The Great Southern Road

8 March 1853 Empire (Sydney)

(From our Special Reporter)

Depredations of Bushrangers Yass, March 3rd, 1853.

On leaving Goulburn, the road leads through a level open forest country, until the traveller reached Breadalbane Plains.

In dry seasons, such as the present, the only supply of water is about six miles from Goulburn, at the place where the roads to Yass and to Gundaroo branch off.

There are several water-holes here, and as water cannot be obtained again until Reid's Inn is reached, some eighteen miles from Goulburn; parties passing this way, would do well to take a supply at this place.

Breadalbane Plains are of no great extent. It would seem by their appearance that they once formed a bed of a lake, or, rather, of a succession of lakes, or lagoons, which was eventually filled up by alluvial deposit.

The grass of the plains was on fire when we passed, and a high westerly wind caused the flames rapidly to extend.

The road throughout this part of the country, at this dry season of the year, is very good, passing for miles over a surface of ground as level as a bowling green.

In wet weather, however, it is probable that the case is very different.

From Reid's Inn to the town of Gunning, the country is very hilly, and the road extremely bad.

Here and there we passed farms, where the wheat was being thrashed.

The crops were represented as having been very good this year.

From Goulburn to this place the rocks appeared to be chiefly schistose, with quartz very sparingly scattered about.

There may be gold in small quantities, but I do not think that any large deposit of it exists in any part of the country traversed by us.

On coming to the hilly country mentioned, granite became the prevailing rock, and huge, masses of it crested the adjacent hills.

Abundance of good water can be got at Black Spring Creek, about seven miles from Gunning.

Before reaching this town the Fish River is passed over.

The channel of this river, where the road crosses it, is entirely filled up with sand. Gunning is a small town, consisting of about a score of houses.

There are two inns and a steam flour mill.

At the entrance to Gunning there is a creek pretty full of water.

The passage over this creek is in most wretched condition, and the attention of the authorities should really be directed to it.

A bridge has been formed over it, but it is in so dilapidated a condition that it is impossible for vehicles to cross it, so that they are compelled to drive through the muddy bed of the creek--even in the present weather up to the axle trees.

After leaving Gunning, the next supply of water is at the Chain of Ponds, some nine or ten miles further on.

The road passes over a hilly country.

About three or four miles on is a public house. 'Six or seven miles further on, the road winds among mountains, and descends at length into a level open forest country, richly grassed in most portions.

On one side of the road the recent fires have burnt down the grass, however.

This description of country continues until Yass River is reached.

The river has no current at present, but consists of long and very deep waterholes in which excellent fish abound.

On the other side of the river are Yass Plains reaching a considerable distance.

They consist of undulating hills covered with grass; boulders of a coarse kind of granite rock abound.

When we reached the river the plains were on fire.

Along the banks of the river are several fine country residences- Mr. H. O'Brien's, Mr. H. Hume's, &c.., with excellent orchards and gardens attached.

Yass is three miles further on, prettily situated at the north-western extremity of the plains, where ranges of mountains bound the view.

It is larger than I expected, regularly laid out, has a police-office, two or three churches and chapels, and a host of public houses, some of whom of an imposing appearance.

On the night of the 1st instant a slight thunderstorm passed over Yass, succeeded by heavy showers of rain, which extinguished the bush fires, and have caused the grass to look green again.

On, our arrival here we were greeted with the information that a man had been shot at Reedy Creek, on the other side of Yass, by armed bushrangers.

The circumstances of the case, so far as I can gather them, are these:-

Some half-dozen returned diggers, mounted on horseback, were coming along the road towards Yass, among whom were two, a young man named Frederick Day and a resident of the Windsor district, who had been mates at the diggings.

Day, who is an American, was armed with a revolver, and rode in advance of the others.

At Reedy Creek, upwards of thirty miles from Yass, a middle-sized dark man, well armed, stepped from behind a tree and fired at Day with a carbine.

He immediately fired at the robber with his revolver, and he states his belief that he wounded him in the wrist.

The ruffian then stepped up to Day, and putting the muzzle of his gun, which was double-barrelled, close to him, shot him through the thigh.

The ball passed through the limb, fractured the bone, and wounded the horse which Day rode.

Another robber then came out and rifled the young man of what valuables they could find.

They took from him ten sovereigns, a gold bag with ten ounces of gold in it, an order on the Savings Bank at Sydney for 50, and his revolver, which was a six-barrelled weapon, No. 86G6.

He had on him besides, an order for 30 ounces of gold forwarded by the escort to Sydney, which the scoundrels overlooked.

Besides this, the gang committed other depredations. They robbed a man from Sydney, named William Hardy, of five sovereigns, a saddle and bridle, a pair of blankets, and several articles of clothing.

Also a Mr. Smith, of Mingay, of one cheque drawn in his favour by Mr. Davis, of Goulburn, for 100, besides 86 in bank notes.

Besides these, they robbed a Mr. Jeffreys, of Albury,- and an old man but the cases were not reported to the Chief Constable at Yass, so that particulars are not known.

There was a horse taken from one of the parties by them, of a mouse colour, branded J. A. on the off shoulder, E. and circle on the near neck, W on the near and off thigh, and S on the shoulder and thigh.

On intelligence being received at Yass, the Chief Constable, Mr. M'Jennett, an active officer, with another constable, started in pursuit.

They tracked the robbers as fur as the Murrumbidgee, where they found that the latter had crossed the river.

The gold police have now taken up the pursuit, and it is to be hoped that the ruffians may soon be in the hands of justice.

The gang is said to be six in number, and it is believed that three of them are well-known characters who were in the Yass lock-up about a month ago.

The wounded man has been conveyed to Yass, and his, leg was set to-day.

It is expected that he will recover, and that amputation will be unnecessary.