The term "bushranger" evolved to refer to those who abandoned social rights and privileges to take up "robbery under arms" as a way of life, using the bush as their base.
John "Black" Caesar is generally regarded as the first bushranger. He bolted from Sydney Cove several times before being shot dead in 1796.
Bold Jack Donahue is recorded as the last convict bushranger. He was reported in newspapers around 1827 as being responsible for an outbreak of bushranging on the road between Sydney and Windsor. Throughout the 1830s he was regarded as the most notorious bushranger in the colony. Leading a band of escaped convicts, Donahue became central to Australian folklore as the Wild Colonial Boy.
Bushranging was common on the mainland, but Van Diemen's Land produced the most violent and serious outbreaks of convict bushrangers. Hundreds of convicts were at large in the bush, farms were abandoned and martial law was proclaimed. Indigenous outlaw Musquito defied colonial authorities and led attacks on settlers.
George Melville was hanged in front of a large crowd for robbing the McIvor gold escort near Castlemaine in 1853.
Frank Gardiner, John Gilbert and Ben Hall led the most notorious gangs of the period. Other active bushrangers included Dan Morgan, based in the Murray River, and Captain Thunderbolt, killed outside Uralla.
Among the last bushrangers was the Kelly Gang led by Ned Kelly, who were captured at Glenrowan in 1880, two years after they were outlawed.
In 1900 the indigenous Governor Brothers terrorised much of northern New South Wales.
Bold Jack Donohue was the first bushranger to have inspired bush ballads.
Robbery Under Arms, by Thomas Alexander Browne (writing as Rolf Boldrewood) was published in serial form in the Sydney Mail from 1882 to 1883. It is an early description of the life and acts of fictional bushrangers. It has been the basis of several films and a television series.
Ned Kelly was the subject of the world's first feature length film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, released in 1906. In the 1970 release Ned Kelly, he was portrayed – to limited popular acclaim – by Mick Jagger. Kelly has been the subject of many more movies, television series, written fiction and music.
|Name||Lived||Area of activity||Fate|
|Matthew Brady, "Gentleman Bushranger"||1799 – May 4, 1826||Van Diemen's Land (now known as Tasmania)||Captured by John Batman, hanged|
|Mary Ann Bugg||1834–1867||Hunter Valley-Tamworth-New England||Pneumonia|
|Joe Byrne, one of the Kelly Gang||1857 - 1880||North East Victoria||Shot by police|
|John Caesar||1764–1796||Sydney area||Shot|
|Martin Cash||c. 1808–1877||Tasmania||Prison sentence, released after 13 years|
|John Donahue, known as Bold Jack Donahue||c. 1806–1830||Sydney area||Shot by police|
|John Dunn||1846–1866||Western New South Wales||Hanged|
|John Francis||c. 1825–?||Victoria Gold Fields (1853)||Released after giving Queen's Evidence|
|John Fuller, known as Dan Mad Dog Morgan||c. 1830–1865||New South Wales||Shot|
|Frank Gardiner||c. 1829–c. 1904||Western New South Wales||Prison sentence, then moved to California|
|John Gilbert||1842–1865||Western New South Wales||Shot by police|
|Jimmy Governor||1875–1901||New South Wales||Hanged|
|Ben Hall||1837–1865||Western New South Wales||Shot by police|
|Steve Hart, one of the Kelly Gang||North East Victoria||Burnt|
|Joseph Bolitho Johns, known as Moondyne Joe||c. 1828–1900||Western Australia||Numerous prison sentences, died a free man|
|Henry Johnson, known as Harry Power||1819–1891||North East Victoria||Prison sentence, released|
|Dan Kelly, brother of Ned||c. 1861-1880||North East Victoria||Burnt|
|Ned Kelly||c. 1854–1880||North East Victoria||Hanged|
|Frank McCallum, known as Captain Melville (many aliases)||1822-1857||Victorian Goldfields||Murder/Suicide by hanging in gaol|
|James Alpin McPherson, known as The Wild Scotchman||1842-1895||Gin Gin, Queensland||Died a free man|
|Johnny O'Meally||1843–1864||Western New South Wales||Shot by farmer|
|John Paid, known as Wolloo Jack||from Stanwell Park terrorised Sydney area in the 1820s|
|Frank Pearson, known as Captain Starlight||1837–1899||Northern and Western New South Wales||Prison sentence, released, accidentally poisoned himself while drunk|
|Sam Poo||?–1865||Coonabarabran, New South Wales||Hanged|
|Harry Redford, known as |
"Captain Starlight - The gentleman bushranger
|c. 1842 - 1901||Longreach, Queensland||Found not guilty at trial|
|Codrington Revingstone||South-West Victoria (1850)|
|Billy Roberts (probably), known as Jack the Rammer||South Eastern New South Wales (1834)|
|Andrew George Scott, known as Captain Moonlite||1842-1880||near Gundagai, New South Wales||Hanged|
|Owen Suffolk||1829 - ?||Victoria||Died in prison?|
|Frederick Ward, known as Captain Thunderbolt||1833–1870||Hunter Valley-Tamworth-New England (1864–1870)||Shot by police|
|William Westwood, known as Jackey Jackey||1820–1846||Hanged|
The bushranger's voice: Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang (2000) and Ned Kelly's Jerilderie Letter (1879).(Critical essay)
Jun 22, 2007; When the Australian Bushranger Ned Kelly was hanged in Melbourne on 11 November 1880 a baffling and frustrating reign of...
Black Caesar: our first bushranger was a six-foot African man who arrived on the first fleet. What does his life tell us about the quest for identity in contemporary Australia? (essay).
Feb 01, 2002; The big book in Australia for 2001 was Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang, a masterful portrait of our national hero...