The Captain Thunderbolt Sites - Thunderbolt's Rock | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

The Captain Thunderbolt Sites - Thunderbolt's Rock

Item details

Name of item: The Captain Thunderbolt Sites - Thunderbolt's Rock
Other name/s: Split Rock, Big Rock
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Landscape - Natural
Category: Geological site or area
Location: Lat: -30.6977979769 Long: 151.4686120240
Primary address: New England Highway, Uralla, NSW 2358
Parish: Uralla
County: Sandon
Local govt. area: Uralla
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Armidale
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
 1 DP552040

Boundary:

Thunderbolt's Rock is located approximatley 7km south of the town of Uralla on the New England Highway. The area consists of the rock itself with picnic table and car-parking facilities in an area approximatley 97m x 116m in size
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
New England HighwayUrallaUrallaUrallaSandonPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Uralla Shire CouncilLocal Government 

Statement of significance:

Thunderbolt's Rock (originally known as Split Rock or Big Rock) contributes to the State significance of the Captain Thunderbolt sites as one of the first sites associated with the transition of Frederick Ward from escapee to bushranger after his escape from Cockatoo Island in 1863.

His attempted hold up of the mail at this site in November 1863 led to an altercation with police during which he was shot in the left knee; an event that was to prove important in his identification after his death in 1870. The shooting also is thought to have been an important formative event in the modus operandi of Captain Thunderbolt, preferring to run from, rather than face, police.

Thunderbolt's Rock contributes to the State significance of the Captain Thunderbolt Sites as a site recognised by the public to be associated with Captain Thunderbolt. Captain Thunderbolt is one of New South Wale's best known bushrangers and is well known in the Uralla region of NSW. Thunderbolt's Rock is well marked and is a popular tourist destination.

Thunderbolt's Rock contributes to the State significance of The Captain Thunderbolt Sites as being representative of the type of places used by bushrangers to hold up coaches and travellers. Thunderbolt's Rock is an identifiable location of a highway robbery and being a high point provides excellent views of the surrounding countryside. The majority of roadside robberies by bushrangers took place at locations without relocatable landmarks. Aesthetically Thunderbolt's Rock is an impressive landmark on the New England Highway from Uralla to Tamworth.
Date significance updated: 05 Apr 12
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Physical description: Thunderbolt's Rock is a huge cluster of granite rocks located approximately 7km south of Uralla on the New England Highway
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good, although the site is heavily covered with graffiti
Date condition updated:05 Apr 12
Modifications and dates: There is a small carpark and picnic table located behind the rocks
Current use: Tourist and Picnic Site

History

Historical notes: On the 27th October 1863, less than three months after escaping from Cockatoo Island, Fred Ward and Fred Britten laid in wait for the mail at Split Rock. Due to the increase in bushranging a police escort accompanied the mail to Uralla. The bushrangers were surprised by Sergeant Stephen Gardiner and Senior Constable Reynolds (Brouwer 2007; Armidale Express 31st October 1863).

A shootout ensued with the bushrangers escaping through the boggy ground of Church Gully (south of Thunderbolt's Rock). During the escape Fred Ward was shot through the back of the left knee and was later given medical assistance by a team of saw-pit men who confirmed the injury. Differing accounts were provided of who actually shot Fred Ward; Grainger (Armidale Express 31st October 1863) or Reynolds (Sydney Morning Herald 2nd November 1863).

Seven years later Split Rock was to provide the first setting for Thunderbolt's last hold-up and final day. On the afternoon of 25th May Thunderbolt met the Blanchs at Split Rock, robbed them and then accompanied the pair back to their Inn.

Thunderbolt's Rock provides an excellent vantage point to survey the surrounding countryside and in the bushranging career of Fred Ward is in the vicinity of many of his robberies. It is unknown when the name of the site was changed from Split Rock to Thunderbolt's Rock but this change reflects the connection of this site with Captain Thunderbolt both physically and within the psyche of the local community.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information Communicating by mail-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis Roadways to Inland Settlements-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Scenes of criminal activities-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Engaging in bushranging and banditry-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Captain Thunderbolt, Bushranger-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Does not fulfil this criterion.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Thunderbolt's Rock contributes to the State significance of the Captain Thunderbolt Sites as the site of the first, and last, instances of highway robbery that Captain Thunderbolt attempted.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Aesthetically Thunderbolt's Rock is of local significance as an impressive landmark on the road from Uralla to Tamworth.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Thunderbolt's Rock contributes to the State significance of the Captain Thunderbolt Sites as a site recognised by the public to be associated with Captain Thunderbolt. Captain Thunderbolt is one of the best known bushrangers who operated in New South Wales and forms a significant element to the construction of Australian identity. Thunderbolt's Rock site is well marked and is a popular tourist destination.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Does not fulfil this criterion.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Thunderbolt's Rock is unusual as an easily recognisable and well documented place where a road side hold up by bushrangers took place.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Thunderbolt's Rock is of State significance as being representative of the type of places used by bushrangers to hold up coaches and travellers. Thunderbolt's Rock is an example of the type of place Captain Thunderbolt used for road side hold ups and which helped define these criminal activities as "bushranging" due to the men appearing out of the bush on horse back and then escaping into the bush with the proceeds of the robbery.

Thunderbolt's Rock is an identifiable location of a highway robbery. The majority of bushranging robberies took place at locations which cannot be verified.
Integrity/Intactness: The integrity of the Rock is high
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register - Element 0188920 Jul 12 743407

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1870The Empire 1st June
Written 1863Armidale Express 31st October
Written 1863Sydney Morning Herald 2nd November
ElectronicBaxter, C.2011Bushranger Frederick Ward (Captain Thunderbolt) and Mary Ann Bugg View detail
WrittenBrouwer, D.2007Captain Thunderbolt: Horsebreaker to Bushranger

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez rez rez rez rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5061606
File number: 11/18297


Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.