in fineness and other qualities the metal taken from the bank at Egerton, although no thought of connecting one lot with the other was then entertained.
After this he went to the Maitland district, near Newcastle and was there convicted on two charges of obtaining money by false pretences for which he was sentenced to twelve and eighteen months' imprisonment. Of these concurrent terms, Scott served fifteen months, at the expiration of which time he returned to Sydney where, in March , he was arrested on the charge of robbing the Egerton Bank and forwarded to Ballarat for examination and trial. He succeeded in escaping gaol by cutting a hole through the wall of his cell and gained entrance into the cell adjoining, which was occupied by another prisoner, who was as desirous of escaping as himself.
Together they seized the warder when he came on his rounds, gagged him and tied him up. Making use of his keys, they proceeded to other cells, liberating four other prisoners, and the six men succeeded in escaping over the wall by means of blankets cut into strips, which they used as a rope.
Scott was subsequently re-captured, and held safely until he could be tried. In July he was tried before judge Sir Redmond Barry at the Ballarat Circuit Court when, by a series of cross-examinations of unprecedented length conducted by himself after rejecting his counsel, he spread the case over no less than eight days, but was at last convicted, and sentenced to 10 years' hard labour. Despite some evidence against him, Scott claimed innocence in this matter until his dying day. Scott only served two-thirds of his sentence of 10 years, was released from HM Prison Pentridge in March and after his release he made a few pounds by lecturing on the enormities of Pentridge Gaol.
On regaining freedom, Scott met up with James Nesbitt, a young man whom he had met in prison. While some disagree on the grounds of speculation, he is considered by many to be Scott's lover and there is a significant primary source evidence that supports this reading. With the aid of Nesbitt, Captain Moonlite began a career as a public speaker on prison reform trading on his tabloid celebrity.
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However this reputation came back to bite him. Throughout this period Scott was harried by the authorities and by the tabloid press who attempted to link him to numerous crimes in the colony and printed fantastic rumours about supposed plots he had underway. At some time during this period Scott seems to have decided to live up to this legend and assembled a gang of young men, with Nesbitt as his second in command and the others being Thomas Rogan 21 , Thomas Williams 19 , Gus Wreneckie 15 and Graham Bennet Scott met these young men through his lecture tours.
The gang commenced their careers as bushrangers near Mansfield, in Victoria. While travelling through the Kellys' area of operation, the gang were frequently mistaken for The Kelly Gang and took advantage of this to receive food and to seize guns and ammunition from homesteads. Inspecting Superintendent of Police John Sadleir, made a highly improbable claim that Scott sent word to infamous bushranger Ned Kelly , asking to join forces with him but Kelly sent back word threatening that if Scott or his band approached him he would shoot them down.
Scott seems to have never received the reply as his gang left Victoria in the later part of , after operating there for a short time. They travelled north across the border into New South Wales to look for work, far from the police surveillance that stymied any opportunity of employment in Victoria.
It was in the southern district of the New South Wales colony that they entered upon the full practice of their profession. In one act they made themselves notorious. On Saturday evening, 15 November they entered the little settlement of Wantabadgery, about 45 km 28 miles from Gundagai , and proceeded to "bail up" confine and rob all the residents.
Scott's gang held up the Wantabadgery Station near Wagga Wagga on 15 November after being refused work, shelter and food. By this stage they were on the verge of starvation, after spending cold and rainy nights in the bush and in Moonlite's words succumbed to "desperation", terrorising staff and the family of Claude McDonald, the station owner. Scott also robbed the Australian Arms Hotel of a large quantity of alcohol and took prisoner the residents of some other neighbouring properties- bringing the number of prisoners to 25 in total.
One man, Ruskin, escaped in an attempt to warn others, but was caught and subject to a mock trial- the jury of his fellow prisoners finding him "Not Guilty". Another station-hand attempted to rush Scott but was overpowered. A small party of four mounted troopers eventually arrived, but Scott's well armed gang captured their horses and held them down with gunfire for several hours until they retreated to gather reinforcements- at which point the gang slipped out.
It all began with convict John Caesar known as Black Caesar who escaped in and survived by hunting, fishing and accepting gifts from sympathetic settlers. From there, the legend of the mighty bushrangers began to take shape. Alexander Pearce, caught with human flesh in his pocket, was hung for eating a fellow convict. Is it a disservice to those they harmed to glamorise their acts? Perhaps, say curators at the National Library of Australia.
Victoria / NSW
There were deadly snakes and spiders lurking in the bush, the destructive power of cataclysmic bushfires — and the terrors of facing bushrangers on remote roads. Bushrangers sprang to fame at a crucial time, an era when Australia was a group of colonies looking for an identity. Resilience and an anti-authoritarian attitude are as Australian as Vegemite, and no one stuck their nose up at authority, or triumphed through adversity, quite like the bushrangers.
Throughout history, oppressed societies have always found hope in daring heroes who battle against injustice, and our romanticising of bushrangers is no exception.
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In the early settlements, punishments were severe, with sentences of hundreds of lashings for seemingly minor crimes. Even for voluntary settlers, life was difficult — food was scarce and the land was hard. So its little wonder bushrangers developed a reputation as Robin Hood-esque figures — underdogs who fought against an unfair system and stole from the rich tyrants. Today, we still overlook the crimes of these murderers and mad men, holding them up as symbols of national pride, despite being a generally law-abiding society and viewing modern criminals more harshly.
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Watch exclusive videos before anyone else. Favourite content that you like or want to check out later. Free SMS and Email reminders so you never miss a show. Get notified when content that interests you is published. Share your photos on Snap! Share your thoughts and opinions on various matters. Not all bushrangers had long careers and gained fame. Most had extremely short careers, such as the three French immigrants, Charles Robardi, Auguste Rivet and Louis Deuchef, whose partnership lasted one day. They held up the Lambing Flat to Yass mail coach in August and the driver was shot dead.
Robardi and Rivet were arrested immediately and tried in Goulburn. Robardi was hanged in May and Rivet sentenced to servitude for life. Deuchef escaped and was not captured for six years. On the gold fields near Mudgee, a Chinese miner named Sam Poo committed a series of robberies when his luck as a prospector ran out. He shot and killed a police constable, and then engaged in a gun battle with troopers when trying to avoid capture.
He was tried and hanged at Bathurst Gaol at the end of In the reports of the time his race was not given focus, but later accounts placed more emphasis on his Chinese heritage. The first highway robbery in the Port Phillip District is thought to have occurred in April , but it was not until the region became a separate colony in and gold was discovered near Ballarat that bushranging began to flourish. These included twenty-five out of twenty-six cases of robbery in company. An attempt was made to pass legislation to prohibit the entry of ex-convicts into the State, but this was rejected by the Colonial Office in London.
The Bushranger "Mad" Dan Morgan
Public reputation had suffered due to the corruption, harassment and harsh methods used for licence collection on the goldfields. Hostility existed within the force between the native born in the lower ranks and the officers who had all been drawn from outside the Colony. Communication was poor and adequate training in bush skills was lacking. Many of the city police who were posted to rural stations feared the bush. Lone travellers, small groups and mail coaches going to and from the goldfields were easy targets for attack. There he had been before a magistrate 25 times, escaped on a number of occasions and lived for a year with Aboriginal people.
The escape failed and he was transferred to Melbourne gaol where, eighteen months later, he was found strangled by a red-spotted blue scarf.