Story Archive

STORY-4

THE LADY BUSHRANGER

Posted on March 1, 2014 by
Raymond
on the road at
Rylstone

 

I don't know how I ended up playing pool at the Rylstone Hotel but I did, and very badly. I hadn't played since about 1970 and I was terrible then as well. No one cared because I was graciously filling up the numbers if not the pockets, and I got my reward by noticing the name of the bar I was in - The Lady Bushranger.

That night back at the camp I was on the net and researching the story. The next morning I was in Kandos talking to Peggy Butler, a local historian. How I hadn't heard this story before is beyond me.

Lizzie Hickman, at almost 6 feet tall, had been the Australian women's rough rider champion, a circus performer who dodged thrown knives and a sharp shooter.  Unsurprisingly she was said to fight like a thrashing machine. Her third husband would concur because Lizzie whacked him with the leg of a chair when he was attacking her with murderous intent. He fell and died as his head hit the hard floor.

After the killing, Lizzie took to the Wollemi wilderness, to a cave on Nullo Mountain. Now I've been near there and it is as remote a place as you can find. It's the country where the Wollemi Pine was discovered about a decade ago after having been considered to be extinct for 150,000 million years. Here Lizzie lived on the borders of farms and towns, rustling cattle which she shared with family and friends. Judiciously she shared her spoils with the local Aboriginal tracker Black Jimmy and his ten kids. That's why he always led the police the wrong way in their searches.

It also meant she could come to town and shelter with family. It was like Neighbourhood Watch except everyone was on the lookout for cops. When Lizzie was eventually caught and tried in Mudgee for catttle duffing, she was found 'not guilty' by a jury who had been eating the finest cuts of the rustled meat for years. The people loved her. That she died a pauper after a horse riding accident just cotinues to prove there is no justice in the world. In this age she would make Chappele Corby look like, well, Schapelle Corby.

It all begs the question ... in another time and another place .. would Lizzie and I have had a chance .. this Wild Woman of the Wollemi ... this Nightmare on Nollo Mountain ... this bare back riding, gun toting, cave dwelling Banshee of the Bush? ... Would I have been man enough for her? ...  I like to think so ... MORE than enough. 

It could have been me and Lizzie ... Sure, there would have been problems. Any relationship goes through problems, especially when you are on the run from the Law, eating meat and living in a cave ...  and I'll admit Im not easy to live with. I really need my space and I'm a vegetarian.

But in my heart I believe we could have made it because at the base of every successful relationship is love and, looking over these misty Wollemi Mountains, that is exactly what I am feeling for Lizzie, the Lady Bushranger. 

Or perhaps I've been in the bush way too long already.

Read Tommie's daily WUFFINGTON POST on FACEBOOKSend your thoughts and stories to swag@electronicswagman.com.au or call Raymond on 0414 929768. If you wish to speak to Tommie just leave a message.

 

 

Comments
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Christine Hunsaker
Reply
Now that is what I call quite the woman; good piece and fair assessment of the injustice and hardness of the time. I cheered for the loyalty of the acquittal by her peers....as for you and the Lady bushranger, I am rather certain you would have known all the ropes....
Raymond
Reply
Yep .. coppers were the enemies back then. The local were often Irish Catholics and the police Irish protestants.
Carlene
Reply
Great story, thank you Raymond, especially like how Black Jimmie and the locals 'protected' Lizzie, sad she died a pauper though
Raymond
Reply
Australia female Robin Hood
Helen
Reply
Ahh, what a woman! Indeed, why have we not heard of her before now? Off topic, but how good it is that the Town Common lives on from past tradition and that you are welcome to camp there.
Raymond
Reply
Hey Helen. The Coolah Common is great. Tommie adores it because people are allowed to graze their cattle here and he gets to bark at them. Off to do a town talk now at the local gallery. 
Helen
Reply
Sounds as though there is a lot going in in Coolah!
Helen
Reply
oops I broke the thread
Ingrid
Reply
Thank you, it was an interesting story. I think it was only men you heard about before. It was brave of her to live in the bush. Telling about vegetarian, it reminds me about Bush Tucker Man, a programe I liked to watch. You and Tommie are great team.
Raymond
Reply
Hi Ingrid. It is hard to describe how tough she was. The country is incredibly rough.
Rose Bay Steve
Reply
Love the sentiment for Liz Hickman nee Hunt ! I recall your story in Mardi Gras week a few years back concerning "Joe" from Morgan. His thought was everyone responds to love - in referece to Dingos bonding with people. Would old Joe (in Chaps) outcompete you for Lizzies love?
Raymond
Reply
He could very well of Steve and I doubt he was a vegetarian. 
Cecilia
Reply
Good heavens, Raymond. Been thinking; If you had lived back then where would it have left us, the faithful followers of your journey? There were many courageous pioneer women and many men would not have survived if it hadn't been for the women publicans, the nurses, the very young brides, the wives, all feisty, strong, independent and resourceful women. When you get to WA get a copy of 'Daughters of Midas, Pioneer Women of the Eastern Goldfields, by Norma King. There was a Martin Able who nobody suspected to be the missing Margaret Bale. Says in the book: "She had kept up her masquerade for seven months without anybody suspecing the rather feminine looking youth as being anything other than what he seemed. Some shop girls had tried flirting with him 'but they were not very successful'." True, without Lizzie you may not have survived.
Raymond
Reply
Ill keep an eye out Cecilia .. thank you
Graeme Ellis
Reply
Great story and you do make me laugh! This country of ours certainly hold some fantastic stories from the past.
Raymond
Reply
I think I would have made Lizzie laugh too. 
patricia lang
Reply
I reckon after your year long trek there would be the making of a tv series with all the terrific stories like this one, worth looking into!
Raymond
Reply
Hi Patricia .. I am shooting a doco as I go. 
Julia
Reply
The edge of darkness, indeed, Raymond...