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2 corrections, most recently by RonnieLand - Show corrections

LATTER-DAY BUSHRANGERS.   FRANK GARDINER, THE "KING OF THE ROAD."     THE mere mention of the name of Frank Gardiner in   any part of the Western or Southern districts of New         South Wales, is sufficient to set any of the residents in     those districts of 30 years' standing talking of the "old     bushranging days." For Christie, alias Clarke, alias   Gardiner, has been ever looked upon as the father         of that bushranging which was followed by so many young men during the decade commencing in 1860. There was a vast difference between the men who "took   the bush" during the old convict days and those who made   bushranging a profession after the country had been fairly opened up and settled ; and there was also a vast difference between the methods adopted by each. The former class, as   I pointed out when dealing with the convict bushrangers of Van Diemen's Land and the other colonies, in many cases, escaped convicts, who had either been brutalised by the harsh   treatment to which they had been subjected under the convict system, or who, knowing that a price was set upon their heads for escaping from custody, were prepared to go to any   lengths in preserving their freedom. The latter class was   made up chiefly of native-born Australians whom an idle life   had spoilt, and who, seeing in the dashing enterprises of the   bush roamer something congenial to their tastes, had been   first enanoured of the life, and then drawn into the vortex.   In not a few cases love of excitement more than desire of   pillage led the latter-day bushrangers to take up the "pro-     fession," and the writer knew of at least three cases in the   Western District, to which reference will hereafter be made,   in which a bushranging career had its origin in a midnight   "lark" — when punishment for indulging in "fun" at a   dangerous period wrought recklessness and turned erstwhile   harmless youngsters into criminals. They played with edged   tools and were injured almost beyond recovery in the first   contact. Frank Gardiner — I shall call him throughout this story by the name by which he was commonly known in the bush   — commenced his criminal career by "lifting" a horse when     20 years of age. He was born at Boro Creek, near Goulburn,   in 1830, and when quite a young man crossed the border into   Victoria. In October, 1850, he committed the crime of horse-   stealing, and as that exploit was the initial step in his down-   ward course, a short account thereof will not be considered   out of place just here.   At the time that Gardiner crossed the border into Vic-   toria that part of the country was infested with prowling   bands ot well-mounted men, ostensibly in search of employ-   ment ,but really on the look put for horses and cattle that admitted of easy "lifting." It was the custom in those days         for the station-holder to extend hospitality to all callers, and   it is said that on some stations the cost of entertaining the     callers amounted to over £1000 per annum. It was a fortu-   nate thing, indeed, for the colony that the discovery of gold was made, and that the periodical wanderers were drawn off by the excitment to different and widely separated fields.   In was in June of 1850 that Mr. Lockhart Morton, who   had recently entered into possession of Salisbury Plains   Station, on the Loddon, suddenly discovered that all the     horses on his station, with the exception of four which were   in a secure paddock, had mysteriously disappeared. Search-   ing round the run with one of his stockmen, Mr. Morton at last came upon their tracks, making straight for the Lower   Avoca, and he at once arrived at the conclusion that they   had been driven off by horse stealers. Returning home he   found a message awaiting him from an adjoining station to   the effect that three men had been seen by the shepherd three days before driving ofl the horses at a furious pace. Mr.   Morton was a man of pluck and energy, and after making a supply of cartridges for his guns and writing to the chief con- stable at Melbourne, asking him to send intelligence of the robbery to Geelong, Portland, and Adelaide, daylight on the Wednesday morning (the horses had been removed on the   previous Sunday) saw him in the saddle fully equipped and determined to run down the robbers. (To be Continued.)