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

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The Captain Thunderbolt Sites - Thunderbolt's Death Site

Item details

Name of item: The Captain Thunderbolt Sites - Thunderbolt's Death Site
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Landscape - Natural
Category: Wetland or river
Location: Lat: -30.6872473637 Long: 151.4478955140
Primary address: , Kentucky District, NSW 2354
Parish: Uralla
County: Sandon
Local govt. area: Uralla
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Armidale

Boundary:

Captain Thunderbolt's Death Site is located approximately 2.4km northwest of the former Blanch's Royal Oak Inn in a section of the Kentucky Creek where it turns from running north-south to east-west.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
 Kentucky DistrictUrallaUrallaSandonPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

Captain Thunderbolt's Death Site is significant as the last stand of this bushranger. The site contributes to the State significance of the Captain Thunderbolt Sites through its associations with Captain Thunderbolt.
Date significance updated: 10 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: The site of Thunderbolt's death is near to where the Kentucky Creek turns from running north-south to east-west; the creek is surrounded by pasture.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The site is intact and is unlikely to have archaeological potential.
Date condition updated:10 Apr 12
Modifications and dates: Thunderbolt's actual death site is now submerged as the Kentucky Creek dam was constructed downstream of the site in the 1960s.
Further information: The broad location of Captain Thunderbolt's Death Site has been identified based on the police report submitted by Constable Alexander Binning Walker after his shooting of Thunderbolt. Different secondary sources stat that the actual death site was either in the north-south running section of the creek or the east-west section. Insufficient evidence is available to resolve this matter.
Current use: Paddock
Former use: Paddock

History

Historical notes: After the hawker, Giovanni Cappisotti, raised the alarm in Uralla regarding the events at Blanch's Inn on the afternoon of 25th May 1870, Senior Constable John Mulhall and Constable Alexander Walker rode south from Uralla. Mulhall had the better horse and reached the inn first. Walker was approximately half a mile away when he heard shots being fired and met Mulhall while ascending the hill towards the Inn (Brouwer 2007).

Mulhall told Walker "I have exchanged shots with them" and took no further part in the chase as his horse was bolting. On reaching the top of the hill Walker saw two men on grey horses. The younger man appeared to herd the older away from the road forcing him to ride west along Blanch's fence.

Walker chased Thunderbolt to Kentucky Creek with shots exchanged on the way. Once he reached the creek Thunderbolt dismounted and waded across the creek. Walker caught up with his horse and shot it, preventing its further use for Thunderbolt's escape. Walker crossed the river and had to go about 100 yards to where Thunderbolt was, now back on the opposite side of the creek.

Walker galloped up to Thunderbolt until they were separated by a distance of 15 yards.

"Surrender" ordered Walker.
"Never, what is your name?"
"Walker" was the Constable's reply.
"Are you a trooper Walker?"
"Yes."
"A married man?"
"Yes."
"Remember you are a married man Walker" said Thunderbolt shaking his pistol.
"Will you surrender?"
"I will die first" Thunderbolt spat back, likely the hell that was Cockatoo Island forefront in his mind.
"Then it's you or I for it." Walker rushed forward his horse stumbling in the water.

Ward rushed at the Constable, into the water, with his revolver raised. Walker fired, later the Armidale Medical Advisor to the government Dr Spasshatt would testify that the bullet had entered just below the left collar bone and exited "on the right side of the chest, three inches below and two inches anterior to the lower point right shoulder blade" (Sydney Morning Herald 1st June 1870). Thunderbolt rose up once more and was finally felled by a strike to the head from Walker's pistol. Walker thinking the other man to be dead drew him out of the water (SRNSW 1/2326.2 File 76/2239 No.70/4440).

Walker returned to the Inn thinking the other man who had been seen with Thunderbolt was his accomplice. Once it was established that he was a victim of Thunderbolt's robbery, they set back out to reclaim the body. They were unsuccessful and it was not until daylight the following day that Walker accompanied by Senior Constable Mulhall, a man named Dwyer and Senior Constable Scott were able to retrieve the body and returned it to Blanch's Royal Oak Inn for the magisterial inquiry before being moved to Uralla.

The adjacent landowner had previously provided access for visitors to Thunderbolt's Death Site, however this has stopped due to the amount of rubbish being left in the paddocks.

Constable Walker received a promotion for his efforts and was also the recipient of half of the 400 pound reward (the other half went to Cappisotti) for the capture of Thunderbolt. Walker had a meritorious career in the police rising to the rank of Superintendent in 1896 (Police Gazette 5th February 1896). He served in that capacity in the Deniliquin, Albury and Goulburn districts. In 1907 he also acted as Inspector-General of Police for a period of three months. Walker passed away at his home in Cremorne on the 30th April 1929, he was 81 years old (Sydney Morning Herald 1st April 1929).

It has been reported that after Ned Kelly's raid on Jerilderie in 1879 the help of the then Senior Sergeant Walker was sought by the Victorian Police to catch Kelly. Kelly disappeared before Walker could cross the Murray and he took no further part in the search (http://www.uhs.org.au/?p=170). On 24th May 1970 a memorial to Constable Walker was unveiled in Uralla to celebrate the centenary of Thunderbolt's death the inscription reads:

THUNDERBOLT CENTENARY 1870 - 1970 ALEXANDER BINNING WALKER This plaque commemorating the bravery of Const. A.B.Walker was unveiled by T.W.Allan Police Commissioner on 24.5.1970.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Policing and enforcing the law-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Scenes of criminal activities-
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-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Alexander Walker, Police Officer-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Does not fulfil this criterion.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Captain Thunderbolt's Death Site contributes to the State significance of the Captain Thunderbolt Sites through its intimate associations with the Captain Thunderbolt story. The site is also significant for its associations with Constable Alexander Binning Walker who was promoted after the shooting of Thunderbolt, eventually rising to the rank of Superintendent in the NSW Police Force (Police Gazette 5th February 1896).
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Does not fulfil this criterion.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Captain Thunderbolt's Death Site contributes to the State significance of The Captain Thunderbolt Sites for its associations with Captain Thunderbolt and the place he holds in the public's imagination and consciousness. Thunderbolt is one of the best known bushrangers who operated in New South Wales and forms a significant element to the construction of the Australian identity. With the rise in nationalist sentiment leading up to Federation it was important for colonists and early Australians to be able to present themselves as a young and respectable nation. It was this necessity that lead to the romanticisation of the bushrangers, and in particular Captain Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt's life has captured the pubic imagination through this process of romanticisation. Death sites of cultural legends like Captain Thunderbolt have high value to a range of people.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Does not fulfil this criterion.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Captain Thunderbolt 's Death Site is rare as a well-documented site of a bushranger's death in the bush. The large majority of NSW bushrangers were killed in sieges in buildings; were hung in Darlinghurst Gaol, or died under more ordinary circumstances.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Does not fulfil this criterion.
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 1929Syndey Morning Herald 1st April
Written 1896NSW Police Gazette 5th February
Written 1870Sydney Morning Herald 1st June
WrittenBrouwer, D.2007Captain Thunderbolt: Horsebreaker to Bushranger
ElectronicMayo, K.1996Phillip Pomroy’s ‘Death of Thunderbolt’ Painting Series View detail

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5061607
File number: 11/18297


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