The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 10 page 1

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The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare

(full text transcription)


Before I close this part of my narrative I wish to say that I have not given a hundredth part of that actually took place during the time I was marching for the outlaws. I felt sure, sooner or later, one of the different parties who were out in search of them would drop across them, as the outlaws had always to be on the alert, never knowing when a party would be on them. Ned Kelly said after his capture, the hardest part of their life was the constantly keeping guard for fear of surprise. They were dreadfully afraid of the black trackers. I mean the men that came from Queensland. I was told it was marvellous how these men could follow a track across the bush. I was out on two occasions with them, but I did not see anything particularly striking about them, but other Victorian officers spoke in the highest terms of their wonderful skill in tracking.


When Moses was with me I saw him do a fine piece of tracking. We were on a flat at the back of Warby's Ranges, and after lunch started to search a range in the mountains, leaving our packs at the camp, and a man in charge. We had been searching several hills, and about half an hour before sunset one of the men drew my attention to some tracks of horses coming from the Wangaratta side of the range. I called Moses and showed them to him. He dismounted, looked about, and said they were from horse tracks about four days old, three big horses and one small one; he pointed in the direction they were going. It was exactly in the opposite direction to where our camp was. He said, "Shall I follow them?" I replied, “Yes." He took some cartridges out of his belt and put one in his rifle, and without saying another word, off he galloped as hard as he could go across country, we all following him. We went for about five or six miles. Suddenly Moses pulled up, and we found ourselves on the cross road running from Wangaratta Yarrawonga. Moses said, “The tracks have gone into this dusty road, and I can't follow them any further." I replied, "Surely you have not been on the tracks all the while." He said, "Oh, yes; I will show you." He got off his horse and showed me the four tracks—three large horses and one small one. He then galloped up one side of the cross road and back the other, to see if the tracks crossed either the one side or the other, but without any result. We then returned to our camp. We were without coats, it was bitterly cold, and we had nine or ten miles to ride.

Next morning we started to try and pick up the tracks again, and I suggested we should work back to see where they came from. We did so, and found they were coming from the direction of a sympathizer’s house which we had surrounded a few nights before. We rode on for about a mile, and suddenly Moses pulled up, and said, "They have been camping here." I could see no signs of anything. I said, "How do you know?" He replied, "One saddle been there," pointing to a spot, "another there, and there." I dismounted and could see no signs of anything. We searched about and found where a small fire had been made. Searching further he found under some rocks, where the black fellow had noticed the stones had been removed, the identical tins which we had given Sergeant Kelly when I directed him to take up his position in the mountain overlooking the house. I after wards ascertained that it was just four days before we were there, that Sergeant Kelly had left this camp and gone the road Moses had followed the previous evening. I have given this story just to show the wonderful powers these blacks have in following tracks.

Police Agents

In addition to going out in search parties, I had a number of agents always working for me, but I felt the information they gave was of little use. They would tell us the outlaws were seen at some distant place, and what they intended doing, but all this information was of little service to us, beyond letting us know they were in the country. This we had no doubt of, and I often asked Sherritt if there was any change of them leaving the district, and he scorned the idea he said, "Most decidedly they can never leave, and the day they attempt to do so they will be captured." I never could understand why they did not separate and make for Queensland as swagmen; but Sherritt was quite right; they never did leave, beyond going across the Murray, where they had many friends, and they were always within a day or two's ride of their own relations. They never had horses with them, except when they went on some raid; other wise we must some time or other have come across their tracks. They could not have kept their horses out of sight. I was told that on two or three occasions I and my party nearly surprised them, and that once they had to take refuge in the head of a fallen tree to escape us.

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