Captain ThunderboltTo People
Born in Wilberfoce in Sydney's west in 1836, Frederick Ward was one of the second generation of New South Wales bushrangers. As a skilled horseman, he worked as a horse-breaker at Tocal station, near Maitland, until his propensity to steal horses had him convicted of theft and sent to Cockatoo Island in 1856 for seven years. Escaping in 1863, assisted by his wife Mary Ann Bugg, he continued the tradition of convict bolters, who went on to become bushrangers. Convict bolters were convicts who stole from settlers and travelers to survive, either working alone or in gangs.
Living with his wife and children in the Hunter Valley, Ward started holding up mail coaches and inns with the name Captain Thunderbolt emerging in 1865. He used to hide behind what is now known as Thunderbolt's Rock - a split rock, comprising of a large cluster of granite rocks just south of the Uralla township. In contrast to other bushrangers of the time, the tall and charming Thunderbolt preferred to avoid violence in his hold ups and was characterised by his intelligence and unrivalled horsemanship.
As the last professional bushranger in New South Wales, Thunderbolt was eventually captured and shot by Constable Alexander Binney Walker whilst testing a horse at Kentucky Creek near Uralla in 1870. He was buried in Uralla Cemetery. There is a bronze statue of Thunderbolt on his horse at the junction of the New England Highway and the Walcha Road.