Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
The Ballarat Scouts
Of course Ballarat has its troop of Scouts, and a very workmanlike lot they are. And I hope that although it is an inland town, we shall, before long, hear of the Ballarat Sea Scouts, for they have a splendid lake alongside their park where they can do any amount of boating and sailing and fishing.
I should like to be a Ballarat boy myself because, besides the good scouting country all round, and the lake for boating, even their school work is pleasant, for in connection with the high school they have a farm where the pupils learn ploughing, dairying, fruit-growing, beekeeping, building, and carpentering – just as our Scouts do at Buckhurst Place.
The lawless characters who flocked to the goldfields among the more honest workers were very numerous. Their idea was to “jump” or steal other diggers’ claims when these looked promising, or to threaten or “stick up” successful diggers with their revolvers and make them hand over their takings.
Several of them then found it more profitable to go in for being highwaymen, or, as they called it in Australia, bushrangers.
There were a good many of these going about at one time, most of them men who had served their time or made their escape from the great convict stations at Sydney and Hobart. They were desperate characters and were helped rather than otherwise by the inhabitants, who were in terror of them.
The convicts used to have a terrible life of it when sent out from England to do their penal servitude in Tasmania or Australia.
Packed into small sailing ships which took months to get there, they were kept under most severe and sometimes cruel discipline to insure against their breaking out.
The more severe their treatment, the more desperate they became, so that it was constant war between the prisoners and warders, and a convict willingly risked his life when he could find a chance to escape.
One prisoner in Tasmania, named Howe, escaped from the convict prison and took to the bush. Here he joined some other “bad hats,” and they took to robbing farms and stealing cattle. He became such a terror to the country that the Government offered a reward of £100 to anyone who would capture him or kill him.
Another convict, named Worral, who was a well-behaved man, volunteered to get him. So he was allowed to go with two other men, and they tracked Howe into his hiding-place in the bush, and there they had a desperate fight with him. But in the end Howe was shot and fell. Worral, without much compunction, immediately cut off his head and took it back to the Governor to prove that he had accomplished his task. He was rewarded by being released from gaol and sent home with the £100 in his pocket.
After the gold diggings opened up there were numbers of bushrangers in Australia, men who used to live by stealing cattle and food and waylaying coaches carrying the gold from the mines.
Perhaps the best hated of the fellows was one Morgan, and he was a good example of what the others were like. Very brave so long as he was drunk or the only man with a gun in his hand, but a cur at other times.
He came into a farmhouse one day with a pistol in each hand, and ordered the startled woman to give him brandy. Then when he had had it he began to fire at anybody he could see. He wounded