Bushrangers Of The Araluen

Historical - Nerrigundah Monument
Historical - Bushranger Brothers  Thomas and John Clarke

Australian Bushrangers - The Clarke Brothers

The murderous Clarke brothers were worse than any of the other Australian bushrangers, outdoing the notorious Ned Kelly, Ben Hall, Captain Lightning, Frank Gardiner and Thunderbolt. The Clarke and Connell gang became known as "The Bloodiest Bushrangers".

Jack Clarke, an Irish shoemaker had been transported for seven years in the "Morley". He arrived in 1826 and is descirbed as being of medium build and 5ft 51/4 tall with grey eyes. He arrived in the Braidwood district as one of the assigned convicts brought in by Major Elrington in 1827. Old Clarke married Mary Connell and took up a leasehold in the Jingeras which proved too small to support his family of 5 children. He took to selling sly-grog, initiated his sons Tom and John into cattle duffing, and raised them to believe in his view of the fair and equitable distribution of property.

They constantly raided crops and livestock, aided by their uncles Pat and Tom Connell. Their gang, the Jerrabat Gully Rakers were regarded as scientists in the art of cattle duffing and horse stealing. The Clarke gang of relatives and friends was well trained in bushcraft and heavily armed.

As bushrangers they plundered publicans, storekeepers, farmers and travellers. They ambushed Gold Shipments from Nerrigundah and Araluen and the coaches that travelled from Sydney and the Illawarra. The monument in Nerrigundah is a tribute to Constable O'Grady who got out of his sick bed to confront the gang.

Till November 1866 the gang marauded virtually unchecked in a triangle through the Jingeras from Braidwood to Bega, and up the coast to Moruya and Nelligen. (Batemans Bay, as we know it, did not exist in the1800s.)

Most of the information on the Clarkes has been sourced thanks to Judith Lawson (nee Connell) and to her gift of O'Sullivan's book. Thanks also go to Elizabeth Doyle who pointed out our error of transport ship.

(The Bloodiest Bushrangers by John O'Sullivan published by Rigby 1973)

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