From the Burrangong Star’s Extraordinary, May 28, 1864.
It is with extreme regret that we have again to record that the southern districts continues to be the favourite seat of action of bushrangers, and to deplore that the notorious Johnny Gilbert, Gardiner’s favourite “Lieutenant” has once more made his appearance. At five o’clock on Friday afternoon, Mr. Ayliffe, the owner of two racehorses, and some other men, were sitting under the veranda of the hotel at Bang Bang (Koorawatha), when three men, splendidly mounted, rode towards them, and covering them with their revolvers, ordered them to “throw up their hands”. And while Ben Hall guarded them, with members of the household and others to the number of twenty, Gilbert and the “old man” took their position at a gate into the yard, where senior constables Scott and Macnamara were standing beside their horses. The constables were not in uniform, the horses were unbridled and feeding. They were escorting horses proceeding from Cowra to the Burrangong races. They had left Cowra Friday morning accompanying Mr. Alec. Wilson’s ‘Dick Turpin’ and ‘Jemmy Martin’, Mr. Skillicorn’s ‘Duke of Athol’, and Mr. Harry Croft’s ‘Hollyhock’ and ‘Bergsmet’.
Gilbert and the “old man”, one presenting a carbine and the other a revolver, called out, “leave them horses”. The troopers not immediately complying, one of the bushrangers flourishing his revolver exclaimed, “I say once more, leave them horses”.
On this Scott and McNamara put their hands to their belts to draw their revolvers when Gilbert said, “Take your hands out of that, you wretches, or I will blow your brains out”, and immediately fired three shots, but without effect.
The troopers , who were only armed with revolvers returned the fire, and after receiving seven shots in this manner at a distance of thirty yards, advanced towards the bushrangers, two of whom, Hall and the “old man”, slowly retreated, while Gilbert continued a cross fire from the fence. On the police reaching the fence, however, Gilbert joined the “old man’ and while McNamara kept these two at bay, Scott pursued Hall up the road, both parties firing at each other at intervals,
Hall firing shot after shot from his revolver, resting it on his thigh after each shot, and the troopers deliberately were aiming at the bushranger by resting the weapon on his left arm. One of Scott’s shots appeared to take effect; at least the hat of the bushranger was knocked off. Hall having now got out of reach, Scott returned to the house where the “old man” and Gilbert had been hovering around. Gilbert dismounted at the back of a fence at a distance of about 350 yards, pointed his carbine at Scott and fired, saying loudly “take that you wretch”. The ball struck the ground close to where the constable was standing, and ricocheted into the public house, but without doing any injury. The bushrangers now retreated to a distance, and, after firing a final shot, retreated altogether. They had fired between twenty-five and thirty shots during the encounter, and the troopers, who reserved their ammunition for closer quarters, only nine. On leaving, Hall called out that they would come again directly, and this the police expected they would do, after reloading their pieces. They therefore made every preparation for giving them a warm reception, barricading the door, and loading with slugs the only available weapon in the house, an old double barrelled gun, and despatched a message to Cowra for assistance. A vigilant watch was kept until midnight, when Sir Frederick Pottinger arrived with four troopers; but as nothing happened during the night, two of these were sent back in the morning.
Shortly after daybreak, Scott and McNamara proceeded to Young with the racehorses, where they arrived in safety at five o’clock in the evening. A detachment of police were put on duty at the race course until the termination of the meeting. Such is actually the state of the southern districts at the moment that a race horse cannot be moved from one township to another without a police escort.