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Archive for October, 2011

Eugowra Holdup MemorialWHEN Frank Gardiner and gang held up the gold escort at Eugowra NSW in June 1862, and pulled off Australia’s largest gold robbery, John Clavering Wood was less than 170 miles away in Queanbeyan, writing for the local “Golden Age” newspaper.

Perhaps the brazen heist planted the seeds of an idea in JC Wood’s mind about featuring a bushranger in a possible future novel… After the robbery, Gardiner disappeared, only to be spotted in March 1864 as a respectable inn-keeper at Apis Creek on the road to Peak Downs outside Rockhampton.

"Fire in the Blood" a novel about Frank Gardiner by Robert Macklin

Is it any coincidence that JC Wood, who began his magnum opus in September 1864, set his novel for the most part at Peak Downs? Furthermore, Gardiner’s famous horse Darkie was reflected in JC Wood’s naming his character ‘Darkie Mason’. The congruences go on… If you have such a larger-than-life character in the newspapers, why not stitch him into the adventure and intrigue surrounding your protagonist Tom Hurstbourne!

For a close up first-person insight into Frank Gardiner’s character, keen readers with an eye to the historical need look no further than Robert Macklin’s excellent book Fire in the Blood about “Australia’s most notorious bushranger” who was a “gentleman to the core”.

This insightful study of Gardiner and the early bushranger phase of Australian history may one day serve to diminish Ned Kelly’s dominance  in the popular imagination, especially since Kelly came a generation later than Frank Gardiner. (Thanks to Peter Brockett for the Escort rock photograph)

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