The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 1 page 1
Story of the KellyGang - the Sup Hare's book
The Last of the Bushrangers.
The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare
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 hare 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 know, fact that they had friends and adherents, either open or semi veiled, 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.
One of Seventeen
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 horse-breeding 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.
See next page
|!||The text has been retyped from a microfiche copy of the original.
We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged.
the next chapter . . . .The Last of the Bushrangers . . . . . index