First of the Bushrangers

Near Sydney, New South Wales / Bidjigal, Cammeraygal, Wangal, & Cadigal Countries

1788 – 1802

Before there were any wild colonial boys or daring rogues of the bush preying on the traffic between country towns and goldfield settlements, there were the very first of the bushrangers- runaway convicts as foreign at first to the bush as were the soldiers and gaol-keepers whose irons and lash they fled. What opportunities does their new found liberty present? 

Joseph Lycett, View upon the Napean

Discover for yourself where difficult decisions will lead. Maybe a handful of such people even found a way to live a life in the bush while Sydney Town itself hardly looked beyond its garrison walls?


  1. Escape into the Bush
  2. From Bolters to Bushrangers
  3. Bushrangers & Blackfellas
  4. The Battle for Vinegar Hill

Escape into the Bush

Moved from the struggling Sydney settlement beyond the outskirts of the colony to construct a road that will connect Sydney to the farms at Parramatta, a group of convicts take advantage of the situation to slip their shackles and vanish into the depths of the wilderness.

Escape into the Bush


But as wounds fester and food supplies rapidly dwindle and then run out the convicts are forced into desperate and dangerous action to escape starvation in the wilderness. Before their attempts at raiding and resupply are done they may come to rue their reckless decision to Escape into the Bush.

From Bolters to Bushrangers

The band of convicts who escaped the Parramatta roadworks have made their escape from British justice, vanishing into the deep bush. But they are learning that escaping was one thing, but surviving in this hostile landscape will be quite another. Driven by their inability to live off the land they have been forced over the months into ever-riskier action to maintain their supplies. 

From Bolters to Bushrangers

But after their latest raid ends in tragedy their situation becomes clear: if they are to find a way to thrive outside British society they must transform themselves From Bolters to Bushrangers.

Bushrangers & Blackfellas

The bolters have cut their ties with society entirely, turning their backs on their longings for British civilization and throwing in their lot with the local Aboriginal people. Through their connection with these ‘Eora’ and with Pemulwuy, a leader of the growing resistance to British expansion, the bolters are drawn into increasing outright conflict with the world from which they have fled. 

Bushrangers & Blackfellas

As Pemulwuy plans a major raid on the settlement of Parramatta, he takes the bolters ever-deeper into his confidence and begins to form an allied warband of Bushrangers & Blackfellas.

The Battle of Vinegar Hill

Three years have passed since the disastrous Battle of Parramatta, where British guns laid waste to the bushrangers and their Aboriginal allies’ resistance to the Sydney colony. Down in the town the convict population is swollen with large numbers of Irish men and women, political prisoners sent to Australia after the failed United Irishmen Rebellion.

But failure has not dampened the spirit of these newcomers, and from their fastness in the outback the bushrangers see in the Irish another chance to stop British expansion into their bushland home at The Battle of Vinegar Hill.