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.
Ben Hall HALL, BENJAMIN (1837-1865), bushranger, is believed to have been born on 9 May 1837 at Maitland, New South Wales, son of Benjamin Hall and his wife Elizabeth; both parents were ex-convicts. He became a stockman and with John Macguire leased a run, Sandy Creek, near Wheogo.
Hall was arrested in April 1862 at a race meeting for armed robbery but was acquitted. By then his wife had left him taking their infant son Henry. In July he was detained for his share in the Eugowra gold escort robbery. He was not committed for trial. Escalating legal costs probably forced Hall and Macguire to quit the lease of Sandy Creek. On 14 March 1863 Hall's home was burnt down by Pottinger.
Embittered, Hall joined John Gilbert and became leader of a gang of bushrangers. Hall was probably the most efficient of the bushranger leaders. His men were well armed and superbly mounted, often on stolen race-horses which easily outpaced the police nags. Some of their holdups seem designed only to defy the police: on their daredevil raid on Bathurst in October 1863 they took little loot and at Canowindra they offered food, drink and festivity to all for three days, but drank little themselves and left the town empty-handed.
Hall with £1000 on his head decided to quit but was betrayed by an informer. On 5 May he was ambushed and shot by the police near Goobang Creek on the Lachlan plain. His body, riddled with gunshot wounds, was buried in the cemetery at Forbes. His funeral was 'rather numerously attended' for his reckless courage, courtesy to women, humour and hatred of informers had won him a sympathy not shared by his more bloodthirsty colleagues
Frank Gardiner (born c. 1829, Ross-shire Scotland; died c. 1904 in Colorado, USA) was a noted Australian bushranger of the 19th century. He either migrated from Scotland to Australia as a child with his parents in 1834
His real name is thought to have been Francis Christie, though he often used one of several other aliases: "Frank Clarke or Christie"; "The Darkie"; "The Prince of Tobymen"; "General Gardiner"; and "King of the Road". His father, believed to have been Charles Christie had traveled out to Australia ahead of the rest of the family and Frank is thought to have been the product of an affair with a part aboriginal woman known as Anne Clarke, but photographs of Gardiner show that he was a full blooded white man. He supposedly took the name Gardiner after a man who lived for some years with his family and who had taught him how to ride and break-in horses.
In 1862 he bailed up the Lachlan Gold Escort near Eugowra with Ben Hall and Johnny Gilbert. This hold up is still considered to be the largest ever gold robbery in Australia's history. The total value of the 2,700 ounces of gold and bank-notes taken was estimated at £14,000 (approximately AUD$2.5 million in 2009 terms, but with the mailbags' money it would have doubled the amount stolen). Almost half of the gold was recovered by mounted police following a raid and shootout at one of the Gardiner hideouts in the Weddin Mountains near Forbes.
What happened to the remaining gold is still the subject of much speculation and rumour. Treasure hunters still visit the area and it is even rumoured that two Americans who were thought to be Gardiner's sons visited the Wheogo Station near the Weddins in 1911 claming to be miners.