Cobb and Co, painting by jenny beechey

The coaches had great difficulty going down hill. Painting by Jenny Beechey, Mudgee artist.

Readford's Westwood Inn on the Sydney Road near Ilford still stands. It is now a private home.


The Readford family graveyard. Harry Readford was the renowned cattle duffer, Captain Starlight.


cobb and co leviathan

 Photo of the replica of Cobb & Co’s 75 seater Leviathan coach built for the production of The Right Hand Man at Hill End. The coach was pulled by 12 grey horses. More details coming soon.. Photo courtesy of Mr David Rutherford of the famous Cobb & Co Rutherford family.

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The Gold Rush and Cobb & Co P.4

cobb and co leviathan 75 seats

BUSHRANGERS cont.

Areas like Stony Pinch and Cherry Tree Hill were popular hold up points because the coaches slowed down to walking pace on the high hills, with passengers often walking behind.
March 27, 1861 Mudgee mail coach held up at Stony Pinch by a one armed, hooded man. The man wore a calico mask with holes cut in it to see. Robber identified as John Doel, alias Isherwood, alias Little Jack. Isherwood was involved in armed robberies of the Mudgee Mail during 1859, once dressed as a woman.

According to 'Gold Nuggets Galore at Sofala from 1851' by Joyce Pearce,  Starlight, the bushranger Harry Readford, rode his horse to victory in the Turon Cup at McCann's Race Track west of Sofala, collected the gold purse winnings and escaped before the troopers on duty were aware he was there. She said the late Mrs Dolly Cole of Turondale once claimed she had danced with Starlight at Green Gully. Pearce said 26 troopers were stationed at the Police Commissioners cottage in Sofala.

Pearce also tells us a headstone at Sofala is in memory of Robert McDougall, who died 23rd September 1853, aged 37 years. McDougall was an escort for a coach taking gold to Bathurst from Sofala. At the approach to Wattle Flat, the coach was held up by bushrangers and his horse dragged his dead body home to his Albury stables with his foot caught in the stirrup. McDougall's jacket, with the blast hold in it, hung on the wall of their old home at Sofala for many years.

Harry Readford was the inspiration behind the character in the classic Australian novel Robbery Under Arms by Thomas Alexander Browne, alias Rolf Boldrewood, the humble gold field warden and police magistrate (1871-1881) who turned writer.

The Readford family built and owned the Westwood Inn in Ilford, near Rylstone, the home still a landmark on the Great Western Highway. Harry was their youngest child, born in Cudgegong, which is now submerged under Windamere Dam. The Readford family spread around the district, leading respectable family lives, while Harry duffed the surrounding areas from Rylstone to Bylong, eventually becoming famous for herding about 1,000 cattle from one of the largest cattle stations in northern Queensland and driving them over the unchartered and dangerous, drought stricken deserts of the inland Australia for thousands of kilometres to the Adelaide markets. His track is now the Strezlecki Stock Track. Harry became a hero, so much so that when he was arrested and trialled on one occasion and the case dismissed from lack of evidence by a sympathetic jury, he was carried from the courtroom by a cheering mob.

Harry eventually settled down on Brunette Downs station in northern Queensland, and his cattle skills and exploits were eventually recognised in the Stockmen's Hall of Fame at Longreach. 

On January 14, 1863, a woman was held up at Cherry Tree Hill. She refused to hand over her money, so the bushrangers attempted to search her, but in the doing so, unable to find her pocket, ripped her skirt off her. They ran off with her skirt, leaving the poor woman crying as she walked home. The bushrangers robbed her of 3 pounds in notes and silver.

About an hour later, the same 3 bushrangers held up the Mudgee mail. They demanded money from two passengers, a man and a woman, and when the man refused the bushrangers told him if he didn't hand his money over they would strip the woman. Shocked, the man hesitated and the bushrangers began tearing off the woman's clothes, but he quickly offered them what he had, a very small mite.

On 3rd April 1863 the Cassilis mail was held up at Reedy Creek, near Mudgee by two armed men. The schoolmaster at Cassilis, Mr Farrell, who was riding beside the coach, was robbed of his gold watch and money and was forced to exchange his horse, saddle and bridle for a knocked up horse with an old saddle and bridle.

April 4th, 1863, Robert Lowe was driving a buggy from Talbragar to Mudgee with Hugh McKenzie, who was on horseback, when 2 armed men held them up. Robert Lowe grabbed a pistol from the floor of the buggy and fired. The bushrangers fled, but one of them had been shot and he fell from his horse and died. The two men continued to Slepdash and contacted police where they found two other men, A.Brown JP and Alexander Dean had been robbed by the same men, one of them riding Mr Farrell's horse stolen the day before.

Sergeant Cleary and two black trackers, Tommy and Johnny Bein Bar followed the bushranger for 260 miles and caught him near Coonamble. He was brought to Mudgee, tried and convicted for 10 years. Mr Lowe was highly complimented for his prompt action and awarded a gold medal by the NSW government for his bravery in resisting bushrangers.

A young boy, Willie Cadell, was sent by his mother on a message near Mudgee. He walked his pony up a hill outside Mudgee when a mounted man pulled out in front of him and held him up. The bushranger frightened the boy's horse, which took off and the bushranger chased him, threatening to kill the boy if he didn't stop. When the boy finally managed to still his horse, the bushranger took him to a clump of trees, where a Mr Smith of Appletree Flat and 2 other men were lying, tied up, on the ground. The bushranger let the boy stay free with a promise he would not try to escape, on the threat of being shot dead. The bushranger took the boy's pony and left, but came back a short while later with 2 more men whom he tied up and robbed. He then went and came back with 2 more men who were served the same fate, amounting to 7 men tied up and one loose boy. The bushranger then stopped a Mr Robinson and two stockriders, ordered them to round up the mob of fat cattle they were driving and remain on the flat until after the mail passed. About 1/2 an hour later, the mail coach arrived and was held up and then directed by the bushranger to leave the road and pull into the clump of bushes where the other men were held.  The 4 men were searched, robbed and tied up, the two women were told to sit quietly under a tree. The bushranger then sat with them and went through the mail, then mounted the boys pony once again and left, leading his own horse. As he left he told the boy his horse would be found along the road. Once the bushranger had gone, the boy untied the men. They walked out onto the road where the boy's horse was tied, but the bushranger was watching them all a short way away. He called out and asked them if they were all alright. After being assured they were, the bushranger lifted his hat and said, 'Good evening ladies and gentlemen,' and rode away. The mail man gathered the torn up mail while two men, Smith and Martin walked to Mudgee to inform the police. Willie Cadell continued on his way to complete his mother's message. Some claimed the bushranger was one of Gardiners gang, even Johnny Gilbert himself. But this was disproved later.

This would have taken place near Horse Flat Lane, just outside of Mudgee and just past the Cobb & Co stop near Mulamuddy Road. Opposite Horse Flat Lane on the river bank was a two storey stone house owned by the Cadill family. Convicts once lived and worked there also, having helped to build the house. Just on from there on the Sydney road, just up and over the hill at Appletree Flat is Martin's hill, possibly called after Martin in the holdup. The present Martin's Hill is actually the smaller hilll in front of the original Martin's Hill, on the right going toward Sydney. Jimmy Governor used to walk through this area with a swag on his back. The family lived in a place beside the Cudgegong Hotel, near the Rylstone turnoff. They used to sing as they came along and you could hear them coming.

Just a bit further along is Stubbs’ old Cobb & Co horse change, called “The Half Way” because it was half way between Mudgee and Cudgegong. The big house is probably the original change station. It is still lived in and is in good condition. There is another tiny mud brick dairy here as well.

Another robbery took place with the Mudgee Mail on the Bathurst to Sydney Road near the Big Hill, about 16 miles out from Bowenfels (Lithgow). Mr Henry Edward Kater, manager of the local Australian Joint Stock Bank had 5,000 pounds in old notes, which he was taking to Sydney to be destroyed. The bushranger knew he had them and asked specifically for them. Mr Kater told him they were worthless as the numbers had been cancelled, but the bushranger took them anyway, telling Kater, 'We can make a bonfire of them as well as you can'. Kater again declined and stooped over, but the bushranger warned him 'not to come Robert Lowe on them'. Wife of the Ben Bulen publican, Mrs Smith, sat beside Kater, and she screamed loudly. She had 200 pounds in her pocket, but the robber told her to get down and stand aside. 'We don't rob women' he said. Other passengers were told to dismount and were robbed of their valuables. Kater reported the robbers were well-dressed and 'splendidly mounted'. Once again, everyone thought they were Gardiners gang.

 

MUDGEE DRIVERS

Jack Berry was known to be a Mudgee driver great for ‘pulling your leg’.
John Wright, from Church Street, was also a coachman. Website viewer, Liz Wroe tells us that Tom Tarrant was also a well patronised coach driver and carrier, as was John Hill and W. Marsh. Tom Tarrant was also listed as a leading teamster with vans and teams, together with W. Marsh and J. Stah.. Thomas Tarrant and his wife Eliza Eames lived on Burrundulla. Their son Thomas jnr was born there in 1861 and stayed until Thomas senior died in 1898.  Liz says her grandfather was a postmaster at Armidale, Coffs Harbour Jetty, Coonabarabran, Woodstock, Warialda and Annandale in Sydney. She also gives us the following information on her family:

Thomas Tarrant and Eliza Eames Marriage Registration (9.10.1856) - usual place of residence for both of them - Burrundulla

Thomas Tarrant (Juniors) birth certificate (6th February 1861) place of birth - Burrundulla  (they had 5 boys) this young Thomas was educated as school teacher and headmaster and

Thomas Tarrant's death certificate (28th June, 1898) died at Burrundulla - occupation at that stage - Forwarding Agent..

 Liz says she found a newspaper article "The Late Fatal Coach Accident at Gulgong" 5th June 1878, and in the 2nd last paragraph Thomas Tarrant was called up as a witness, and it says he used to be the proprietor of the mail run - looks like a Thomas Randall took it over about 2 years before 1878.  

 Also found one of Henry Lawson's stories - "Gettin' back on Dave Regan" told by James Howlett - a bullock driver.  It's about the boys on the Cobb and Co, and Tom Tarrant features quite a bit in this as a mail coach driver.  Henry Lawson often included real local people in his stories, and repeated some of their tales - sometimes with an imaginative twist.

Old Thomas Tarrant  (the Convict) died 27.2.1861 and this Thomas Tarrant and Eliza, death certificates say they were all buried at the Wesleyan Church in Mudgee.

Added information from Liz:

I am writing in reference to Thomas Tarrant (my great great grandfather)- his father (also a Thomas, was a convict who settled in Mudgee after his wife died in Richmond he died in Mudgee in 1861) - I am sorting out a geneology book for the family, and Thomas Tarrant (the coach driver) probably interests me more than any others, so I am back on his track again.  He married an Eliza Eames in 1856 at the old Wesleyan Church in Mudgee , they lived at Burrundulla on leased land from the Cox's.  but I was wondering about something else - Thomas ran a carrier business and was the forwarding agent on the Mudgee to Capertree run, his coaches ran from Mudgee to Hill End in the 1870's and drove the gold (escort) coach from Gulgong.  His offices were on the corner of Horatio and Lewis streets, and they carried wool and produce to the railhead at Wallerawang.  It is believed and has been written that Thomas brought the organ and bell for St. John's Church Mudgee, over the Great Dividing Range.  The entire goods weighed 27 tons and was considered a great feat to cart over the inhospitable mountains on a dirt road - he apparently had a 12 horse team for this trip.  I believe this organ and bell are still being used at St. John's today.  I guess I am wondering if by any chance there is a photo of the arrival of this organ and bell, either with the History Society or with the Church and who I should contact to find out? Hope you can advise. Kind regards, Liz Wroe

Hi Diane, ..... Now regarding the Cobb and Co, I spoke to my elderly Aunt and she advises me it was the other side of our family, the Walkers - my grandmother who was one of 11 born to Elizabeth Cassidy and John Gorman Walker in Coolah in 1889.  One of the Walker family was a butcher in Coolah, and one was also something to do with Cobb and Co and the mail. So from that point of view I need to concentrate on the Walkers as well there, my great great grandfather and grandmother (Eliza and Thomas William Walker) are buried behind the C of E. church in Merriwa.  Have you any notes on the Walker name with Cobb and Co. Th

 

and:

 Have also another question re Burrundulla and Broombee - Thomas 1 (the Convict), Thomas 2 (the coachman) and his son Thomas 3 - all lived at Burrundulla - I see there was an old schoolhouse there (now a B and B), so I would have to assume Thomas 2 and Thomas 3 were educated there - Thomas 3 went on to become a Headmaster - so I am assuming for that he would have had to attend a School in Mudgee as well.    Thomas 3 then moved to Broombee where his wife's parents lived (the Conn's), and then onto Coolah and died quite young at 43 in Coonabarabran.   My great grandmother Helenslee Brown Tarrant (nee Conn) ran a bakery with her sister  (Sarah Ann Conn) in Mudgee.  She died at 30 Lewis Street Mudgee in 1938 - and they share a grave at Mudgee General.

 

MUDGEE INNKEEPERS

James Ward and Wm Wilkins at Cudgegong; Wm Coleman, James Devane, Wm Hill, Richard R Hughson, Thos Markwell and John J Mills of Market Street, Thos Duggan of Perry Street, Henny Frost and Robert Frost of Market Lane, John Hill and Stephen Malone of Mortimer Street, James Little of Church Street.
George Taylor; Charles O'Brien,

 

COACH BUILDING FACTORIES

There were four main coach factories operating in the 1860s to cater for the overwhelming transport demands. One well known coach building family was the Deane family (click for more information), who had a coach factory on the site of the present day Soldiers’ Motel.
 
Coachbuilder, John Deane, settled from the 1830s, and was probably engaged by the Cox family at Burrundulla, one of Mudgee’s first settlers. Deane’s sons, Edward and Wallace carried his business on.
 
Edward Deane expanded the business, building the building in Perry Street opposite the then Green’s Paragon Hotel. He employed about 13 men, building sulkies.
 
There were many other coach building factories in the region, soon to be published in a book, Cobb & Co in Mudgee by Diane de St Hilaire Simmonds. Email Diane for more information.

CHANGING STATIONS IN MUDGEE

An old Cobb & Co changing station was in a hotel which is now part of St Matthew’s Catholic School playground. The old hotel joined the present day Husband’s Saddlery, sharing the common wall.
 
Some innkeepers were also coachmen: S. Tuckerman in Market Lane, Francis Tindall in Market Street, John Swords in Mortimer Street, Geo McQuiggan Perry Street and Wm Murray on the Sydney road. Many of these names are familiar in the region today, the descendents still thriving in the area.
 
Cobb & Co Court was also once a coach stop. It now houses the Wineglass Bar and Grill and a luxury motel complex besides boutique shops and services.
 
Quite a number of Cobb & Co change stations still exist and are still in use around the Mudgee region.  (See some photos in right hand column)

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CHANGING STATIONS IN MUDGEE

cobb and co budgee budgee inn

Budgee Budgee Inn today, once a changing station near Mudgee, featured in Henry Lawson’s story ‘The Loaded Dog’.

cobb and co budgee budgee butcher shop

The old butcher shop opposite the Cobb & Co stop at Budgee Budgee, part of the village Henry Lawson wrote about in his story, The Loaded Dog.

Budgee Budgee Inn historical photo.

 

Cobb & Co outside Budgee Budgee

Cobb & Co Eurunderee Post Office

 

Merriwa Coach

Cobb & Co coach stop, Old Bargon

Cobb & Co stop at Ilford

Cobb & Co site, Hill End

Cobb & Co Stop at McDonald's Creek, Mudgee. It was known as Green Swamp then, and was a small village.

Old Post Office Cobb & Co stop at Cooyal


 

Change Station at Hargraves

 

Change Station at Ilford

Reedy Creek Inn now in display at Gulgong Pioneers Museum.

 

The old Cobb & Co stables at the bottom of Cherry Tree Hil.

 

BATHURST CIRCUIT COURT.

(From the Free Press.)

The business of this Court commenced on Monday morning last before his Honor Mr. Justice Therry, with the heaviest calendar, perhaps, since Bathurst became an Assize town. This circumstance drew forth a few remarks from the learned Judge, who in- formed the jury that it-would be necessary to work both early and late, and that during the session lunch time would be dispensed with. His Honor reached Mrs. Whitton's Commercial Inn, Bathurst, on Sunday morning about 10 o'clock, and attended mass at Stephen's Church.

Messrs. J. B Suttor and R. Machattie were sworn in Magistrates of the Territory.

 

HIGHWAY ROBBERY AT REEDY CREEK.

Patrick Malony, John Cain, and Thomas Odin, were indicted for stealing two saddles, two bridles, 17 California belts, and a quantity of other property belonging to Robert Fitzgerald, Ësq , M.C , at Reedy Creek, in April. 1852. The prisoners pleaded not guilty, and -were defended by Mr. Holroyd.

Joseph Jones deposed that he drove a team in Mr. Fitzgerald's service, from which the articles were stolen. On the day above-named the prisoners attacked him after night-fall, telling him to stand, and after dragging his mate out of bed, proceeded to unload the property referred to, which they conveyed away in a bag. He identified the elder Cain from the circumstance that he stool sentry over himself and mate with a gun. The other two robbers appeared younger.

Cross-examined by Mr. Holroyd : -He distinguished Cain's features by the light of a camp fire which was burning brilliantly. By his Honor : The robbers were all armed. On the following day he perceived tracks of horses on a hill hard by.

District Constable Taylor deposed that two of the prisoners lived at Hell's Hole, and the third at Cooyal Creek. Upon receiving information of the robbery, he proceeded to the elder Cain's, where he found eight shirts, six handkerchiefs, and other articles corresponding with the property stolen, besides a quantity of similar property in a neighbouring gully, At the house of a man named Partridge he found two shirts, and a pair of fustian trowsers, He then visited the house of the prisoner Maloney, where he found some shirts, blankets, and other articles of a similar kind.

Robert Fitzgerald, Esq., M.C, swore that about the time mentioned in the indictment he forwarded goods to one of his stations on the Gwydir, consisting of shirts, trousers, blankets, saddles, bridles, & which were afterwards stolen from his dray. He also identified a bag bearing his brand.

Henry Partridge deposed that he bought the blankets from Thomas Cain for 17s., which were subsequently seized by District Constable Taylor.

Mr. Holroyd submitted that there was no evidence against Maloney and young Cain, nor had any testimony to show that the prisoners were together on the night of the robbery been produced by the Crown. The property had been found fourteen months afterwards, and the only portion identified was the blankets. Clearly, therefore, if guilty, it must have been of receiving,  but not of stealing,  and he contended that the information must fail.

The Attorney-General replied.

His Honor summed up at some length, after which the jury retired for a short period and found a verdict of guilty against all the prisoners.

After the verdict was recorded, Mr. Holroyd said there was no evidence to prove that Maloney and the younger Cain were guilty of robbing with fire-arms,  and begged His Honor to reserve the point, as he intended to have it argued before the Judges in Sydney.

Mr. Fitzgerald, the owner of the property which had  been recovered, said he purposed handing it over for the benefit of the Bathurst Hospital.

 

Sources:

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/12954685?searchTerm=%22william%20oxley%22&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW :  1842 - 1954)

Historical photo collection of Diane Simmonds