27 Landscapes from the Life of Ben Hall Exhibition
The gold fever that gripped the New South Wales population in the 1850s and 60s
brought people flooding into the Forbes district, who were housed, by
necessity, in a giant tent city.
wealth of the area led to the development of the substantial hotels, churches
and other civic and private buildings that grace the Central West town of
kinds of people, seeking their fortune in a variety of ways, were obviously
attracted to the area. Long- time criminals, Frank Gardiner and John Gilbert,
acted as catalysts for the brief but spectacular bushranging career of Ben
Hall, who began associating with them in 1862. His 3 year spree turned him into
one of Australias most notorious bushrangers.
is presumed that Ben, resentful and rebellious against society, took up
bushranging when his wife Bridget left their marriage of 8 years, taking with
her his much-loved son, Henry.
At this time, they had been squatting on a
back country cattle run 48 Km south of Forbes, near The Pinnacle.
incidents linked to Ben Hall number in the hundreds, but the following
Australian firsts contributed significantly to his notoriety:
The attempted daylight robbery of the bank in
The largest gold robbery in Australias
history, when the gold escort was bailed up at Eugowra Rocks, east of Forbes.
career ended ignominiously on May 5th 1865 at Billabong Creek near
Forbes. It is assumed that betrayal by a friend led the police party of 8 to
trap him while he was alone and living rough in the bush. At least 30 shots
were fired into his body, with reports that he did not fire back, although
killing was controversial, because although Hall had been declared an outlaw,
the papers confirming his status had not been signed by the Governor of the
was buried in the cemetery in Forbes, just 2 days before his 28th
Gilbert, who had been declared an outlaw, was cornered and shot dead by police
at Binalong, 8 days after the death of Ben Hall.
Dunn, declared an outlaw, was captured 6 months after Halls death. He was
tried and hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol in Sydney on the 19th of March
Gardiner was captured in Queensland, spent 10 years of a 32 year sentence in
gaol and was subsequently deported to the United States.
give special thanks to Peter Bradley, Margaret Lockett and Craig Bratley, for their invaluable help and guidance in the
long and fascinating exploration of the life of Ben Hall, with its many
unexpected turns and serendipidous encounters.