Bushrangers of New South WalesTo History
Bushrangers form an important part of Australian colonial folklore. Commonly convict bolters, bushrangers were often viewed sympathetically and rather than being loathed and despised by the public, were exalted as heroes of the underdog. For most, their 'danger' was appealing and their charm, mystery and courage endeared them to the Australian people. They often displayed a distinct sense of social justice; Dan 'Mad Dog' Morgan for example targeted cattle drivers who were known for their brutality towards their workers, and this would further perpetuate the 'Robin Hood' myth of outlaws in Australia.
Australia's first bushranger was New South Wales convict bolter John Black Caesar who arrived in Australia with the First Fleet in 1788. Of African descent, Caesar absconded from the colony and stole to survive in the bush. The majority of bushrangers were escaped felons who could not settle due to their status as a wanted criminal and whilst the myth would suppose they stole to live, for the most part bushranging proved a profitable if not incredibly dangerous occupation.
Some of the most infamous bushrangers from New South Wales include Fred Ward who was known as 'Captain Thunderbolt', Ben Hall who ran one of the most successful gangs of Bushrangers during the 1800s, Jack Donohue who was posthumously immortalised in the popular Australian folk song 'The Wild Colonial Boy' and the Aboriginal Governor Brothers whose story of Aboriginal dispossession would inspire Thomas Keneally's novel 'The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith'. These daring and reckless criminals continue to provoke intrigue today.