This is a selection of photos taken around Central West NSW with the aim of capturing historically significant sites relating to the bushranger John Vane and members of the Hall/Gilbert, gang during their reign over these districts. This page will expand as more locations are documented.

Bathurst

  • Evans Plains - View looking towards the Bald Hills (renamed Mount Panorama in 1938). The gang (Hall, O'Meally, Gilbert, Vane and Burke) camped overnight in this vicintiy before their raids on Bathurst.
  • Bald Hills - Looking south west towards Evans Plains.
  • Bald Hills - Looking down on Bathurst. The gang left their campsite at Evans Plains, up and over the Bald Hills, through Milltown (now South Bathurst) and entered Bathurst.
  • William Street - The gang first called upon Pedrotta's gunshop, then on to McMinns jewellry, leaving empty-handed. They left for the Bald Hills and as they did they turned to watch and laugh at the commotion they caused along William Street.
  • Hen and Chicken Hotel - Facing north. Located at the intersection of Vale Road and Hen and Chicken Lane. The remains of the Hotel are located behind the clump of trees on the left. The gang, frustrated at not obtaining a haul in Bathurst, visited a couple of premises along the Vale Road before reaching the Hotel. All they got here was a horse to carry a swag and a couple of £1 notes before heading back to Number 1 (Neville).

Blaxland

  • Pilgrim's Inn - On 5 March 1865 Sir Frederick Pottinger, on his way to Sydney after being dismissed from the force, accidentally shot himself in the abdomen while attempting to board a moving coach. Pottinger would die from this wound a month later.
  • Pilgrim's Inn - The sign erected on the gates. At the time of the accident the public house was called the Wascoe Inn (pronounced 'woz-co').

Coombing Park

  • Coombing Park stables 1 - This is where Thomas Icely's stallion, Comus II, was stabled. Icely has been credited with initiating the thoroughbred industry in Australia.
  • Coombing Park stables 3 - An example of the sign posted around the district by Icely. The gang let Comus II, a large grey stallion, free shortly afterwards as they realised it was easily recognised in the district. After a number of weeks the horse found its way back to Icely's property.

Dunn's Plains

Dunn's Plains is a 6,000 acre property between Rockley and Caloola. Micky Burke and John Vane visited Henry Keightley's Dunn's Plains station shortly after their attempt to leave the colony.

They came to take Keightley's gun from him at his home as he had been boasting of having a 'desire to fall in with the bushrangers when he had his gun with him'. The two watched the house until all lights were extinguished and then left, returning to the Black Range camp where the remainder of the gang had been for three weeks.

A week after Burke and Vane's first visit the gang (Hall, O'Meally, Vane, Gilbert and Burke) returned around 6.00pm to Keightley's on 24 October 1863. A gun fight broke out and as a result Burke received a shot to the stomach from Keightley.

Burke, believing the wound was fatal, inflicted two shots into himself from his own revolver. One shot entered under his chin and escaped at the top of his head, the other entered just in front of his right ear and left a little behind his left ear. Burke lived for half an hour after receiving the last shot.

  • Dunn's Plains entrance
  • Blacksmith's shed - Believed to have the original windows from Keightley's homestead
  • Keightley homestead 1 - The gang approached Keightley's from the hill at the top centre and passed the house via the narrow lane.
  • Keightley homestead 2 - When Keightley and Dr Pechey were alerted to the gang's arrival they ran from the stables, seen here at left, and into the house. The house stood on the right where the cattle yards are now erected. Burke would have been shot and probably died near the right of this photo. The blacksmith shed is in the background centre.
  • Keightley homestead 3 - This photo shows (1) the narrow lane on the very left, (2) the stables in the centre beyond the fence and (3) the site of where the house once stood at right.
  • Keightley homestead 4 - Keightley's house stood among the trees. Stables are at the right, beyond the small shed.
  • Keightley homestead 5 - There is still a lot or debris from Keightley's home scatered around the cattle yards. Here is a brick uncovered at the site of the homestead. Also found were what appears to be a broken scotch glass and a large amount of broken pottery.
  • Aerial map of Dunn's Plains - Identifying significant locations.

Dog Rocks

  • Dog Rocks 1 - The gang took Keightley here while waiting on the return of Dr Pechey with their ransom. They probably camped on the left rise as this would command a better view of the surrounding areas of Dunn's Plains to the west (over my left shoulder), Rockley to the north and Burruga to the south.
  • Dog Rocks 2 - On top of Dog Rocks looking north/west. The gang and their hostage probably camped among the trees in the centre. Rockley is out of shot to the right and Dunn's Plains would be stright ahead.
  • Note: The photos above are of the signposted outcrop known as Dog Rocks approximately 15 km east of Dunn's Plains. This location is not the actual location that the gang took Keightley. There are a few probable sites that would fit the location described by Vane.

Fell Timber

Forbes

Orange

Sgt John Middleton grave - Middleton and trooper William Hosie were looking for the bushranger Johnny Peisley around the Abercrombie. On 16 July 1861 they suprised Frank Gardiner at Fogg's shanty near Bigga. A gun fight raged and Middleton was shot in the mouth, hand and leg. Middleton eventually arrested Gardiner after an exhaustive brawl. Gardiner was later to escape after Middleton left him in Hosie's control and rode back to Bigga for medical attention. There is conjecture as to how Gardiner escaped from Hosie. Middleton was later rewarded for his courage.

Sgt John Middleton grave - Close-up of headstone. Old section of Orange cemetery. Church of England, Row 'L'. In 1865 he was living in Orange.

Woodstock

John Vane grave - Vane died at Cowra hospital 31 January 1906 (aged 63 years). He was buried without a headstone. His wife Jane (nee Parker) was reportedly buried next to him. The Orange Historical Society has erected signage of the reputed location.


I'd like to thank a few people who have assited in identifying the location of these sites and continuing my motivation to locate more:

Peter Bradley - For his research and his patience when responding to my countless emails.

Jeremy Woods - Was overseer at Dunn's Plains for around ten years and his intimate knowledge of the district is invaluable.

Mark Matthews - Has put considerable time and effort into his Ben Hall documentary.

Berkeley and Penny King - For their hospitality and access to Coombing Park stables.