Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Bushrangers were criminals who used the Australian "bush" as a refuge to hide from the authorities between committing their robberies, roughly analogous to the British-American "highwayman". Their targets often included small-town banks or coach services.
The first bushrangers were escaped convicts fleeing from the early Australian penal colonies. Fleeing convicts would find they had almost no knowledge as to how to support themselves in the harsh Australian wilderness. As a result, most turned to stealing supplies from remote settlements and travellers and on-selling stolen goods to other free settlers.
Their heyday was the Victorian gold rush years of the 1850s and 1860s, but the increasing push of settlement and improvements in transport ( railways) and communications technology (telegraphy) made it increasingly difficult for bushrangers to evade capture.
The Bushrangers' place in Australian history and iconography is quite interesting, as they are held in some esteem in some quarters, due to the harshness, pro-squatter outlook and anti-Catholicism of the colonial authorities whom they embarrassed and the romanticism of the lawlessness they represented. The last and by far the most well-known bushranger, Ned Kelly, exemplifies this.
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