Bushranger site seeing

Start your bushranger getaway at Escort Rock – site of the Gold Escort Robbery, where old bullets from the robbery have been found. The wheel ruts, worn into the granite from the old coaches are still visible today.

Head toward Orange, along The Escort Way, and on your right are the Goimbla Mountains a favorite haunt of bushrangers. Turn right at the windmill and explore the wild and beautiful Nangar National Park. Test the stamina of your four-wheel drive vehicle with a climb to the bluff of Mt Nangar for a spectacular and breathtaking view across the Central West of NSW.

Back on the Escort Way, pass by old Goimbla Station, where all that remains is the chimney – the place where Mrs Campbell and her husband defended their homestead against an attack by bushrangers Ben Hall, John Gilbert & John O’Meally, and during which John O’Meally was shot dead.

Continue along The Escort Way, which follows the old coach road to Murga, from where you look up the valley to the bluff of Mt Nangar. Turn south down Longs Corner Road, and follow it to Canowindra. Wander down crooked Gaskill Street, and imagine being in the town when it was held up by bushrangers for 3 days of drinking and cavorting in 1863.

Take the road to Eugowra, and turn left at Nyrang toward Gooloogong. Cross the old wooden bridge, blink and you’ve passed the town, then head south east down the Kangarooby Road to Croote Cottage. Built in 1837, it has original loop holes, furnishings and a secret cellar, and was visited by bushranger Ben Hall, who took pity on the occupant, Mr. John Dowd, at the time sick in bed, and offered him money for a Doctor. Mr. Dowd refused the money, and urged Ben to give up his life of crime.

Now head back through Gooloogong toward Forbes. After a couple of kms, turn at the sign to the Old Gooloogong Anglican Cemetery, located on the south bank of the Lachlan River. Here, on the opposite bank to where his family had settled, bushranger John O’Meally was finally laid to rest in an unmarked grave.

Continue heading northwest but stop and explore the many travelling stock & camping reserves along the Lachlan – sites of old coach crossings and bushranger camps, great places to picnic or pitch a tent and kick up old bottles, hand forged horseshoes, and china fragments from the old days. Turn at the sign, and cross the single lane heritage listed Paytens Bridge, heading toward Eugowra. Head back to town and turn left down a track just after you enter the 50km zone. This leads to the Low Level Bridge, a stock crossing south of the town of Eugowra.

Paddle in the cool water of Mandagery Creek where Frank Gardiner’s gang of bushrangers crossed the night of the Gold Escort Robbery – but be careful, the creek can be very cold, has lots of snags and can flow very swiftly!

Visit the Eugowra Historical Museum & Bushranger Centre to bone up on all the local bushrangers, and take a look at Johnny Gilbert’s pistol, ploughed up by a farmer in a paddock near Escort Rock. Also in the Museum are fantastic scenes of the Goimbla attack and Gold Escort Robbery, and other treasures relating to bushranger history.

Frank Gardiner