And lo – it came to pass that for two years a great scourge was laid upon the goldfields and rural villages of central and south west New South Wales.
First the drought already underway continued to result in dried up the waterholes bringing gold recovery to halt as paydirt stockpiles grew in the hope of a reprieve in the weather. Then, when this finally came, it brought with it floods that ravaged many diggings.
Such natural vicissitudes though people could deal with. What troubled them beyond measure was the bushranging pestilence that Johnny Gilbert and his cohorts visited upon the good order, hopes and working aspirations of the communities across the region.
Here in an arbitrary moment one’s small business could be destroyed, life threatened, precious possessions lost and travellers left penniless in an unforgiving landscape.
Left: John Gilbert. Illustration reproduced courtesy State Library of Victoria (IMP24/06/65/81 Image No: b48953)