In some parts of the world, the word Bushranger may be used to describe a Forrest Ranger or someone who works in parks and recreation. In Australia, the term bushranger is used to describe something different. The term ranger is typically used to describe someone in government or military and usually is a positive reference. But the term ranger, especially bushranger, is used to describe notorious escaped convicts. There’s a history of the term, with several people making the term quite famous in the past. Below is a brief walk in the history of the Australian bushranger.
In the past, in Australia, the term bushranger was used to describe the escaped convicts. This was in the early years of the British settling in the country. The rangers would then take refuge in the bushes and hence the term bushrangers. They would use the bush as the best place to hide from the authorities. The cover of the bushes would help them hide, and they would stay hidden for years. For example, the first bushranger, John Caesar, AKA Black Caesar, was around from 1789 to the 1850s.
Most of the bushrangers were young Australian-born men who would fit comfortably in the bush after escaping from the authorities. They also were some of the best horsemen in the country too. You couldn’t become a bushranger if you couldn’t survive in the bush or didn’t know how to ride.
Evolution of the Term
Since the early days, the name’s meaning evolved in the 1820s. Remember, at first, the term was used to describe escaped convicts, but the term evolved to represent those who took up robbery arms as a way of life. The bush would then serve as a base of operations and home.
What They Did
For most of the gold rush years, bushrangers were some of the sons of convicts. They were comfortable in the bush, as some were born in the bush. They would later take up crime as a way of life, continuing the bushranger concept. The gold rush years were from the 1850s to – 1860s. Some of the crimes that the bushrangers of this time committed included robbing small-town banks and coaching services. There were some instances where the bushrangers murdered police officers. In general, though, murder wasn’t the style of the bushrangers. As the Australian population continued growing, the bushrangers began to evolve and use their expertise in the bush as a way to earn an honest living. Many of them became exploration guides, hunting guides, park rangers, landscapers, and botanists. There are some stories of bushrangers who became florists and specialized in creating artificial plant arrangements in Brisbane, catering to the wealthy and elite of that time.
The Best Bushrangers
Several bushrangers became famous during that time, and others were relatively better than most. Some of the best bushrangers include:
- Ned Kelly is the best-known bushranger, and his capture and execution are said to have begun the end of the bushranger era.
- Dan Morgan
- Clarke Brothers
Those are the best-known bushrangers from the gold rush years in the bushranger era. The previous period where bushrangers were all about escaped convicts, the most notable ones are:
- Mathew Brady
- John Caesar
From Convicts To Rangers
The term bushranger represents a population of people that Australia isn’t proud of. The term started as escaped convicts who would use the bush to hide from the authorities. This is a glimpse into the bushranger’s history and most of what you need to know about them and their evolution throughout the years.