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Trackers, tracking, bushrangers, and bushranging

By February 15, 2019Articles
Bushrangers Australia - legend of Ben Hall - early combat tracking

From the Spoor Pit.

You may have heard of Ned Kelly (of the Kelly Brothers), or Harry Powers. Both men were what they called “bushrangers” during the days of Australia’s “Wild Colonial Boys.” When the fight against “convict bolters” (roughly analogous to western outlaws in the USA or highwaymen in the UK) first began, those involved were using flintlock muskets. By the time the era was over, they were killing with breech-loading Martini-Henry rifles.

As many of you reading this probably know, Australia and New Zealand have always produced excellent trackers.

The Sydney Living Museum recently released an excellent article on the equipment of the day: Troopers, Trackers, Bushrangers, and their weapons. While it’s focused on weapons rather than tracking, trailing, or track interpretation, it’s still an interesting read (and watch).

“In Australia, in the age of the Wild Colonial Boys in the 1850’s and 60’s, the bushrangers holding up gold shipments would have used the percussion cap musket. This weapon uses a paper cartridge, like the earlier flintlock musket and it also loads down the barrel.

There are a number of differences between the two weapons however. The barrel is rifled so, as the ball travels down the barrel the rifling causes the ball to spin and travel straighter, faster and further. The percussion cap ignition system is much more reliable.”

Read more about the weapons of early combat trackers in Australia.

Watch online sites like the Cody Firearms Museum or even Gunbroker for interesting historical weapons – once in a while you’ll see something you just know would have been the effective tool of a tracker sometime in the past…like this Martini-Henry Mk II .577-450.

Martini-Henry rifle

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