Overland Journey to the Ovens, &C (Letter)

13 February 1854 The Sydney Morning Herald


There is in your issue of Monday, the 6th instant, a supposed account of an overland journey to the Ovens and Melbourne, the writer of which makes very free indeed with the character of one individual who is pretty generally known, and who I venture to say would be as far from doing an improper or scandalous act, or conniving at such, as your correspondent himself, whoever he may be.

In good truth your correspondent must have been in the clouds when he wrote, for instead of stating what is true, or near the truth, his assertions are almost all incorrect.

So far from "N. B.'s notorious sly-grog shop being regarded as the snug and convenient haunt of a dangerous gang of bushrangers," those to whom N.B. is known are aware that although, from circumstances which it would be tedious here to narrate, wine, and I dare say grog and food, may be had at her home, unlicensed though it be, she never was, nor is she now, the person to screen bushrangers, or to receive their ill gotten booty.

In the case regarding which your overlander has heard something, it was the evidence of N.B. that chiefly led to the conviction of the two bushrangers, Doyle and Thompson, both of whom were tried at the Goulburn Circuit Court on two different occasions.

The facts of the case as they were elicited at the trials of both seemed to be, that a man named Herlihy (since dead), and the bush-rangers, Doyle and Thompson, met by accident early one morning at N. B.'s house.

They breakfasted there at the same table.

Herlihy was riding a nearly knocked up horse, and proceeded on the road towards Yass after he had breakfasted.

The robbers followed in his track, and shortly after overtook him.

They beat and wounded him in a most savage manner, leaving him all but dead on the road, taking from his person some thirty five ounces of gold dust and several sovereigns.

They did not return to N. B.'s house, but Herlihy did, having managed to crawl there in a most exhausted pitiful state, [where] N. B., it appeared, treated him with her characteristic generosity.

After some days' rest Herlihy made his way to Yass, and called upon the chief constable there, who showed him a man confined at the time in the Yass lock-up.

Herlihy had no hesitation in recognising him as Doyle (a Van Diemen's Land expiree or runaway), [as] one of the two who had treated him so barbarously a few days before.

Thompson was apprehended by the chief constable of Goulburn, in a short time afterwards.

At the trial of the former Herlihy appeared as a witness - but not so at that of the latter; death had seized him in the interim, hastened no doubt by the wounds which he had received. 

N. B. was an important witness for the Crown on both occasions, and although Thompson's advocate roared at, and tried hard to perplex her, the fearless N. B. was proof both against his pleading and "reporting," and every right thinking person in a crowded court was loud in praise of her honest testimony.

Should your correspondent venture on another overland journey, and his weak nerves be again disturbed by fear of bushrangers, it is to be hoped he will recollect that it is no less a crime to bear false witness against one's neighbour than it is even to sell grog openly as I have heard N. B. does.

I am, Sir,

Your most obedient servant,

A Despiser Of Fashionable Slander.