FOUR significant sites relating to the life and death of infamous bush ranger Captain Thunderbolt have today been added to the State Heritage Register.
The four sites listed are Thunderbolt’s Rock, the site of the former Blanch’s Royal Oak Inn on the New England Highway, Thunderbolt’s death site; and Thunderbolt’s grave.
Heritage Minister Robyn Parker said the sites near Uralla illustrated both the impact of bushranging on mid-19th-century NSW and the place Captain Thunderbolt holds in the public’s imagination.
“The exploits of Captain Thunderbolt, aka Fred Ward, were recorded in newspapers of the day and were widely known across NSW,” Ms Parker said.
Captain Thunderbolt was born Frederick Ward in 1835 to former convict Michael Ward and his wife, Sophia.
The origins of the name Captain Thunderbolt are unknown, but are believed to have first been used by Fred Ward during the robbery of Campbell’s toll-bar at the present intersection of the Wollombi Rd and the New England Highway.
The robbery and the use of the name “Thunderbolt” was reported in the Maitland Mercury in 1863, although this source reports Fred Ward used the name while riding off.
These were the beginnings of a seven-year bushranging career, during which he became the longest-roaming outlaw in 19th-century Australian history.
“His success as a criminal is illustrated by the rewards set out for his capture and despite his crimes he is remembered as the ‘Australian Robin Hood’ rather than a terrifying robber.