Robbery Under Arms

This Blog has nothing to do with armpits!!

The term was used when Bushrangers held up someone at gun point - usually the Cobb and Co coach or Homesteads or even the gold transports to Sydney from the fields.

robbery under arms.jpg

I have just read this book and because it was first published in 1881 it provides a really good insight into the lifestyle of early White Australians in the Bush. It also shows how much the language has changed since then - There were a lot of names and terms and phrases that I had no clue about. It took me half the book to realise that if someone was on the cross - they were not being crucified rather - they were on the wrong side of the law.

The reader gets a very good idea of what life was like in 1850 as a settler, Gold Miner, policeman, a squatter and of course the Bush Ranger. There is a huge emphasis on the horsemanship of the main characters and you can't help but get a feeling of the hardship and the isolation of the early Australian bush settler.

The author, Thomas Alexander Browne wrote under the name of Rolfe Boldrewood. He was born in London but spent most of his life in Australia as a squatter, a police magistrate and a gold fields commissioner - and it is easy to see these life experiences in the book.

What makes this story very interesting - to people who go on Beyond Bundaberg Bush Tours - is that the bushranger called The Wild Scotchman was well known to Sylverter Browne - the author's brother. The Wild Scotchman was captured on Monduran Station near Gin Gin outside of Bundaberg and sentenced to jail on St Helena Island Prison. After he was pardoned and released he was on cattle outstations where he worked with Sylvester. 

It seems very likely that some of the stories in 'Robbery Under Arms' were about the North Burnett's bushranger - The Wild Scotchman.

The book cover is from the 1895 painting 'Bailed Up" by Tom Roberts.