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Published May 15th 2021
A bushranger hideout and World War II tank traps
Mount Lindesay Road is a scenic route and offers interesting historical sites: Thunderbolt's Hideout and World War II Tank Traps.
The entry of Thunderbolt's Hideout. Photo by Author.
Fred Ward (1835-1870), better known as Captain Thunderbolt, was the longest roaming Bushranger in Australian history. He was very familiar with the Tenterfield region, using it as both a hideout and hunting ground for his hold-ups.
The many caves and bushy hideouts across the New England area were Thunderbolt's favourites. - from the information board.
Thunderbolt's Hideout, just 150 metres off Mount Lindesay Rd. Photo by Author.
After walking along the trails in the hideout and going behind the huge rocks, it is easy to understand how difficult it was to capture Thunderbolt. Behind the hideout is all bush and back then it would have been practically impossible to catch someone in the thick.
The hideout has an area large enough to hide horses. The large area between the rocks was used as a stable for Thunderbolt's horses. The shelter under the large overhanging rock was a great place to camp. I guess it was easy for Thunderbolt to make himself comfortable with blankets and heavy clothes, especially in winter.
The top of the rocks made an ideal lookout for oncoming travellers and gold shipments, as Mount Lindesay Road was the main road to Warwick during the gold-mining days.
There is a small creek to cross walking on a plank. Fresh water for the Bushranger and for the horses. Photo by Author.
Captain Thunderbolt was able to elude the law, mainly because of the relationship he had with local residents. In particular, he only stole the best horses, making it difficult for the police who had not so good horses. He never shot a single person and was somewhat generous in his hold-ups.
But also he had the help from his formidable companion Mary Ann Bugg.
Thunderbolt had the longest bushranging career in NSW, but it is unlikely he would have survived for so long without Mary Ann's help. Although they were not married, the relationship between Fred and Mary Ann was stable and long-lasting.
Mary Ann taught the illiterate Thunderbolt to read. She helped provide food and shelter, spread false information to help him stay ahead of the authorities and nursed him back to health after he was shot in his left leg.
In his early years, Fred worked with horses and learnt to be an excellent horseman. He was also able to judge the best horses. Then together with relative, he stole horses and he was convicted for horse theft. He received a sentence of six years with hard labour and was sent to the Cockatoo Island penal establishment.
After serving four years, he was released on tickets. But then he went away for three months to take Mary Ann back to her father's farm at Monkeeray near Dungog, so she could give birth to their first child.
But in doing that, Thunderbolt breached his ticket-of-leave regulations. Also, he returned on a stolen horse and Ward was sent back to Cockatoo Island to serve more years.
On 11 September 1863, he and a companion escaped from a prison workgroup on Cockatoo Island in Sydney and swam to their freedom.
After robbing travellers near the Big Rock, on the 25th of May 1870, Ward was shot and killed by Constable Alexander Binney Walker at Kentucky Creek near Uralla.
When he was called on to surrender, he shouted "I'll die first". He fired a shot and the return fire from Constable Walker found its mark, leading to Thunderbolt's death the following day. - from the information board.
His death followed a difficult pursuit of several miles through rough terrain.
Thunderbolt is shot by Constable Walker. Photo from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt's Hideout is 12 km north of Tenterfield, along Mount Lindesay Road. The site is signposted and the hideout is a short 150-metre walk from the road.
The sign along Mount Lindesay Road. Photo by Author.
During World War II, low profile, defensive positions were established along many roads throughout Australia. Mount Lindesay Road, then known as the New England Highway, was the only all-weather road from Sydney to Brisbane up until the 1950s. Mount Lindesay Road was one of the roads to have tank traps constructed along it, as it was part of the 'Brisbane Line'.
A few poles are new, near the original old poles. Photo by Author.
Many soldiers had returned from the Middle East and were trained here in jungle warfare before being sent to New Guinea and the Pacific. During the war, up to 10,000 troops were stationed in and around Tenterfield. The London Bridge Army Camp was a major training camp in the Tenterfield region.
Thunderbolt's Gully was one kilometre north of the London Bridge Army Camp. Tank traps were established at Thunderbolt's Gully. The site was also chosen because the area on either side could not be easily bypassed.
The natural huge boulders on the hillside on the eastern side of the road were a big obstacle for the light Japanese tanks. Also, the concrete retaining wall prevented the tanks to bypass the holes left by the exploding mines in the road, which was then a narrow gravel one.
The concrete wall to help stop the advancement of alleged enemies. Photo by Author.
Today, you can see the three rows of wooden posts that were erected to force enemy tanks to rise up, exposing their soft underbelly so the troops could fire in that vulnerable spot. The rockfall further down from these posts was from rock blasted up higher to make the passage more difficult. Drill holes can be seen in this fallen rock.
There are also concrete pyramid Tank Traps at Paddy's Flat, further to the east, which were another integral part of Australia's defences during the War.
Fortunately, The Battle of the Coral Sea saw the turning point of the war which prevented the feared invasion of Australia.- from the information board.
There are beautiful Everlasting Daisies. Photo by Author.