IT’S a tale of betrayal, revenge, romance and crime which has fascinated many generations and become part of Australian folklore.
Now, a new film about local legend Ben Hall is being released and will screen in Scone on Friday.
Few Australian stories are more enthralling and captivating than that of Ben Hall. Easily the most prolific bushranger in Australian colonial history, his legacy of crime and outlawry surpasses even that of Ned Kelly.
Yet fewer people know of him.
Ben Hall was born in 1837 at Maitland, His father, Benjamin was from England, and his mother Eliza, was from Ireland. Both of Ben's parents were convicted for minor stealing offences and transported to New South Wales, and first met each other as convicts.
Benjamin found work as overseer on the Doona run near Murrurundi.
During his time working in that area, he had discovered an isolated valley north east of Murrurundi with permanent water and good grazing. Here, Benjamin built a rough hut and began collecting any wild cattle and horses he could find in the hills.
He also bought a small block of land in the newly created village of Murrurundi, where he established a butcher shop and also sold fresh vegetables.
In 1851 the family moved down to the Lachlan River area for several years, but when they returned to Murrurundi Ben stayed behind. Ben spent his early years working with horses and cattle, developing his expertise in stockwork and bushcraft, skills which would stand him in good stead in later years.
In 1856, at the age of 19, Ben married Bridget Walsh at Bathurst, and three years later they had a son, Henry. Ben jointly leased the "Sandy Creek" run of 10,000 acres about 50 km south of Forbes.
By early 1862, his marriage was in trouble, and his wife left. He soon began a disastrous association with a bushranger. Ben was arrested twice for armed robbery, but both times the police were unable to gain enough evidence to formally charge him and he was released.
However, he and his partner at Sandy Creek faced mounting legal costs and were forced to transfer the lease of the property.
Estranged from his wife and young son, and with the property gone, Hall drifted around for several months associating with numerous undesirable characters.
After several confrontations with the police, culminating in them burning down Hall's hut at Sandy Creek, Ben gradually drifted into a life of crime.
After two years running from the law, Ben Hall was soon drawn back into bushranging by the reappearance of his old friend, John Gilbert. Reforming the gang and taking on new recruit John Dunn, the trio began a spree of robberies and crimes across New South Wales, from Bathurst to Forbes, south to Gundagai and east to Goulburn
After the killing of two policemen, the three became the most wanted men in colony. When the Government declared them outlaws that could be shot on sight by anyone, Ben made desperate plans to flee the colony. But with a such a large bounty on their heads, treachery abounded where they least expected it.
Ben Hall's life came to a violent end at the hands of the police on May 5th, 1865 outside Forbes, NSW.
Glenda Stace, the great, great niece of Ben Hall will be at the screening to add a little more of his and the family’s history.
The Legend of Ben Hall, rated M, will screen from 7.30pm at Scone Films pop-up community cinema, Senior Citizen’s Centre, Oxford Road, Scone.
Entry is $12 from Hunt a Book, Scone, or at the door. Running time 2 hours, 14 minutes. Tea and coffee available.
To celebrate another great year of films, Christmas refreshments will be available from 7pm.
For more details see www.sconefilms.org.au or www.facebook.com/sconefilms.
For insurance, Under 18s must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.
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