This website is designed, researched and written by Mark Matthews. It may alter with updated information and research as it comes to hand. This section is a work in progress...
"Ben Hall! Stockman, Squatter, Bushranger, from these personas, his character has remained an enigma. From a man held in high regard by all who knew him to a man through his own actions became one of the most hunted in colonial history, and who would ultimately die a violent and bloody death at the hands of his pursuers."- Mark Matthews.
This website aims to provide a comprehensive, chronological account of Australian bushranger Ben Hall's calamitous life. Gathered through the accounts of eyewitnesses, former gang members, government documents, as well as the reproduction of historical newspaper and N.S.W. Police Gazette records of Ben Hall and his associates' bushranging activities. (All related articles incorporated into the narrative are coloured and transcribed as originally published.)
|"Hall is the only one of the three who cultivates any moustache or whiskers, and he is getting fat."|
However, in light of Happy Jack's absence. Whatever the situation, a story surfaced in 1913 through the reminiscence of an old Lachlan local who highlighted that Jack was neither dead nor an enemy of Hall's but that Gilbert had fallen ill. The local claimed that Gilbert had not ventured to Victoria but had retired to a favoured retreat of the gang. The wild confines of Bogan Gate northwest of Forbes are surrounded by large stretches of rough country and hills. Such as Monumea Gap, Nelungaloo Range and Jemalong Range, also known as Garland Range.
These interconnected ranges were part of a pencil-thin mountain range stretching from Carawandool State Forest at Back Creek, meandering north to Bogan Gate. All these ranges were littered with caves and ridges, providing good respite for Hall and Gilbert. In addition, the proximity to the surrounding stations, such as Bundaburrah, Billabong and Carrawobbity, Forbes, and the Dog and Duck hotel. Owned by one of Hall's closest friends Tom Higgins and the man who mended Hall's smashed leg year earlier.. Higgins was a provider of food and police information enabling the bushrangers to resupply as required. Stories abounded that when the heat was on, the bushrangers retired to the area to muster cattle in a helping hand to some graziers.
A BOTFIELD EPISODE. There is a little siding out on the Parkes to Bogan Gate railway line called Botfield, and when I was out that way a couple of weeks ago I little dreamt that the peaceful little railway siding was once the spot on which a great act of "man's humanity to man" was enacted. A drover named Botfield was taking a mob of sheep across that part of the country and coming to a creek that contained good water, he decided to camp to rest his mob. He camped on there for such a long time that people began to speak of it as Botfield's Creek. One day Gilbert, one of Ben Hall's gang, rode up to the camp, suffering from typhoid fever, and Mr and Mrs Botfield made a bunk under their wagon and nursed him right through his illness. The police often rode up making inquiries about the bushrangers and even went so far as to look under the wagon round which the tarpaulin was hung, but Botfield put them off by telling them that it was only a sick drover under there.
On Gilbert's whereabouts a correspondent while canvassing the trail had it indicated to him that Gilbert had indeed gone north:
On the 22nd of January 1864, Hall's short time with his son ended abruptly as Bridget Hall applied to the Forbes Court for the return of young Henry Hall. Jim Taylor, accompanied by Bridget, took out a summons against William Hall for the illegal detention of Henry. However, the matter never made court as the issue was settled, and Henry was surrendered to his mother and Taylor.
|NSW Police Gazette|
Ben Hall and his New Force.— Information reached Young, on Thursday, of some ten persons, including several of the fair sex, having been stuck up while on their way to the Anniversary races on Tuesday last, by (it is supposed), the notorious bushranger Ben Hall, who allowed, them to pass upon the ladies' assurance that their finances were not in flourishing state. On information reaching Burrowa, the police went next morning in pursuit, but without success.
Furthermore, Ben Hall's notoriety as bushranger supreme drew some to believe that the chance to join Hall was an easy process. As a result, a few would avail themselves of the idea of becoming a part of the gang over the next few months.
One incident of a rouge who talked of joining Hall was John M'Kail, an American who had given himself the nickname 'Flying Barber'. M'Kail had been a driver for prominent coach provider Greig's, transporting passengers between Forbes and Lambing Flat. Whereby the coachman had undoubtedly come into Hall and Gilbert's presence.
Remaining in the Burrowa area and off the police radar, Ben Hall had not been seen nor heard of for some days. Rumours abounded that Hall had returned to the Lachlan near his old station, possibly even at Wheogo station, home of his former in-laws or in the confines of Wheogo Hill. However, while alone and camped, Ben Hall had an altercation with a centipede that gave him a nasty bite that caused his foot to swell so much to not being able to wear a boot.
In discomfort, Hall visited the doctor at Cowra, where he sought treatment for the centipede bite. Following the consultation, Hall, with little relief, arrived at Oma station. In this place, he mustered cattle in his youth and stole an agisted police horse.
Ben Hall visited a doctor at Cowra a short time since to consult about his leg, which had been bitten by a centipede. He has since made a call at Oma station, of Messrs. West, Brothers', and took a police horse from the paddock. He is frequently seen about.