bushrangers, bandits who terrorized the bush country of Australia in the 19th cent. The first bushrangers (c.1806–44) were mainly escaped convicts who fled to the bush and organized gangs. Their crimes were checked effectively by various Bushranging Acts passed after 1830. With the discovery of gold, however, bushrangers of a new type flourished from 1850 to 1880, largely brigand-adventurers who attacked gold convoys. The last of these were the men of the Kelly gang. This band of desperadoes was exterminated in 1880 when three members were trapped and killed at a hotel in Glenrowan, Victoria, and Edward (Ned) Kelly was hanged at Melbourne. Despite the frequent brutality of the gangs, they often held the status of folk heroes among the poor.
See studies by W. F. Wannan (1963) and T. A. Prior (1966).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.