In the 1860s a gold rush was on with gold having been discovered at Lambing Flat near Young, and later at Blackridge near Forbes. The gold mined at Forbes was transported to Bathurst by coach and horses, leaving Bray’s Great Eastern Hotel, on the corner of Lachlan and Spring Streets Forbes, at midday every Sunday.
On Sunday 15 June 1862, in the middle of winter, when the days were short and the nights were long, Frank Gardiner, known as ‘the Darkie’, assembled a gang of seven men, mainly disgruntled cattlemen from the Weddin area, and held up the gold escort coach on its way from Forbes to Bathurst.
FRANK GARDINER– whose real name was Francis Christie, was the gang leader & mastermind of the Eugowra holdup.
DAN CHARTERS- a cattleman and manager of “The Pinnacle”, his sister’s cattle station.
BEN HALL- cattleman / selector and joint owner of “Sandy Creek” Station with John McGuire.
HENRY MANNS– self-employed carrier (bullocky).
ALEX FORDYCE- a stockman working for Paddy O’Meally, who also worked behind the bar at O’Meally’s Shanty known as “The Weddin Inn”
JOHN BOW- a stockman employed on Nowland’s “Wentworth Gully” Station.
JOHN O’MEALLY – a stockman who worked for his father, Paddy, who ran O’Meally’s shanty known as “The Weddin Inn”
JOHN GILBERT- left home at the age of twelve, and attracted by the excitement of a life of crime, joined Gardiner’s Gang soon after.
Below: Some of Gardiner’s Gang: oil painting by Patrick William Morony. National Library of Australia.
Frank had a camp on Mount Wheogo, overlooking Wheogo Homestead, where the widow Walsh and her son Johnny lived. She had three Daughters; Eleanor (Ellen) who was married to John McGuire, Bridget (Biddy) who was married to Ben Hall, and Catherine (Kitty) who was married to John Brown, but was having an affair with Frank Gardiner.
The group of friends and relations used to meet at Walshs or McGuires, and drink at O’Meally’s Shanty on Emu Creek near the Weddin Mountains.
Paddy O’Meally jointly owned Arramagong Station with a Mr. Daly, and ran the property and his shanty with help of his son Johnny, and Alex Fordyce, who were mates.
Nowlan’s Wentworth Gully Station south of Wheogo near the Weddin Mountains was where Charles Gilbert was employed. His brother, Johnny visited him there. Johnny Gilbert, who was already on the wrong side of the law, had some friends called Henry Manns and Johnny Bow.
Dan Charters was best friends with Ben Hall. Dan ran The Pinnacle Station north of Wheogo, for his widowed sister Mary Feehily. Dan’s other sister, Agnes Newell, ran a Public House up on the Lachlan River with her husband James, on a portion of Pye’s run (now Bandon Station)
O’Meally’s Shanty was the common link between all gang members, who met and drank there. It was the only grog shop for miles around, and was a long way from the law.