Escort Rock - 4kms north east of Eugowra, on Old Coach Road 200m off Escort Way (Eugowra- Orange Road). A large rock is marked as being "Escort Rock" located at the bend in the original Old Coach Road. The original road ran around the base of a boulder strewn hillside and it is likely the bushrangers took up position around the rocky hillside. It has also been said that there is a naturally formed corralled on top of the hill where the horses were kept but this has not been verified
Cliefden - Rural homestead complex on a sheep station. Comprising a homestead, barn and woolshed and graveyard. Located on Limestone Creek, Belubula Way, Mandurama. The brick homestead and brick barn were erected in circa 1842. The cemetery contains the graves of the Rothery family who owned the station continuously since 1834.
Wandi - formerly Plumb's Inn - House, slab out building and small dwelling. Rural property, Hume Hwy, Narambulla Creek. 9.5km south of Marulan.
Bushranger Hotel - formerly Kimberley's Commercial Hotel, Still functioning as a hotel 24 Church St, Collector. Masonry hotel with roughly laid stone walls and brick quoins.
Ben Hall's Death Site - Nelungaloo Station - Ben Halls Road, Bogans Gate, north west of Forbes. The site is an open paddock used for grazing and the site is marked by a stand of trees and a plaque. Across the road over by Billabong Creek is the site of Mick Coneley's Hut where Hall had arranged a rendezvous with the gang. The site has an archaeological scatter.
Grave of Ben Hall - Forbes General Cemetery. Headstone and picket fence erected in the 20th century.
Escort Rock - Good, the old coach road is still evident and preserved because the main road is located 200m away.
Cliefden - The homestead condition is poor, whilst it has partial occupation it is not habitable by modern standards. The house is in urgent need of maintenance. The lawn is kept mown but the garden is overgrown. The barn and woolshed is in better condition. The shearing shed roof has partially collapsed but is still used for shearing. The bootmakers workshop has been rebuilt. The graveyard was not inspected.
Wandi - The house appears to be inhabited but is in very poor condition and in urgent need of maintenance.
Bushranger Hotel - The hotel is still in use as a hotel. The building has had additions such as the front verandas, the side beer garden and side bar. The building is in reasonable condition.
Death Site - The site is in a paddock used for grazing sheep. A dam has been constructed nearby. A stand of small trees marks the site together with a plaque erected in the 1957. A very large sign was erected in 2007 and is located near a gate to the site.
Grave - Well maintained headstone erected in the 20th century and painted picket fence.
Ben Hall was born at Maitland in 1837. He was the third son of Benjamin Hall and Eliza Somers, both convicts transported for stealing. In the early 1850's Ben moved to the Lachlan region with his father and two elder siblings where he found work as a stockman. During this period he broke his leg whilst riding and was to walk with a limp for the rest of his life.
In 1856 Hall married Bridget Walsh daughter of his boss Jack Walsh of Wheogo Station and they had a son Henry in August 1859. In the same year he and his wife together with John McGuire who had married Bridget's elder sister Ellen went into partnership, obtaining a Crown lease of 4500 hectares (10,000 acres) in the Lachlan district known as Sandy Creek. Hall and McGuire supplied cattle to the gold miners at Lambing Flat (now Young). (Bradley)
In April 1862 Hall was accused of being involved in a roadside robbery conducted by Frank Gardiner on the Lambing Flat Road. Hall was detained but later released on lack of evidence. Some of the modern mythology surrounding Hall holds this experience as that which drove Hall into a life of crime he would otherwise have avoided. Whether Hall was involved in the robbery is unknown. Evidence given during the committal hearing and the trial places Hall at the scene of the crime. However during the trial one of the witnesses changed their evidence stating Hall was not present. Gardiner was known to Hall through Gardiner's affair with Bridget's youngest sister Kitty. Around this time Bridget left Hall taking their son Henry with her.
The first crime to which Ben Hall can definitely be linked is the Gold Escort robbery at Eugowra Rocks on 15 June 1862. Although Hall's participation in this robbery has also been disputed both John McGuire and fellow conspirator Alex Fordyce admitted that he was involved (Penzig 1985:29). A gang lead by Frank Gardiner held up the Gold Escort on its way to Orange from Forbes and escaped with an unprecedented 14000 pounds worth of gold and bank notes. The gang were later tracked down by police and after a chase lost the gold.
Ben Hall was arrested at Sandy Creek on 27 July 1862 and later released with a bail of 500 pounds and two sureties of 250 pounds each. Throughout 1863 Ben Hall together with John Gilbert, John Vane and John O'Mealley undertook over 20 raids and robberies. These included robbing stores, hotels, houses, rural properties and travellers. The most notable of these were the raids on stations Grubbengong, Cliefden, Goimbla and Dunns Plains and raids on the towns of Canowindra and Bathurst. The audacity of the bushrangers took the community by surprise and the police were criticised for not apprehending them. In response on 26th October 1963 the police issued a 4000 pound reward for their capture.
Hall was involved in a number of smaller incidents and was constantly being chased by police. The Hall house at Sandy Creek was burnt down on the instructions of Sir Frederick Pottinger district police inspector in March 1863. Pottinger was apparently acting upon the instructions of John Wilson even though he was not technically the owner. Nothing remains of the house and the site has since been quarried for gravel and the land reshaped with contour banks. The burning of the house has perpetuated the myth that Hall's bushranging career was a result of the injustices committed against him by the police.
Ben Hall and associates raided Cliefden Station, 25 kilometres west of Carcoar on 26 September 1863 and stole some thoroughbred horses. Ben Hall and the gang twice raided Robinson's Hotel in Canowindra, where they bailed up and took the sole police constable captive. They are said to have entertained their hostages with drinks and music. This was event was repeated later the same month. The gang also attempted to take over Bathurst, a town of 6000 people. They escaped after the police had been alerted.
After several more reasonably uneventful raids, Hall and gang held up the home of Commissioner Henry Keightley at Dunn's Plains on 24 October 1863. The Commissioner was involved in organising volunteers to aid in the capture of the bushrangers and this raid was undoubtedly in retaliation. One of the gang, Mickey Burke, was fatally wounded during an exchange of gun fire. John Vane was particularly hard hit by the death of Burke and after fighting with other members he left the gang and eventually surrendered. He was tried and sentenced to 15 years gaol.
In November 1863 the gang raided Goimbla Station, the home of David and William Campbell. Again there was a gun fight and this time John O'Mealley was killed after the gang set fire to the stables. A public subscription was got up to compensate the Campbell's for their losses, which amounted to 1100 pounds.
Hall, working by himself, held up the mail coach between Wellington and Orange on 1 March 1864. It was not until the 20th that the gang reunited to rob the Wagga Wagga to Yass mail coach. April 1 saw Ben Hall at Groggan station, just outside Young, where he stole racehorse 'Troubadour' and stores.
In late May 1864 Gilbert left the gang, apparently to visit relatives in Victoria. The remaining members carried on much as before, holding up travellers and stations - one of these being a repeat attack on Cliefden, on 23 June 1864. Cliefden continued to be well protected, on the 29th November the gang returned, only to be frightened away by a party of police who were visiting the house. Evidence of the fortification of the homestead can still be seen.
On 17 November Sergeant Edmund Parry, one of the police escorts of the Gundagai mail coach, was killed by the bushranger John Gilbert during a hold up on the road near Jugiong.
On 19 December 1864 the gang settled themselves on the Sydney to Goulburn Road between Goulburn and Narambulla Creek. Their main object was the Goulburn coach, but from eight in the morning they took captive and robbed anyone who came along the road. By the time the coach had arrived there were 35 captives and a dray. On completing their inspection of the coach at around two in the afternoon everyone was released. The bushrangers remained on the road and held up the local passenger coach from Berrima. Meanwhile the buggy of the Honourable William Macleay, Member of Parliament for Murrumbidgee, arrived at Plumb's Inn as the bushrangers appeared on either side of the road and a shot was fired at him. Guests celebrating the wedding of Plumb's daughter were on the veranda of the Inn and were rushed inside by Macleay who then shot his rifle at the bushrangers, driving them away. Macleay received wide spread acclamation for his action.
On 26 January 1865 Ben Hall, John Gilbert and John Dunn held up travellers on the road south of Goulburn until they were scared away by a detachment of troopers. They then moved operations to the outskirts of Collector, where they took eight men and boys captive, forcing them into town. Hall and Gilbert went into Kimberley's Commercial Hotel (Bushranger Hotel) for money and firearms while Dunn guarded the captives. Meanwhile Constable Samuel Nelson who was alone, the other policemen being out searching for the gang, made his way to the Hotel. Dunn, on seeing Nelson approach, took cover behind a fence and called on Nelson to halt. When he failed to stop Dunn fired upon him killing him.
On the 6 February 1865 the bushrangers were holding up travellers on the Goulburn to Braidwood Road, near the gate of W.P Faithfull's Springfield Station. The sons of Faithfull exchanged gunfire with the Hall and his gang. The Faithfull boys were widely congratulated for their bravery and in 1875 were presented medals by the Government for their actions
In April the new Felon's Apprehension Act of 1865 was applied to Hall, Gilbert and Dunn. Any Supreme Court judge could issue a bench warrant for a person accused of a capital crime, which Sir Alfred Stephen did on the 12th. A summons was published in the Government Gazette. If they did not surrender by the advertised date they could be proclaimed an outlaw. In the case of the trio of bushrangers, they were summoned to surrender themselves to the Goulburn Gaol by 29 April 1865. The proclamation meant that anyone could arrest the outlaws on sight, without having to call on them to surrender. The punishment for harbouring a known criminal was also raised to 15 years imprisonment by the Act. Although Hall had failed to surrender by the 29 April the proclamation to outlaw him was not signed until May 10.
On 23 April sub-Inspector Davidson was at Forbes Police Station when he was visited by informant Mick Coneley (a former friend of Halls) with information about the gang's whereabouts (Bradley 2006). Davidson organised a scouting party and then on 29 April a party of 6 police and 2 Aboriginal trackers lead by Davidson left the police barracks and "encamped in dense scrub" about 10km from where they had been told the gang would meet.
Gilbert and Dunn arrived at the rendezvous camp several days before Hall on 2nd May but were scared off by some local stockmen whom they mistook to be troopers. On the afternoon of 4th May Ben Hall arrived at the camp which was a dense area of scrub adjacent to Billabong Creek near Mick Coneley's hut. Davidson and his men found Hall's camp the same evening, but decided to wait to make the arrest until morning when they could confirm his identity and ensure he did not escape into the night.
At six am on May 5 Hall emerged from the bush and walked towards his two hobbled horses. He was then called upon to surrender but when he turned away was shot multiple times by police. Hall's body, after being searched, was strapped to the back of one of his horses and taken to the Forbes police station. Davidson had hoped to keep Hall's death a secret in the hope of trapping Gilbert and Dunn, but it could not be done as there was too much excitement over Hall's death. Reportedly 400 to 500 people came to view his body at Forbes police barracks. Hall was buried at Forbes cemetery on the 7th May 1865.
Gilbert and Dunn were outlawed on10 May.. Gilbert was shot and killed by police two days later near Binalong while Dunn was captured in December 1865. Dunn was convicted of murder and hung at Darlinghurst in early 1866. (Bradley)
Aboriginal People were an important part of the Ben Hall story. Their most clearly recorded role was as Aboriginal Trackers and members of the Native Police force. The Native Police Force came into being in NSW in 1848 and were disbanded around the end of the 19th century. It is also said that the bushrangers were also aided by Aboriginal people although no evidence to substantiate this claim has been found. Billy Dargin, a well known Aboriginal tracker was instrumental in the capture of Hall. "He was one of the first Aboriginal men to be employed as a tracker after the reformed police act was passed by Parliament in 1862. According to the police salary register, he was first paid in September 1863, although it seems that he was working as early as March of that year when he helped to arrest Patrick Daley." (Michael Bennett Historian researching Aboriginal Trackers) Another tracker involved in Hall's capture was referred to as Charlie who according to Michael Bennett may be Charlie Goolagong from Forbes. The employment of Aboriginal people as trackers is also thought to be the first form of government employment for Aboriginal people.
The story of Ben Hall and his gang remains in the popular imagination today. Several historical accounts have been written, including "The Sandy Creek Bushranger" by Robert Penzig, "The Judas Covenant" by Peter Bradley, "Ben Hall" by DJ Sheil and a chapter in 'Tracking Down the Bushrangers' by Peter C Smith as well as many more. A fictitious account of his life can be found in" You'll Never Take me Alive" by Nick Bleszynski. Ben Hall's story has also been serialised in an on screen adaptation by ABC television. There are several monuments and grave sites, for example to Sergeant Perry, Constable Nelson, John Gilbert and Ben Hall and at the site of Hall's homestead. Hall's Grave in Forbes Cemetery continues to be well maintained and looked after and flowers are regularly placed on his grave by persons unknown. Tourism in towns such as Forbes, Eugowra, Grenfell and Canowindra has the bushranging activities of Ben Hall as a central theme.