Bathurst Region - Live, Visit, Invest, Study

Bushrangers

Ben Hall's Raid on Bathurst 

The prelude to Ben Hall's raid on Bathurst occurred near the little township of Caloola, south of Bathurst on or about 1 October 1863.

Two young surveyors from Bathurst, Machattie and Byrne, were held up and robbed of their horses and saddles. By all accounts it was an amiable encounter involving John Gilbert challenging one of the young men to a footrace.

For some unknown reason the mood of the encounter deteriorated and ended up with the two young men challenging the gang to a fight; the gang declined and Machattie and Byrne accused the gang members of cowardice and dared them to come to Bathurst where they could meet them on their own ground.

The two groups eventually parted company but Ben Hall and his gang would be heard of again and sooner than anyone might have expected.

On 3 October 1863, a mild Saturday evening, the bushrangers calmly trotting their horses towards Bathurst would have gone virtually unnoticed - presuming, of course, that their pistols were well concealed!

Saturday was market night for Bathurst, a popular social occasion, which drew squatters, stockmen and townsfolk together. As a town of approximately 6,000 residents, Bathurst was large enough and busy enough to allow Hall and his gang to enter in a relatively inconspicuous manner.