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Bailed UpBailed Up

A legend among bushrangers, Ben Hall was reputedly admired and protected by the settlers of the central west of NSW in the mid-1800s. He flouted the law good-humouredly, humiliating the police and uplifting society's 'underdogs'.

Story and photos Lisa Smith

Tragic historical figures have coloured our past with moving stories that still captivate our imagination. Ben Hall is one such Australian - incorrigible, but somehow likeable. By most accounts he was courteous to women, had a good sense of humour and, according to the records, never murdered anyone. His neighbours considered him generous, others regarded him as honest and hard working, even though he associated with thieves. Most of all, he flouted the law, and this endeared him to many.

In the 1850s, the police (troopers) and the wealthy were contemptuous of the freed convicts and their offspring. They were considered the wretched lower classes and were often subjected to insult and discrimination. Severe class divisions developed and animosity fed on the prejudice. The poor weren't allowed to vote and the government was perceived as an enemy that always sided with the rich. Story end

Full story Issue 33 Feb/Mar 2004

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