Moonlite display at home in old gaol

Story boards tell the story of Moonlite’s Gundagai connection, flanking artwork of the Wantabadgery siege.

Visitors to the Old Gundagai Gaol will learn about Captain Moonlite’s connection to Gundagai and the local landmark after the installation of story boards and artwork completes the Moonlite display in the gaol’s infirmary.

Joe Morton from Goanna Graphics completed the artwork for the project, while the display boards telling the story of Moonlite’s Gundagai connection, the Wantabadgery siege, and the bushranger’s subsequent trial, hanging and burial, were written by local journalist Helen Castles.

Throughout its history, the most notorious criminal to be held within the walls of the Gundagai Gaol was bushranger Andrew George Scott, better known as Captain Moonlite.

Irish-born Scott trained as an engineer in London before eventually making his way across the seas to Australia. After numerous brushes with the law, Scott took up with James Nesbitt, who he met while serving a stint in Pentridge Prison. When the pair recruited four other men, a bushranging gang, under the helm of Captain Moonlite, was born.

In November of 1879, in the immediate aftermath of the Wantabadgery siege, Moonlite and three of his men were taken to the Gundagai Gaol where they awaited a committal hearing for robbery under arms and wounding with intent to murder after a young Gundagai Constable, Edward Webb-Bowen, was shot in the neck during the gun fight. Moonlite’s men, Nesbitt and Warnecke, were both killed in the siege, while the bushranger and his remaining gang members – Rogan, Johns and Bennett – were captured.

In the aftermath of Bowen’s death, the four prisoners were hauled from their gaol cells and back into court to face upgraded charges.

Moonlite was tried in Sydney and hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol on January 20, 1880. Rogan also went to the gallows, while Johns and Bennett were each spared their lives and handed lengthy gaol terms.

The full room display also includes a letter, penned by Moonlite from Darlinghurst Gaol, to Nesbitt’s mother, following Nesbitt’s death during the siege.

The Gundagai Tourism Action Committee plans to officially launch the Moonlite display in early Spring after the ‘Best of the Bald Archy Exhibition’, which will run at the Old Gaol from August 1 to August 26.

Anyone who has time to spare to man the door for the Bald Archy exhibition during those dates is asked to contact the council’s tourism development officer Casey Polsen via email at: [email protected] or phone 6944 0250.

Nesbitt and Moonlite.
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