BUSHRANGERS HID IN CAVES IN THE NORTH­ERN ROCKS

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - News -

The rocky and rugged area just to the north of Par­ra­matta in the 1800s was a haven for bushrangers. It was known then as the ‘North­ern Rocks’ although we now re­fer to it as North Rocks.

On Satur­day af­ter­noon, 19 June 1830, Dr Wil­liam Jamieson Sher­win, first Aus­tralian born med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner, was re­turn­ing to Par­ra­matta from a house call on Windsor Road. Near the bridge cross­ing Dar­ling Mills stream, at the junc­tion of Windsor and North Rocks Roads, two men emerged from the bushes, took hold of the doc­tor’s horse’s reins and led him off into the thick bush.

“We want money, doc­tor, we are starv­ing,” they de­manded. The doc­tor ex­plained that he had just come from a visit to a pa­tient who had not been able to pay him and con­se­quently he did not have any money to give to them. The bushrangers did not be­lieve the story and searched him. They found a gold watch and a case of sur­gi­cal knives. The bushrangers thought they could sell the watch for at least two pounds (£2). Dr Sher­win pleaded with the men say­ing “Its value to me for fam­ily rea­sons is be­yond the power of money to cover.”

“Play fair with us and we’ll tell you what we’ll do,” the bushrangers replied. “You ride to the pub and get the money we say it’s worth and we’ll meet you here again when you coo-ee, and in re­turn for the money we will hand over the watch to you.”

The doc­tor agreed and rode into Par­ra­matta where he was only able to bor­row 30 shillings (30s.) about £1.10 pounds. Although wor­ried that he had not se­cured the to­tal money de­manded, Dr Sher­win rode back to the ap­pointed area and called out to the men. They emerged from the bushes and re­turned the trea­sured watch de­spite the short­fall in cash. Dr Sher­win rode straight back to Par­ra­matta and re­ported the in­ci­dent to Chief Con­sta­ble John Thorn.

Three days later whilst pa­trolling Windsor Road, Thorn was at­tacked by two men fir­ing mus­kets. Thorn re­turned fire and shot one man dead, later iden­ti­fied as John Mac­na­mara, a con­vict from County Cork, Ire­land, trans­ported to Aus­tralia on the ship Is­abella in 1823. As a re­ward for stop­ping the bushranger, Thorn re­ceived a grant of one square mile, 640 acres [259 hectares] in the cur­rent sub­urbs of Pen­nant Hills and Thorn­leigh. The sub­urb of Thorn­leigh is named af­ter him.

In 1830, two pounds (£2) of money would buy one milk­ing cow, 20 dozen or­anges, 53 loaves of bread, 11 pounds of but­ter, 4 blan­kets or 34 pounds of ba­con.

Sol­dier and his Mus­ket

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