Robbery and Violence at Wombat and Harden

15 September 1950 The Braidwood Dispatch and Mining Journal

This district had its share of excitement in the days of the bushrangers, when Harden did not exist, and the country was more thickly timbered than it is to-day, writes 'Scribbler' in the Harden 'Express.'

In the year 1863 Mr. John Rogers was shot dead by outlaw O'Meally on McKay's property at Wallendbeen when on his way from Murrumburrah to his Cootamundra store.

The body was taken to Yass for burial, where about 1000 people attended the funeral.

O'Meally fired after Mr. Barnes refused to hand over his horse and tried to escape.

At the time of the murder, John Gilbert, the notorious bushranger, was with O'Meally.

At a later date Gilbert became the murderer of Sergt. Parry, who died in the execution of his duty at Jugiong.

Gilbert was later killed in an exchange of shots with the police at Binalong.

Many Harden-Murrumburrah people have stood beside the grave or seen the little cross which marks the spot not far from the road side, about a mile this side of Binalong, in the police paddock.

Mr. Barnes was the father of the T. and G. Barnes, of Murrumburrah.

He had met the robbers some time previously, when they called at his Cootamundra store during the night, and he served them with blankets, for which they refused to pay.

The story claims he fired shots at them as they made their escape.

He must have kept cool to do this as well as beat out the fire which the bush rangers started in order to keep him occupied, when they spilled some kerosene on the floor and ignited it.

During an epidemic of highway robbery in 1862,a mail coach was robbed by armed men near Murrumburrah. Wallendbeen was the scene of a lively gunfight between Ben Hall's gang and police.

Hall's gang raided Macansh's woolshed store at Beggan Beggan in 1865 and took 20 pounds of tobacco, some tea, sugar, and flour, three blankets, camping gear, some cash and two revolvers, a double barrelled gun and a large quantity of ammunition.

Wombat also is the place where Harry Manns was arrested in connection with the Eugowra Escort hold-up.

The case of Manns is significant because his end was a masterpiece of bungling in the history of Australian execution.

The unfortunate criminal for more than 10 minutes writhed and gasped before horrified spectators.

The noose of the rope had slipped and encircled the middle of his face and head, and eventually had to be re-adjusted.

In the bushranging days the town of Young (then named Lambing Flat) was the centre of rich gold fields, which extended well towards Murrumburrah.

Hundreds of Chinamen, and a greater number of whites, worked on the diggings on Demondrille Creek, out Redbridge way.

In the riots of 1861 from 1,000 to 1,500 Chinamen were hunted by the white diggers from the goldfields.

Their dwellings were burned down and some were assaulted and had their pigtails cut off as they fled to their camp on Roberts' Currawong property.

The Government had to pay Roberts more than 2,000 to keep them fed.

The complaint against the Chinese was that "their living habits were filthy; they fouled the earth and the water; they were heathens and aliens; they couldn't speak English; and - worst of all - they were getting plenty of gold and sending it back to China.

They lived in a special Chinese quarter on the diggings, built temples, and installed images of the Sacred Dragon - 'Joss houses' with 'idols' as the whites called them.

They played fan-tan all through the night, smoked opium and practised strange vices."

We may rest assured the white men had plenty of vices, too.

To restore order among the 40,000 diggers in the Young district, 200 soldiers, police and naval marines were marched from Sydney with a 12 pounder cannon.

The unhappy events which occurred on our own Demondrille Creek gave birth to the White Australia policy.